Did the Russians Hack Black Voters Because Nobody Would Care?

“I suspect a bit of both is true because the people most heavily impacted by the voting problems whether caused by Russians or Republicans, were Black!”

On June 5th, a Top-Secret NSA report was leaked showing Russia had done much more than was commonly known in their attempts to influence the US Presidential Election in 2016. The Russians hacked a Florida based software provider that helped manage voter registration programs in several states. The media duly reported the potential problems this could create including people showing up and finding they were removed from the voting rolls or processes could be slowed to create long lines in targeted areas. The narrative we were asked to focus on was that there is no evidence any votes were actually changed and there was nothing to see here.

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Photo: slate.com

While admittedly there’s a lot going on in the news including daily new reports on Russian ties to the Trump campaign or the President’s erratic behavior. Upcoming testimony from James Comey and other intelligence officials outlining possible obstruction of justice by Trump. With all that’s going on, I want to stop a minute and take a look at what just happened. The press outlined the potential dangers without taking the logical next step to see if any of those things actually occurred? There were hundreds of thousands of people turned away from the polls. There were crazy long lines in many urban areas. These things were reported contemporaneously right after the election. How much would it have taken to link those events and at least question whether or not the Russians were successful in disrupting the voting process? I find it hard to believe that I’m the only one making this connection. There are only two other possibilities.

  1. The long lines and voters turned away raised no red flags because we expected to see precisely those things as a result of the voter suppression methods well known to be in place.
  2. People in power know… but don’t care.

I suspect a bit of both is true because the people most heavily impacted by the voting problems whether caused by Russians or Republicans, were Black!

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Photo: twitter.com

There has always been a bit of complicity regarding the suppression of Black votes in America. Voting rights have always been a negotiation where Black voters were allowed a certain amount of power and no more. When first given the widespread legal right to vote, Black people in Mississippi and elsewhere began sending Representatives to Congress and started to touch upon achieving true power. Their voting strength was only possible due to the presence of Federal troops in the South. When withdrawn as a result of the Compromise of 1877, Reconstruction was effectively over. For every Voter Rights Act that was passed, there was a Supreme Court decision eventually gutting it. This is the history of our country. They giveth and they taketh away.

There is a pretense apparently acceptable to both Republicans, Democrats and the Supreme Court. It’s okay to have redistricting that nullifies Black votes if the reason is merely partisan and not racist. In other words, as long as they don’t call it racist, without regard to a racist effect, it’s not.

It’s very possible that Russian interference is hard to determine because what they may have attempted is exactly what current day Republicans and latter-day Democrats have done to curtail Black votes. Black voters have always faced externally imposed long lines, limited polling locations, reduced voting hours. While attempting to vote is no longer likely to get a Black person lynched. There are as many forces in play to limit their votes as ever before. If Russia wanted to influence the last Presidential election. All they had to do was imitate Republicans and inhibit the vote of those that those in power are willing to overlook.

The story of Russian influence on voter registration programs is already fading into the background. I wonder if it’s because the results are compatible with the greater design?

Feature Photo: youtube.com

Time To Move Forward: Step Two

 

 

There is a great deal of discussion going on about White Supremacy becoming normalized. While we’re talking about Steve Bannon in the West Wing. We’ve overlooked that Voter Suppression has already been normalized and getting further entrenched daily. While some of the worst excesses in North Carolina, Alabama and Texas have been turned back. Dozens of other laws in those states and across the nation are being implemented without much challenge.

Right now, Republicans in the Congress and the State Legislatures wear their voter suppression efforts like a badge of honor. They stand at their podiums announcing their plans to “Protect our most precious right.” All the while decimating that same right for those likely to vote differently than them. Most of the time targeting minorities assumed to vote Democrat.

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Those that support Voter Suppression can hide in the shadows, unconcerned about the portion of the electorate they’re disenfranchising. Celebrated in their own circles for helping preserve their voting strength. This effort isn’t all about race. They also target students who trend Democratic. The goal is the preservation of control. It’s about power. That it affects minorities disproportionately is a side product. Some have argued with a straight face that a racist effect isn’t enough to overturn these laws, it’s all about intent. They weren’t targeting Blacks and Hispanics, just Democrats.

