After a Spring and Summer that was shall we say less than quiet, Chicago’s public schools opened it’s doors today kicking off the 2013-2014 school year.

 

Now if you haven’t been paying attention up until this point the mayor of the nation’s third largest city and supposed Democrat, Rahm Emanuel pretty much won the battle he waged last year against teachers, their union and most importantly parents by overseeing the closing of close to 50 public schools in the city, the majority of which resided in poor communities of color.

 

According to good old Rahm these closings were needed to close a $1 billion budget deficit that the city was facing and would without question improve the quality of education being received by the kids. Funny how Emanuel sounds a lot like elected Republicans around the country who when faced with balancing a budget make public education one of their first sacrificial lambs. Emanuel’s argument also doesn’t hold water considering that the city announced last May that taxpayers will fit the $125 million bill to build a new basketball arena for DePaul University, a private school in Chicago who I’m sure would have no problem finding rich alumi and donors to generously chip in if it so desired.

 

A local arena expert named Marc Ganis told the Chicago Sun-Times that the plan was “lunacy” and “made no economic sense whatsoever.”

 

Clearly in Emanuel’s world rich backers, of which he has many take precedent over needy neighborhoods who want and need quality schools, speaking of which The Mayor and his hand picked school board knew full well that closing of these schools would mean that dozens of children would be taking longer commutes- an overwhelming majority of them will be walking- to school.

 

In making these daily treks back and forth many of these students will be forced to cross dangerous gang territories in a city where gun violence over the last few years has been rampant. The community shouldn’t have to worry though because old Rahm has a plan and it’s called The Safe Passage Program.

 

The program is made up of policeman who are working and being paid overtime, city employees like fireman and maintenance workers and volunteers who would line the city streets in neon vests and hopefully provide a visible distraction for anyone who has the notion of firing weapon in a heavily occupied school zone.

 

Now these city employees get the pleasure of having more responsibility piled onto their respective plates all the while asking themselves how long will it be before Rahm comes for their pound of flesh to counter the city’s financial woes a la Detroit, also God forbid there is a mass tragedy that diverts the attention of these same policemen, fireman and other city employees, what happens to the Safe Passage program then? Most of all however how long will other individuals be willing to take part. On today’s first day of school Emanuel along with other elected officials in the city took part in the journey by escorting several kids to their respective schools, which clearly had nothing to do with television cameras and newspaper reporters, surely we can’t expect that type of commitment and diligence from the Mayor everyday considering the demands he has.

 

There is very little that Rahm Emanuel and I agree on politically, in my opinion he is the classic center left Democrat who can’t say no to Wall Street and can’t say yes to working people. His job is a difficult one, one that I surely would not like to take on, but since he has taken over the “Windy City” Emanuel’s approach has been all wrong. Rather than listening to and trying to work with the Teacher’s Union, rather than engaging in a give and take dialogue that would have provided the best possible outcome for all parties involved Emanuel choose to engage in a nasty and personal back and forth with the head of the Teacher’s Union Karen Lewis that has wrought a situation where school children have been displaced and their parents have absolutely no recourse.

 

The war on teacher’s unions and public schools is not new and it is not always led by the Republican Party, but if anyone is surprised that it is being led in Chicago by the guy who was once the right-hand man of the current President of the United States should join us in the real world of 2013. Remember that Barack Obama also employs Mr. “Race To The Top” himself Arne Duncan as his Secretary of Education.

 

With these 47 schools now gone and with the Safe Passage Program’s effectiveness and ultimately it’s future in question -which it should be- What happens now to Chicago’s kids? Are they doomed for a life of arduous walks to schools way outside of their own neighborhoods only to be placed in some classrooms that will occupy as many as 39 kids? Or do Parents and Teachers have the will and the resources to fight back against the political machine of Private and Charter schools and the politicians who do their bidding?

 

The one thing that is certain is that Rahm Emanuel’s allegiance on that matter should not be questioned.

If you are a black or brown male such as myself you should remember the name Shira A. Scheindlin. Ms. Scheindlin is a United States District Court Judge who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, and as of yesterday she is the judge who decided to stand up to both New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his police commissioner Ray Kelly.

 

It was Judge Scheindlin who issued a ruling on Monday that said the “Stop and Frisk” policy employed by the New York City Police Department violated the constitutional rights of minority citizens of the nation’s largest and most famous city.

 

In her ruling Judge Scheindlin found that the NYPD resorted to “a policy of indirect racial profiling” and called for a federal monitor to oversee board reforms of the tactics used by the city’s police officers. She also called for the possibility of body worn cameras to be attached to certain officers.

 

Upon hearing the news of the ruling Hizzoner the mayor stopped just short of having a public meltdown. In a press conference Bloomberg accused Judge Scheindlin of “not understanding how policing works” and that she had misrepresented what the Constitution allows, putting forward a large portion of his very own “middle aged white guy privilege.” Apparently not wanting to be left out Police Commissioner Kelly chimed in by saying that the thing that upset him the most was Judge Scheindlin accusing the police of engaging in racial profiling. Bloomberg also sounded the horns of fear by saying “this ruling is very dangerous” and said that crime would once again spike because of it.

