actual relationship of forces in the American electoral pretense
is revealed in the candidates' campaign coffers. Al Sharpton,
who will be a significant factor in the Democratic Party primaries
because he is certain to pull a huge chunk of the Party's
most dependable mass base, has so far collected less money
than a fledgling congressional candidate in a small market
this week, Sharpton treated the Federal Elections Commission
like the dentist, claiming he was still "exploring the
possibility" of running. On Monday, Sharpton
finally filed his papers with the FEC - the last candidate
to do so - listing $114,456 in contributions from January
through March. Only former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun raised
less during the period: $72,450. But who said she was a serious
John Edwards (NC) and John Kerry (MA) sit atop the Democratic
money pile, at $7.4 million and $7 million, respectively.
symbiosis between corporate media and political finance is
all but perfect, allowing the two to function as one organism.
Thus, corporate media, knowing where the money is, can declare
whomever to be among the "frontrunners,"
knowing full well that corporate finance will make it so,
with media's help, in short order. It is a process so seamless
as to appear like a phenomenon of nature - yet totally contrived.
Americans make up about a quarter of the Democratic electorate.
Barring some great misstep, Sharpton can reasonably count
on garnering at least half of that bloc. Any white candidate
who started out with such a following would be treated as
a kingmaker. Tribute would flow from the pockets of those
who habitually bestow favors on all the princes of politics.
But not Rev. Al, who is shunned as a party-crasher of dubious
lineage. Could it be because he is too ... Black?
and no - mostly yes. Sharpton also does not speak what money
wants to hear. By relentlessly insisting in all manner of
ways that Sharpton's candidacy is minor, corporate media devalue
his campaign, making it appear not worth contributing to.
On Tuesday afternoon, for example, a CNN newsreader announced
that among Sharpton's contributors were radio's Tom Joyner,
Newark Mayor Sharpe James, and New York City police brutality
victim Abner Louima. The woman raised her eyebrows and affected
bewilderment, as if giving money to Rev. Al were some weird,
trifling with the man who is the embodiment of significant
Black political sentiment, corporate media and their masters
invite Sharpton to play his wild card. Democrats treat black
voters like "mistresses," Sharpton told a Georgia
audience, recently. "Either we get married, or we're
gonna break up and find someone who will respect us,"
rich white Democrats think that's funny, then they should
be prepared to laugh it up at the Party's funeral.
other candidate anathema to the rich, Ohio Congressman Dennis
Kucinich, is also suitably poor. The former chairman of the
Progressive Congressional Caucus has raised or borrowed about
$180,000. Kucinich jumped into an argument between former
Vermont Governor Howard Dean (almost $3 million so far in
the campaign) and money front-runner Kerry.
feigned offense at Dean's statement that the U.S. "won't
always have the strongest military." Through a spokesman,
Kerry chastised Dean: "No serious candidate for the presidency
has ever before suggested that he would compromise or tolerate
an erosion of America's military supremacy." Kerry left
no footnotes to back up this sweeping statement, and the corporate
media demanded none.
the carefully calibrated Peace-Lite candidate, dispatched
his own spokesman: "Governor Dean believes that even
the most sophisticated military in the world acting alone
cannot eliminate all sleeper terrorist cells, nor should it
be called upon to take on every dictator for the purpose of
regime change." Both Dean and Kerry think they have a
claim on the party's "liberal" wing.
both wrong," said Ohio's Kucinich, who describes himself
progressive choice for 2004":
U.S. military is the strongest in the world by far, and
will remain so. But Democrats cannot lead the nation without
being strong enough to confront the bloat and waste in the
military budget is almost as big as that of all other countries
combined. While we have unchallenged superiority in military
strength, we also have more people without healthcare than
any other advanced industrial country - and Democrats must
be bold enough to say the two issues are linked.
don't agree with other Democrats that we can continue to
increase military spending, and still deliver on our domestic
agenda for middle class and working Americans. We can't.
That's voodoo budgeting.
this campaign, I plan to make a major issue of hometown
security - healthcare, jobs and education for all - and
misspent Pentagon dollars, even as other Democratic candidates
join President Bush in pressing for still more exorbitant
since World War II has a resident of the White House presided
over a national net job loss - and then came George Bush.
Three million jobs have disappeared under his reign, as have
trillions of dollars in future federal revenues that will
be needed to repair the damage. Yet the "lower taxes,
more jobs" mantra works wonders on Bush crowds that appear
to believe other people's tax cuts will somehow make them
richer, despite the evidence of their own bank accounts.
rich, themselves, make no promises in return for the public's
gifts. New investment will not occur, say most corporate planners,
until consumers spend more money to buy up sitting inventory.