What must happen is that we create an environment where there is a cost to introduce a Voter Suppression bill anywhere and everywhere it occurs. Protest the individuals that introduce the bills and make clear that racist impact is quite sufficient to label them publicly racist. For whatever reason; they don’t seem to mind being racist, just being called racist. Protest the Supreme Court. Throughout American History that Court has done more to reject our rights than protect them. Their gutting of the enforcement provisions of the Voter Rights Act is much of the reason things are as they are.

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We must continue to follow the money. Track those donating to their campaigns. Especially the corporations and PAC’s. Make their donations to those who support voter suppression; an act of voter suppression on their part. We need serious boycotts. Targeted at first and then as comprehensive as can be sustained.

We must look at who is being effective and support those efforts financially. Rev. William Barber and the Moral Monday effort in North Carolina is an example. Conversely, organizations like ALEC that meet in the dark and help draft laws and take them from State to State must be called out. Secretaries of States and Governors should be targeted when they support Voter Suppression. When anyone supports voter suppression publicly it should be like Whack-A-Mole in striking them back down into their holes.

In Step One I talked about the need to remove White Supremacists from the West Wing and the rest of the Trump administration. As important as that is… it’s just a symbol. Voter suppression along with gerrymandering is the whole ballgame. It’s about Republicans being able to maintain power as their demographics dwindle. It’s about not having to win voters with policies but keeping voters away with differing views. It’s about never again seeing an openly racist, misogynist, sexual predator win the Presidency ever again.

In a New York Minute (Somebody’s Going to Emergency, Somebody’s Going to Jail)

” When they restrict the rights of citizens to vote, put them in jail. When they knowingly purge the rolls of eligible voters, because there might be a few bad ones in the mix… jail, jail jail!”

I wrote this four years ago. Unfortunately it’s just as true today as then. Time for a change.

 

In a NEW YORK MINUTE

This piece has nothing to do with New York or a minute. It is somewhat inspired by the Don Henley (formerly of The Eagles) song of the same name, but only because of a couple of memorable lyrics, “Somebody’s going to Emergency… Somebody’s going to Jail”. As I watch the early voting take place, the sometimes 8 hour waits in line, bomb threats, shortened early voting with no pretense other than making voting harder and to sway an election. Onerous new ID laws exist, tantamount in some cases to an illegal poll tax. While all this is done at the behest of the usual suspects. This voter suppression is being carried out by the state and I’m thinking that somebody needs to really go to jail.

What would happen if a criminal complaint was filed against Jon Husted in Ohio, Ric Scott in Florida or everyone in a state legislature that voted for these suppression efforts? The closest we came was when Jon Husted would have been required to personally appear before a judge to show cause why he was failing to comply with a court order. Husted backed down and apologized but I’d have loved to have seen him jailed for not only the contempt he showed for the court but for the American people whose right to vote is supposed to be sacrosanct.

There’s a story about the legendary center for the Boston Celtic’s, Bill Russell. He allegedly didn’t like the amount of physical play directed against him and asked coach Red Auerbach what to do? Red told him that all he needed to do was throw one hard elbow on national TV and everyone would leave him alone!

It’s time for the Justice Department to throw a bow! Instead of filing mild complaints and civil suits and asking nicely, when a government official participates in voter suppression, put them in jail. When they restrict the rights of citizens to vote, put them in jail. When they knowingly purge the rolls of eligible voters, because there might be a few bad ones in the mix… jail, jail jail! How many legislators previously acting with impunity would do the same if they had to wonder about sleeping in a cell? They might think twice before enacting legislation handed to them by A.L.E.C. and actually consider if it violates the Voting Rights Act and what is the impact on the citizens they’re supposed to represent. I’m thinking mandatory sentences, expulsion from the legislative body and million dollar fines are in order as well.

They engage in suppression now because there is no penalty. Knowing this they are able to put Party ahead of the people with utter disdain. Somebody needs to go to jail!

 

Featured Image: Commondreams.org

The Myth of Low Black-Voter Turnout

There are many stories circulating regarding low Black-voter turnout in the 2016 Presidential race. The stories cite an “enthusiasm gap.” They suggest Black people have been discouraged by the negativity of the campaign. They imply apathy to the candidates or a lack of interest. They offer many reasons except for the one we all know to be true. Voter suppression.

Voter suppression is not new. It began from the moment Blacks got the right to vote. Over the years we’ve seen literacy tests, poll taxes, limited access to polls, inability to register, lynchings and murders. Some of those still exist.

The same day the Supreme Court gutted enforcement of the Voter Rights Act of 1964. Texas, North Carolina, Alabama and others began implementing laws that could have never been passed if pre-clearance still existed. Florida had long been removing Black and Hispanic voters from the rolls. Early voting in many places has been reduced. In North Carolina, early voting locations were reduced from 16 to 1 in the Blackest County in the State. In Alabama, in conjunction with a new Voter ID Law, they reduced the locations in several predominantly Black Counties to one per County. Back in North Carolina, a Clerk associated with a group whose purpose is to suppress votes got her County to remove voters from the rolls if a mailing from her group was returned to sender.

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Photo: washingtonpost.com

In Indiana, 45,000 Voter Registrations have been impounded by the State Police. The group registering voters complied with a State law requiring them to turn in all applications including those that are incomplete or have errors. Mike Pence shouts “Fraud” but none has been documented. Trump and Pence have repeated often from the stump their coordination with the RNC to institute poll watchers. When dragged into court to see if the RNC was in violation of a Consent Decree. Issued the last time the RNC used that tactic to suppress votes in New Jersey. The RNC denied any coordination with the Trump campaign making clear that one of them is lying.

Donald Trump has told his supporters to literally watch minority voters in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Chicago and elsewhere. Leaving no doubt who he intended to target. He said, “You know what I mean” and indeed his supporters did.

So now we get reports of low turnout among Black voters. In some cases it’s not an apples to apples comparison against 2012 because of limited access to Early Voting now that didn’t exist then. There is an increase in Hispanic voting  but it reflects an increase vs a historically low participation rate. Reworded, it was easier for Hispanics to show an increase because they started from a much lower place.

There is evidence in North Carolina that in the County where only one location was initially available, Black voting was reduced vs the same time period by 85%. When additional locations opened up, Black voting increased dramatically and they are almost caught up. This coming weekend will see pushes from Black churches and other organizations to get people out to vote. I suspect one of two things is true:

  1. Black voters will come out in their traditional high numbers because voting is what we do. The cost was too high in blood to simply cede the right.
  2. The cumulative effect of the Voter Suppression that has been coordinated over a period of years has finally worked to a degree and reduced minority voting.

The answer to low turnout if it comes to pass is not to blame Black voters. If it’s the case, let’s give credit where it’s due. The Republican Party, the RNC, the Supreme Court, the Right Wing Media and the rest of us who let it stand. The answer is a Democratic President and Senate. A Supreme Court that will enforce laws (and get rid of Citizens United along the way). A Congress that will take voting rights seriously and put American citizens ahead of Party. We can start making that happen on Tuesday. Whatever the obstacles we must vote; as if our future depends on it because it does.

 

Feature Photo: indie.com

The Radicalization of America

 

 

Radicalization: The action or process of causing someone to adopt radical positions on political or social issues – Oxford Dictionary

“The process by which people come to support terrorism and violent extremism and, in some cases, then join terrorist groups.” – MI-5 United Kingdom

 

There is a way that the term “radicalization” is used which only applies to people of color and is used to taint any political movement on their behalf. However non-violent it may be. The failure to recognize that whites in America have some of their own terror groups is part of the problem, we are a country where justice depends so much on color. In 2009, a Homeland Security assessment of the danger presented by Right Wing groups was released and white people howled. This includes the media (especially Fox News) and Republicans in Congress. The report was labeled, “a piece of crap… propaganda… an Obama hit job.” Generally speaking in their view, white people have mental health issues, people of color become radicalized.

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Republicans primarily, rail on about the failure of some to use the term, “Radical Islamic Terrorism.” Yet the same people fail to acknowledge the far more open terrorists in their midst because they share a skin color. We see armed militia groups, occupy Government land get cheered for their anti-government stand. When white people engage in armed standoff’s in Oregon and Nevada they are heroes. Black people get bombed as they did in Philadelphia. The home targeted was a row house and the resulting fire destroyed 65 homes while the Fire Department stood and watched. They destroyed a community to evacuate one home.

The process by which people are radicalized is always assumed to come from the outside. Internet websites that originate in foreign lands. Outsiders from other communities. What is never considered, is that people are reacting to the everyday oppression that engulfs their lives. By the people who claim to have the best of intentions. The schools that disproportionately suspend and expel students of color. Stop and Frisk. Racial Profiling. Mass Incarceration. Voter Suppression. Unequal protection in the courts.

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I mention the courts last, because Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspected New York bomber. Was part of a lawsuit filed by his family against the city of Elizabeth, NJ. The suit, filed in 2011 and not yet resolved 5-years later. Accuses the city of a pattern of harassment and religious profiling, which the city denies. They tried to make a complaint against police officers, the police denied the complaint. There will be much discussion about what could have been the factor that led to the radicalization of Mr. Rahami. I don’t claim to know, but maybe, just maybe. He just felt he was being fucked with.

Maybe the Native American watching America ignore their sacred land while they run a pipeline is tired of being fucked with. Maybe the minority communities who are financing their city government via tickets and fines are tired of being fucked with. Maybe Hispanics who are being called rapists and criminals are tired of being fucked with. Maybe black families, watching their sons and daughters be killed by police are tired of being fucked with. The Muslim whose Mosques are infiltrated and religion disavowed.

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The right wing hate groups I mentioned before feel like they’re being fucked with as well. They were mad when a black man was elected President. They worry that someday someone will try to take away their assault rifle and the right to unlimited ammunition. They fret about “reverse discrimination.” They value “All Lives and Blue Lives” but never black or brown. They want walls and Muslim bans. They want to make America great again. And by “again” you know what they mean.

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There is an old slogan, “No Justice, No Peace!” Maybe America should take a look at how it dispenses justice, and in favor of whom. Maybe we can identify all the hate groups that exist, and address them as well. Maybe we can get the media this country deserves, instead of one that perpetuates hatred in some circumstances and ignores it otherwise. Maybe we can get politicians who actually serve the people’s interest instead of only worrying about being re-elected. I for one would like peace. Therefore there must be justice… for all!

 

Democrat… Warts And All

 

 

I’m a Democrat, have been most of my life. I have voted for an occasional down ballot Republican before. Not recently.

I had the opportunity to be a guest on a radio show recently (WXLU-93.9 FM in Lexington, KY) where I was billed as an Author, Blogger and Political Junkie. We reached a point where listeners could call in and all of the calls I received were about politics.

Let’s be clear. The program I was on was titled “Urban Conversations” and it wasn’t likely many Trump supporters were listening,  none called. It’s important to note that the callers weren’t calling to bash Donald Trump. There seemed to be a universal acceptance of who and what he is. The questions did indicate that the callers were looking for more than simply an alternative to Trump. They wanted an affirmative reason to vote for both Hillary and the Democratic Party.

One question received was, “Why not support Jill Stein?” The caller proceeded to outline various parts of the Stein platform and wanted to know why I couldn’t support those ideas vs. those of Hillary Clinton. My answer was relatively brief, starting with, “Jill Stein can’t win! She’s polling 3% in the polls and has no chance.” I wish I’d gone on to say the following: “I don’t have the luxury of making a protest vote. I live in Florida where the result is going to be close and the 29 Electoral Votes there, could easily determine who wins the election. A vote for Jill Stein in my state is exactly the same thing as a vote for Donald Trump which both of us abhor. If I lived in New York, or California, or Alabama, I might have that luxury but I don’t.”

Another caller asked about the Democratic Party memo in 2015, suggesting a strategy for dealing with Black Live’s Matter? I agreed with the caller and said that the letter was a strategy of appeasement rather than dealing specifically with the issues raised. I asked the caller to understand what the Democratic Party is. A coalition of interest groups including black people, Hispanics, Jews, Asians, LGBTQ, and others. Even if there existed a strategy to appease black people? It’s up to us to maintain the pressure and push the party and candidates to meet our demands. Within the Democratic Party, there is that opportunity. The Republicans (unless you believe the alleged attempt by Donald Trump to reach black voters) don’t even speak in terms of attracting black voters. They actively discuss the need to attract Hispanic voters (excepting Trump), black voters have been written off in their strategy and policies.