 

Bloomberg clearly has no problem about being misguided on this issue being that he has been for a longtime. Crime in New York City, in direct correlation with crime across the country is down significantly. What the Mayor negates to mention is that while New York’s 600 murders last year were 600 too many they pale in comparison to the 2200 that took place in 1990 right on the verge of former Mayor David Dinkins taking office. Dinkins, and as much it pains me to say this Rudy Giuliani found ways to bring down crime without resorting to a racist policy like “Stop and Frisk.” (Giuliani did give us Amadou Diallo and Abner Louima)

 

The most offensive part of Bloomberg and Kelly’s “middle aged white guy privilege” is this notion that young black and brown men in New York who have never been involved in and have no plans to take part in criminal activity have to “suck it up” and “take one for the team” because of some shady elements that may exist in their communities. If your African-American or Latino you must be detained by police because they apparently just can’t take the chance on you not being a criminal. The burden of proof on people of color when it comes to their innocence is something white people don’t have to deal with.

 

There is also the absolute fact that “Stop and Frisk” has been an ineffective policy in combating crime. According to the NYPD’s own statistics guns recovered from police stops amounted to less than 2% among Black, White, and Latino men in the city. There is absolutely no way that Bloomberg, Kelly and company can justify the use of Stop and Frisk as an effective tool to combat gun violence. It has however played a huge role in the imprisonment of young black and brown men when it comes to marijuana arrests. Because of the heavy police presence in New York’s minority neighborhoods, and the lack of one on say the Upper West Side, white kids who possess and smoke just as much marijuana according to statistics don’t face the same possibility of being arrested and placed in the criminal justice system. -Which makes the other big news of the day, the annoucement by Attorney General Eric Holder that he will do away with mandatory minimum sentences on drug possession so important.-

 

While the Bloomberg administration continues to laud the phony effectiveness of his signature program what gets lost is that Stop and Frisk fosters an already contentious relationship between the NYPD and the community, a relationship that has already been troubled because of incidents involving Ramarley Graham, Sean Bell and others.

 

Police officers who don’t respect the communities citizens, who treat everyone as suspected criminals and who don’t give the same respect to those citizens that they would want for themselves turn people away from being cooperative with them when real crime is occurring.

 

I for one am glad that the Bloomberg’s term as Mayor is coming to an end simply because he is not and has never been interested in working with his constituents who inhabit New York’s black and brown neighborhoods on combating crime lawfully and without prejudice. The question now is will the Bloomberg legacy of Stop and Frisk be in effect long after he is gone.

 

 

So I’m watching MSNBC’s “Hardball” earlier this week when the very quiet and very unassuming host of the show Chris Matthews informed the world that he is sure the Republican Party will nominate current Kentucky Senator Rand Paul for President in 2016. First of all the fact that Matthews was taking a break from his incessant fawning over New Jersey Governor, possible 2016 Presidential candidate, and until recently sparring partner for the aformentioned Paul, Chris Christie was itself surprising, but the fact that a political veteran like Matthews- like him or not, the guy knows his stuff- thinks that the GOP will bring it’s “A black man is President what are we going to do” nervous breakdown to a dramatic conclusion by nominating Paul in 2016 blew me away.

 

A day later I’m reading a column on Salon by the great writer Alex Pareene who laid out the one basic reason why the aforementioned Christie will not be the GOP’s next nominee and it was as simple as the “far right” hates his guts.

 

The opinions expressed this week by Matthews and Pareene just once again underline the deep division that resides within the Grand Old Party. Should we seem reasonable to the voting public and nominate a reasonable middle of the road Republican- as if that exists anymore- or should we play to the Matt Drudge, Fox News wing of America and nominate the candidate who is the walking embodiment of Tea Party principles.

 

Look, the last thing I want to be doing in August of 2013 is to be sitting here talking about an election that will take place two and a half years from now, and that includes every single tidbit of Hillary Clinton’s certain inevitability. How did that work out last time Hil? However with Republicans like Christie, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker playing coy and The U.S. Senate’s three stooges Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio loudly giving every indication that their hats will be in the ring ignoring the 2016 guessing game is pretty much impossible.

 

The current fight for the soul of the party has a great deal if not everything to do with who will emerge with the nomination and that is not good. The old establishment in Republican circles hate Paul and Cruz who seemingly have no problem putting themselves ahead of what’s best for the party. Just take into account Ted Cruz’s recent comments about Republicans willingness to force a Government shutdown of Obamacare.

 

“Under no circumstances will I support a continuing resolution that funds even one penny of Obamacare, In order to win this fight we need 41 Republican Senators to make the same commitment or we need 218 Republicans in the House.”

