Monday, June 29, 2009

Ruling from Ideology

I've been around the last week. I'm up on everything. Can't get over Michael. He was just an incredible, once in ever artist. I'll never reach his level on music heights. And I wonder what would've come had he gone into acting. Or, if he had gotten some help. I won't even lie, I even wonder if the man was just a musical savant and a little diminished in other areas.

But I do hope that I can have the same impact when it comes to humanitarianism and people's lives in the area of social justice.

So, I've been watching the lastest, and the latest from the Supreme Court has me even more determined to help bring about justice and righteousness. And you know it was 5-4. Stank Kennedy. He must've been one of those other Kennedy's, you know? (Listen, if you don't understand the snide comment I'm making, please ask about it before you assume something stupid.) And for my white readers or any one of y'all just passing through, this is why Uncle Clarence gets his own title.

I swear! Just read the article and let me know what you think. And if you got something smart to say but didn't read the article, oh, I will be drawing blood. Make no mistake about it. And just so we're clear, yes, I'm saying this decision is racist. Yes, I'm saying the fact that we have so many "empathetic" white male judges not only influenced the outcome; but, at least 3 of'em are racist. Plain and tall.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I Report, You Decide

This article is by-lined from Vienna, Austria. But is this really just a way of getting more people to respond to what's happening here in America? Hmm . . .

Read the article and tell me what you think. Sorry about the Faux News referrence. Couldn't help it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Finishing the Ninth

I'm going to make this short. In an earlier post of my discouragement with a recent Supreme Court decision, I said I would do some research into the 9th amendment. Here's one article I found, and here's another article I found. They both support my basic argument about fundamental rights being protected by the 9th amendment. Though, it's not a protection for any little right a person may lay claim to.

Happy Juneteenth!

Juneteenth, June 19, is traditionally recognized as the day the last slaves, in Texas, learned of their freedom. Think of it as the Fourth of July for slaves and their descendants. Here's a website with history and suggestions for parties.

Now. Since my last posting, I've read several articles and blog posts on racism. The most interesting one, which hails from, of course, had this letter that I'm sharing with you. I'll save commentary for later, but here're some thoughts from Ta-Nehisi Coates. Just enjoy the read and leave your thoughts. ____________________________________
Jourdon Anderson to P.H. Anderson, August 7, 1865.

SOURCE: Child, L[ydia]. Maria. The Freedmen’s Book. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1865. pp. 265-267.

Dayton, Ohio, August 7, 1865
To my old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee.
Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy, -- the folks call her Mrs. Anderson, -- and the children -- Milly, Jane, and Grundy -- go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, ‘Them colored people were slaves’ down in Tennessee; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams’s Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve -- and die, if it come to that -- than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.

Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant, Jourdon Anderson.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Amendment IX: Strict Constructionism? Or Just Plain Ol' Disregard For Actual People?

It could very well be that I'm slow. I doubt it. But that could be the case. It's probably my AP US History teacher's fault. But I doubt that, too. I can read for myself.

Now, granted, I'm no constitutional scholar. And I haven't read up on the latest in law journals. But it seems to me that . . . you know what, let me tell you what I'm actually commenting on. Today, I guess, the Supreme Court ruled that:

Convicts do not have a right under the Constitution to obtain DNA testing to try to prove their innocence after being found guilty, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

You guessed right. It was a split decision. The majority of Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy against the minority of Souters, who Sotomayor will replace, Ginsberg, Stevens, and Breyer. You have to read the article because the case is as interesting as the majority reasoning is specious.

Now we return to my regularly schedule diatribe.

My history teacher told us that the 9th Amendment essentially meant that just because the Constitution doesn't say you have the right to use the bathroom in private doesn't mean you don't have that right. And reading for myself, I think it's quite clear. Just because the Constitutional didn't specifically address some specific right doesn't mean the people don't have it. Now, with the 2nd Amendment and the discussion concerning it in mind, we can argue whether "the people" in this case refer to the American collective or individuals. But let's take for granted it refers to individuals. I actually should've done this long ago, but I was a bit lazy and interested in other things.

Oh! Let me write this down before I forget - I'm going to need to do some quick googling of actual Constitutional scholarly articles about the 9th for my own sake if not for whatever contribution it could have to you.

Here's how I understand the 9th and would explain it to a reasonably intelligent child. You know how children like to argue that it's okay that they take the car even after they've been told not to because their parent(s) didn't precisely say, "You are not allowed to drive that car"? Maybe all Mom said was, "Don't let me catch you driving that car," in which case it's okay so long as you don't get caught. Or, maybe all Dad said was, "Don't let me hear tell of you driving that car," in which case it's okay to drive the car, and maybe even okay if Dad catches you driving the car, so long as he doesn't actually hear about your driving the car.

Well, as we know, not a few of the authors of the Constitution were parents and all had been teenage boys, so they knew to guard the country against specious legal reasoning by saying, "Just because we didn't specify a right doesn't mean the people don't have it."

But here's the thing. You know how conservatives argue that the Constitution doesn't guarantee a right to privacy? Well, you have the 4th amendment for that. The right to abortions? That's in the 9th. Gay marriage? Check the 9th. It's one of those things the conservatives get all funny about when it doesn't apply to them. It's one of those things they become less strict about when they have the chance to jam the individual.

Don't get me wrong. I don't know what legal standing convicts and inmates have in regards to the Constitution. Clearly it's okay, so far anyway, to deny them the right to vote even after they get out. But it does seem fairly quick and easy that they have the right to DNA evidence that may clear them, even if they don't, and here I'm referencing the article, say absolutely that they're innocent.

And too. I'm not trying to render a legal decision. I'm just side with the 4 who were.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

You're Still Here!

Oh, that's great!

A lot of things have been happening in my personal life. All good . . . and perfect, thankya Jesus! Hallelujah! For real.

I've finally been given a firm diagnosis - a mild narcolepsy - which explains my fatigue, but not the pain. Which, is okay since both are being treated. The new medication for fatigue hasn't yet made me feel "normal"; just not so week-old road-kill sick. And that's absolutely fabulous! Yeah, I still spend much of my day on the couch or online; but, like I said, I feel better. And that feels great.

Now, as for my continued inconsistency. First off, like I said, I still don't feel normal. And secondly, my brain has been some vacation of sorts for at least a couple of weeks now. I don't know why. It's not that I feel dumb; and trust, I do know that feeling. No, I'm just mentally tired. I mean, when I say a lot has been going on in my personal life, I do mean a lot. It's taking quite a bit of mental energy to keep things straight. So I don't have the usual zest for thinking out examples or implications or anything of the such of racism or sexism or anything in our current events.

In fact, I have a post on draft right now that I started last week, and just couldn't get my head to finish. Something about how the little racist "Obama chia pets" and "nappy-headed hos" comments are all part of a society that enables what amounts to essentially robbing the black community: Well's Fargo targeting the black community for sub-prime loans. I was gonna explain how all the seemingly harmless statements mount up to damage the black community. The whole circle made sense in my head, I just couldn't quite find the words. But since I'm on a bit of a roll, let me just say this - people who see nothing racist about the recent "tea parties" nurture an environment where people see nothing wrong with gouging the black community of very hard earned moneys. And to make a point that hard-working white Americans need to hear: the people who saw nothing wrong with loan officers lying both to the client and to the underwriter so the cost of the loan will be higher leading to higher profits for the company and higher bonuses for the loan officer also see nothing wrong with the exorbitant bonuses received by the executives who brought down the global economy. Mark my words chumpy, which shit gets to flying, everybody gets hit. Instead of listening to the idiots who propagate the lie the affirmative action is "reverse" racism, you should be listening to those of us tell you that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Well. Guess the good ole noggin' is doing better than I thought!

Also, I've just touched base with my cousin Lauren. If you don't remember, I have a cousin and cousin-in-law who're both based in Afghanistan right now. They're army medics, kinda like on MASH I would imagine. Lauren describes what she does as kinda working in an emergency room with injured people coming in all day. Her working hours were increased, so she works 12-hours shifts now. She has a furlough next month. I can't wait! It's not even about seeing her. It's just about knowing she's home safe and sound.

Oh! What brought about this sudden post anyway? This op-ed piece in the New York Times by Frank Rich. Pretty cogent stuff. Gets straight to the point. Gotta read. Here's a quote:

Then he brought up another recent gunman: "If you're one who believes that abortion is murder, at what point do you go out and kill someone who's performing abortions?" An answer, he said, was provided by Dr. George Tiller's killer. He went on: "If you are one who believes these sorts of things about the president of the United States ..." He left the rest of that chilling sentence unsaid.
Rich also mentioned something I hadn't really thought about, but which is true:

We don't know whether the tiny subset of domestic terrorists in this crowd is egged on by political or media demagogues - though we do tend to assume that foreign jihadists respond like Pavlov's dogs to the words of their most fanatical leaders and polemicists.
I'm not quite sure why it never crossed my mind, but at any rate. If you're interested in a discussion on whether or not hate speech should be regulated, here's a good start. I already have comments there, but I'm about to add Rich's thought to the convo.

Anyway, I hope you're still here when I get back. Don't know when I'll be posting again. Just can't shake the dead-brain feeling.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Poor White Men :sigh:

I don't mean poor as in "having little or no money." I mean poor as in "unfortunate;hapless."


Here's another article with a bit of a fresh perspective about the Sotomayor nomination and the racist backlash by conservatives.

Don't get me wrong. On one hand, to keep talking about the notion that Sotomayor is racist does lead credence to the lie. On the other, not to talk about the fallacy of logic would be to miss an opportunity to education:Not only are conservatives lying about Judge Sotomayor, they're lying about the current and future status and prospects of white men.

I mean, take Patty B (Pat Buchanan) for example. He's said:
You got down to four women, not a single white male – all women … Probably half of the great lawyers and judges are white males in this country. To rule them out, why? Because of sex and because of their race is wrong, I think.
There are a few problems with this statement I think we should break down.
  1. Who decided that half of the great lawyers and judges are white males? Is it really that many? Isn't it racist to assume it's that many without actually knowing?
  2. Let's say it is that many. Does that mean that women and minorities are less likely to make good judges? Or, does that mean that we need more women and minority judges?
  3. And let's say it is that many. Doesn't it mean that white males are over-represented on the Supreme Court? How is that not racist?
  4. Isn't it strange that with all the barriers women and people of color face in this country, the only time conservatives/Republicans really speak out against racism and/or sexism is when they perceive it's happening to white men?

And let's not delude ourselves. This is NOT just a run-of-the-mill conservative attack against Democrats. This is an attack against anti-racism - that's why they're stealing the language of anti-racist activists. This is an attack against racial and gender progress and equality. This is an attempt to maintain white male supremacy in the US.

Don't get me wrong. They know these attacks won't keep Sotomayor off the bench. What it will do is galvanize whites and their lackeys of color against Democrats; against Pres. Obama's next political move; and most especially, against future attempts to ensure equality and justice for all.

They are protecting their positions of power. And that is wrong, I know.

Word Thieves

Remember I kept having trouble getting to the bottom of what disturbed me so much about the accusation of Sotomayor as a racist here (second full paragraph)? And my sort of putting my finger on the issue here? Well, here's another problem with the accusation and why I'm so disturbed.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

And in International News . . .

I promised awhile back to start adding more of an international flavor to my blog. I haven't kept up with international news as well as I had hoped. But then again, I haven't kept up with national news as well as I had hoped, either.

But, reading this book asking wondering just how stupid are American voters has encouraged me again to try to understand international events as well as the economy. So here we go.

First up, U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu is suing an Anderlecht player over an alleged racial insult, hoping the case will help eradicate on-field racist abuse in European soccer. You know I'm a big sports fan. When I played basketball, one of the things I was best at was trash talk. I really didn't want to get into the dozens, though. Just more generic, "Wave to the ball. You won't be seeing it while I'm guarding you." Just thinking about it gives me shivers! But including someone's race in your trash talk is less King Jamesian than just the regular "yo mama" joke. It needs to be stopped. Racialized insults and condescension has a history and it cannot be tolerated. I understand it's hard to control the fans; but it should quite easy work to put players in check.

Next up, and last for the edition (LOL!) is: President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday threatened to sanction private banks that fail to collaborate with his government's regulations as it moves toward a socialist economy. Now, you probably think Chavez is a demagogic prick, and I'm actually leaning in that direction. But you can't really question the logic here. His issue, as I understand it, is not private banks earning a profit - that's what banks do. It's how the stay in business and "pay" depositors for use of their money. His problem, as I understand it, is banks making sick amounts of money while regular people suffer. And I think if we in the US had the same sort of courage to tell bankers not to screw us, our economy would be doing a lot better how.

Just Keeping You Informed

"U.S. consumers, Prendergrast said, can also help by pressuring major electronic companies - from Apple to Sony - to certify that cell phones, computers and other products contain "conflict-free minerals," a campaign tactic popularized by the Sierra Leone-based film "Blood Diamonds." "

Monday 01 June 2009

by: Dominique Soguel Visit article original @ Women's eNews

Washington - Activists concerned by this year's escalation of sexual violence in eastern Congo are trying to turn up the heat on those benefitting - directly or indirectly - from illicit mineral extractions.

"Conflict minerals power our entire electronic industry," John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, told U.S. senators at a May 13 hearing on sexual violence in eastern Congo and Sudan.

The Enough Project is a Washington-based organization campaigning against genocide and crimes against humanity, including rape in eastern Congo.

Prendergast said that Congo would only have a chance at peace when something is done about the conflict-inducing demands of North America, Asia and Europe.

Eve Ensler, author of "The Vagina Monologues," helped launch an international awareness raising campaign called V-Day in 2007 to end sexual violence in eastern Congo.

UNICEF estimates that hundreds of thousands of girls have been raped in the last decade in the two eastern provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu.

A Single Nightmare

"Corporate greed, fueled by capitalist consumption, and the rape of women have merged into a single nightmare," Eve Ensler said at U.S. Senate hearings on May 13. "Women's bodies are the battleground of an economic war."

Ensler said that international mining companies with significant investments in eastern Congo value economic interest over the bodies of women by trading with rebels who use rape as a tactic of war in areas rich in coltan, gold and tin.

"Military solutions are no longer an option," she said. "All they do is bring about the rape of more women."

The United States has invested more than $700 million in humanitarian aid and peacekeeping to Congo, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Prendergast said this money will do nothing to root out the economic causes of eastern Congo's conflict and sexual violence.

He said a comprehensive long-term strategy to combat rape needs to change the economic calculus of armed groups.

Seeking Conflict-Free Minerals

Prendergast asked senators to support the Congo Conflict Minerals Act, which was introduced by Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold in April of this year.

The bill aims to break the link between resource exploitation and armed conflict in eastern Congo by requiring companies trading minerals with Congo or neighboring states to disclose mine locations and monitor the financing of armed groups in eastern Congo's mineral-rich areas.

"The sooner the illicit conflict minerals trade is eliminated, the sooner the people of Congo will benefit from their own resources," said Prendergrast.

U.S. consumers, Prendergrast said, can also help by pressuring major electronic companies - from Apple to Sony - to certify that cell phones, computers and other products contain "conflict-free minerals," a campaign tactic popularized by the Sierra Leone-based film "Blood Diamonds."

Such a process would use a tracking system for components, similar to that developed in 2007 under the Kimberly Process. This international certification scheme ensures that trade in rough diamonds doesn't fuel war, as it did in Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone during the 1990s.

Germany has already developed a pilot fingerprinting system for tin that could be expanded to other minerals and help establish certified trading chains, linking legitimate mining sites to the international market.


Dominique Soguel is Women's eNews Arabic editor.

My Thoughts Are Clear(er) . . . Again?

Okay, so here's what bothers me about all the white male conservative whining over Judge Sotomayor: at the end of their logic is this - the only people who can render objective (not objectionable, which would be hilarious, right?) are white men. This means that white men's reality is reality and correct me if I'm wrong but that's what's gotten this country into trouble even as recently as 2008 with 2 unnecessary wars and economic collapse: white male "reality."
Tim Wise has an elucidating, if a bit gruff, piece here.

That said, I am a bit trouble about the fact that her ruling against minorities in discrimination cases 80% of the time is talked about like it's a good thing. Sure, it proves that the whiners are lying. That said, don't the facts of life - the minorities experience a hefty amount of discrimination and much, much more than whites face "reverse" discrimination - how is it a good thing that she ruled against the minority 80% of the time. Is that the national average or something? That only 20% of the minority-discrimination cases brought before the circuit court or legit?

Now, apparently, she only ruled in one case that actually questioned discrimination based on race, and not a technicality of a lower court decision or something like that. In that one case, she agreed with the plaintiff, a kindergartner alleging racism in the decision to prevent his transferring. - You know? There may be quite a few kids in my area who can make such claims. - So she doesn't appear to me, at least, to be a threat to civil rights.

But I'm still not happy that that statistic, 80%, is being held up with some kind of virtue. What?

Monday, June 1, 2009

I'm Forced to Ask . . .

You know, I haven't really heard of anyone from the pro-choice camp murdering anybody for, I don't know, preventing women from having abortions. If you have, please drop a line. But how anyone can murder in the name of "pro-life" is beyond me, even if you argue they're ultimately saving lives.

By the by, has anyone heard anything for Gloria Steinem or Geraldine Ferrarro responding to the racist and sexist attacks against Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor? I mean, I know they didn't defend Michelle Obama much when she was being called an "angry black woman" or Pres. Obama's "baby mama," so I guess their silence here is par for the course. A little disappointing, though. A little disappointing. You know. They come across as only being interested in making white women the equal of white men, not in equality for all. Of course, I already thought Ferrarro was racist, but Steinem? I'm disappointed. Maybe they'll say something by the time Judge Sotomayor is confirmed.

And oh, yeah. I'm sure you've heard all the "colorblind" talk about how Sotomayor's race and gender shouldn't play a role in the decision to confirm and deny her. Which is odd. I mean, you never hear that about white men. Don't get me wrong, I know that's because white men are held as the "norm" and everything else is a deviation from the "norm." But, it just bothers me because the people making all the "colorblind" talk are conservatives who, you know, aren't exactly thrilled to have a more diverse court. They want to argue that her race and gender shouldn't matter in that they don't necessarily make her a better judge; they have more sense than to argue her race and gender make her a worse judge. But, with all the talk that she's too focused on her race and how she's an anti-white racist based on all of one phrase and her membership in the National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino civil rights group, I kinda get they feeling they'd like to if they could.

What really gets me is how they argue that a court of 9 white men can make just as good decisions as a court of 9 Latinas. To prove this, they point out that a court of 9 white men decided Brown vs Board of Education which overturned Plessy vs Ferguson, as though it wasn't 9 white men who decided Plessy vs Ferguson in the first place.

But, every time I hear someone say Sotomayor's race and gender shouldn't matter, it's like a cloud floats by right out of my reach. I can't quite get my mind to figure out why it bothers me. I guess because conservatives want to pretend that you don't have to take race and/or gender into consideration in order to reach a fair decision in choosing who to place on the Supreme Court. They call her an "affirmative action" pick, which is ironic in itself. They, of course, mean that she was chosen just because of her race and gender and nothing else. As if excusing her race and gender, she doesn't have any other qualifications. They question her depth of intelligence as though graduating in the top 2 of Princeton University is so easy a caveman could do. As though Bush did it. They question if she's smart enough to be on the court, as though she hasn't spent the past 17 years as a judge in the federal courts. They question her temperament, which actually doesn't bother me accept they use the word "temperament" as a euphemism for "she may not always decide for the rich, the white, or the corporations."

But, of course, affirmative action means we just made sure her race and gender didn't hold her back. I guess what conservatives don't want to publicly acknowledge is that due to historical and recent racism, if you just reach into a pool of judges "color-blindly" you'll probably pull out a white guy. I'm guess they would disagree, and Clarence Thomas would be their example, but according to their rhetoric, the only way to choose someone without regard to their race or gender would be to choose a white man. And that, of course, only furthers the cause of white male dominance, of patriarchy and racism. I guess that's what bothers me about the whole argument that Sotomayor's race and gender shouldn't matter. For conservatives, it seems like the only time race and gender don't matter, which probably means as much as anything else that it's the only time they don't notice, is when a white man is involved. And that's just plain racist and sexist and I wish I knew how to scream this to them and put a stop to it. If only, if only.

If only I could further crystallize my thoughts! We'll see in the coming days. I'll keep trying to think this out. Enough for tonight, though.

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