Friday, April 30, 2010

First Oil Covered Birds Showing Up On Shore

From Huffpost

FBI Investigating Massey & MSHA for Bribery

NPR reports that the FBI is now investigating Massey Energy and MSHA regarding the possible bribery of Federal officials. Current or former employees are likely talking to authorities. Authorities are also looking into possible criminal negligence in connection with the recent deaths of 29 miners. I guess this is more of the same free market capitalism that I wrote about before, where corporations put profits over lives and are willing to do anything for the bottom line. The name of the game seems to be to get over any way they can.... by any means.

The bribery allegations, if true, would explain why there were so many violations with no credible threat of concrete action. It appears to me that MSHA was seen by Massey as more of a nuisance than a serious regulator.

Mayer Hawthorne + The Independents

Make Her Mine (love the nod to Curtis Mayfield)

Leaving Me

Louisiana Governor Jindal Rediscovers Federal Government- Asks For Aid As Oil Spill Reaches Coast

Huge Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico Now Making Landfall

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Requests Aid From the Federal Government (After Lambasting It).

Where is Caribou Barbie? The "Drill Baby Drill" folks have been awfully quiet during this calamity.

"Every asshole who ever chanted 'Drill Baby Drill' should have to report to the Gulf Coast today for cleanup duty." -- Bill Maher

The current spill could rival or even surpass the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Read more

Blacks and The Racial Litmus Test

It didn't take long for Black bloggers to show their ignorance once the photo of Sandra Bullock and her adopted son emerged this week....and I knew it wouldn't take long. As soon as I saw the photo I knew that certain people from the so-called "Black Community" would have something stupid to say. (No I won't link to their sites). But at least one suggested Bullock's adoption attempt was a possible publicity stunt. Another mentioned that special sensitivity training should be required for Whites... you know... gatekeeper nonsense. Basically, some just seemed annoyed that a Black baby had been adopted by a White woman.

Apparently the adoption isn't final.... but she is continuing with the process.
I'm all for it.

I lived in an abusive home from a toddler until I was about 11 years old. My bio mother (egg donor) was neglectful and was consumed by a world of alcohol, drugs and men. I wasn't at the top of the priority list. What kept me alive was my grandmother.... who was the only responsible adult in my life at the time. She basically raised me. And even then, I came close to death a couple of times. It was my father who saved me once and for all in the Winter of 1984, removing me from a St. Louis ghetto. Before that, I would have loved the idea of someone (ANYONE QUALIFIED) adopting me.... no matter what race they were.

Blacks (at least some of them) are being hypocrites on this.... ignorant hypocrites to be exact. If Black women were not having children out of wedlock at such high rates....or having children that they could not care for, then there wouldn't be such a big need for trans-racial adoption in the first place. But they don't want to talk about that. They also don't want to mention the fact that Black children are over-represented in Foster care systems across the Country. The fact is.... there are not enough Blacks stepping up to take care of their own children. Nor are there enough (qualified) Blacks stepping up to adopt Black children once they are in the social services system. But rather than wrestle with reality... (at least some) Blacks would rather criticize those who are willing and able to adopt.

I'm tired of the Black litmus tests. They annoy me to no end.

I'm tired of the color based litmus tests for relationships, adoptions, Supreme Court justices, Congressional districts, and the rest. Don't get me wrong... I love it when an African American reaches high office or achieves an important milestone... but is it necessary for Blacks to create a racial test for every situation?

When Racism Masquerades as Something Else

(The following is an excellent commentary from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Carlos Dews puts into focus the current political climate, particularly the Tea Party...calling it what it really is. Dews' commentary is supported by facts from The University of Washington).

Don't let the virulent hatred of Obama's presidency - veiled in "policy differences" - fool you. Just ask someone raised around bigotry.

By Carlos Dews

[Dews is an author, a professor of English literature, and chairman of the Department of English Language and Literature at John Cabot University in Rome]

'The nigger show."

I first heard this expression used to describe the Obama administration during a visit to my hometown in East Texas during the early summer of 2009. I understood what the epithet meant: Our minds are made up, the president lacks legitimacy, and there is nothing he can do that we will support. I was not surprised to hear such a phrase.

I grew up in the 1960s during the ragged end of the Jim Crow era, where many of the books in my school library were stamped Colored School, meaning they had been brought to the white school when the town was forced to integrate the public school system. I recall my parents had instructed me, before my first day of elementary school, not to sit in a chair where a black child had sat. And I remember my sister joked that her yearbook, when it appeared at the end of her first year of integrated high school, was in "black and white."

The outward signs of racism of my home state have now disappeared, but racial hatred remains. My father and his friends still use the word nigger to refer to all black people, and the people of my hometown don't hesitate to spout their racist rhetoric to my face, assuming I agree with them. I hold my tongue for the sake of having continued access to this kind of truth. I learned long ago how not to accept the hatred I was being taught and how to survive not having done so. More recently, I realized that I also learned another lesson: how to recognize racism when it masquerades as something else.

More than 40 years after my first experiences with racism, I am thousands of miles away in Rome, but surrounded by ghosts. Last year, I received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for a community program called the Big Read, which sponsors activities to encourage communities to come together to read and discuss a single book. I chose Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, in part because I thought that some of the most salient issues in the novel - racism, classism, xenophobia, the Jim Crow era - were perhaps relevant to an increasingly diverse, contemporary Italy.

That there is racism in Italy is obvious to anyone who pays attention to current affairs. In fact, during the first week of the Big Read Rome, a story in one of Italy's national newspapers detailed the experience of a Nigerian woman being called sporca nera (essentially, dirty nigger) by two women she asked to stop smoking on a Roman bus.

But I never imagined that consideration of the novel would prove so relevant to a country that had just elected its first black president.

Ironically, until the election of Barack Obama, my discussions of racism in the United States seemed historical. I felt that with the passage of the civil rights legislation of the mid-1960s, the country had turned a corner, that the slow evaporation of overt racism was perhaps inevitable. Now, my personal experience of Southern racism feels current and all too familiar. A news story about the Big Read that appeared in La Repubblica on Sept. 20 (unaware that my grant was awarded during the Bush administration), presciently brought Rome, Obama, To Kill a Mockingbird, and racism together in its headline: "Obama brings antiracist book to Rome."

Jimmy Carter was lambasted for having recently explained that the vehemence with which many Americans resist Obama's presidency is an expression of racism. Carter was accused of fanning the flames of racial misunderstanding by labeling as "racist" what on the surface could be perceived as legitimate policy differences. Like Carter, as a white Southern man, I can see beyond the seemingly legitimate rhetoric to discern what is festering behind much of the opposition to Obama and to his administration's policy initiatives. I also have access, via the racist world from which I came, direct confirmation of the racial hatred toward Obama.