 

So despite knowing the history and witnessing Newt Gingrich’s political demise over shutting down the Government in 1995, Cruz is on record as saying he is willing to do it again knowing that it probably won’t touch him personally. His best case scenario is to get away with blaming the “shutdown” on the President and even if that doesn’t work Cruz would have gone down as hero in the eyes of Tea Party backers because he stood up to fight the big, bad, black President rather than runaway like so many of GOP Senate colleagues.

 

Despite his lack of time spent inside the political spectrum of Washington and his utter unwillingness to learn the ropes from the veterans Cruz’ appeal among a certain portion of the Republican electorate makes him without question their favorite possible nominee.

 

As Pareene stated in his column earlier this week if it is the Tea Party who indeed runs the Republican party then Christie has no shot. The most ironic thing about Christie is that despite what a lot of people on the right and the left believe he is as conservative as they come. From his time as lobbyist in New Jersey to his work as a lawyer under Bush 43 AG’s John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzalez, and his attacks on public schools and public workers as Jersey’s Governor Christie’s Republican bonafides can’t really be questioned.

 

If not for that brief memory lapse of his, forgetting that Barack Obama is the conservative enemy and working with him to bring aid to New Jersey residents in the aftermath of “Superstorm Sandy” we might be having a different discussion.

 

Don’t forget that there is also the old gang of wackos and true-believers like Rick Perry and Rick Santorum who may want one more bite at the apple. Santorum’s idiotic belief that he is the guy may stem from that fact that he made Mitt Romney sweat for a nomination that should have been his rather easily last time around, while Perry may be the least-self aware person on the planet in assuming that he can recover from the “three agencies he would shut down” debacle of 2012.

 

One thing is definitely for sure, a deep bench doesn’t mean a bench that is filled with quality.

 

 

I’ll just cut right to the chase concerning Fox News’ biggest and most well known blowhard, one William James O’Reilly, who has been a tear this week while addressing his newfound concern for the safety and well-being of black people all across America and young black males in particular.

 

O’Reilly’s disingenuous outrage regarding “Black on Black” violence in America’s inner cities has all of sudden surfaced in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict and the reaction of disgust that it has generated within the African-American community. Nationwide protests by thousands of individuals and calls for the repeal of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law have been the norm over the last month.

 

O’Reilly in his quest to look out for the best interests of black folks feels that all of this is wasted energy. O’Reilly feels that race hustlers (the right’s new favorite term) in the Civil Rights community and elected black officials, including the President of the United States have been too vocal about Trayvon Martin’s murder and not vocal enough about everyday acts of crime committed by blacks on other blacks. All of this is just Bill-O, and the right’s way of saying “racism was a thing of the past and if black people really want to make it in America they would marry before they had kids, and get an education.” So in Bill’s mind he has had the magic elixir, the cure for this problem all of this time.

 

The notion itself that voices within Black America haven’t been screaming about personal responsibility is preposterous. You would think that a Harvard educated television personality like O’Reilly would know how to perform a Google search. If he bothered he would only have to look to President Obama’s commencement speech at Atlanta’s historically black Morehouse College back in May where the President took black folks to task for their personal shortcomings while not addressing issues of unemployment, stagnant wages, the destruction of public schools, the easy access of handguns and so on and so on.

 

Obama’s Morehouse performance was the type of one-sided rhetorical speech O’Reilly himself would be proud of under normal circumstances, but the fact that he and his right-wing cohorts hate 44 with every fiber of their being kind of makes being honest on that front pretty difficult. These people wouldn’t give Obama credit if he did his best Allen West impersonation and talked about being a slave on the Democrats’ plantation.

 

Back to O’Reilly, though. Bill-O trotted out the one line in particular that conservatives have been spouting since the beginning of time, “Too many black babies are born out of wedlock.”

In the 50′s and 60′s it was famed Republican and right-wing icon William F. Buckley who hurled insults at Dr. Martin Luther King and accused him of only being out for his own personal gain all the while touting that the root of the problem with the African-American community to him was illegitimacy. O’Reilly seems to have picked up the mantle.

 

I, personally have not be shy in saying that there are way too many single mother’s in the African-American community, and while a good 95% of them-like my mom- are well intentioned and focused on doing the best job that they can in terms of raising their families the fact of the matter is that it is way too difficult, and the possibility of that child turning out to be successful and a positive contributor to society are enhanced if he/she has a father in their life.

 

The question I have for O’Reilly is if he is so concerned about the African-American community and babies born to single mother’s then why isn’t he using the very large platform that he has to promote and advocate a women’s right to terminate a pregnancy if she feels that having a child is not in the best interest for her and her family at that time. What’s that Bill, you think abortion is a barbaric practice that should be abolished, Okay while I disagree with you completely I would be willing to compromise. Why don’t you use your large platform to promote sex education in public schools, Why don’t you tout the use of contraceptives by all people to prevent unplanned pregnancies, and by the way why did you take part in the right’s public smearing of Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who has the same good intentions that you claim you do. Why don’t you support the portion of the President’s healthcare law demanding employers provide their employees contraceptive coverage, I mean the goal is to prevent a fat cat such as yourself from picking up the tab that comes with delinquent parents who don’t provide for their children, isn’t it?

