History of economic exploitation still hinders black Americans


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Once again, Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist and commentator David Horsey nails it.

 

Now that the confrontation between outraged black protesters and heavily armed white police in Ferguson, Mo., has subsided, most of America has moved on to other news. The police shooting of Michael Brown that sparked those protests did prompt a brief debate about the use of force by police in African American communities, and the U.S. Justice Department has stepped in to investigate bias, bad policies and poor community relations in the local police departments. But, as concerning as deadly encounters between cops and black kids may be, they are just one symptom of a far deeper problem of race that Americans continue to evade.

Yes, it is true that the most overt forms of racial discrimination have been banished. A black family lives in the White House. Black celebrities and sports stars are widely admired, even beloved, by white Americans. Where, 40 years ago, African Americans were nearly absent from TV screens, now black actors take the lead in numerous popular television programs and black spokesmen are the public faces of insurance companies and other corporate advertisers who would not be doing such a thing if they thought it would lose them money.

Plenty of examples can be found to show that the country has changed, enabling thousands of individual black Americans to achieve great success. As a result, many — maybe most — whites believe racism is a problem that has been solved. When it is pointed out that a high percentage of blacks still lag far behind in household income and net worth, as well as in educational achievement, the not-always-unspoken assumption among many white people is that blacks just need to work harder, get off welfare and stop committing crimes.

That assumption betrays a woeful ignorance of history and economics.

All but the most unrepentant racist knows that slavery was evil and that the years of Jim Crow and segregation in the South were little better. But, not everyone recognizes how, though those wicked days are past, their negative effects linger and fester. The economic toll on black people during the long decades of oppression was staggering. Many immigrants — Irish, Italians, Chinese and others — came to this country and suffered discrimination, too. Eventually, though, doors opened for all of them and bias withered away. They, or their descendants, were able to take part in the economic life of this society and build wealth over time. For black Americans, that opportunity came very late, if it came at all. (Only Native Americans were as cut off from America’s ever-expanding riches.)

From the arrival of the first slaves in the 17th century until emancipation in the 1860s, most blacks not only had no economic opportunities, the fruits of their very hard labor were stolen from them by their slave masters. After the Civil War, most continued to be locked in servitude as sharecroppers and servants. They were cheated, they were robbed, they were marginalized, brutalized and lynched. Economic advancement was nearly impossible.

A great many Southern blacks moved north seeking a better deal. Some found it, but many also found they were blocked from getting better-paying jobs, from putting their children in the best schools and from buying homes, even in poor neighborhoods. The economic rules and the legal system were rigged against them.

The cost of this exploitation is almost incalculable in monetary terms. The extreme damage done to community life, however, is all too obvious. It is the same damage evidenced in any poor community, but compounded by generations of neglect: poor health, undermined family structures, inadequate education, underemployment, crime, addiction, incarceration and social alienation.

Year after year, America spends millions of dollars on cops and prisons to contain the worst manifestations of this legacy of discrimination, but never do we take on the burdens of the black community as a burden we all share. Of course, black Americans must do their part — and a great many are trying with all their might to break out of the cycle of violence, despair and economic insecurity in which they find themselves. But white Americans need to break out of the lazy smugness that allows them to ignore their own responsibility to their fellow citizens.

We are all in this together. It is long past time to face up to America’s greatest shame and spend the money, time and effort it will take to erase it once and for all.

 

Posted in obama, politics, rand paul, romney, ron paul, social, tea party | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Immigration. And Capitalism.


It seems recently I’ve started seeing a bit of a new trend. Or the beginnings of one (if it goew well for them I suppose). Broaching the topic of legal immigration, not just illegal immigration.

And yet…like so many issues in our world, we focus on the symptoms, not the root causes.

And one of the root causes, and one of the few we as americans really have a place discussing, is capitalism.

Because let’s address the elephant in the room here. If corporations and businesses had to pay at least a living wage for the jobs they must have done in order to run their companies     we would not see such an iflux of immigrants willing to do such underpaid jobs. It is easy to view jobs as unskilled. As unimportant. And thus deserving of low wages. But the reality is- these jobs, no matter how menial- are part of the process. One that if not done- the whole system breaks down. (think about it for a moment- is any bussiness going to pay someone, no matter how small an amount, to do a job that ultimately is not crucial to the sucess of the company? ) Really, bringing in the harvest, cleaning the hotel room, hauling lumber, concrete, rebar,…cleaning dishes, mopping the floors and taking out the trash may not be glamorous jobs. They may not be highly skilled jobs (although they all require some skills- and I’d wager some of them are ones you or me could not do efficiently), but they are jobs that must be done so that other jobs can be done.

So maybe the issue lies in that our capitalist system has created this false reality. We all want low cost goods and services. Our employers want us to have access to low cost goods and services because that reduces the living wage they must bay their more skilled workers. And by depressing the wages all around they increase their profits.

And I can’t help but feel that there are powerful forces- business and political, that would much rather play the american people vs the immigrants. Rather then have people start to question the root causes. The system that sees so much of america, at best, getting slightly ahead…more often then ot at best getting by. While the rich keep getting richer, and richer…and richer.

Posted in 1%, obama, politics, rand paul, romney, ron paul, social, tea party | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Day the Music Died ( R.I.P. Ipod Classic )


So on september 9th, after Apples announcement of the New Iphone and Aplle Watch, they quietly and uncerimonously removed the Ipod Classic from their store.

The Ipod. The device that was announced a month after the 9/11 attacks. A device that changed so much…

Like so many Apple products of the Steve Jobs era, they were not the first to market. And of course, not the cheapest. But, as they did so many times since, they were the first to get it right. And to be fair- maybe it had something to do with the timing- as it did come at a time when many were happy to slip on their earbuds, tune out the world, and slip into their own joyous little world fo a while.

But kudos where they are due- the Ipod changed so much. You could, for the first time really, have all* your music with you wherever, whenever. ( * if memory serves the original was 5GB. The recently killed off version was 160GB. My music library exceeds 100GB. So maybe not all your music, but… )

And I remember as they became ubiqutous. It seemed like everywhere you went, you saw people with their earbuds in and a smile on their face. And I remember it’s impacts on culture. From sharing your ipod becoming a new level of intimacy in relationships (let’s be honest- the music library one has reveals a LOT about the person), to what became an almost standard question in interviews of high powered people “What’s on your Ipod? “

Of course there are still ipods available- the shuffle, nano, and touch. But none evoke the original itteration of the device that changed so many things. And none, I’ll add, which have the capacity for my music library.

I will sorely miss the Ipod. And yes, I’ll admit- I just ordered my new Iphone 6- and partially because of the death of the classic I did order the 128GB model, which should hold my music library. (I’ll take the chance to add- I am currently still using an Iphone 4. pre-siri. a 4+ year old phone that’s on its last legs). But I like stand alone devices. Ones that do one thing and do them well. I liked being able to have the Ipod to plug into my home stereo. Or to transfer between our vehicles. To plug into the jobsite radio. To be able to load it out to friends when they went on long trips and wanted some fresh music. None of these which I can really do with an Iphone. As personal as the Ipod was- it also had a great sharing component to it- sharing not only your music but a small piece of yourself.

And a notte to Apple. I know Ipod sales have been declining for years. But, if you had given us some notice the Ipod Classic was going the way of the dodo… I would have bought 5. Maybe ten of them. Just for myself and families personal use. Maybe a few more for future gifts. And judging by the fact they are already sold out at ALL my local stores. And the prices people are paying on ebay- a  LOT of other people feel the same way.

I feel like I have lost a friend.

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Private Intelligence Network Helps Police Steal, ahem, “Seize” Cash


The Washington Post has just finished running an excellent 3 part series on the rise over the past decade of police targetting cash seizures on our nations highways…and the privately run intellignence networks that aid them. And the many, often minority innocent americans who have been caught up in this heavy handed tactic.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Let’s face it. Millions of Americans, for one reason or another, either don’t have a bank account, or for one reason or another choose not to entrust their money to a bank. Many of us prefer to live in a cash based society. In the past decade I have personally known two people who had large sums of 100% legal money seized by police during traffic stops. One, a construction company owner who had something like $37,000 in cash. He was on his way to look at and possibly buy a piece of heavy equipment. The seond was a hispanic construction crew leader who was on his way to look at a 7+ year old full size diesel truck to potentially buy. (Both did eventualy get their money back- after more then a year and thousands in legal costs. Not to mention the frustration, humiliation, and the loss of both the money- and what it was intended for.