But, thanks very much for the tax cuts.
the Bush administration, a growing proportion of the population
has become disengaged permanently from the world of work,
as reported in the April
27 New York Times.
the last two years, the portion of Americans in the labor
force - those who are either working or actively looking
for work - has fallen 0.9 percentage points to 66.2 percent,
the largest drop in almost 40 years.
than 74.5 million adults were considered outside of the
labor force last month, up more than 4 million since March
2001, the Department of Labor says. They are people who
fall outside the government's definitions of either employed
or unemployed: they do not hold jobs, but they also have
not gone out seeking work within the past month.
group includes retirees and parents who have been home taking
care of their children for years, but the surge of dropouts
suggests that the jobless rate - which was 5.8 percent last
month, roughly where it has been for the past year - offers
an artificially sanguine picture of the labor market, many
unemployment, impervious to general ups and downs, has long
been a defining characteristic of Black America. The "true
black male unemployment," writes Dr. Paul Street in this
("How You Gonna
Export Something You Ain't Even Got at Home?"), "stood
at 38 percent in the mid-1990s when prisoners were factored
were the "good times" - remember?
even more fervor than when they first swarmed into Washington
following Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, the Hard Right's
wrecking crews are dismantling every social support system
that smells even faintly of an "entitlement" to
the undeserving poor. They pick through the ruins searching
for something unbroken to smash. Section 8, the federal housing
voucher program that buttresses much of urban America's physical
and social architecture, is to be thrown to the states as
block grants. Even some southern Republicans are upset.
believe that such a proposal could seriously undermine the
voucher program and could potentially harm the millions of
low-income people assisted with housing vouchers," wrote
42 Senators to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel
R. Martinez. Virginia Republicans John Warner and George Allen
initiated the letter, but then decided not to send it until
they've seen the administration's full plan, according to
29 Washington Post.
few outside conservatives have persuaded the White House
that Section 8 is out of sync with other social policies
for the poor. Howard Husock, a researcher at Harvard's Kennedy
School of Government who is affiliated with the conservative
Manhattan Institute, called it the "last redoubt of
non-time-limited public assistance."
Liu, HUD's assistant secretary for public and Indian housing,
said the proposal would not compel states to adopt the main
features of the revamped welfare system - time limits and
requirements that poor parents get a job - although states
could create such rules if they chose.
say the analogy of housing aid to welfare is misguided.
They note that recent HUD figures show that just 13 percent
of the households with Section 8 vouchers depend on welfare,
while 35 percent get most of their income from jobs and
the largest group relies on disability or retirement benefits.
"The notion there is this group of people they have
to force off of assistance into the workforce is erroneous,"
said Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low Income
Housing Coalition. "These are people who have income,
but it's insufficient to be able to afford housing in America."
the Hard Right would turn Section 8 into a kind of time-limited,
"workfare"-type housing program, and then destroy
little patch of America
Tulia, Texas, when the local white folks get tired of Blacks
in their midst, they have them arrested, en mass. "Deep
undercover" narcotics officer Tom Coleman culled Tulia's
Black population by about ten percent, one early summer morning
four years ago. Thirty-eight of the 46 people arrested by
Coleman were convicted, and 21 wound up in prison, where 13
remain, despite the state's decision early last month to join
with the defense in asking that all of the convictions in
the case be overturned.
New York Times columnist Bob
Herbert has championed Coleman's 46 victims, refusing
to allow the case to disappear from national view. He's still
the defendants were rounded up in a humiliating series of
arrests on July 23, 1999, the police found no guns, no drugs
and no money.
defendants were characterized as major drug dealers and
vilified in Tulia's small-town, racially charged environment.
Some of the sentences were extraordinarily, cruelly long
- 90 years and more.
has since been shown that Mr. Coleman was a bizarre individual
who fingered people who were obviously innocent, scrawled
important investigative information on various parts of
his body, had been in trouble with the law himself, had
once blown out the windshield of a patrol car with a shotgun,
had routinely referred to blacks as "niggers,"
and had a widespread professional reputation as unreliable
short, Tom Coleman was a clown, although a dangerous one.
His activities should be thoroughly investigated by competent
authorities, and his superiors should be investigated as
attorney Jeff Blackburn still can't get some of his clients
out of jail, despite the authorities' desire to disassociate
themselves from former officer Coleman's fictions. "Swisher
County is now busy trying to make it seem like they're fine,
upstanding people who respect the law." Said Blackburn.
"This still doesn't change the fact that there are people
in prison out there chopping cotton in the sun because of
Tom Coleman." The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals must
look at each case before deciding whether to vacate the convictions.
One might think that it would a simple matter to arrange bail
for the 13 imprisoned Tulia victims, since Coleman has been
indicted for perjury and prosecutors want nothing more to
do with the matter. "But," as Bob Herbert reminds
us, "this is Texas we're talking about."
should comes as no surprise that a recent poll shows white
Americans don't like the idea of affirmative action, and that
they like the actual mechanics of diversity programs even
less. It is necessary to make the distinction between ideas
and reality, since other polls have also shown that huge numbers
of whites believe they have been personally harmed by affirmative
action programs, and because such programs have always been
much rarer in reality than in white people's imaginations.
Chronicle of Higher Education survey shows 64 percent of respondents
oppose college admission to minority students whose grades
and test scores don't meet the level of other applicants.
At the same time, 58 percent think that affirmative action
is a good thing, in general. The survey did not release figures
on the race of respondents, leading to the reasonable conclusion
that strong majorities of whites oppose affirmative action,
an interview with the Associated
Press, David Ward, president of the American Council on
Education, attempted to put a patina of reason on white hostility,
which he expects to continue, no matter how the U.S. Supreme
Court rules on the University of Michigan affirmative action
case, later this year.
said Americans have a deeply ingrained sense of fair play
and individual rights - and for many, affirmative action
doesn't seem fair. "If you feel you've been deprived
of something by a process, it is felt very strongly,"
he said. "And that is an area where universities are
statement on American's "deeply ingrained sense of fair
play" should have made news around the world - it is
certainly news to us.
new Black publications
National Coalition Of Blacks for Reparations in America, has
launched "Black Reparations Times," a new publication
to disseminate "timely information on issues related
to our struggle for Reparations." N'COBRA is soliciting
articles and photos for publication, and volunteers with journalism
and sales skills.
new, Muslim women's magazine Azizah
made a big splash in the publishing world, last month, earning
lots of "ink" for its mission "to connect Muslim
women in North America, while presenting a forum for their
voices." The Boston
Globe's Vanessa E. Jones was impressed with the "multiracial,
multiethnic quarterly by and about 'muslimah,' as Muslim women
are called in Arabic."
we're doing is reflecting Islam in Muslim-American [terms],''
says Tayyibah Taylor, 50, the magazine's publisher and editor
in chief. The woman in this world, she says, is ''powerful
because she has the American legacy of freedom .... At the
same time she has Islamic legacies of pursuit of knowledge
women consider Azizah a major advance. Others are horrified
by a Muslim magazine touting cover subjects whose smiles
and makeup transform them into alluring women -- despite
the ''hijabs'' that cover their hair ....
media plays a role in continuing stereotypes by depicting
Muslim women primarily as Arabs - even though statistics
from the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations
show that most of the 5 to 7 million Muslims in the United
States aren't from the Middle East. According to the council,
30 percent are African-American, 33 percent are of South
Central Asian descent, and 25 percent are of Arabian descent.
attacked by mad newt
GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich may have spoken out of turn,
but he expressed the majority sentiment among the Bush Pirates
when he called Colin Powell's State Department a "broken
instrument of diplomacy" engaged in a "deliberate
and systematic effort to undermine" George Bush's global
policies. Gingrich became a suburban Atlanta congressman
and Hard Right leader by speaking directly to the most racist,
chauvinist elements of white America. From his seat on the
Defense Policy Board, a kind of civilian Pirate directorate
supporting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his Likudnik
henchman Paul Wolfowitz, there is no need for diplomacy in
the New American Century. Powell, on the other hand, can be
considered the man who travels the world with Vaseline in
his attaché case - unnecessary coddling of foreign
inferiors, in Gingrich's opinion.
White House quickly found ways to signal its full confidence
in Powell, so as not to ruin his calming international missions
while the U.S. military attempts to figure out how to free
itself from its Iraqi subjects and move on to more shockingly
awesome pursuits than machine-gunning the local Arab PTA,
remains a precious resource to the Bush men. The I.R.S. had
attempted to build a case of "political money-laundering"
against Gingrich for diverting "charitable" contributions
meant for an organization called the Abraham Lincoln Opportunity
Foundation to the coffers of GOPAC, the hyper-aggressive political
action committee he chaired. The Abraham Lincoln Opportunity
Foundation was formed in 1984, ostensibly to help inner-city
youth, according to a 1997 investigation by the Los
Angeles Times. Gingrich paid a $300,000 fine recommended
by the House Ethics Committee.
week, the IRS quietly reversed
itself, conferring tax-exempt status to the Abraham Lincoln
Opportunity Foundation and another Gingrich-related "charity."
That's about the same time that Gingrich started shooting
off his mouth about Powell.
Watts back in the "picture"
to demonstrate that skin color is no bar to Gingrichian ambitions,
former Black Oklahoma Republican Congressman J.C. Watts recently
took over Gingrich's old job as chairman of GOPAC. In his
maiden speech, Watts told a Washington dinner: "My goal
is to broaden the reach of my party. Too many Americans live
by Republican principles of faith, family, hope and opportunity,
but vote for Democrats out of sheer habit."
whom we described in our July
11 issue as the party's "Picture-Man" due to
the necessity to include the lone Black GOP congressman in
every group photo, retired last June after five terms on The
Hill. "GOPAC will take the lead in reaching into America's
diverse communities," he told the moneymen at the Carlton
Hotel. "We can't grow our Republican majority without
minorities and working men and women."
the mid-term campaigns, GOPAC was forced to withdraw a political
ad targeting Black radio audiences. Cynically masquerading
as appeal to reparations sentiments among Blacks - opinions
certainly not shared by the GOP - the ad was actually a pitch
for privatization of Social Security:
half the married sisters lose their husbands before they
rank Social Security spousal benefits. President George
Bush proposed reforms that help our community in three ways.
First, we get a higher minimum benefit. Second, our women
get their fair share in their spouses Social Security. And,
third, blacks get retirement accounts with real financial
assets. So the next time some Democrat says he won't touch
Social Security, ask why he thinks blacks owe reparations
much furor, the ad was pulled from broadcast schedules and
disavowed by the Republican National Committee.