The veiled racism I sense in the United States today is couched, in public discourse at least, in terms that allow for plausible deniability of racist intent. And those who resist any policy initiative from the Obama administration engage in a scorched-earth policy that reminds me of the self-centered white flight, the abandonment of public schools, and the proliferation of private schools, that followed the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate public schools. The very people, like my own rural, working-class family back in East Texas, who stand to gain from the efforts of the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress are, because of their racism, willing to oppose policies that would benefit them the most. Their racism outweighs their own self-interest.

Unfortunately, racists in the United States have learned one valuable lesson since the 1960s: They cannot express their racism directly. In public, they must veil their racial hatred behind policy differences. This obfuscation makes direct confrontation difficult. Anyone pointing out their racist motivations runs the risk of unfairly playing "the race card." But I know what members of my family mean when they say - as so many said during the town hall meetings in August - that they "want their country back." They want it back, safely, in the hands of someone like them, a white person. They feel that a black man has no right to be the president of their country.

During a phone conversation a few weeks after Obama's election, my father lamented that he and my mother might have to stop visiting the casinos in Shreveport, La.: Given Obama's election, "the niggers are already walking around like they own the place. They won't even give up their seats for white women anymore. I don't know what we're going to do with 'em."

My students often ask me how I managed to avoid accepting the lesson in racism offered by my family. From the time I was 4 or 5 years old - roughly the same age as Scout Finch, the narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird - I recall knowing that I didn't agree with racism. More important, my paternal grandmother provided me with the encouragement that I could ignore what I was being taught. She provided me with the courage to resist.

My grandmother hoped that my father and his father represented the last generations of the type of Southern man that had shaped her life - virulently racist, prone to violence, proud of their ignorance, and self-defeatingly stubborn. It was a type of Southern man that she hoped and prayed I could avoid becoming.

However, my father and his father were not the last of their kind; their racial hatred has been passed on. My grandmother, if she were alive, would recognize the same tendencies among many of the people who shout down politicians and bring guns to public rallies. She would also see how the only change they have made is to replace overt racist epithets with more euphemistic language.

Rather than seeing my home state and its racist attitudes, slowly, over time, pulled in the direction of more acceptance, the country as a whole has become more like the South, the racial or cultural equivalent of what is called the Walmartization of American retail.

It might be easy to see literature as impotent in the face of the persistence and adaptability of racism. But I continue to believe in the transformative potential of literature and its ability to provide an alternative view of the world. And for children who are not lucky enough to have grandmothers like mine, I believe that books like To Kill a Mockingbird can provide inoculation against the virus that is racism.

by Carlos Dews, author, a professor of English literature, and chairman of the Department of English Language and Literature at John Cabot University in Rome.

This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Aspenia, the Italian journal published by the Aspen Foundation Italy.

Republicans Live In a Perpetual Fantasy Land

I know you all probably remember the video from a few weeks ago of the Tennessee lawmaker who said that the unemployed should stop being lazy and find a job.... leave em' to starve...society shouldn't help them. People struggling should stop whining. (Basically suggesting that those who are struggling to survive are lazy bums).

Now more video has recently emerged showing another Tennessee lawmaker (what is it about Tennessee and the South?) suggesting that Americans could use vegetables as currency to pay for Health care. Wow! This comes as Harry Reid's Senate challenger, Sue Lowden, stated last week that people could bring chickens to their doctors in exchange for care. This is so far off the crazy scale that it's just hard to conceive.

Here is the video of the latest lunacy.... paying with Veggies.

I love how lawmaker Joe Towns explains reality to Mr. Crazy. (at the end of the Maddow segment).

This is a perfect example of how Republicans live in a parallel universe. They create their own reality, their own rules, etc... and increasingly question real life (as the rest of us see it).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rachel Maddow takes on the architect of the' If you ain't White, you better have papers' Law

hat tip-SouthernGirl2

Rachel Maddow interviews the president of the Federation of American Immigration Reform

Rachel ripped Dan Stein to shreds

from Political Carnival

The president of FAIR (Federation of American Immigration Reform), Dan Stein, was on the Rachel Maddow Show. It was brutal.

Because of this interview (read: tussle; read: battle; read: slaughter), we have a new word: "Steined"... as in, "You've been Steined by Rachel Maddow".

Witness the peerless Rachel "Stein" Stein:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

President Obama Delivers the Eulogy for Dr. Dorothy I. Height at her Funeral

hat tip - W.E.E. See You

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Dr. Dorothy I. Height's Funeral

US President Barack Obama wipes away a tear as he sits next to First Lady Michelle Obama at the funeral service for Dr. Dorothy Height at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC, April 29, 2010. Height, who led the National Council for Negro Women for four decades, and was present at the key battles for racial equality since the 1930s, died at age 98 after a lifetime devoted to the fight for equality.
----JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

See Full Post

Funeral Services for Dr. Dorothy I. Height

Dr. Dorothy Height's Funeral is today.
Thursday, April 29
10:00 a.m. — A funeral service will be conducted at Washington National Cathedral and is open to the public. The burial service will follow at Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Maryland.

MEDIA ALERT: It WILL air on C-SPAN 2, beginning at 10 AM EST.
It will also be livestreamed at
Dr. Height's funeral will also air on TV One at 10AM EST.

Here is her on C-Span's BookTV discussing with Brian Lamb about her autobiography.

Dr. Height talked about her book, Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir, published by PublicAffairs. Then 91, she had witnessed most of the major events in the African-American struggle for civil rights. She talked about her life work for her cause and about people she knew personally such as W.E.B. DuBois, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many others. She talked about the experience of leading the National Council of Negro Women for forty-one years. Ms. Height received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 26, 2010
Presidential Proclamation -- Death of Dorothy Height




As a mark of respect for the memory of Dorothy Height, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that, on the day of her interment, the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on such day. I further direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blacks Missing Out On Science and Tech Jobs

The key to surviving the recession is taking the time to plan your life after the recession. There are both short and long-term ways to do this. In the short-term, pay off your debts, set aside enough to get you through three-to-six months in case you lose your job. But, it's in strategizing for the long-term where you can really make a difference in your life.

Read the rest at

Monday, April 26, 2010

Getting Skills To Beat The Recession

The hard part with a recession is we get lost in worrying about short-term concerns, like paying the electric bill. The important thing is to think long-term. It's a well known fact that people with college degrees will earn about $900k more in lifetime earnings than someone with just a high school diploma. If you ask me, it's easily worth taking student loans for that amount. Now, Obama has made it even easier.

Read the rest at The

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Funeral Arrangements for Dr. Dorothy I. Height

Funeral Arrangements for Dr. Dorothy I. Height
Courtesy of the National Council of Negro Women
Saturday, April 24, 2010

Funeral services for Dr. Dorothy I. Height, chair and president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), who passed earlier this week, will take place in Washington, D.C. beginning Tuesday, April 27 and end with funeral services at Washington National Cathedral on Thursday, April 29, according to former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, who is overseeing the arrangements.

Burial services will be held at Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Maryland. Dr. Height passed away on Tuesday, April 20, at the age of 98.