And, I have also known numerous people in the world of medical marijuana who lost substantial sums of cash. Virtually none of whom ever got it returned. People who, although operating completely within their states laws, were forced into a cash only world by federal prohibition on them being able to have bank accounts.

 

Anyway- I highly recommend reading the series. And taking some time to think about what you are actually reading. That simply dealing in cash rather then pieces of paper or plastic from a bank can make you a criminal. The intimidation of innocent people- and all too often, people who are already marginalized by society. The arrogance and contempt of police- their greed, their indifference, their violation of eveything they are supposed to stand for.

Personally, I hope the writers of this series when a Pulitzer.

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Latest Fearmongering from the far right- 11 jetliners “missing” in Libya


This one is an interesting study in how the right wing spreads their “news”. This started with a report from the far right “Washington Free Beacon”. A site started by a “journalist” who spent years at the “Washington Times”- a rag started by “the moonies” which in recent years has morphed into a favorite of the right wing.

The story, based on the classic “unidentified sources” claims 11 jetliners are missing after ISIS rebels took over the international airport in Tripolli, Libya. With lots of fearmongering thrown in for good measure, noting the proximity to  the 9/11 anniversary and more vauge claims of a “warning” out among intelligence agencies.

Of course the right wing fringe media picked this up instantly. Followed a little later by some of the, ahem, more “reputable” right wing news sites. A few minor major  papers around the world have picked it up now as well.

But yet- despite the resources and connections of the worlds media, no one has yet even hinted at confirmation of this story from a source other the beacon. Not a hint of any civil, commercial, or military air alerts. No hints of any activity whatsover if there was any real concern about this.

So let’s think about this for a second…

First, a jetliner doesn’t just go missing. Unless by this they are being completely dishonest and simply mean that they are no longer in control of the company that operates them. They can’t be loaded on a truck. Or driven down the road. They would have had to have been flown out of there. And let’s be clear- we are talking Libya. A country being heavily monitored by multiple governments. Does anyone really believe 11 planes took off with no one noticing. 11 planes taking off after a heavily monitored battle- with no one taking action? really?

Second- if you have seen the attacks you know the airport saw extensive damage. It’s unclear whether a plane even could take off. Whether the runways were left undamaged. The infrastructure needed to fuel and service a plane. etc etc.

Third- they have of course been making lots of references to 9/11. So let’s be honest. These were planes hijacked in flight. Yes, they had people trained well enough to “fly them”. Once they were flying. They didn’t have people able to take off or land. Or who knew how to fuel a plane. Check the instruments. Get it ready for flight or off the ground. And of course- much of 9/11’s destruction was because the planes were heavy with fuel for a long flight. Not going to happen with a plane coming out of Libya. At least not in the US. Spain, Italy, germany are all relatively close. But seem minor tarkets. London is roughly 2500 miles away- which would have most commercial airliers running light on fuel.

Fourth- any attack would have to involve either a plane flying with no transponder. Or one that has been known to have been compromised. Yes, it probably is possible to “fake” a transponder signal. But this is a move that would, at best, buy them a short period of time.

Fifth, the source of these claims. The Washington Free Beacon does not exactly have a reputation for high levels of journalistic integrity. Nor do they have any reputation for high level sources. So why in the world would anyone run these fantastical, fearmongering claims, especially when they can clearly not verify them through their own sources?

 

But of course- the right wing media has no interest in truth. In actual news. Their only interests are profit, and sowing the fear, distrust, and hatred needed to overthrow (yes, I did just use that word- because it fits) a duly elected democratic government.

Posted in obama, politics, social, syria, tea party | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

CVS Pharmacies in RI to offer otc Narcan to reverse OD’s


Amazing news- even if it’s only one state. CVS Pharmacies has announced that all 80 of their stores in Rhode Island will begin offering Narcan, also known as Naloxone (and long known in many harm reduction circles as “the Lazarus drug”), over the counter and without a prescrition.