Another question that arose; “What about Hillary Clinton’s role in mass incarceration and the Crime Bill passed during her husband Bill’s tenure as President? I thanked the caller for the question (because that’s what surrogates do) and replied as follows. It’s important to note that every President since Nixon has played a role in implementing policies that furthered mass incarceration including President Barack Obama. The stimulus passage designed to help save the economy had components where the Federal Government paid local police forces to increase drug arrests and also helped militarize urban locations. The Obama administration is reversing much of what happened then and is doing what they can to reduce mass incarceration but their hands aren’t totally clean. What Hillary Clinton has said is that the Republican Congress was getting ready to force feed a crime bill down Bill Clinton’s throat and that the bill that passed was a compromise and a much better bill that would have passed. It should be noted that the bill had bi-partisan support including that of the Congressional Black Caucus.

I also made the case that Hillary Clinton with her background is ready to be President. She has a knowledge of what the job is that far exceeded Bernie Sanders and her pragmatism has led her to incorporate many of his policies into her programs.

I was trying to limit my comments to positive reasons to vote for the Democratic Party and their candidate Hillary Clinton but there was one thing I couldn’t keep from saying. “The Republican Party can never be an option for me while they continue to try to suppress black people from voting.” This is a coordinated effort that includes the Republican National Committee, A.L.E.C., state legislatures, and Governors. Even after a panel of Federal judges in North Carolina pointed out that a law they said was unconstitutional had been specifically drawn up to target black people. Several individual counties which had to review the law; went ahead with its implementation. Many Republican officials have admitted the purpose of the laws which is “to win elections.” I can never support a Republican again as long as they are trying to maintain power by suppressing my vote.

The Democratic Party is by no means perfect. All candidates including Hillary Clinton have flaws. When I discuss the election with Republicans. I find I have more knowledge of the real shortcomings of both than they do. Yet I stand unequivocally with the Democratic Party. Within the party I have a mechanism to be heard, to make my voice count, to help inform policy. There is no such opportunity with the Republican Party. And for the time being, the Libertarian Party and Green Party simply cannot win.

I make an appeal to those considering voting for another Party to rethink those plans. The stakes are too high to throw your vote away. I’m with them and I’m with her!

The Party of Lincoln

“I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861.

 

The Party of Lincoln

 

I often hear Republican’s these days calling themselves “The Party of Lincoln.” It is a defense I think, against charges that their party is racist. Despite the number of policies they promote that are racist in effect without regard to intent. The claim while historically correct is quite misleading in that a total upheaval in the party has made it far less the Party of Lincoln than it is the Party of Trump or even David Duke.

One thing I’d like to get straight is that even Lincoln was ambivalent about slavery. I don’t doubt his claim that he was personally opposed to it but he had no intention of ending it. Even saying specifically in his 1861 Inauguration Speech that he didn’t intend to interfere with slavery, thought he had no right to do so nor the inclination. The Party of Lincoln.

A second thing is that the Emancipation Proclamation itself was less about freeing slaves than it was about weakening the Southern economy which with slavery had some inherent advantages and to keep Britain and France from siding with the Confederacy. It only freed slaves in the states in conflict with the Union and left slavery intact in several states including Kentucky and Missouri.

At war’s end, the Republicans did lead the South into the Reconstruction Era which led to many Black elected officials. Reconstruction was highly dependent on the Federal troops still located throughout the South that kept the peace. This lasted until 1877 where Republicans agreed to withdraw the troops to resolve a dispute over the 1876 Presidential election. In other words, Republicans sold out the former slaves for political expediency. This opened the door to the era of Jim Crow. The Party of Lincoln.

In 1920 a Republican-controlled Senate refused to pass an anti-lynching bill that had already passed the House. Midwestern and Western Republican Senators joined with Southern Democrats to kill the bill. In the 1960’s. Democrats passed Civil Rights and Voting Right’sbillswhich sent the most racist Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) scurrying to the Republican Party. The Party began to look then as it does today. The Party ofLincoln.

We got from Republicans after that the “Southern Strategy” courtesy of Lee Atwater. All you need to know is “Willie Horton” to understand what that strategy was/is.We next got the “Tea Party” and now we have Trump. The Party of Lincoln.

Even with Lincoln, the Republican Party was no panacea for Black people. Since Lincoln, the Party has gotten progressively worse and they would rather suppress your vote than earn it. Last week Trump began his alleged appeal to African-American voters by speaking to 95% White audiences and refraining from his comments of the week before calling for “more police”in the inner-cities.

So when Republicans call themselves “The Party of Lincoln.” It was never that great an honor to begin with. It serves only as a response to those who point out their racist behavior, while they steadfastly engage in it.