Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s Demands for Runoff Debate So Ridiculous, Viral Story Crashes Local Paper’s Website

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U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and candidate Mike Espy will engage in a debate on Nov. 20, 2018, marking the first time Mississippi U.S. Senate candidates have done this in 10 years. Photos by Ashton Pittman

Photos by Ashton Pittman, Jackson Free Press

When a sitting U.S. senator up for reelection asks that neither the press nor the public be allowed to attend a debate with her opponent, that kind of thing tends to generate attention.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), who is trying to hold on to her seat in a runoff against Democratic challenger Mike Espy, faced an onslaught of criticism after the Jackson Free Press revealed her lengthy list of demands for Tuesday night’s debate.

While Espy communications director Danny Blanton told the newspaper, “We supported having an audience, and we advocated for the media to have access to the studio,” two unnamed sources said that the senator “demanded there be no audience or outside press allowed.”

She won that battle—according to the paper, just “the debate moderator, panelists, and the production team will be allowed in the auditorium”—but those weren’t her only requests that were granted.

As the Free Press reported:

A notepad was going to be at the podium for candidates when they stepped onto the stage at the start of the debate, but the Hyde-Smith team wanted the notepad sooner. The candidates will instead be given notepads about an hour before the debate begins. Hyde-Smith’s team originally asked that she be allowed to bring in “a binder” but was denied, the source said.

“They have restricted this debate so much that if she bombs, it will be a miracle,” the source said.

At one point in tonight’s debate, the candidates were going to be given the chance to directly ask one another a question. The Hyde-Smith campaign, however, did not like that idea. Instead, they asked to submit the question ahead of time and for the moderator to ask the questions on the candidates’ behalfs.

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Posted by Libergirl who is from Mississippi and says send her lameness(she needed crib notes to debate) back home…come on black people VOTE send Mike to the Senate!


African-Americans Feel Left Out of the Gun Debate

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As the Parkland kids enjoy an outpouring of support, many who have been fighting for gun reform for years are wondering why no one is listening to them.

Weeks after the Parkland shooting, Johnetta Elzie, a civil rights activist who rose to prominence during the 2014 Ferguson protests, scrolled through her Twitter feed like most Americans, observing how the media treated the Parkland students fighting for gun reform—and she was perplexed.

These students’ ideas and voices were welcomed, she observed, while her voice and others like hers had been shunned and even ignored just four years earlier after the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Even though, to her, they were all speaking out against the same thing: gun violence in America.

 The difference was that Elzie had been protesting police violence, specifically, which she believes is a major part of the broader gun violence debate. While the Parkland kids were lauded, she was labeled a “threat actor.” FBI agents attempted to contact her about her plans to protest at the 2016 Republican National Convention, a tactic she insists was meant to intimidate her and her family. Similar complaints and calls to action by advocacy groups like the Black Youth Project 100, Black Lives Matter, NAACP chapters and the American Civil Liberties Union were criticized and classified as attacks on American law enforcement heroes.

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Supreme Court’s Silence Clouds Gun Control Debate The justices have passed up one opportunity after another to clarify the boundaries of the constitutional right to arms.

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This month’s mass shooting at a high school in Florida has predictably provoked demands for new restrictions on guns, most of which are dubious on practical grounds, constitutional grounds, or both. But while logic and experience can help us figure out which measures are likely to be effective, the debate about which ones are consistent with the Second Amendment occurs in a shadowland only partly illuminated by the Supreme Court.

In the decade since the Court officially recognized the individual right to armed self-defense, it has passed up one opportunity after another to clarify the boundaries of that right. “The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this Court’s constitutional orphan,” Justice Clarence Thomas observed last week as the Court declined to hear yet another Second Amendment case.

That case involved California’s 10-day waiting period for buying firearms, which applies even when state and federal background checks take less time and even when the buyer has previously been cleared and already owns a gun. In 2014 a federal judge ruled that the waiting period violates the Second Amendment rights of people who are buying additional firearms or who hold concealed-carry licenses.

When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit overturned that decision in 2016, Thomas noted, “it did so without requiring California to submit relevant evidence, without addressing petitioners’ arguments to the contrary, and without ac­knowledging the District Court’s factual findings.” That highly deferential approach, he said, was clearly inappropriate for an enumerated constitutional right and inconsistent with the Court’s Second Amendment precedents.

Thomas suggested that his colleagues would have been keen to correct such a blatant error if the case had implicated a different amendment. “Our continued refusal to hear Second Amendment cases only enables this kind of defiance,” he wrote.

It was not the first time Thomas had complained about the Court’s neglect of the Second Amendment. Last year he and Justice Neil Gorsuch strenuously objected when the Court declined to review a 9th Circuit decision upholding California’s requirement that concealed-carry licenses be issued only for “good cause,” which gives local officials broad discretion to reject applicants.

Thomas called the 9th Circuit’s focus on concealed guns, as opposed to the more general right to armed self-defense outside the home, “untenable” and “indefensible.” He noted that the Second Amendment protects the right to “bear” as well as “keep” weapons, adding, “I find it extremely improbable that the Framers understood the Second Amendment to protect little more than carrying a gun from the bedroom to the kitchen.”

In 2015 Thomas was similarly skeptical of the idea that guns arbitrarily identified as “assault weapons” are beyond the scope of the Second Amendment. He wrote that the Court should have reviewed a decision in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld an “assault weapon” ban imposed by the city of Highland Park, Illinois, which covered “many of the most commonly owned semiautomatic firearms.”

The Supreme Court’s 2008 decision overturning the District of Columbia’s handgun ban made it clear, Thomas said, that the Second Amendment encompasses “firearms that millions of Americans commonly own for lawful purposes.” Yet the 7th Circuit upheld Highland Park’s ban based on little more than “speculation about the law’s potential policy benefits,” including the possibility that it “may increase the public’s sense of safety.”

The illusion of safety is the main thing such laws have to offer, since they target features that make guns look scarier without making them more lethal. “If a broad ban on firearms can be upheld based on conjecture that the public might feel safer (while being no safer at all),” Thomas observed, “then the Second Amendment guar­antees nothing.”

Given the recent agitation for a new federal ban on so-called assault weapons, Thomas’s warning is as relevant as ever. But the courts will not be compelled to act on it until his colleagues stop treating the right to arms as a constitutional orphan.

By Jacob Sullum/reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Where the monument debate may ripple next

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Statues, ultimately, are just finely carved lumps of stone. It’s what we bring to them that matters. And that appears to be changing. 

Mark Sappenfield Editor
Baltimore’s four big Confederate memorials are gone. Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered them whisked away last week in the middle of the night. Where they were, there are now empty bases – and in some cases celebratory bouquets. But there are at least 700 Confederate monuments scattered throughout the United States, in busy big cities and sleepy hamlets. What should we do with them? Many will probably stay – they’re in places that want them, or have forgotten about them. But cities that view them as symbols of white supremacy and slavery will probably follow Mayor Pugh’s lead and remove them. They could be shipped to locations that make more sense – Civil War cemeteries, perhaps, or actual battlefields. They could be gathered together in Civil War statuary museums. Or they could be put in a larger context, with plaques or other explanatory material explaining that many were erected at times when the South was fighting against political rights for black citizens. “One of the possible outcomes … is that there may be some communities that come up with very creative ways to engage the existing monuments,” says history professor W. Fitzhugh Brundage, an adviser to the Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina project.

Clarissa Harriss hesitated at the spot where the statue of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson used to stand.

In 1948, as a little girl, Ms. Harriss had worn a polka-dot dress and carried yellow roses and participated in the statue’s dedication. She’d laid her flowers at the base of the stone representation of the famous Confederate generals. The mayor spoke. There were bands.

Today Harriss had returned with her dog and a new bouquet. She wanted to praise current Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh for hauling the statue away in the dead of night. In a majority-minority city, monuments to generals who fought for the South in the Civil War are controversial, to put it mildly. Better to eliminate the potential flash point, Harriss thought.

But she didn’t want anyone to think she was memorializing the gone statue. It was the absence she wanted to acknowledge. So she waited a moment, walking around the now-empty plinth. She decided the mood of the small gathered crowd was celebratory. She lay down her small bunch of roses – pink this time.

“They’re from my garden,” she said. “At least they’ve got a yellow ribbon.”

All across America, inanimate Confederate statues and memorials have come to life as a political issue. Whom do they represent? What is their message? After violence erupted between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville over the city’s plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the nation is again confronting the legacy of its most divisive war.

The immediate question is deceptively simple – should they stay or should they go? In Baltimore – a city already battered by violence – the mayor preempted the discussion, and whisked four Confederate monuments away, out of public view. The University of Texas did the same.

In Charlottesville, the City Council on Monday approved covering statues in black fabric to mourn Heather Heyer, the counter-protester killed on Aug. 12. In Richmond, which served as the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War, removal of the famous Confederate statues on the city’s Monument Avenue suddenly seems a real possibility.

Not everyone celebrates these moves. According to polls, many Americans agree with President Trump, who last week said on Twitter that the “history and culture of our great country” is being “ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.”

But history is not static, like words in a dusty textbook. Our collective memory is shaped by what we have forgotten as well as what we have remembered. The changing status of Confederate statues may not be so much an erasure of the past as a shift in the aspects of the past that we emphasize, say historians.

That doesn’t mean all the statues have to be removed. It may mean that those who live with them should have more influence over their future.

“One of the possible outcomes of this contemporary debate is that there may be some communities that come up with very creative ways to engage the existing monuments,” says W. Fitzhugh Brundage, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an adviser to the Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina project.

Today there are at least 700 Confederate monuments in the United States, though nobody really knows the exact number. Most – though not all – are in the South. Only a few have been taken down or become the subject of political controversy. The rest face an uncertain future.

The vast majority of the statues were not erected in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. They date instead to the end of Reconstruction in the late 19th century or the period of the early 20th century when Southern political leaders were instituting segregationist Jim Crow laws.

Many weren’t funded by public money, or erected by process of public law. According to Prof. Brundage, typically private groups such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy paid for memorials, arranged for public space, and hosted dedications. The groups claimed to represent local opinion.

Baltimore’s Lee and Jackson statue was typical. J. Henry Ferguson, a wealthy local banker for whom Lee was a hero, largely funded its creation in the 1920s. It wasn’t dedicated until 1948 – after World War II, when the civil rights movement was beginning to stir.

As a piece of art, the statue is notable. It is one of the first double-equestrian statues in the United States, done by sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser. John Russell Pope, architect of the nearby Baltimore Museum of Art, designed its base.

Today the base is all that’s left. On the north side its inscription reads, referring to Lee and Jackson: “THEY WERE GREAT GENERALS AND CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS AND WAGED WAR LIKE GENTLEMEN.” This is a not a sentiment shared today by the predominantly liberal urban population of Baltimore, given that the pair were fighting to preserve slavery.

“White supremacy is really what these statues represent,” says Judith Giesberg, a professor of history at Villanova University in Pennsylvania and editor of the Journal of the Civil War Era.

Preemptive removal

Given the stories these statues tell today, the question is what to do with them.

Or rather the question is what to do with them, if anything. Recent national polling has supported Mr. Trump’s assertion that the statues are about Southern pride and history. A plurality of 48 percent of Americans disapproves of Charlottesville’s decision to eventually remove its Robert E. Lee memorial, according to a recent survey by The Economist and YouGov. Thirty percent said they approved the move.

The problem is where the memorials are. Many of the largest and most prominent are in cities, and even in red states, urban areas tend blue and liberal. That can produce political tension.

A number of states in the south, including North Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, and Mississippi, have passed laws banning cities from unilaterally moving memorials. In some places, aggrieved citizens have ignored these laws. Days after the Aug. 12 Charlottesville violence, protestors in Durham, N.C., toppled a large statue of a Confederate soldier outside a courthouse with ropes.

In Baltimore, Mayor Pugh was worried about similar vandalism, or demonstrations. That’s why she made the removal of the Lee/Jackson statue and three other monuments a surprise.

“I think these decisions have to be made at the local level. In majority-black cities these conversations have been going on for a long time,” says Dr. Giesberg.

Some cities have talked about adding context to Confederate memorials, such as plaques explaining their Jim Crow-related history. Richmond Mayor Levor Stoney has discussed this approach in the past.

The problem is that adding context is hard, says Brundage. There are only so many words you can cram on a plaque. Who will read it if they’re driving by? Meanwhile, the monument continues to occupy a privileged space.

“You’re going to have communities all over the South thinking, how do we do this?” he says.

What to do with removed statues

The first step should be a repeal of state laws banning the movement of Confederate statues, according to Brundage. Then communities should have their own meetings and referendums. They could vote to move them, to take them down, or to keep them. Some places might take on more.

The small town of Brandenburg, Ky., last year accepted a tall Confederate memorial from Louisville, for instance. Town leaders said at the time that their area had a rich Civil War history and they thought the monument should be preserved.

If removed, monuments should be carefully documented, or perhaps even gathered in monument parks, say historians. Parts of the old Soviet Union have established museums of Soviet iconography, gathering statues of Lenin and Stalin into new groupings to try and reflect history instead of USSR propaganda.

In Baltimore, city officials have talked about donating the Lee and Jackson memorial to Chancellorsville, Va. The statue depicts the pair’s last meeting, before Lee won a decisive victory in the 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville and Jackson was killed by friendly fire.

Meanwhile, the empty base of the Lee statue in Baltimore has become a new memorial of sorts. Located at an intersection of a working-class neighborhood of row houses, Johns Hopkins University, and wealthy North Baltimore mansions, it has drawn a steady crowd of diverse onlookers. Some leave candles and other tokens. A local artist placed a colorful papier-mâché figure of a defiant and pregnant slave woman at its foot, as if facing off with the absent Confederates. There’s been graffiti vandalism as well.

“If anything constructive can come out of this moment, that seems precisely the effect you’d want to have in opening up these public spaces again to the people who live there,” says Giesberg of Villanova.

By Peter Grier/ChristianScienceMonitor

Posted by The NON-Conformist

NAACP Sounds the Alarm on Charter Schools, Warns of Racist Discipline Policies, Segregation, Lack of Oversight and Accountability

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Photography for the Mystic Valley Charter Schools (American Enterprise Institute)

Mystic Valley Charter Schools (American Enterprise Institute)

The debate over charter schools — and whether they provide a benefit or do harm to Black and low-income children — is brewing once again.  And the Civil Rights and Black Power movements are drawing a line in the sand.  This, as parents seek control over their children’s schools and the educational process.

The NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, recently passed a resolution at their national convention in Cincinnati calling for a ban on privately managed charter schools.  The resolution said the following:


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Fiorina: My debate exclusion is an insult to voters

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The fact that she won’t be on the stage during Saturday’s GOP debate is an insult to voters, Carly Fiorina said on Friday.

Image: Crooks and Liars

“The people who should be frustrated, actually more than frustrated, are the people of Iowa and New Hampshire,” the former Hewlett-Packard CEO said on “Morning Joe” when asked if she was “frustrated” by her exclusion.

What message would it send, she asked, that she was not included despite getting more delegates than New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich and tying with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. (Fiorina’s nationwide RealClearPolitics average is 2 percentage points — the lowest of the remaining candidates.)

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Donald Trump will skip Thursday Fox News Debate

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