 

Of course it isn’t Bill, the goal is for you to continue to play to the base that worships you, the goal is for you to continue to make as much cash as possible by spewing the most hateful, venomous, racist poison, that an individual can muster, and if that means denying the real and not imagined realities of unequal drug possession sentences when it comes to black offenders vs. white offenders, the massive attempts by the Republican Party- A party you say you don’t belong to but somehow align yourself with on every issue- to prevent people of color from being able to vote and yes the inability of an unarmed seventeen year old black kid to walk down a street in his own neighborhood without being profiled and killed, if it means ignoring all of that O’Reilly, then that’s exactly what you will do.

 

It’s this kind of week long, example of “real” race baiting that makes Bill O’Reilly much worse than anyone else the right has to offer. Worse than Limbaugh, worse than Hannity, worse than Coulter. O’Reilly is the type of individual who my maternal grandmother would describe as “someone who throws a rock and then hides his hand.” An individual who wants to dip his toe in the water of racial hatred, but still be mainstream enough to appear on “The Today Show” in the morning and Leno or Letterman at night, things that the previously mentioned three have very little if any interest in doing.

 

So Kudos Bill, you base is happy and you’ve probably gotten some “attaboy’s” from your peach of a boss Roger Ailes, who is no stranger to “real” race-baiting. (Ailes played huge roles in Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy and George H.W. Bush’s “Willie Horton” ad.) However you and I both know the real truth. It’s just a shame that there are literally millions of reasons why you won’t acknowledge it.

 

The trial is over, the pain and the anger is as fresh, and as severe as it was back in the days of the spring of 2012 when it first happened, and the glee of individuals and corporations who have engaged in a game of character assassination of the victim while elevating a neighborhood watchman/wannabe cop with his own checkered past to cult hero status has been just as infuriating.

 

No the state of Florida will not be handing out justice to Trayvon Martin’s murderer George Zimmerman, which is not at all surprising given the glacial like pace that the authorities in Sanford, Florida moved at when deciding whether or not to bring charges. As we all know by now Zimmerman was not arrested that night, not even drug tested, and witnesses were not talked to by police until six weeks later, bringing the police’s commitment towards this case into question one last time.

 

Moving forward the question now is where do we go from here? That question doesn’t just extend to those of us in the African-American community or to good-hearted, well intentioned people of all kinds who think that what occurred in that Florida courtroom over the last month was a travesty of epic proportions. It is a question that should definitely be posed to one of the two most powerful political parties in this country that is well versed in proclaiming it’s populist bona fides concerning America’s downtrodden. The Democratic Party.

 

Are elected Democratic officials all across this country, some of whom have expressed deep sadness for the family of Trayvon Martin and most of whom have benefited professionally from the votes of individuals who could easily find themselves in the same position as Trayvon Martin really ready to take on the system of laws and regulations put in place that provide us with the opportunity for more outcomes like Trayvon Martin’s?

 

As has been reported The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has behind staunchly behind Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. One would be a fool to believe that that law didn’t play a part in Zimmerman’s thinking on that rainy night in 2012. ALEC’s alliance with The National Rifle Association along with their large and seductive influence over the Capitol building D.C. enabled “Stand Your Ground” to pop up in 24 other states around the country since it’s debut in the “sunshine state” in 2005. The one thing that also cannot be argued is that elected Democrats in congress love receiving the cash of the NRA and ALEC as much as Republicans and are more than happy to do their bidding assuming the checks continues to clear.

 

Are elected Democratic officials willing to take on politicians like sometime liberal, most of the time Wall Street Republican Michael Bloomberg? By the way, when you sit down and think about it what is the difference between Bloomberg and George Zimmerman actually, aside from the fact the Bloomberg had enough of his own money to buy a couple of elections and then rather than do it himself he order his own personal Zimmerman – New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly – to carry out his “guilty until proven innocent” profiling system of African-American and Latino men known as “Stop and Frisk.”

 

Are elected Democrats willing to take on laws on the books that incarcerate young black and brown men at alarming rates especially when compared to their white counterparts. Politicians of both parties have decided to do business with corporations that profit from the “private prison” business. The United States as a country makes up 5% of the world’s population, yet the United States alone is responsible for locking up a quarter of the world’s prison population. When these houses of horrors go up they obviously need to be filled with bodies, so we as a society are inundated with “Rockerfeller Drug Laws”, mandatory minimums, and massive plea deals that accomplish the task.

 

Once an individual is re-admitted into society he/she still does not have the ability to partake in all of society’s freedoms. People can be turned away from voting, housing and a good paying job. This is the equivalent of serving a life sentence without really serving a life sentence.

 

According to the United States Bureau of Justice cost savings from the use of private prisons have not come to fruition. A 2011 ACLU report stated that private prisons are more costly, more violent, and are a contributor to the increase of mass incarceration rates. So in short the United States is locking up more people – black and brown people in particular- at an unbelievably high cost to taxpayers while fat cats who run these places rake in profits. What say you Democrats.

 

The Progressive Coalition that showed up for Barack Obama in droves in both 2008 and 2012 need to prove that they can show up in those numbers in off year elections like the one coming up in 2014. The only way to stem the tied of the possible extinction of abortion, the flat out demonizing of the poor through public policy, the shameless voter suppression tactics used against those same poor people and people of color, the vile discrimination faced by gays and lesbians in everyday life and in the workplace, and yes the repeal of laws that render black and brown men like me and more importantly Trayvon Martin to second class status when it comes to our ability to do something as benign as walk down a street in our own neighborhood is to be in that booth on the first Tuesday in November of that year.

 

If that does happen though, If that coalition shows up to bestow their God-given, unalienable right on a group of individuals from a political party (including a President) that has talked a good game, One would think that that party would be willing to do the work and champion the ideas of the people who put them in their jobs. If all of us as allies of Trayvon Martin, regardless of race, age, sex or sexual orientation are willing to hold our end of the political bargain then all of these so-called Dems that we elect should hold up theirs.

 

I want to know what you think. Leave a comment, Follow me on Twitter @ebrew79, and e-mail me at ebrew79@hotmail.com

For MSNBC life in the post 2012 Presidential Election world hasn’t been pleasant. The left’s most visible and viable answer to Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, and The Fox News Channel has seen a sharp decline in it’s viewing audience, particularly in primetime when compared to this time last year when it was able to roll out wall to wall coverage of Obama vs. Romney.

 

While the network has done a rather good job covering some of the biggest stories of the year like the bombing of the Boston marathon and the tragic and heartbreaking mass shooting at The Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut the downturn in eyeballs for the peacock network’s cable cousin is rather noticeable.

 

A lot of the finger pointing has been directed at one move in particular. The decision to give weekend host and Washington D.C. Editor of “The Nation” Magazine Chris Hayes his own weeknight primetime show.

 

In the 8 p.m. Eastern time slot Hayes replaced liberal firebrand and champion of the working class Ed Schultz on April 1st of this year and the results have been….well not good. In it’s first full quarter on the air “All In with Chris Hayes” gave MSNBC it’s lowest ratings in the key 25-54 demographic in seven years. While Schultz and “The Ed Show’ weren’t exactly appointment television when you looked at his numbers the fact the Hayes has lost 28% of Schultz’s audience is surprising to say the least.

 

Before everyone plays armchair TV ratings psychologist the science on this matter is not that difficult. Hayes’ problem, just like the problem with his weekend morning show stems from the fact that he has never been willing to go along with everything the comes out of The White House via The Obama Administration and elected Democrats in Congress and their spokespeople.

 

Hayes has been vehement in his defense of civil liberties and he never expressed that more than in his coverage of the Edward Snowden case. If you focus in on the people at 30 Rock and forget the rest of the mainstream media, what does it say when a conservative blowhard like Joe Scarborough and an ultimate center/left Washington insider like Lawrence O’Donnell largely agree on the Snowden case thinking that the 29 year old NSA leaker went way too far.

 

Hayes, while making his fondness for civil liberties and his disdain for what the Obama Administration has done on the issue known also had questions about Snowden and for journalist Glenn Greenwald, particularly about Snowden possibly seeking asylum in a country like Cuba, which is know for it’s lack of freedoms and Government transparency. Hayes, nevertheless stuck to the core principle that every progressive should abide by, spying by the Government, no matter who the President is and whether you like him or not is wrong.

 

The other problem for MSNBC and the “liberal” media in general is something that has been obvious since the beginning of time, conservatives are batshit crazy. No matter what MSNBC does they will never be able to compete on the same level as a Fox News simply because the thirst that right-wingers have for hating Obama, poor people, people of color, women and gays can never be quinched.

 

Where as the liberal civil war rages on between center/left Democrats, who as Cornel West says have “souled their souls for access” and far left progressives who think elected officials in the Democratic party offer very little contrast to Republicans, the far right is united in it’s quest to end abortion, starve the poor, and the bless the rich. Murdoch’s minions and the pantheon of losers on right-wing radio (Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingraham, Levin, Beck) are ready to gladly give them what they crave on a daily basis.

 

No matter what liberals like Hayes, Melissa Harris Perry, Joe Madison or Stephanie Miller say it’s bound to piss off someone inside the liberal coalition, which is good or bad depending on which side of the liberal divide you fall.

 

Who knows how things will turnout for Hayes and MSNBC? They are only three months into what should be a long-term experiment. The network should understand however that four 8 p.m. primetime hosts in two and a half years with pretty much the same results is about more than the individual filling the chair and his/her opinions.

Since it’s start I have tried with every fiber of my being to avoid every aspect of the George Zimmerman trial, in large part because it looks like a movie that I have seen on numerous occasions. Zimmerman is the self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman who is facing manslaughter charges in the shooting death of a 17 year old African American child named Trayvon Martin.

 

Two undisputed facts from this case are evident, there was an altercation between Martin and Zimmerman on that February night in 2012 and Zimmerman is alive and well to give his version of what happened that night while Martin is not, Thus basically giving us the trial of Trayvon Martin.

 

It should be called the trial of Trayvon Martin because the character of a black kid who ventured out one night for candy and iced tea, a black kid who was in hurry to get back home and catch the NBA All-Star Game on television, a black kid who like every black other kid in America is born suspect in the eyes of individuals like George Zimmerman has been trampled upon like a participant in this months Running Of The Bulls in Spain.

 

Before this trial even started right-wing media, with Fox News taking the lead set out to portray Martin as your typical inner city hoodlum who got exactly what he deserved (remember The Daily Caller’s photos of Martin flipping the bird, as if that warrants being profiled and murdered.) Meanwhile the images and descriptions of Zimmerman being the good-natured avenger out to reclaim society from disrespectful thugs, a la Charles Bronson in the “Death Wish” movies was all over.

 

Now that the trial is underway the jury, (which is made up of 5 white people, 1 mixed race person and no African-Americans, thanks Prosecution) has now been told that Trayvon Martin had a limited amount of marijuana in his system on the night in question, and now comes the testimony from forensics pathologist Vincent Di Maio that at the time of the shooting Martin was leaning over Zimmerman, assuming this is true it gives the strong impression that Zimmerman was having his ass handed to him and fought back the only way he knew how.

 

That in no way means that there should be an acquittal in this case. What Zimmerman, his defense lawyers, and Right-wing gossip rags like Fox News, and The Washington Times refuse to acknowledge is that Zimmerman was told by 9-11 operators not to leave his car and follow Martin, he ignored those requests because Martin, being black just had to be up to no good and he saw it as his duty to put a stop to it, thus the “These assholes always get away with it” line.

 

If Zimmerman simply does what he is told to do Trayvon Martin’s life is not ended way before it should have been, he (Zimmerman) is not on trial and both sides of the American public don’t revert back to their respective corners when it comes to the subject of race, at least not on this matter.

 

I have resolved myself to the fact that Zimmerman is probably going to walk for killing Martin, which means he will go down in history with some high profiled murderers in Civil rights cases whose punishment was delayed much longer than it should have been or never came to fruition at all. The two men who murdered Emmitt Till, Byron De la Beckwith, who escaped justice for over thirty years for the murder of Medgar Evers, and the Los Angeles cops who brutally beat Rodney King.

 

Speaking of Rodney King, the aformentioned Washington Times already has poll up on it’s website asking if there will be riots by the African-American community in Sanford, Florida should Zimmerman be acquitted which is the typical response from a conservative newspaper whose desire is to play on the big boy field with The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post.

 

My hope is that the peace will remain kept. If this will indeed be the outcome then God, fate, or any higher power that you choose to believe in should deal with George Zimmerman, and in that way the memory of Trayvon Martin will be enhanced and not tarnished.

 

 

If there is such a thing as bowing out ungracefully Texas Governor and failed 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry put it on full display on Monday with his announcement that he will not seek a fourth term in that capacity.

Where do you begin with Perry in terms of explaining his commitment to far, far, far Right-Wing policies. The website Think Progress did provide the public with a list of his greatest hits on Monday.

Since taking over the Governorship in late 2000 Perry has administered the death penalty to 230 Texas inmates, despite the fact that the guilt of some of those individuals was rightly called into question. Apparently Perry is also not enamored with the female gender given that he vetoed bipartisan equal pay legislation and has done everything in his power to restrict a woman’s right to choose. Put that together with his desire for Texas to secede from the union and his allowing the state to become the biggest polluter in the nation and it’s safe to say that Perry will not be inducted into the Progressive Hall of Fame anytime soon.

Perry’s departure from Texas politics (and the comforting reality that he will never be President) got me to thinking about GOP Governors across the country and which one should be the next to exit stage left.

*Rick Snyder-Michigan. If anything Snyder will be remembered for injecting the term “emergency manager” into the American lexicon. Snyder is so convinced that poor black and brown people in their own local municipalities can’t govern themselves and elect their own officials that he signed a revised version of an EM bill a month after voters rejected it on a ballot initiative in November of 2012. Snyder is also responsible for a flat tax for corporations which basically balances the state’s budget on the backs of the poor and a law that prevents same-sex domestic partners of public employees from receiving health benefits.

*Phil Bryant-Mississippi. Probably no Governor in the union epitomizes what the old south stood and still stands for than Bryant. In 2012 Bryant, unapologetically signed a bill into law requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Bryant was not coy saying that this bill would effectively “end abortion in Mississippi”

*John Kasich-Ohio. Kasich in 2012 was in the unenviable position of trying to take credit for job creation in Ohio thanks to the auto bailout of 2008-9 while at the same time trying not to give credit to Barack Obama who was running for re-election at the time. Kasich is also the guy who led the initial assault on the collective bargaining rights on workers only to have that bill shoved back in his face by those same middle class individuals. He also recently signed into law some of the most restrictive abortion laws in country by tucking them away inside his latest fiscal budget.

