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 district.
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 candidate?
John Edwards (NC) and John Kerry (MA) sit atop the Democratic
money pile, at $7.4 million and $7 million, respectively.
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?
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, inexplicable act.
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," he said.
white Democrats think that's funny, then they should be prepared
to laugh it up at the Party's funeral.
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
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.
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"
both wrong," said Ohio's Kucinich, who describes himself
progressive choice for 2004":
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 Pentagon budget.
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.
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
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 military budgets.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 economists say.
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
the "good times" - remember?
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 the April
29 Washington Post.
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
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
patch of America
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.
York Times columnist Bob
Herbert has championed Coleman's 46 victims, refusing to
allow the case to disappear from national view. He's still at
defendants were rounded up in a humiliating series of arrests
on July 23, 1999, the police found no guns, no drugs and no
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.
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 and untrustworthy.
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 well.
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."
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.
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, in principle.
In 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.
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 struggling."
on American's "deeply ingrained sense of fair play"
should have made news around the world - it is certainly news
N'COBRA, the 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.
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."
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
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 ....
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
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.
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, in Falluja.
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.
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"
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."
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."
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 to whites?"
furor, the ad was pulled from broadcast schedules and disavowed
by the Republican National Committee.
Friendly Version of Shock and Awe USA Cartoon]
is getting his wished-for world of "us" and "them"
- although in a much more lopsided configuration than he anticipated.
America's isolation from mankind proceeds at ever-increasing
pace, introducing an irony of the first order: while more and
more people speak English as a second language, the Bush men
and their corporate media organs make less and less sense. English
becomes a window on the closed American world of delusions,
where everything is its opposite. (Black folks understand this
inverted terrain. That's why we insist that "bad"
is actually "good" - our attempt to set things right.)
us positioned directly in front of the corporate megaphones
are mercilessly blasted by unreality masquerading as news. On
April 29, a typical day in the post-Saddam statue destruction
media euphoria, American audiences were led to believe that
two Iraq-related events were of utmost importance.
story number one: the man assigned to the Saddam playing card
deck as card #47, whom Pentagon spin masters dubbed "Missile
Man," gave himself up to "authorities" in Baghdad.
Amer Mohammed Rashid was carrying no missiles, but no matter,
it was a great victory for the United States and their Iraqi
... whatevers. (The Pirates have not figured out the
proper nomenclature for the "good" Iraqis - a very
bad omen for the occupation, and a terrible problem for corporate
transcending event of the day: the Iraqi lawyer that facilitated
U.S. Army private Jessica Lynch's rescue from enemy hospital
captivity was granted "asylum" in the United States.
This beneficent American action proves ... nothing whatsoever
on the list, and in the order of Wolf Blitzer's CNN story lineup,
was the death of 15 Iraqis, shot down outside their neighborhood
school by U.S. paratroopers in Falluja.
It is easy
- and correct - to conclude that the corporate broadcast media's
story ranking is evidence of narcissism run amuck in the American
culture, an ugly thing to witness, to be sure. But much more
is at work here, since these are the people who would rule the
world. It is also written on the faces of their leaders and
in the vacuity of their statements that the Pirates are just
as self-absorbed and oblivious to the global human environment
as their cousins at the malls. They do not understand that the
events in Falluja resonate in the consciousnesses of all Iraqis,
as they would for Americans under occupation. They cannot figure
out how to even describe these events, except to deny
that what happened, happened.
there will never be any lastingly "good" Iraqis, just
as we saw a blurring parade of good and suddenly not-good-enough
Vietnamese puppets and hirelings, many of whom ultimately gained
occupation that is projected to last one, five or ten years
will not take hold in any manageable form, and is likely to
collapse ahead of many Iraqis' ambitious schedules. The Pirates
cannot find a reality to stand on. They might just as well play
with their Saddam cards, memorizing the faces of men who no
comments are welcome. Visit the Contact
Us page for E-mail or Feedback.
here to return to the home page