Tuesday, April 27
6:00 – 10:00 p.m. --- Dr. Height will lie in repose at the NCNW Dorothy I. Height building for a public viewing.

Wednesday, April 28
2:00 p.m. --- The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority will conduct a public Omega Omega Service at Howard University. Dr. Height served as national president of the sorority in 1947.

7:00 p.m. --- A “Community Celebration of Life” memorial will be held at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. The memorial is open to the public.

Thursday, April 29

10:00 a.m. --- A funeral service will be conducted at Washington National Cathedral and is open to the public. The burial service will follow at Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Maryland.

Simmie Knox
Dr. Dorothy Height
National Council of Negro Women
Washington, D.C.
oil on linen

Friday, April 23, 2010

What In The World Is Going On In Arizona?

Is Arizona trying to secede? It looks like they are doing just about everything they can to send that message.

Their symbolic declaration of war will be Governor Jan Brewer signing new immigration legislation into law that would basically legalize racial profiling and discrimination, by wiping out the 4th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as a generation worth of civil rights laws. Of course it wouldn't wipe out the Constitution...but it would basically mean that Arizona would ignore Federal laws and precedent. If the law in Arizona is allowed to stand...then other States could do the same....undermining the Federal Government.

The initiative would require local law enforcement (who are busy enough...and understaffed enough as is) to enforce Federal immigration seeking out those who are potentially in the U.S. illegally. It's essentially a "show us your papers" law. Those who can't prove citizenship would presumably have to face further questioning.... further investigation and detention.

Just imagine for a minute that you are an Hispanic in Arizona...and one day you decide to go for a walk or you want to take your dog to the park a block away. You may decide that you don't want to take your wallet because you aren't going to the store & won't need money...and you are coming right back. For the sake of comfort, you just don't need your wallet or purse. While in the park... the police decide to do what is commonly known as a 'pedestrian check' because you 'fit the profile'. They already suspect something is wrong...because they have approached you. Now when they ask you for your papers and you tell them that you don't have any ID with you, you can be detained and questioned...and you will even be subject to arrest if your story doesn't fly. Better not have a heavy Spanish accent. Is this America? Are Hispanics (or any other group) expected to just get used to being stopped and frisked? Police can check your name and verify drivers licenses without the actual ID.... but what about those legal residents and citizens from out of State? What about legitimate residents who don't happen to drive and don't have a State issued ID card? There are too many variables that the law doesn't seem to address. You can't subject one group to this kind of scrutiny... it just wouldn't work.

It seems as though this Country sinks a little deeper into the crazy quicksand with each passing day. I had to pinch myself when I heard this story.

Of course as soon as this nonsense is signed into law (if the Governor agrees with the nutters and in fact signs it) it would face a Federal injunction within hours. I almost want to see the law go into effect...because I want the nutters to see just how crazy they are. It would be a good lesson for them about the Constitution and how the Country is supposed to work. I want them to see just how fast this law would be knocked down by the Federal Courts.

I'm all for the enforcement of immigration laws. However, I think that the States and the Federal government should know their roles. There has to be a better way to deal with the issue without endangering Constitutional protections for Hispanic citizens. This law was a simple-minded approach to a delicate and sometimes complex problem. I'm pretty sure that if this legislation becomes law, it won't last for more than a few days (if that). It would take a Hell of a loophole for it to survive. From what I have read and heard about the legislation so far, it wouldn't last more than a couple of days. Its intent doesn't seem to be practical. Instead, it seems to be intended as a symbolic gesture designed to send a message to the Obama Administration.

One problem that this might create is a situation where Obama feels the need to tackle immigration reform this year. This is exactly what the Republicans want...and it may be part of their whole strategy. If Obama takes the bait, it could spell big trouble for Democrats. This is exactly the kind of fight that the Republicans would want going into the midterms. The majority of Americans support tougher enforcement of immigration laws....and Republicans have already framed immigration reform as an attempt to give undocumented individuals amnesty and a free pass. It's a losing battle for Democrats.

Obama should steer clear of any major overhaul of immigration, at least in his first term. If he gets a second term... then this might be an issue that he could try to tackle. This is my view...not because I think it is better to play politics.... but because after looking at the issue it seems clear to me that comprehensive "immigration reform" simply isn't doable. It's not a realistic goal, at least not in the current political and social environment. Why should President Obama waste energy and what little political capital he has left on something that isn't achievable, especially when there are so many other things that the Country needs to deal with? It makes no sense. It is not the kind of battle that he can fight and win...especially not in a Country that is so politically and racially polarized (thanks to the Republican Party and its Tea Party wing). This issue could derail just about everything else in Obama's agenda if he decides to push for any major reforms. The fight over immigration would be bigger than the fight over Health care - exponentially bigger. Do we really want to go back to that? This is exactly why I don't believe that Democrats in the Congress will touch it. The issue is too radioactive. But then again...the Dems in Congress aren't exactly the brightest people in world. They have done incredibly stupid things before.

A Republican - George W. Bush - tried this a few years ago...and failed miserably after his ideas were flatly rejected by his own party. What in the Hell makes anyone think that comprehensive immigration reform is achievable for Obama? Sure....he managed to get a watered down Health Care Bill passed...but Health Care Reform was not nearly as partisan an issue as immigration is. On Health Care...the Country was and is basically split down the middle. On the issue of immigration... Republicans are much more energized...and emotional, and support for tougher enforcement leans heavily in favor of the Conservative position...although this is due, in part, to a lack of understanding about the problems that immigration reform could fix.

The nutters didn't stop with just this immigration initiative. They also have legislation that would require proof of citizenship for any Presidential candidate. Those who don't provide proof of citizenship won't be put on the State ballot. Of course this is aimed at President Obama.

Sometime over the next few days we will know if Governor Jan Brewer will sign this legislation into law.

Chomsky: I Have Never Seen Anything Like This

Interesting commentary about Noam Chomsky by Truthdig's Chris Hedges.

Michael Steele Talking Too Much About Race

After recent revelations about his big spending, Michael Steele has started to come clean about the role race plays in the GOP. It's funny how he seems to have discovered that he is Black over the last few weeks. He recently admitted that the GOP had in fact used the Southern Strategy, as pointed out by Rachel Maddow.

Steele also stated, during a speech this week at DePaul University:

“Why should an African-American vote Republican?

“You really don’t have a reason to, to be honest — we haven’t done a very good job of really giving you one. True? True,” Republican National Chairman Michael Steele told 200 DePaul University students Tuesday night….

Steele seemed to hold the diverse student audience’s attention most when he talked about his own experience suffering racial discrimination — in his first law firm interview for example — and when he confessed his party’s failure to reach out to African-Americans:

“We have lost sight of the historic, integral link between the party and African-Americans,” Steele said. “This party was co-founded by blacks, among them Frederick Douglass. The Republican Party had a hand in forming the NAACP, and yet we have mistreated that relationship. People don’t walk away from parties, Their parties walk away from them.

“For the last 40-plus years we had a ‘Southern Strategy’ that alienated many minority voters by focusing on the white male vote in the South. Well, guess what happened in 1992, folks, ‘Bubba’ went back home to the Democratic Party and voted for Bill Clinton.”

It appears that the Republican Party may be losing control of its racial stooge. The Republican leadership put Steele in the Chairman's seat to be a prop to counter claims that the Party wasn't a reflection of America's diversity. He was put there to look pretty. I don't think his GOP handlers are too happy about him making comments that basically confirm what critics have been saying for some time about the Republican Party. First he made the comment that Black leaders may not have as much room for response to criticism from within his own Party. Now he is talking about how his Party has used the Southern Strategy.

I think he'll be gone if the Republicans don't win big in November. They will have to win big by gaining enough seats to take over the House of Representatives.

Sarah Palin Shows More Ignorance - This Time On The Issue of Religion and State

Has she even read the Constitution?

Message from Tom Tancredo to Obama: Go Back To Africa

The Republicans and their Tea Party supporters are either unable to hide their bigotry anymore... or they have simply chosen not to. Tancredo made his comments during a Tea Party rally in South Carolina.
The comments suggested that Obama was born in Kenya....and also seemed to send a wider message. The 'Go Back To Africa' theme was (and still is) common among racists, particularly in the South.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Greening of Detroit

People who are smart in planning their future will look for jobs in industries that are growing, not shrinking. Smart people, then, will go green.
Earth Day is an opportunity to focus on the tremendous job growth potential in green industries. I have written extensively about how labor union jobs are not the future (even though I support them), how Black workers need to ditch service jobs, and how STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are the way forward.

A great city to see the future up close is Detroit. Of all places, a city best known for old school manufacturing might actually lead the way in green job creation.

Read the rest at The Loop.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dr. Dorothy Height Has Passed Away at the age of 98

From The Washington Post

Dorothy I. Height, founding matriarch of civil rights movement, dies at 98
By Bart Barnes Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, April 20, 2010; 7:34

Dorothy I. Height, 98, a founding matriarch of the American civil rights movement whose crusade for racial justice and gender equality spanned more than six decades, died early Tuesday morning of natural causes, a spokesperson for the National Council of Negro Women said.

Ms. Height was among the coalition of African American leaders who pushed civil rights to the center of the American political stage after World War II, and she was a key figure in the struggles for school desegregation, voting rights, employment opportunities and public accommodations in the 1950s and 1960s.

Ms. Height was president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, relinquishing the title in 1997. The 4 million-member advocacy group consists of 34 national and 250 community-based organizations. It was founded in 1935 by educator Mary McLeod Bethune, who was one of Ms. Height's mentors.

As a civil rights activist, Ms. Height participated in protests in Harlem during the 1930s. In the 1940s, she lobbied first lady Eleanor Roosevelt on behalf of civil rights causes. And in the 1950s, she prodded President Dwight D. Eisenhower to move more aggressively on school desegregation issues. In 1994, Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

"She was a dynamic woman with a resilient spirit, who was a role model for women and men of all faiths, races and perspectives. For her, it wasn't about the many years of her life, but what she did with them," said former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman, a close friend who has been running day-to-day operations at the National Council.

Herman called Ms. Heights "a national treasure who lived life abundantly. She will be greatly missed, not only by those of us who knew her well, but by the countless beneficiaries of her enduring legacy."

In the turmoil of the civil rights struggles in the 1960s, Ms. Heights helped orchestrate strategy with movement leaders including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, Whitney Young, James Farmer, Bayard Rustin and John Lewis, who later served as a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia.

Ms. Height was arguably the most influential woman at the top levels of civil rights leadership, but she never drew the major media attention that conferred celebrity and instant recognition on some of the other civil rights leaders of her time.

In August 1963, Ms. Height was on the platform with King when he delivered his "I have a dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial. But she would say later that she was disappointed that no one advocating women's rights spoke that day at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Less than a month later, at King's request, she went to Birmingham, Ala., to minister to the families of four black girls who had died in a church bombing linked to the racial strife that had engulfed the city.

"At every major effort for social progressive change, Dorothy Height has been there," Lewis said in 1997 when Ms. Height announced her retirement as president of the National Council of Negro Women.

Rest of obituary at link above.


Monday, April 19, 2010

The Teabaggers' Race Conundrum

----Pete Souza

Reprinted with permission of zizi2

I have been mulling the stark difference between Wingnuts attitude towards Obama the Presidential candidate, versus Obama the duly elected President who has to govern. What sharply turned on their hate switch? Why was he tolerable enough to be elected but needs to be delegitimized when he starts to govern?

The racial conundrum lies in the fact that wingnuts actually thought that the be all and end all of President Obama's run was to fulfill the symbolic racial goal of "being the first African American President." They thought that candidate Obama's ultimate goal was realized on election night.

In fact during that much ballyhooed dinner at George Will's house just before the inauguration, Krauthammer, Kristol, Peggy Noonan all came away claiming to have been impressed by Obama's "deep thought and eloquence." See, they were still thinking of him as an anthropological specimen/curiosity that had exhibited signs of intelligence. They believed he would be content to maintain the token favored negro status.

But if they had listened to him during the campaign they would have realized he had no such intention. When Steve Kroft asked candidate Obama about the racial significance of his nomination the day after the Denver DNC convention, Obama quipped that he was sure African Americans "understood" the significance, but he himself did not see a need to fixate on it, and neither was that his mission. He intended to do things. These folks should have listened then, and there is nothing that he has been doing since he entered the White House that he did not spelled out clearly before hand.

So now from neo-cons down to teabaggers are "shocked! shocked!" that Pres. Obama intends to enact his agenda that he shouted out to us over and over during a two-year campaign? What is he saying and doing now that he did not say back in January 2009 to garner 83% national approval ratings? What did he do on the day he signed the Health Insurance Law on March 23, 2010 to bring him down into the mid-forties approval that he did not say he intended in May 2009 to garner 65% approval for healthcare reform?

Certainly the vitriol we see now began with Palin's rallies, and increasingly the corporate media by not pushing back, enabled the public to become numb to the hate. When I compare today's "meh" shrug of the media to the pundits amplifying the public outcry over Palin's statements that candidate Obama was "someone who sees America not as you and I do" and who "pals around with terrorists," a great deal has changed in the public square.

So ironically, the wingnut apoplexy is precisely over the fact that Pres. Obama refuses to be tragically bound by "race." He is usurping the default normative sense of legitimacy of a "white" president. How dare he? As someone simply put it Obama is guilty of thinking he is President or something. Strange indeed!

aleth then asks the following:

EDIT: QUESTION: Do you think it goes back to the very nature or racist mindset that we are not smart? That is, they have internalized all of their racial bias and superiority to the point they cannot delineate between the real world and the imagined fantasy in their head of who the other is?



Wish List of Qualities I Want in Next Supreme Court Justice

The not-so-surprising announcement by 90-year old Justice John Paul Stevens that he's leaving the bench in June sparked the inevitable debates about who President Obama will select as his replacement. Just as predictably are the questions on whether or not Senate Republicans will block Obama's nominee.

For the moment, let's put aside concerns about Senate Republicans. All you need to know about the Grand Opposition Party is that they'll oppose Obama's nominee no matter what.

The most important discussion centers around what type of justice the president should nominate.

Here's what I want in a justice:

Read the rest at The Loop.

Possible Supreme Court Nominees

The President has an opening on the Supreme Court. There are more than a few qualified African Americans that could take that spot.

First possible nominee is Leah Ward Sears.

W.E.E. See You did an absolutely fabulous profile of Judge Sears.

Leah Ward Sears (born June 13, 1955) is an American jurist and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S. state of Georgia. Sears was the first African-American female Chief Justice in the United States. When she was first appointed as justice in 1992 by then-Governor Zell Miller, she became the first woman and youngest person to sit on the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Early life and education

Leah Ward Sears was born in Heidelberg, Germany to United States Army Colonel Thomas E. Sears and Onnye Jean Sears. The family eventually settled in Savannah, Georgia, where she attended and graduated from high school.

Sears received a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University in 1976, her Juris Doctor from Emory University School of Law in 1980, and a Master of Laws from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1995. At Cornell, Sears was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated[1] and the Quill and Dagger society. She holds honorary degrees from Morehouse College, Clark-Atlanta University, LaGrange College, Piedmont College, and Spelman College.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama in Mexico

Something's Rotten With the Richmond, VA Police Department. Ask Congressman Bobby Scott

hat tip-Monie, who is right, this doesn't pass the smell test.

From The Hill:

In mix-up, lawmaker gets wake-up call from Richmond police
By Lauren Victoria Burke - 04/14/10 09:33 PM ET

Richmond police officers on Sunday attempted to serve an arrest warrant to a Virginia lawmaker, but they had the wrong guy.

The bizarre sequence of events started Saturday night after Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) delivered a speech at the Virginia 5th District Annual Dinner in Lynchburg, Va. Instead of completing the more than three-hour drive to his home in Newport News, Scott checked into a Holiday Inn Central hotel in Richmond around midnight.

Nine hours later, two members of the Richmond Police Department were knocking on his second-floor hotel room door, Scott told The Hill.

Scott, who described himself as "dead asleep" at the time, awakened, opened the door and spoke with the officers.

They asked him if his name was Robert Scott and he replied yes. The officers informed him they had an outstanding arrest warrant for a "Robert Scott" and requested two forms of photo identification. Scott said he gave the officers his driver's license and his congressional voting card.

Though his voting card states, "Robert C Scott, U.S. House of Representatives, Member of Congress" on the front side along with his photo as well as the seal of the U.S. House of Representatives on the backside, the police were more interested in his driver's license to ascertain his date of birth.

Scott, who is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee crime, terrorism and homeland security subcommittee, was questioned about where he lived. The conversation ended shortly thereafter, according to Scott.

Scott, who will turn 63 on April 30, did not suggest that the police acted improperly, but is perplexed as to how the police knew that a Robert Scott was at the hotel at that particular time. He is also wondering if the officers had a specific description of the suspect they were looking for.

"I'm just curious and interested to see what description they had..." Scott said. "I'm curious as to how they got to the hotel room and what information they got to find out where I was. Most hotels are secretive about information.

"I'd be interested to know if there was probable cause regarding a description. Were the police looking for a 62-year-old black man who is 5'8?”

The nine-term lawmaker and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, who is also an attorney, is raising civil liberty concerns.

"At a hotel there is an expectation of privacy. They will connect you to a room if you call, but they will not tell you a room number," Scott said.

DeQuan Smith, who was the manager on duty at the Holiday Inn Central when the police arrived Sunday morning, said he informed the Richmond Police he would not disclose any information on a guest staying at the hotel.

Smith said he asked the police officers for more information, but instead was told he would be arrested if he did not tell the officers which room Scott was in.

Repeated calls to hotel General Manager Rasik Kotadia were not returned.

OK, Questions People:
1. How the hell did they know Scott was AT A HOTEL. They didn't go to his HOME...they sought him out at a HOTEL.
2. Yes, I believe Mr. Smith, when he says they THREATENED HIM WITH ARREST for breaking the privacy of a patron.

Something is rotten with the Richmond, VA Police Department.

And, NO, I don't even have to ASK what the police officers look like, because I've been Black in America longer than 3 days.

Literacy Tests? REALLY Gov. McDonnell?

Gov. Bob ' The Civil War wasn't really about slavery' McDonnell, is up to his same bag of tricks.

From the Washington Post:
McDonnell in hot water over nonviolent felons' rights
By Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 11, 2010

RICHMOND -- For the second time in a week, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has angered black leaders and civil rights groups, this time when they learned of his plans to add another step for nonviolent felons to have their voting rights restored.

McDonnell (R) will require the offenders to submit an essay outlining their contributions to society since their release, turning a nearly automatic process into a subjective one that some say may prevent poor, less-educated or minority residents from being allowed to vote.

"It's another roadblock," Sen. Yvonne B. Miller (D-Norfolk), a member of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, said when she was told of the change.

Miller has repeatedly introduced unsuccessful bills to allow nonviolent offenders to have their rights restored automatically. "This is designed to suppress the rights of poor people," she said.

You understand that? You've paid your' debt to society', and on top of an application process, he wanted ex-felons to SUBMIT AN ESSAY. Just exactly WHO would be reading those essays? WHO was going to determine what WAS and WAS NOT an acceptable essay?

This is nothing more than an attempt to reinstate LITERACY TESTS.

Let me say it again, quoting Dennis Green:


Plain and simple.

He thought that he could just roll on in and reinstate LITERACY TESTS, and folks would be hunky dory about it.

They really don't think Black folk can read. Or that we can comprehend what he is attempting to do.

This story came out on Sunday, by Monday night, he was backtracking, saying that this was just in the ' draft' stages, except for the not-so-small FACT, that WaPo and the Rachel Maddow show, produced LETTERS TO EX-FELONS telling them to send in their ESSAYS.

Then, once it was clear that his ass was busted on that, then Tuesday or Wednesday, he was blaming some low-level staffer.

You're not slick Governor. Folks can see you up close and personal.

This is about VOTER SUPPRESSION, plain and simple. That voting rights aren't restored automatically is a form of voter suppression.

Virginia turned BLUE in 2008, and these lowlife mofos are determined to 'correct' that in 2012.

He is EVERY BIT the right-wing nutcase that Town and other JJP posters warned us he would be. He hasn't disappointed one bit, cause nobody here was fooled by his extremism.

Rachel Maddow did 2 pieces this week on McDonnell and his backtracking on this issue.

This is from Tuesday's Show:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This is from Wednesday's Show:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Dr. Benjamin Hooks, former head of the NAACP, passes away at 85

hat tip-WVON

-----Photo by Alan Spearman

Civil rights leader Benjamin Hooks dies
April 15, 2010 8:24 a.m. EDT

Benjamin L. Hooks, a civil rights leader who led the NAACP from 1977 to 1992, has died, said the vice president for communication at the NAACP.

The cause of death was not immediately known, the NAACP's Leila McDowell said Thursday.

Hooks was "a vocal campaigner for civil rights in the United States," said the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1925, Hooks grew up in the segregated South.

Hooks served in the U.S. Army during World War II, where he "found himself in the humiliating position of guarding Italian prisoners of war who were allowed to eat in restaurants that were off limits to him. The experience helped to deepen his resolve to do something about bigotry in the South," according to a biography published by the University of Memphis, where he was a professor in the political science department.

He also was a lawyer and an ordained Baptist minister who joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and led the NAACP for 15 years.

The organization "was suffering from declining membership and prestige when Hooks assumed his role as executive director," the University of Memphis biography said. The NAACP added several hundred thousand new members under his leadership, it said.

During his tenure, the civil rights organization worked with Major League Baseball on a program that expanded employment opportunities for African-Americans in baseball, including in positions as managers, coaches and in franchise executive offices, the NAACP said.

He also worked with colleagues to set up a program in which more than 200 corporations agreed to participate in economic development projects in black communities, the NAACP said.

President George W. Bush awarded Hooks the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in November 2007.

"As a civil rights activist, public servant and minister of the gospel, Dr. Hooks has extended the hand of fellowship throughout his years," Bush said. "It was not an always thing -- easy thing to do. But it was always the right thing to do.

"For 15 years, Dr. Hooks was a calm yet forceful voice for fairness, opportunity and personal responsibility. He never tired or faltered in demanding that our nation live up to its founding ideals of liberty and equality."

Julian Bond, the chairman emeritus of the NAACP, praised Hooks at the time.

"Benjamin Hooks has had a stellar career -- civil rights advocate and leader, minister, businessman, public servant -- there are few who are his equal," Bond said, according to the NAACP.

Tea Party Leader Mark Williams Compares the Election of Barack Obama to 9/11 and AIDS

But i'm sure he meant well. Just another innocent comment.

Of course hate/race is one of the core issues driving the Tea Party (as I have pointed out here numerous times..... see a nice Jack & Jill politics post from April of last year). It's ridiculous to continue arguing about that fact. What annoys me is that not enough of these jackasses are willing to admit it. I would just like to see them own up to it.

They are using the Tea Party as a cover for what's really bothering them. They claim that they are concerned about big government, government overreach/limited government, government spending, etc...and that these are their main/core concerns above all else. But if that were the case, then why were they silent during the Bush years, when there was massive government overreach...overreach that was so bad that it had to be corrected a number of times by the courts, and when spending and deficits went through the roof? This argument from the Tea Party folks just doesn't work. It makes no sense. Racial animus and xenophobia plays a much larger role in this Republican Conservative movement than what many people, especially supporters of the Tea Party, care to admit.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour Also Ignored Slavery in His Confederate Heritage Proclamation

They Are Yearning for the Days of the Old Confederacy

After he defended Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell for omitting slavery from his States Confederate remembrance, it turns out that Haley Barbour made the same glaring omission in his State's proclamation. He seemed to go out of his way to purposely leave out any mention of slavery. I suspect they may be doing this to rile up their supporters. Both Governors may be interested in running for President or VP in 2012. This may be red meat for the Conservative Tea Party base.

Yes, there are definitely more important concerns that we should be focused on... and Republicans would probably love it if we were distracted by Barbour's antics. However, these reports, along with the other comments and activities by the Right point to a certain kind of state of mind that I believe should be illuminated. I think it says a lot about how they view the world, what they believe in, and who they really are. Eugene Robinson points this out very nicely in his commentary on the subject.

These kinds of political antics are taking place at the same time that we are hearing reports about segregation in Mississippi schools. Post racial my ass. I'm not even sure what year this is. I had to check the calender, not sure if I had slipped back in time into some other decade. But the calender says 2010. Notice the overriding pattern? There is a larger context to all of this. It pisses me off when apologists for the radical Right discuss these matters in a vacuum.... in separate little pieces, ignoring patterns and the larger context. Facts tell us one thing, but some in the mainstream corporate media suggest that we should ignore what is right in front of our faces. They want us to believe that the sky is pink, and that the earth is flat....that what we are seeing is just a figment of our imagination. It's not just the wider context of current events that they seem to ignore, they also love to ignore historical context, as Eugene Robinson pointed out.

What's even more annoying than all the talk about the loony Tea Party, the radical Right, and their romanticizing of the Confederacy, is the fact that thickheaded American voters are going to put these jackasses into office, certainly at the State and Congressional levels, in November of this year and in 2012, despite these reports, and despite solid recent history that shows their policies failing. This whole thing (the Right's activities over the past decade and their use of propaganda, especially since 2007) says more about the deficiencies of Progressives and their complete lack of an effective media infrastructure, than it says about how crazy the Right is. If you can't effectively mount a defense against such incredibly crazy propaganda and effectively educate the American public (which is in desperate need of good information and deprogramming).... then to me, this may be the more pressing issue. It points to an emergency within the Progressive movement in this Country. If there is no effort to fix it and fix it soon- with a complete revamping of Progressive strategy, infrastructure... and with policies like the Fairness Doctrine - then this Country is going to be in serious trouble. Progressives & Democrats are certainly going to pay a price.

I'm losing more faith in this Country and the World with each passing day.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Episodes of the King Politics Podcast

Visit iTunes and subsribe/download my latest episodes of the King Politics Podcast. Or download directly from TheLoop21 or Podcast Alley.

I have my weekly left-right discussion with Lenny McAllister in a segment we dub Both Sides of The Loop. This week we discuss Chairman Steele, the Tea Party and "shaming our ancestors" and Obama & Israel.

There are also interviews with Mariko Chang. Her research determined that black single women have a total net wealth of just $5. I also talk with Ian Fletcher about free trade, Veronica Anderson about health care. My latest episode is with Steven Williams. We talk about personal debt and this episode will be available by Tuesday, April 13.

Michael Steele can't and shouldn't win

Ever since assuming his position as head of the RNC, Michael Steele has been in a can't-win situation. The Republican party was in such a mess after the 2008 election, that they had nowhere to go but up. Even then, Steele has done everything but turn his party around.

Read the rest at The Loop.

Katie Washington is Notre Dame's First Black Valedictorian

hat tip-The Savvy Sista


You Go Girl: Katie Washington is Notre Dame's first black valedictorian

History is being made at the University of Notre Dame this spring.

In the 161 years the University of Notre Dame has been awarding degrees, never had there been an African-American as valedictorian. Until this year.

She's Katie Washington of Gary, Indiana. She carries a 4.0 GPA majoring in biology and minoring in Catholic social teaching.

According to the Northwest Indiana Times, Washington plans to continue her studies at Johns Hopkins University and follow in her father's footsteps into medicine.

Washington says she's humbled by the honor of being named valedictorian.

More information from Notre Dame University:

Katie Washington, a biological sciences major from Gary, Ind., has been named valedictorian of the 2010 University of Notre Dame graduating class and will present the valedictory address during Commencement exercises May 16 (Sunday) in Notre Dame stadium.

Washington, who earned a 4.0 grade point average, has a minor in Catholic Social Teaching. She has conducted research on lung cancer at the Cold Spring Harbor labs and performed genetic studies in the University's Eck Institute for Global Health on the mosquito that carries dengue and yellow fever. She is the co-author of a research paper with David Severson, professor of biological sciences.

Washington directs the Voices of Faith Gospel Choir at Notre Dame, is a mentor/tutor for the Sister-to-Sister program at South Bend's Washington High School and serves as the student coordinator of the Center for Social Concerns' "Lives in the Balance: Youth Violence and Society Seminar."

Upon graduation, Washington plans to pursue a joint M.D./Ph.D program at Johns Hopkins University.

Congratulations, Ms. Washington.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Congratulations Tyki Nelworth: From Homeless Student to West Point

hat tip-W.E.E. See You

From KABC.Com

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A homeless high school senior from South L.A. is on his way to West Point thanks to some incredible help from complete strangers. Tyki Nelworth explained to Eyewitness News how he is inspiring such an overwhelming support.

George Washington Preparatory High School senior Tyki Nelworth is savoring the generosity of strangers. The 18-year-old has been accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point, but up until Thursday, he didn't know how he would get there or how he would pay the deposit.

"Initially, I had to make a $2,000 deposit to West Point to enter and I was kind of uncertain on how I was going to get that together," said Tyki. "That's a lot of money."

When the school's alumni association heard the stand-out student needed help, former students paid the deposit, his plane ticket, his prom tickets and tuxedo rental.


Despite one obstacle after another, Tyki has a 4.2 GPA. He's taken advanced-placement courses, is the captain of the football team, is on the baseball team and is student body president.

Tyki plans to play football at West Point and sharpen his leadership skills. Over the years, he says many people have steered him in the right direction and he hopes to be a role model to other teens in the future.

"If you put your mind to it, I know it sounds cliché, but you can do it. If there's a will, there's a way," said Tyki.

Congratulations young man. And, God bless.

President Obama's Weekly Youtube Address

Polish President's Plane Crashes in Russia - No Survivors

Another crisis for Europe? Just what we needed.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and his entire entourage of Polish officials perished as his plane went down while attempting to land in western Russia, reportedly in "bad weather". Kaczynski was headed to Russia to commemorate the massacre of Polish soldiers by the Soviet Union during World War II.

The President was one of the Kaczynski twins... somewhat known as political rock stars in Europe. A huge number of Polish officials were on the flight. Luckily the Polish Prime Minister traveled to Russia for ceremonies earlier in the week and was on a different plane, part of a different delegation. But much of the government of a major European Country has just been lost in one incident.

This will be a developing story throughout the day and into next week. A huge story in Europe for sure.

Tensions may rise as the two Countries - Russia & Poland - generally don't get along. Kaczynski was considered pro-U.S. (perhaps too much so), but was disliked by the Russian government. So this could muddy relations between Russia & Poland, between Russia & the U.S., and between Russia & The West (NATO/EU). It could be a setback to what little progress has been made in relations between the U.S. & Russia and between Russia & Poland.

Poland is part of the geo-political chess board of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus where the U.S. and Russia are still fighting the Cold War, battling for influence and dominance (no the Cold War never really ended unfortunately...have been very annoyed by the fact that Obama has decided to keep it going). Other parts of that active chess board include the Czech Republic, Georgia, Ukraine, Kosovo, and Kyrgyzstan - another Country in chaos that the U.S. wants to maintain a footprint in...even though we shouldn't be there (recent events prove my point for why we should avoid these unstable Countries). The argument that the U.S. needs an airbase in Kyrgyzstan to support operations in Afghanistan is completely bogus. It's nonsense. The U.S. presence in and around these Countries has been more destabilizing than helpful. It has been destabilizing for the Countries, for the regions, for Europe & Central Asia, and for the world.

It would make more sense for Russia to hand the investigation over to a third party commission.... or any neutral party... such as the EU, OSCE, or the UN. I don't know if the people of Poland will accept anything that the Russians say.

Additional Report from Sky News

Friday, April 09, 2010

J. Bruce Llewellyn, Pioneering Executive, Passes Away at 82

hat tip-Sepia


J. Bruce Llewellyn, Pioneering Executive
Philadelphia Daily News

J. Bruce Llewellyn, who built the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co. into one of the nation's largest and most prosperous black-owned companies, died yesterday at the age of 82.

Llewellyn was the quintessential entrepreneur, with business interests all over the globe. A man of many accomplishments, he was a lawyer, onetime prosecutor in the New York District Attorney's Office, and served in the administrations of both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

He became interested in soft drinks while owner of Fedco Foods Corp., of New York, and saw his chance to get into the field when the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Operation PUSH staged a boycott of Coca-Cola because it had so few black employees and distributors.

Llewellyn teamed up with legendary 76ers star Julius "Dr. J" Erving and Philadelphia entertainer Bill Cosby to buy the local company in 1983.

As chairman and CEO, Llewellyn ramped up revenues to more than $500 million annually and greatly increased the number of minority employees.

He sold the Fedco chain of stores for $20 million and in 1985 bought WKBW-TV, an ABC affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y., and four years later he and other investors purchased South Jersey Cable for more than $400 million.

In 1988, he bought another Coca-Cola bottling company, the one in Wilmington, Del.

Llewellyn was first cousin of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. His sister, Dorothy A. Cropper, was a judge of the New York State Court of Claims.

One of his three daughters, Alexandra Marie Llewellyn, a former television reporter, is married to best-selling author Tom Clancy.

In 1998, Llewellyn and Clancy were prepared to bid on the purchase of the Minnesota Vikings, but Llewellyn became ill and had to undergo heart surgery. He dropped the idea of becoming the first African-American owner of a National Football League team.

Born in Harlem, Llewellyn graduated from City College of New York, and earned graduate degrees from the Columbia Graduate School of Business and the New York University School of Public Administration. He received a law degree from New York Law School.

He served in the Army during World War II and attained the rank of first lieutenant.

He is survived by his wife, Shahara Ahmad-Llewellyn, and two other daughters, Kristen and Lisa.

A Challenge To Sarah Palin

I want to offer a challenge to Sarah Palin. Of course she won't (can't) accept such a challenge....but I want to offer it anyway.

I want to challenge her to a general knowledge quiz (100 questions, true and false, multiple choice, short answer/fill in the blank, and one 2-3 page essay question).

This quiz would cover general knowledge in areas of American history, current events, international affairs/international affairs history, geography, The Constitution, basic civics, the functions of government, global conflicts, etc. Nothing too complicated. The material would cover items that a high school student or undergraduate college student should know. It would certainly consist of items that a former Governor and former VP candidate...and likely future candidate for major office should know. I'm talking about 8th, 9th, 10th & 11th grade level stuff here.... the kinds of basic questions that might be found on a citizenship test... perhaps a little tougher, depending on the topic.

None of the questions would be known before the quiz. The quiz could be put together by any neutral high school teacher or college professor/instructor....or a panel of the same. The quiz should be proctored by academics at local colleges/Universities (because i'm not going to travel).... or it could be administered completely online. One caveat... I would be able to maintain my anonymity.

I'm just a guy of average intelligence.... just a blogger/nobody... certainly a Presidential or Vice Presidential hopeful and former Governor and VP candidate should be able to cream me in a challenge like this.

Sarah Palin Is A Complete Idiot

And that's probably why the Right loves her so much. This week she attacked Obama for his position on nuclear weapons.
(notice the Faux News caption).

Obama responded by basically stating the obvious...that Palin is a dimwit.

Sarah Palin is completely clueless about the fact that the START I Treaty, START II Treaty and the recent SORT Treaty were the projects of 3 different Republican Presidents (Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush). Now all of a sudden Obama's work to reduce these weapons is a signal that he is weak on national defense?

Obama's policy change on nukes is modest. It doesn't fully embrace a "No First Use" approach, which is what the U.S. should have adopted. It unfortunately still leaves the "First Strike" option available in theory. But a "No First Use" position, even if it were fully adopted, would do nothing to harm national security. Deterrence, the main purpose of the nuclear arsenal, would still be effective.

Sarah Palin is an example of why the U.S. is screwed as a nation. It's one thing to have idiotic voters... But now we have idiotic and dangerous political figures to match. If these are the kinds of people who the electorate will vote into power... (and this appears to be the case... it has already taken place with George W. Bush).... then the U.S. is in deep trouble.

Once again, stupidity rises to the top in American media and in politics.

Now all of a sudden the U.S. Senate.... which usually approves such treaty agreements without a problem... (overwhelmingly in fact) grumbling about the deal. For theatrical purposes... I suspect the deal may be held up...delayed, etc. Republicans will play politics.

At the end of the day, it may not matter much. There is a good chance that Russia may back out of the deal as a way to protest U.S. missile defense plans in Europe, which Obama should abandon. He only partially abandoned a missile defense system for Europe when he canceled a plan to install a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. He should explore a Sea based system (which we already have the systems and technology to deploy)... or scrap the idea altogether.

Discussion - Coal Mining In West Virginia

Hear NPR discussion on the coal industry in West Virginia.

Massey Energy and Don Blankenship - Prime Examples of Unchecked Free Market Capitalism

Republicans love to push the idea that the free market should be left unchecked and that it will fix everything on its own. Just leave the economy to the free market and everything will be dandy. This is one of the core fundamental beliefs of Conservatives in this Country. But those of us who are actually part of the working class (like myself) understand firsthand what it means when the free market is allowed to run wild. Working class folks (especially the working poor) understand the consequences of an unchecked free market with minimal labor rights.

29 miners were left to the free market at the Performance Coal Company's Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal West Virginia. Of course they represent dozens of other miners who could have had their numbers called this week. But this is what happens when free market capitalism is left to its own devices. We know that the banking system was left to the free market over the last few decades...and we know the results of that- it didn't turn out so well. The free market, left unchecked, can cause serious problems, both for individuals and for economies. When free market capitalism is left unchecked, women don't get equal pay. Blacks often don't get equal treatment or opportunities. Truck drivers are forced to work more hours than what is safe...leading to dangerous situations on the road. Factory workers are forced to work in unsafe conditions. Health insurance companies deny coverage or cancel policies after customers get sick (through rescission). Homeowners can't get payments on their homes after disasters (Katrina). Workers aren't paid full wages for time on the job (ask those folks from Wal-Mart). Undocumented workers are exploited, cheated out of wages and abused. Workers are fired or punished for reporting illegal activity or unsafe working conditions. The list goes on and on. To put it market capitalism is a bitch if left unchecked. It's clear why companies want less regulations... they want to be able to make as much profit as possible on the backs of everyone else, even if it will cost lives. The fewer rules there are... the easier it is for them to disregard safety, to defraud, etc. Anything by hook or by crook. I always marvel at how the media allows Republicans to push that mantra... when they are really saying that they want to return to the days when there were few laws and lax enforcement for the laws that we had. It's almost as if they are saying they want to return to the days of legal involuntary servitude. And this is celebrated in the Republican Party as something great.

I am not a huge fan of unions...but if one had been in place in anti-union Massey.... in anti-union West Virginia... those miners might still be alive. What is really needed in this Country is a system of real labor laws with teeth... like those that exist in Europe. Then, there wouldn't be a need for unions. Union safety demands should be codified in the law and strongly enforced. Add some social safety nets to the picture, and you would have a fair system. Beyond that, we should be acting more aggressively as a Country to find other sources of energy.

Here is a great blog posting about the background of Massey Energy and Don Blankenship. He represents the corporate side of the Tea Party madness.

Rachel Maddow did a great segment this week about what free market capitalism run amok looks like, particularly in the coal industry. Massey was cited and fined dozens of times, just over the past year. More from the ABC blog, the Blotter. The Upper Big Branch Mine had one of the worst safety records of any underground mine in the Country.

Apparently federal and State mine safety officials don't have the power, nor the incentive, to shut these operations down for good when they decide to flout government regulations. The mine operators know that the process for shutting them down is tough. They have also calculated that it may be cheaper just to pay fines than to make necessary safety upgrades. In many cases, these companies make a conscious decision that they will put their profits over human lives. This is why there has to be a stronger system of labor laws and easier mechanism for shutting these businesses down. Once they know that regulators have the power to bring their businesses to a halt indefinitely or permanently then they will have no choice but to comply. Until then, these companies will continue to play the same game with regulators. If anything...this case shows that even in industries that are regulated...that aren't completely unchecked, corporations will still flout the system...which points to the need to much stronger government oversight.

Unfortunately Massey Energy (the Parent Company of Performance Coal) was too cheap to install the necessary ventilation/fan systems to keep gas down to safe levels. This is what happens when the free market is allowed to dictate safety standards. People die. Yes, people will still die under tougher safety regulations... but the point here is.... more people die under lax regulation and free market capitalism unchecked, than would die otherwise. In for-profit systems where everything is determined by the bottom line and by the needs of shareholders, corporations will always choose profits over people. If left to their own devices, corporations & executives will always act in the interest of keeping their own bank accounts flush with cash, not in the interest of the safety of people. Without institutions, organizations (like unions), and laws.... (laws that are heavily enforced) people die. Laws and regulations are what make corporations act in the interest of people.