*Scott Walker-Wisconsin. If Kasich wanted advice on how to shove through a bill that strips workers of their rights to a basic living wage he should have called up Walker who was successful in his attempt, largely because he didn’t put a knife to the throats of policemen and firefighters like he did everyone else. Walker cut taxes on big business in Wisconsin to the tune of $67 million in just his first year in office. He recently, like Kasich passed through a restrictive abortion bill by signing it into law on the 4th of July weekend when no one was paying attention. Walker may be most famous for escaping a recall bid for his seat in 2012 which means progressives will have to get him out the old fashioned way in 2014.

*Bob McDonnell- Virginia. What can you say about Governor Ultrasound that hasn’t already been said. McDonnell worships at the feet of Christian Conservatives like the late Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, so there was no surprise When he signed into law a bill that would force women to undergo an invasive procedure (vaginal probe) before having an abortion. After much public outcry McDonnell was forced to do away with the procedure but the law which forces a women to undergo an ultrasound is still on the books. McDonnell doesn’t think slavery was that big of a deal being that he proclaimed April as Confederate History Month, and he has also given us the usual cuts in education and health and human services. The good news about McDonnell is that an improper spending scandal by he and his wife may force him out of the office sooner than he was expecting.

*Bobby Jindal-Louisiana. Any politician that is receiving awards form the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) terrifies me, Bobby Jindal is just that guy. Jindal as Governor has shown time and time again that he is anti-choice, anti-marriage equality, and pro-gun rights which is the trifecta from conservative hell. Jindal has cut taxes six times since becoming Governor and presided of the largest tax cut in Louisiana history, a cut of $1.1 billion of five years. Just for good measure Jindal is also supportive of school vouchers and cuts in education, Rush Limbaugh is salivating at the prospect of a Jindal Presidency.

*Sam Brownback-Kansas. If your not as familiar with the damage wrought by Brownback as you are with the others on this list you should be. For starters Brownback has made it a priority to cut public school funding, Medicaid, and state pensions. Brownback however may be the winner of the “Which Republican Governor Hates Abortion The Worst” award. Brownback signed three anti-abortion bills into law in 2011 alone. A bill banning abortion after 21 weeks, a bill requiring a doctor to get a parent’s signature before performing an abortion on girls under age 17, and a bill prohibiting insurance companies from offering abortion coverage as a part of general health plans. To bring this whole thing back to where it all started, Brownback was the only other Governor to attend Rick Perry’s prayer rally in 2011, which would make it all the more fitting for him to follow Perry now as he did then.

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If you are Ohio Governor John Kasich there is really only one question to ask yourself. Is it all worth it?

 

Is the warped and outdated disdain that Kasich and individuals of his ilk have for a woman being able to make medical decisions with the truthful help of her doctor worth him possibly getting kicked out of his job in 2014? Is the damage wrought by the pen he used to sign an over the top budget that basically puts abortion in the state of Ohio on the brink of extinction worth keeping his state blue for Democrats as far as Presidential elections are concerned?

 

On Sunday night Kasich signed into law “House Bill 59.” In addition to having $2.7 billion in tax cuts for the rich, which is another subject for another column entirely, Kasich and his GOP brethren managed to get into the bill asinine abortion laws like the defunding of Planned Parenthood to the tune of $1.4 million possibly bringing about the closing of three abortion clinics in the state.

 

There is also the outright intimidation of rape crisis centers. Yes Kasich and the boys have resorted to the worst elements of organized crime by telling these crisis centers that if they are caught counseling sexual assault victims about abortion in anyway they will lose their public funding. So if you are a woman who just survived the most horrible and traumatic event anyone could ever experience you will only be given some of the information you need from the people who are helping you cope all because middle aged, elected white men think that they know what is best for you.

 

Not surprisingly the bill does support “crisis pregnancy centers” which are usually run by churches and certainly do not discuss abortion as an option.

 

Stephanie Kight, the President of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio said “These provisions in the Ohio state budget are part of an orchestrated effort to roll back women’s rights and access to health care in Ohio. The budget is only the latest in a series of restrictive laws that have hurt the women in our state who need more access to health care not less.”

 

First of all the GOP’s stance on women’s reproductive rights both nationally and locally is a head-scratcher if I ever saw one. These are the people who will tell you that every life is important and that no pregnancy should be terminated, yet once a pregnancy is complete and a child’s existence becomes a reality the same individuals have no problem with depriving that child of food, a quality education, top notch healthcare and a living work wage for their parents. The whole “Sex is bad” mindset that leads to young people not being schooled on the virtures of birth control drives this entire way of thinking.

 

As much as I disagree with Kasich and conservatives across the country on this issue, you have to give Ohio Republicans credit for being willing to die on this particular hill. Kasich and company weren’t in some hermetically sealed room all of last year unaware of geniuses like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, and there comments on “legitimate rape” that would have the most unapologetic misogynists blush. The party’s standard bearer Mitt Romney was fervent in his desire to overturn Roe v. Wade and it got home a first class trip back to one of the many personal homes he owns and not the one on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

 

Despite the warning signs of being on the wrong side of this issue Republicans in state houses and GOP Governors have proceeded with trying to kill abortion in their states and Kasich is included. The Governor’s problem is Ohio was reliably blue for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and now with heightened scrutiny on what Republicans have done since winning the House of Representatives in 2010 and gerrymandering the process to win seats in State legislatures across the country Democrats will surely counter with a massive get out the vote campaign for 2014. Guess who happens to be one of the GOP politicians up for re-election in that calendar year. Was it worth it will definitely be the question Kasich and other Republican politicians will be asking themselves, You just wonder where they will be asking it from.

Who would have ever believed that the highest court in all of the land, The United States Supreme Court could have brought people on both sides of the political aisle such disappointment and such joy in the same week.

 

That is indeed what happened when the court on Monday and Tuesday respectively put both Affirmative Action, particularly as it relates to college admissions and The 1965 Voting Rights Act on life support only to then come back on Thursday and strike down The Defense of Marriage Act as it relates to same-sex couples in the twelve states in the union that recognize marriage equality and choosing not to rule on Proposition 8 in California, clearing the way for same-sex marriages to take place once again in the golden state.

 

As a Progressive and as a black man born and raised in the south, the announcements on Monday and Tuesday were as big of a punch in the gut as you can imagine especially the news on The Voting Rights Act. The results on Wednesday with Prop 8 and DOMA put the wind back in my sails a little, but it also got me to thinking about the fact that if there were ever a time to build a strong progressive coalition involving a multitude of groups it is now.

 

The court, by doing the right thing on DOMA and Prop 8 finally afforded the LGBT community of America some of the basic rights that they have been deserving of for a very long time, the rights that a lot of the rest of us take for granted. Does it really make any sense that Edie Windsor, the plantiff who brought the DOMA case all the way to the Supreme Court, had to pay an almost $400,000 tax bill to the federal government because her longtime partner Thea Spyer wasn’t a man.

 

With DOMA and Prop 8 now gone a mass coalition of Progressives must now move forward on making Marriage Equality a reality in the other 38 states that don’t recognize it. As Rachel Maddow hypothetically put it on her show on Wednesday night “What happens to that same sex couple whose marriage is legally recognized in New York, but the job of one of them decides to transfer them to Utah.” What does that mean for their marriage when it won’t be recognized in a state that is redder than a bottle of Heinz 57 ketchup?

 

In the early and mid 60s politicians from both parties took this same approach when it came to African-Americans and their civil rights. Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, who wound up being the Republican nominee for President in 1964 basically took the same tact as many Southern Democrats of that time which was if they are lynching you in Mississippi move to Massachusetts. States Rights should always trump whatever the federal government thinks is the best way for the nation to proceed.

 

Which brings me back to this broad coalition. A Gallup poll commissioned in October of 2012 found that 4.6% of African-Americans and 4.0% of Hispanics identified as non-heterosexual. Imagine the roller coaster of emotions these individuals felt during this week. The feeling of finally being recognized as first class citizens on some level as it relates to their sexuality, back falling back into second class status in terms of their race and the ability to vote or get into college.

 

All liberals now have to be willing to take on these Republican Governors and right leaning state legislatures over the ability of the poor and minorities to access the ballot box without impediment. Does anybody really trust that Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Phil Bryant and their minions won’t pull every sneaky and dirty trick in the book to put a lid on African-American and Latino voter turnout. In the days since the VRA ruling states like Texas, Mississippi, and North Carolina have already announced plans to go forward with restrictive Voter ID laws that were struck down by The Department of Justice just last year.

 

Racial minorities, The African- American community in particular have to be willing to return the favor and go to the mat for their LGBT friends and colleagues. The tide is starting to turn in this regard with President Obama’s unwavering support for the Gay community and the passage of marriage equality last February in Maryland with the help of heavy black support.

 

What the African-American community needs to continue to do is ignore the refrain coming from certain aspects of the black church that continues to foolishly maintain that Homosexuality is wrong and that marriage can only be defined as being between a man and a woman. Black ministers like Virginia Lt. Governor candidate E.W. Jackson and supposed intellectuals like famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson have fully brought into this warped way of thinking. The challenge for all of us black folk is to remember that in many ways our plight, then and now is so eerily similar to those in the LGBT community and that bigotry and discrimination is bigotry and discrimination.

 

What about the DOMA and Prop 8 decisions and how it relates to immigration. There are countless American citizens who are either married to or are in same-sex relationships with individuals who are not. Many of these couples have had to leave the country out of fear of their partner’s possible deportation. The death of DOMA and Prop 8 takes care of one aspect of that fear, but it won’t fully go away until we as a nation have an immigration policy that welcomes all people in a timely fashion and offers the opportunity for all of them to live the American Dream.

 

With it’s decisions this week, The Supreme Court has provided the blueprint for a new and broad Progressive Coalition. The job of doing the building is now ours.

 

 

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