Friday, December 02, 2005

Happy Racist Holidays!

A white drag queen who dresses up in blackface, "Shirley Q. Liquor" has a holiday song out that has been playing on radio stations in the South, including WGNI in Wilimington, NC and KDJE in Little Rock, Arkansas. The song, called "The 12 Days of Kwanzaa," is just, well, judge for yourself.

This is "her":

UPDATE: Other stations playing "Shirley Q. Liquor" schtick:

Oldies 107.9--Greenville, NC
Rock 103--Memphis, TN
B100--Albany, GA
Rock 104--Hattiesburg, MS
Kool 95.1--Texarkana, TX
Z105.3--Jackson, TN
98.1 The Ticket--Pensacola, FL
New Rock 106.5--Charlotte, NC
93 KHJ--American Samoa
X94--Vernal, UT
Q94--West Plains, Mo

Mostly former Slave States, with ultra-white Utah (one of only two states where voters currently approve of George W. Bush's performance) and a negligible (for our discussion here) US territory.

No-Justice Department

John at Americablog caught this story about how Bush's appointees at the Justice Department overruled the carrer analysts and lawyers who had recommended that the 2003 Texas congressional redistricting plan be rejected as a violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Remember, this is the stunt that Tom DeLay pulled, using "laundered" money, for which he was just indicted.

It seems that the same thing happened in a Mississippi redistricting case a couple of years back, and in a Georgia voter ID law that the state tried to pass this year. In each case, Bush's people were stepping in to let these Southern states change their voting laws in ways that hurt black, Hispanic, or poor voters.

But the GOP swears it cares about black voters. You believe them, right?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Obama: Rising Star?

In their usual take-no-prisoners style, Black Commentator dismantles rising star Senator Barack Obama's recent speech on the Iraq War. Like all Senatorial Democrats with presidential ambitions, Obama works very hard to avoid advocating the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq anytime soon.
"We need to say that there will be no bases in Iraq a decade from now and the United States armed forces cannot stand-up and support an Iraqi government in perpetuity - pushing the Iraqis to take ownership over the situation and placing pressure on various factions to reach the broad based political settlement that is so essential to defeating the insurgency."

These are the words of a man in no hurry whatsoever to bring this thing to a close. But what is really troubling is the sensibility, suggested in the following words, that it is of no importance that we may have been lied to by the President of the United States about the need to launch an unprovoked attack against another country:

"Iraq was a major issue in last year's election. But that election is now over. We need to stop the campaign."

Senator Obama came to prominence through a well-crafted and well-delivered speech at last year's Democratic National Convention. It was on the strength of that speech, in conjunction with the fact that he is black, that the media and poiltical establishment tripped over themselves to declare him a rising star of politics. Obama may very well demonstrate the qualities one day to justify such characterization. But so far, he merely strikes me as yet another senator angling for the White House, and afraid of stepping on any toes on his way there.

December 1, 1955

Fifty years ago today, one black woman decided she wouldn't let the state intimidate her any longer. That she was willing to be taken to jail for what she believed in. And for that, we remember her this day.

Thank you, Rosa Parks.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tookie's Last Chance

Tookie Williams is scheduled to be executed on December 13. The founder of the notorious Crips gang, Williams was convicted of murder during a 1979 convenience store robbery.

As his execution date approaches, the call has gone out from many, including several celebrities, to have his execution halted. Some point to the years of work he has done as anti-gang activist, trying to steer kids away from his way of life, since he entered the pen. Others believe Williams to be actually innocent.

It sounds like he is genuinely guilty of the murder. Even if he isn't, the wave of horror spawned by his creation makes him indirectly guilty of countless other murders. So if you're going to have a death penalty (which I am universally against), this would seem to be an excellent use of it.

After giving it some thought, I find myself coming down on the side of those seeking clemency for Williams -- not just the suspension of his execution, which is automatic for a death penalty opponent like myself, but actual forgiveness.

Here's my thinking: though death certainly feels like the right penalty for the state to enact against Williams, the state would actually be better served by taking ownership of the living Williams and using his anti-gang activism to its advantage. A plan might go something like this: we'll spare your life, Mr. Williams, and in exchange, you'll continue to participate in anti-gang activism. You won't just live out your sentence, you'll spend it paying back the state for your crime.

I haven't thought it all the way through, but I think I like the whole payback approach to criminal justice in general. Why just warehouse these folks at taxpayers' expense when we can make them pay their own way, at least in part. Along the same lines, I'm not against chain gangs in concept, just the gratuitously brutal manner in which they were notoriously run in South in the first half of the 20th Century. If we can iron out the cruelty issues, making convicts -- even convicted murders (who demonstrate the capacity) -- work off their sentences seems both socially and morally appropriate.

Shorter Bush Iraq Victory "Plan"

"Keep doing what we're doing, because it's working well. And it's going to take a long time."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

For An Honest Day's Work?

Because they are doing such a good job, Congress snuck a little pay raise for itself just before they went away for Thanksgiving.

More Thoughts on the Indictment of Jose Padilla

In May of 2002, the national news media were abuzz over the revelation of the Aug. 6, 2001 "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" presidential briefing. Uncomfortable questions were being asked about the Bush administration's lack of response following that memo. Condi Rice had just made a complete ass of herself by famously declaring that no one could have imagined an attack like the one the US suffered on 9/11 taking place, when many intelligence and security officials had imagined exactly that sort of thing taking place.

And a man named Jose Padilla was arrested by the FBI in O'Hare airport.

A few weeks later, as things began to look ugly for the administration's so-called response to the pre-9/11 threat, and as the Justice Department was being forced to explain why Mr. Padilla had been arrested, Attorney General John Ashcroft hastily organized, via teleconference from a trip he was taking in Moscow, an announcement that Padilla had been plotting to detonate a radiological bomb in an American city, and therefore was being held as an enemy combatant -- which meant the charge against him never had to be proved to anybody, and he had no right to communicate with the outside world ever again.

The news media immediately dropped the Aug. 6 memo as the hot topic, and instead began reporting on the potential impact of "dirty bombs" on American cities. The parade of fear resumed, helping make more plausible all kinds of nightmare scenarios involving Saddam Hussein giving nuclear material to terrorists to attack the US. The holding of Padilla and labeling of him as a dirty bomber helped generate domestic support for attacking the governement of Iraq and helped defeat Democrats in the congressional elections a few months later.

The US government had been holding Padilla incommunicado ever since his arrest. For three and a half years, they never bothered to present to anybody any evidence supporting their claim that he was a threat to the US. Now, three and a half years later, we know why.

Lsat week the Justice Department announced an indictment against Padilla for training to kidnap and kill foreign citizens abroad. Nowhere in the indictment is there anything about dirty bombs, or any kind of threat to the US or its citizens. In fact, the only reason the Justice Department finally coughed up some kind of charge against Padilla is that the US Supreme Court was on the verge of declaring what the Justice Department was doing -- duh -- unconstitutional.

Every American should be furious that Padilla was apparently little more than a pawn in the Bush administration's efforts to keep us all very afraid. Even those willing to give Bush the benefit of the doubt should be upset that the Justice Department doesn't have the evidence to nail Padilla on his alleged bombing plot. Because that means that the alleged other bombers allegedly working with Padilla haven't been identified. And that would mean America was allegedly still at risk.