This drug can reverse a fatal opoid overdose and restore breathing. While it is legal in all 50 states, in generally requires a prescription, although increasingly states are moving to allow its distribution with someone having to see a doctor.

Sadly, I remember 20 years ago when harm reduction groups were being arrested for stocking it or supplying it. And many localities were barring emergency first responders from carrying it. And I have little doubt that much of the change is because we have seen a shift from people predominantly dying from Heroin to people dying from Oxycodone and other synthetic opoid painkillers. too often in our society there has been a sense that, as I titled one of my earliest posts here: Drug Addicts Deserve to Die . But I am excited to see this step. And hope it will spread nationwide sooner rather then later. Because drug addicts don’t deserve to die. They don’t deserve to be locked up. They deserve to be offered help- regardless of whether that is help to get clean, or to survive long enough to be ready to get clean.

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What I learned from the Right Wing News Today


Here are the top “News” stories published by WND today* . (*I started this last night- the stories remained the same as of early this morning west coast time).

1) ALARMS SOUND OVER ‘IMMINENT’ ATTACKS ON U.S.
Report: Feds, law enforcement scrambling to stop ISIS carnage on border

Yep. Stoking fear. And killing to birds with one stone tying in southern border issues. With just a few minutes of research it;s clear this is based on some facebook and twitter posts from people who “may” have some involvement ISIS, and who have mentioned the issues on the southern border. Backed up by repeating claims of various right wing nut politicians and figures who have made claims that ISIS plans to attack the US and/or cross the “porous” sw border.

Nothing credible here at all…just lots of hot air.

2) MIDEAST EXPERT: OBAMA SWITCHED SIDES IN WAR ON TERROR
‘America has moved toward its Muslim enemies’

Yep, good old Claire Lopez again. Supposedly a CIA officer at one point in time. Most recently a prominent member of numerous far right wing groups on everything from Benghazzi to “islamic issues”. Spouting off again that the Obama administration has been heavily infilitrated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and Obama himself is intent on destroying secular middle east governments so radical Islamists can take over. Because, well…you know….

3) HAMAS: WE’RE ALREADY DIGGING NEW TERROR TUNNELS
Islamic jihadists boast of burrowing activities 4 days into truce

Ah yes- from resident WND Islam basher Aaron Klein. Who in the couple years I’ve been following him seems to simply make up stories. Can’t think of a single time his stories have proven true. And of course the irony of the whole story- it is supposedly based on Hamas sources leaking the info directly to WND. Yep, a Muslim group is leaking info to one of the most anti-muslim “news” sources in the world. makes perfect sense to me.

4) JIMMY CARTER REFUSES TO CANCEL SPEECH FOR HAMAS FRONT
Terror-tied group featuring former president at fundraiser

Ah yes. Carter speaking at the gathering for the Islamic Society of North America. In Detroit. They insist that INSA must be a front for Hamas, because, well, they were named (along with nearly every other muslim group in the US) as “unindicted coconspirators) in the trials of The Holy Land Foundation. In case you don’t remember, the holyland foundation was named a terrorist organization by Bush via executive order after 9/11- with the government seizing their money. The better part of a decade, and TWO trials later they were found guilty of supporting Hamas. Because, well, they gave money to charities and schools in the occupied territories. And since Hamas was in control them, by making the peoples lives better it made Hamas look better. A sad and sordid chapter of anti muslim American history under the Bush years.
And never mind that ISNA was never charged with ANY wrongdoing. Nor was there any evidence of such presented. They were just caught up in the governments anti-muslim furor after 9/11.

5) JOURNALISTS STRATEGIZE TO REPORT ON BEING ‘GAY’
Fox, CNN, Knight, ESPN bring out checkbooks to pay for events

Ah yes. The evil annual conference of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association. Essentially complaining they did not have any speakers there to represent the “traditional view” (hmmm, no one there to tell them they’re subhuman and going to hell?).

6)CONSENTING TO SEX COULD REQUIRE A TEXT
California bill redefines rape on college campuses

Yep, California legislators have passed a bill that would essentially flip the age old “no means no” to”yes means yes”. In other words, an intimate partner MUST give consent to intimate activities. And must be able to give consent (ie: not wasted drunk. Not drugged. Not passed out). But ah yes, this is all part of that evil “war on men” we see happening everywhere…

7) PARENTS: WATCH FOR THESE RED FLAGS AT SCHOOL
Exclusive: Linda Harvey outlines warning signs of creeping ‘pink propaganda’

yes, one of their favorite subjects- the massive “Gay Agenda”. Warning parents to watch out for things like evil gay teachers who might not assume your children are straight. And may talk to them in gender neutral phrases, like, talking to them abut dating and not specifying girlfriend or boyfriend.
And watch out for them reading literature! And remember- the evil far left National Library Association will be having “Banned Books Week” right when school starts.
8)SAVAGE: FEDS ARMING FOR ‘WAR ON WHITE PEOPLE’
Exclusive: Kathy Shaidle covers most explosive conversations on air
Ah yes- good old Michael Savage. Pointing out out the the Department of Homeland Security didn’t deploy forces to Ferguson because it was a “black issue”. And that the DHS is designed for a war on white people. And of course, promoting his new book on the coming civil war- which apparently will be blacks (may hispanics? Gays? …well “them” at any rate attacking the white race.
9) OBAMA TURNS ‘PREPPER,’ WARNS OF COMING ‘CRISIS’
‘Families should assemble a disaster supplies kit’

Making it all sound sinister while promoting their online store. And of course, Obama was promoting National Preparedness Month. The common sense idea that households should be prepared with a few days of basic supplies to cover events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters. Not quite the same as WND’s constant articles on stockpiling guns, ammo, food and other supplies for the coming apocalypse.

10)FORT HOOD SHOOTER PLEADS TO JOIN ISIS
‘It would be an honor to be an obedient citizen soldier’

Well, they get one story right I suppose. But they use most of the article to moan about the costs of actually putting him on trial and use one incident (where he asked for a clock so he could roll his paralyzed lower body over every few hours to prevent bed sores, and where he complained about the temperature being to cold and asked to see an Iman) as evidence he has “filled his jailors’ lives with nearly incessant grief.”

11)OBAMA NAMED IN RICO LAWSUIT
Accused of laundering funds to terrorist organization Hamas

Ah yes, good old Larry Klayman. A WND contributor. The man who has spent the last few decades suing every “liberal” he can find. The founder of the right wing Judicial Watch, where he spent years suing the Clintons and their administration for anything and everything. And now frontman for Freedom Watch.
Yawn. So he’s filed yet another frivilous lawsuit. As he claims:“The nation and the world have increasingly come to see that Obama views himself primarily as a Muslim and acts accordingly in favoring Islamic interests over Judeo-Christian ones, and the complaint lays out Obama’s history in documented detail”

One can only wonder how many millions of taxpayer dollars he has wasted with his pointless lawsuits over the years.

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Comment:

if you pay attention to the right wing news for a while you will notice that very, very little of it is actually news. Some of it is outright fabrications. Most contains a tidbit of news or actual events that is then spun to fit the right wing narrative. Often in blatant denial of other relevant facts.

But more disturbing- is how these stories come about. We have people like James Hoft who runs Gateway Pundit. (just google: “The dumbest man on the internet. or if you’re lazy, LMGTFY: http://bit.ly/1CdM4Fz  ). The Washington Times (yes, the paper started by “The Moonies” that allows people to post, well, whatever- with no fact checking. No credentials or history of honesty or journalistic skills required). Sites like WND who has quite a number of “journalists” with a long history of posting stories based on “high ranking sources” that end up being completely false. (in any real journalistic setting, claiming you have “sources”, much less not confirming the info with multiple sources, ends your career).

But time and time, and time again we see these far right wing sources, with a long history of being wrong, publish these stories. Where oftentimes they get picked up and run by the more “credible” and “respected” “news sites” that are only, ahem, right leaning. Or “Fair and balanced”.

And so, we end up with millions of americans being presented with, and believing, lies. Lies that do irreparable harm to our society. To our country. And yet, these people have the audacity to consider themselves patriots, true americans, those keeping to the ideals of our founding fathers.

 

Posted in christian values, climate change, gay marriage, gay rights, global warming, gun rights, israel, obama, politics, religion, ron paul, science, social, socialism, tea party | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments