Climb Down From the Summit of Hostile Propaganda

Leave a comment

Throughout the day before the summit in Helsinki, the lead story on the New York Times home page stayed the same: “Just by Meeting With Trump, Putin Comes Out Ahead.” The Sunday headline was in harmony with the tone of U.S. news coverage overall. As for media commentary, the Washington Post was in the dominant groove as it editorialized that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is “an implacably hostile foreign adversary.”

 

Image: Matterhorn via Wikipedia

Contempt for diplomacy with Russia is now extreme. Mainline U.S. journalists and top Democrats often bait President Trump in zero-sum terms. No doubt Hillary Clinton thought she was sending out an applause line in her tweet Sunday night: “Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?”

Since early 2017, the U.S. mass media have laid it on thick with the rough political equivalent of a painting technique known as chiaroscuro – “the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition,” in the words of Wikipedia. The Russiagate frenzy is largely about punching up contrasts between the United States (angelic and victimized) and Russia (sinister and victimizer).

Often the biggest lies involve what remains unsaid. For instance, U.S. media rarely mention such key matters as the promise-breaking huge expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders since the fall of the Berlin Wall, or the brazen U.S. intervention in Russia’s pivotal 1996 presidential election, or the U.S. government’s 2002 withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, or the more than 800 U.S. military bases overseas — in contrast to Russia’s nine.

More from Normon Solomon @ Common Dreams

Posted by Libergirl

Advertisements

We can’t blame Trump and the Republicans alone for the Supreme Court. Democrats had a big hand in it too.

Leave a comment

The Supreme Court has been around as long as the Constitution itself, more than two centuries now. Since the Warren court of the 1950s, Republicans have been open about their intention to pack it with judges who will repeal birth control, civil rights, labor rights, minimum wages, environmental regulation and most of the 20th century. Democrats, if they were ever a party of the people, as opposed to another party of the elite, have had sixty-some years to craft their own strategy to thwart Republicans. Democratic elected officials have never done this because of course they have more in common with their elite Republican counterparts than they do with the unwashed masses who vote Democratic, and who can always be rallied with the cynical cry that only Democrats can save them from an evil Republican Supreme Court.

Back in 2005 the second President Bush nominated John Roberts as chief justice. The ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee was the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. The most celebrated, widely quoted, and closely watched Democrat on the judiciary committee was the acclaimed constitutional scholar and freshman from Illinois, Barack Obama. These were the guys on point for Democrats that season.

John Roberts had a long history of hostility to birth control, to voting rights, to organized labor, black and brown people, anti-discrimination laws and to anything else which might mitigate or restrain the rule of the rich in even the smallest degree. As a DC circuit court judge he “legalized” after the fact Bush’s illegitimate detention and torture at offshore black sites. As a private attorney he represented mining companies defending the horrifically destructive practice of mountaintop removal, and he was part of the Bush V. Gore legal team which succeeded in letting the Supreme Court overrule the ongoing tally of votes in Florida and declare Bush the winner. Roberts was also a board member of the rabidly right wing Federalist Society, which seeks to overturn virtually all civil rights and environmental law, and all regulation of so-called “free markets” whatsoever.

Republican leaning corporate media rejoiced, saying they were finally gonna get what they wanted. Environmental, voting rights and civil rights organizations sounded the alarm, but to little avail. Elected Democrats, their supposed champions, along with Democrat-leaning corporate media whined that there was insufficient evidence of Roberts’ rightward leanings to invest much effort in stopping his ascent to the court. Bush was a hugely unpopular president, and congressional Democrat candidates across the country were campaigning not on local issues, but against the president, a winning strategy for the following year as it turned out.

Ranking Democrat John Kerry and Barack Obama were urged to filibuster the Roberts nomination. They pretended to entertain the idea a while, but did not. Kerry and Obama failed to oppose the Roberts nomination in committee, where they could have imposed substantial roadblocks and opened an ongoing debate about the sinister role of the corporate funded Federalist Society. They voted against the nomination on the Senate floor, where it made no difference, and John Roberts got on the Supreme Court with no serious opposition.

The next summer, in 2006 when Bush nominated Sam Alito to the Supreme Court the exercise was repeated. Samuel Alito had an even more balls-out reputation as an opponent of civil and human rights. Republicans exulted while lawyerly Democrats and their media mouthpieces claimed there were no smoking guns to tell whether Alito was actually the kind of judge Republicans claimed he was. Kerry and Obama, both lawyers of course were urged again to vigorously oppose the nomination in committee, and above all to make Alito’s membership in the Federalist Society a major point in opposing him and the entire wave of Republican judges it vets and spawns for local benches and the federal judiciary.

The Federalist Society was founded during the first term of Ronald Reagan in 1982, and immediately attracted lavish funding from a galaxy of right wing foundations, deep corporate pockets and wealthy individuals including the Walton Family Foundation, the Koch Brothers, the Scaife, Coors and Heritage Foundations. It swiftly established chapters in law schools across the country and became the go-to portal for young Republican lawyers on the make. The Federalist society also has working groups of law school professors and groups where practicing attorneys and prominent jurists meet and associate with law students, and in which legal arguments for new corporate rights are developed, rehearsed and fine tuned. For about a generation now, practically no Republican attorney has snagged a spot on state or federal judicial or prosecutorial benches, or appointed to federal agencies without the stamp of the Federalist Society on his or her resume.

As the two Democratic leaders of the Senate Judiciary, Kerry and Obama were urged again and again by civil rights, environmental groups, by labor unions – by all the advocacy groups which supposedly represent the Democratic party’s base voters, to stall, to delay and to vigorously oppose the Alito nomination. By the summer of 2006 it was clear that Democrats would take back the house in November, and possibly the Senate as well. This time, Kerry and Obama said they were considering filibustering the nomination. But they didn’t, and even worse, they refused to question Sam Alito on his association with the Federalist Society, which might have made that organization’s stranglehold on Republican prosecutorial and judicial nominees an ongoing issue.

After perfunctory questioning, Kerry, Obama and their committee they passed Alito out to the full Senate where he was confirmed with no significant opposition. To this day, the corporate funded Federalist Society is still choosing a huge share of judges and prosecutors.

Let’s be clear… the courts in the US were never intended to be a small d democratic institution. The founding fathers were quite open about their intention to insulate judges from the will of the electorate, even when only white men with substantial property were allowed to vote. From the nation’s beginning, its courts have always been an elite institution, staffed by and answerable to elites, not to the people. And the US elite is thoroughly bipartisan. Vigorous Democratic opposition to Federalist Society nominees a dozen years ago by leading Democrats, most notably by then senators Barack Obama and John Kerry might have made kept dozens or hundreds of right wing judges off the bench and made it impossible for Trump to nominate his latest corporate mouthpiece. It didn’t happen because elite Democrats have far more in common with elite Republicans than they do with mere Democratic voters.

So the answer to Democrat excuse makers who sagely assure us that elections DO make a difference is yeah, sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. But fighting, resisting injustice, exploitation and oppression always makes a difference. Too bad that’s simply NOT what Democratic elected officials actually DO.

By Bruce A. Dixon/BAR

Posted by The NON Conformist

Papa John’s Founder Resigns from Board After Using the N-Word on Company Call It’s not the first time John Schnatter has found himself eliciting outrage.

Leave a comment

After having to resign as CEO last year for his bizarre broadside against NFL players protesting racism, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter stepped down as chairman of the company’s board Wednesday night for using the n-word on a company call.

“Papa John’s International, Inc. … today announced that the independent directors of the company have accepted the resignation of John H. Schnatter as Chairman of the Board,” the company said in a statement. “Olivia Kirtley acts as the company’s Lead Independent Director. Papa John’s will appoint a new Chairman of the Board in the coming weeks.”

Schnatter has apologized earlier in the day, issuing the following statement: “News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true. Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”

But this wasn’t the first time Schnatter had triggered a public outrage. In 2017, he had blamed the NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism for his companies disappointing sales. He resigned as CEO a few months later.

Forbes reported Wednesday that Schnatter used the racial slur on a call discussing public relations mishaps. He said, “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” the magazine reported. He added that Sanders didn’t stir public outcry with his racist remarks.

By Cody Fenwick / AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Black farmers were deliberately sold ‘fake seeds’ in scheme to steal their land: report

Leave a comment

Black farmers in the Mid-South region surrounding Memphis used science to uncover a multi-million dollar scheme to put them out of business and steal their farmland, WMC News reported Tuesday.

At the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show show in March of 2017, African-American farmers believe that Stine Seed Company purposefully sold them fake seeds.

Thomas Burrell, president of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, explained how black farmers were receiving one-tenth of the yield as their white neighbors.

“Mother nature doesn’t discriminate,” Burrell said. “It doesn’t rain on white farms but not black farms. Insects don’t [only] attack black farmers’ land…why is it then that white farmers are buying Stine seed and their yield is 60, 70, 80, and 100 bushels of soybeans and black farmers who are using the exact same equipment with the exact same land, all of a sudden, your seeds are coming up 5, 6, and 7 bushels?”

The results were so stark, resulting in millions of dollars in losses, the farmers took their seeds for scientific testing by experts at Mississippi State University.

The tests revealed the black farmers had not been given the quality “certified” Stine seeds for which they had paid.

Burrell suggested a land grab was the ultimate motivation of the perpetrators.

“All we have to do is look at here: 80 years ago you had a million black farmers, today you have less than 5,000. These individuals didn’t buy 16 million acres of land, just to let is lay idle. The sons and daughters, the heirs of black farmers want to farm, just like the sons and daughters of white farmers.”

“So we have to acknowledge that racism is the motivation here,” Burrell concluded.

The farmers have filed a class-action lawsuit in United States District Court for the Western Division in Memphis.

A state legislator is also seeking an investigation into the scheme.

Tennessee Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) vowed state government would investigate “issues which have negatively impacted our black farmers.”

“We will explore the avenues — whether its civil, whether it’s criminal — dealing with fraud,” Rep. Hardaway vowed.

One farmer victimized, David Hall, explained why he had paid extra for high quality seeds.

“We bought nearly $90,000 worth of seed” Hall explained. “It’s been known to produce high yield, so you expect it, when you pay the money for it, to produce the high yields.”

The farmers “were effectively duped,” Burrell told WREG-TV. “It’s a double whammy for these farmers, it accelerates their demise and effectively it puts them out of business.”

“No matter much rain Mother Nature gives you, if the germination is zero the seed is impotent,” Burrell reminded.

Myron Stine of Stine Seed Company said in a statement: “The lawsuit against Stine Seed Company is without merit and factually unsupportable. Stine takes seriously any allegations of unlawful, improper, or discriminatory conduct and is disturbed by the baseless allegations leveled against the company. Upon learning of these claims, the company took swift action to conduct an internal investigation, which has not revealed any evidence that would support these allegations. Stine intends to vigorously defend itself against this meritless lawsuit and has filed a motion to dismiss. Our focus is on continuing to serve all our customers with the highest degree of integrity and respect that are the bedrock of our company’s values.”

By Bob Brigham/RawStory

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Lawsuit Pushes for Mississippi District That Dilutes Black Voting Power to be Redrawn

Leave a comment

Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A state Senate district in Mississippi dilutes the Black voting power and should be redrawn, three African-American plaintiffs say in a federal lawsuit filed Monday.

The suit asks a judge to order legislators to reconfigure the district before the 2019 state elections.

District 22 has a 51 percent black voting-age population, and the suit says it lacks “real electoral opportunity” for African-Americans.

“The lack of opportunity is the result of white bloc voting and lower African-American turnout that are vestiges of the historical discrimination and extreme socio-economic disparities that have been inflicted upon African-Americans over a long period of time,” the lawsuit says.

The district has been represented since January 2004 by Republican Sen. Eugene “Buck” Clarke of Hollandale, who is white and is chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

The district is more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) long, stretching through parts of six counties — Bolivar, Humphreys, Sharkey, Washington, Yazoo and Madison. It goes from the impoverished Delta flatlands down into the affluent Jackson suburbs.

Clarke said Monday that he had not read the lawsuit, but all of Mississippi’s legislative districts were approved in 2012 by the Justice Department under then-President Barack Obama.

“Here’s the problem: The Delta’s losing population,” Clarke told The Associated Press on Monday.

He said changing one legislative district would affect others around it.

“You can’t just move one little line somewhere,” said Clarke, who has not decided whether he will seek re-election in 2019.

The lawsuit says District 22 could be redrawn to have about a 60 percent black voting age population, and “one or two adjacent districts” would have to be changed.

Mississippi’s population is nearly 38 percent black. The lawsuit says the state’s voting age population is at least 35 percent black, while African-Americans hold 25 percent of seats in the state Senate — 13 seats of 52.

The lawsuit says no African-American candidate has been elected to the Mississippi Senate in a district with a 51 percent black voting age population. One current African-American senator is from a district with a 55 percent black population, while all others are from districts that are at least 61 percent black, the suit says.

One plaintiff is Joseph Thomas of Yazoo City, who served in the state Senate from 2004 to 2008 in a district adjoining Clarke’s. More of Yazoo County was added to Clarke’s district after the 2010 Census, and Thomas ran against Clarke in 2015. Clarke won with nearly 54 percent of the vote.

By Associated Press

Posted by The NON-Confromist

Jeff Sessions Sets Back the Clock

Leave a comment

Pay no attention to what the media says about how undermined Jeff Sessions is. POTUS may bait him publicly via tweet, but in private, at the DOJ, Sessions is a man on a mission to roll back civil rights, and that’s just what he’s doing.

Take what he did this July 3, quietly rescinding two dozen documents intended to make American institutions less racist.

The guidelines the AG scrapped included Obama-era guides on affirmative action that urged colleges to promote diversity for the benefit of the campus and the public good. Others reminded employers that asylum seekers have every right to work, and still others sought to head off another mortgage meltdown by warning brokers not to give predatory home loans to people without going through the fine print.

And Obama-era guidelines weren’t the only ones Sessions withdrew. He also rescinded George W. Bush-era documents that reminded all Americans after 9-11 that discrimination on the basis of national origin is wrong.

The AG reached even further and nixed a Gerald Ford-era guide intended to keep kids out of adult prisons—and out of prison entirely for age-related offenses like truancy and drinking.

Rescinding these documents didn’t make any new laws or repeal any old ones; the guides just sought to make existing law better understood. However, earlier this summer, the AG didwade into the law itself when he raised the bar for asylum seekers—mostly women—and took immigration decisions into his own hands and out of the courts.

In early June, Sessions ruled that domestic violence was, like gang crime, a “private crime,” meaning its survivors are not considered members of any particular, at-risk social group. In an already decided case, he called on asylum seeker Aminta Cifuentes to prove that the Guatemalan government actively condoned what he called “private violence” when state police and law enforcement refused to intervene, even after her rapist husband doused her in turpentine and tried to set her alight.

In so-doing Sessions reversed a prior ruling on her case by an immigration appeal board.

On July 3, Sessions called the guidelines he rescinded outdated. So what date does he think this is? The eve of a pro-white, pro-male, anti-immigrant, anti-democratic, slave-owning nation? Just how far does AG Sessions want to set back the clock?

By Laura Flanders/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Con of Diversity

Leave a comment

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

In 1970, when black students occupied the dean’s office at Harvard Divinity School to protest against the absence of African-American scholars on the school’s faculty, the white administration was forced to respond and interview black candidates. It asked James Cone, the greatest theologian of his generation, to come to Cambridge, Mass., for a meeting. But the white power structure had no intention of offering Cone a job. To be black, in its eyes, was bad enough. To be black, brilliant and fiercely independent was unpalatable. And so the job was given to a pliable African-American candidate who had never written a book, a condition that would remain unchanged for the more than three decades he taught at Harvard.

Harvard got what it wanted. Mediocrity in the name of diversity. It was a classic example of how the white power structure plays people of color. It decides whom to promote and whom to silence. When then-Maj. Colin Powell helped cover up the 1968 massacre of some 500 civilians at My Lai in Vietnam he was assured a glittering career in the Army. When Barack Obama proved obedient to the Chicago political machine, Wall Street and the Democratic Party establishment he was promoted to the U.S. Senate and the presidency.

Diversity in the hands of the white power elites—political and corporate—is an advertising gimmick. A new face, a brand, gets pushed out front, accompanied by the lavish financial rewards that come with serving the white power structure, as long as the game is played. There is no shortage of women (Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Donna Brazile), Latinos (Tom Perez and Marco Rubio) or blacks (Vernon Jordan, Clarence Thomas and Ben Carson) who sell their souls for a taste of power.

Ta-Nehisi Coates in his book “We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy” writes that “Barack Obama is directly responsible for the rise of a crop of black writers and journalists who achieved prominence during his two terms.” But this was true only for those black writers like Coates and Michael Eric Dyson who were obsequious cheerleaders for Obama. If, like Cornel West, you were black and criticized Obama you were isolated and attacked by Obama surrogates as a race traitor.

Chris Hedges/Truthdig/rest of story

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: