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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 75,816

Journal Archives

You can't fight a war on voting rights by compromising

You can’t fight a war on voting rights by compromising
By Jeffrey C. Billman

(Detroit Metro Times) By the end of the 19th century, Wilmington was North Carolina's most populous city, and as a shipping hub, among its most prosperous, too. It was an unusual place: majority Black, with a thriving Black middle class and — most important — a multiracial government.

"This was a primal threat to white supremacy," the journalist David Zucchino told me last year.

As Zucchino details in his book Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy, two days after the November 1898 election — which state Democrats won through fraud, violence, and fearmongering about "Black beasts" raping white women — a mob of more than 2,000 white men descended on Wilmington and executed the only successful coup d'état in American history.


And so last Thursday, surrounded by white men in suits and seated under a painting of a slave plantation, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the most blatant attack on Black voting rights in a generation, while a Black woman lawmaker was arrested for knocking on the door to the room where Kemp was signing the bill.

These are optics the Republican Party will come to regret.

Kemp narrowly won his election in 2018 against Stacey Abrams, a Black woman, after — as Georgia secretary of state — he engaged in egregious voter suppression. The law he signed, which reversed rules the Republican legislature had previously enacted, exists because Black people used those rules to defeat his political allies. .............(more)


Dallas City Council approves DART D2 Subway resolution

The Dallas City Council has unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) D2 Subway Project, a second light-rail line that will run through downtown Dallas and extend from Victory Park to Deep Ellum.

The resolution includes a commitment to continue to work towards addressing community concerns on the east end of the alignment.

"The DART D2 Subway project is an important regional project," said Paul N. Wageman, chair of the DART Board of Directors. "The second light rail alignment through downtown Dallas is a long-term investment in mass transit to support both the city's and the region's goals of a more walkable, transit-oriented and sustainable region. The DART Board appreciates the Dallas City Council's continued support of this transportation initiative."

The Dallas-Fort Worth area continues to experience unprecedented growth, with new businesses and residents moving to the area every day. The primary purpose of the D2 Subway project is to add long-term passenger carrying capacity to the DART light-rail system and provide operational flexibility and added reliability--especially important for the thousands of riders that use the DART system every day to get to work, services and school. .......(more)


Florida man accused in Capitol riot cites 'psychological burdens' of being in jail

A Florida man accused in taking part in the January 6 Capitol riot asked a judge Monday to reconsider keeping him jailed until trial, due to the “psychological burdens” of being in jail for the first time, according to a news report.

Graydon Young, 54, of Englewood says he was unaware of the “nefarious purpose” of the the Oath Keepers when he joined the organization, Newsweek reported Tuesday.

Prosecutors say Young and nine other members of the group “planned with each other, and with others known and unknown, to forcibly enter the Capitol” in Washington D.C. on that day, which left five dead.

At least 31 Floridians have been charged in connection with the riot. .............(more)


Behind the dark-money web that put Barrett (and Kavanaugh and Gorsuch) on the Supreme Court

Behind the dark-money web that put Barrett (and Kavanaugh and Gorsuch) on the Supreme Court
Neil and Ann Corkery have a mission: Load up the judicial branch with right-wing Catholics. It's definitely working

MARCH 30, 2021 10:10AM

(Salon) During Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearings last year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., at the time ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed concern over Barrett's religious affiliation as a pious Roman Catholic identified with her church's most conservative elements. "I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma," Feinstein said, addressing Barrett directly. "In your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you."

Feinstein was widely criticized for those remarks, which may not have been artfully phrased. But Barrett's confirmation did more than solidify a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court. She also became at least the sixth Catholic among the nine justices currently sitting on the court. Like Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, former President Trump's previous nominees, Barrett is visibly someone who understands the law through a religious and specifically Christian lens. (Gorsuch's religious affiliation is not entirely clear: He was raised Catholic but has attended Episcopal churches for most of his adult life. But even without counting him, the court is disproportionately Catholic: Barrett, Kavanaugh, Sonia Sotomayor, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts.)

The three new justices of the Trump era have been accused of blatant disregard for the separation of church and state. But the fact that they arrived at such positions of power is perhaps less concerning than exactly how they did. As with so much in conservative politics, their ascension was facilitated by a byzantine web of right-wing dark money, operating with little to no accountability.

Meet Neil and Ann Corkery, a pair of veteran Republican operatives who have cultivated a robust network of conservative and Catholic-affiliated nonprofits, charities and funds notable for their near-total opacity. For more than a decade, the Corkerys have leveraged this network to prop up conservative judicial nominees, most of whom have been devout Catholics. Robert Maguire, research director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told Salon that "while most Americans wouldn't recognize their names," the Corkerys "have been the overseers of massive amounts of money that have gone into federal judicial races." .................(more)


The NRA Can't Stop Gun Safety Legislation This Time

The NRA Can’t Stop Gun Safety Legislation This Time
Weakened and bankrupt, the NRA is no longer the insurmountable wall it once was.

By Shannon Watts

(The Nation) It’s become an all-too-familiar routine in America: A mass shooting in a public place that shakes our collective consciousness is quickly followed by thoughts and prayers, media attention, and calls to action. Then days go by, the news passes, and nothing changes in Congress.

That ends now. This year is different. Not only did the American people send the strongest gun-sense trifecta in history to Washington, but the once-feared National Rifle Association is now desperately trying to stay relevant as its money and power run dry in Washington.

Support for background checks on all gun sales were already overwhelmingly high and bipartisan before two deadly mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder shook our country—93 percent of Americans support them, including 89 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of gun owners. In fact, voters ranked background checks on par with creating jobs and passing another Covid-19 relief package when it came to priorities for this new Congress and Biden administration in the first 100 days.


In 2019, the most recent year for which tax data is available, the NRA was $57 million in debt. The financial situation is so dire that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre was secretly recorded telling board members the group had taken “about a $100 million hit” between 2018 and 2020, and that he had to pull “about $80 million” from the budget in order to “survive.”

In fact, the NRA is so weighed down with its own scandals, allegations of self-dealing, and legal troubles that it paid some $38.6 million to its top lawyer in 2018 and 2019 alone. With troubled finances comes waning influence: In 2020, the group spent roughly half of what it did in 2016 to support Donald Trump and other Republicans, and about one-third less on lobbying. .........(more)


This is what a Florida man looks like after he was allegedly busted peeping in a woman's window

FORT MYERS, Fla. (WKRG) — A Florida man allegedly caught in the act peeping into a woman’s window is a bit worse for the wear after trying to get away from deputies.

Lee County Deputies say they got a call about someone creeping around homes in Fort Myers. When they rolled up to the scene, deputies say they found 40-year-old Hugo Topete Alcatraz with his hands cupped around his eyes looking through the window. His face was pressed up against the glass. Deputies say he took off running, but he didn’t get far. He was cuffed and taken to the hospital for what deputies describe as “minor injuries.” His mug shot shows a big bandage strapped across his head and scratches on his face.

He’s charged with Voyeurism for secretly observing the victim where she had a reasonable expectation of privacy. He’s also charged with Resisting Officer without Violence and Loitering or Prowling. He was taken to the Lee County Jail. ..........(more)


Don't blame Facebook: How Fox News became the beating heart of the white nationalist movement

Don't blame Facebook: How Fox News became the beating heart of the white nationalist movement
If you want to know what's fuelling right-wing extremism, look no further than Fox News

MARCH 29, 2021 1:52PM

(Salon) Political analysts are still trying to figure out just what has caused the Republican Party in this country to move so far to the right in recent years, and there are many theories. Much has been made of the Trump-loving white working class's perceived loss of economic success due to outsourcing and international trade and we've endlessly discussed their various grievances about losing the status and privileges they believe they are entitled to. We try to understand their confusion about changing cultural norms and the cascading disinformation that permeates social media. In the end, all we really know is that they are very upset and Donald Trump gave voice to their overwhelming anger and disdain for their fellow Americans.

Last week there was yet another congressional hearing with the top social media executives, this one focusing on the role of their companies in promoting extremism, misinformation, and cyberbullying. Republicans were most concerned about the companies censoring right-wing voices (although interestingly, they didn't complain much about Donald Trump's expulsion from all the platforms) and Democrats complained about disinformation and extremism being allowed to flourish on the platforms.

We don't really know at this point how much of that affected the 2020 election. As Kevin Drum pointed out, we are still awaiting data to tell us just how much people relied on social media for their political information during the election but judging by past analysis of election campaigns, it really isn't as influential as we might assume. There's no doubt that Facebook and Youtube and to some extent Twitter can lead people down the conspiracy rabbit hole, and there's little doubt that right-wing extremism has had a very comfortable home on all those sites. But according to the analysis that Drum cites, TV and talk radio are still where the action is. Fox and OAN and Newsmax may pick up ideas that percolate up through the fever swamps to social media. But really, it mostly goes the other direction.


Throughout the Trump administration, there was an ongoing question about whether Fox News was the president's brain or vice versa. I came to believe that it was a feedback loop with disinformation coming from both sides. There were numerous examples of Trump tweeting out some outlandish insult or idea just seconds after it had aired on the network. And the Fox News universe was dedicated to ensuring their audience saw Trump as their savior, often cleaning up his misstatements and amplifying his most effective messages to the faithful. They were a team. .............(more)


Detroit's '60s counterculture comes alive in novel by longtime activist Peter Werbe

(Detroit Free Press) Peter Werbe bikes, plays handball, does tai chi and still works for social justice with the same fervor that he had in the 1960s.

Last weekend, the longtime political activist participated in a Detroit demonstration to stop hate aimed at Asian Americans. This weekend, he'll probably be fighting the good fight somehow, somewhere, and he'll be doing it with a spirit of protest that stays, to lift a Bob Dylan lyric, forever young.

Yet, at 80, Werbe isn't sure what is perceived as radical anymore.

"These days, I’m not even sure what it means to be a revolutionary. Sometimes, it might mean you want Medicare for all," he says. According to Werbe, the right wing of American politics so controls the discourse that "someone who wants reforms along the lines that most conservatives in Europe support, like a national health system, are said to be these radical leftists.”


"Summer on Fire," published by Black & Red Books, is described as a fictionalized memoir in which the characters spend seven weeks living in the counterculture landscape that encompasses the Detroit rebellion's five days of civil unrest, a large anti-Vietnam War march, the Grande Ballroom's regular performances by soon-to-be rock legends, drugs, sex, anarchism, the Black Panther Party, the White Panther Party and even a subplot involving a potential bombing. .............(more)


America's gun madness: How guns went from tools to ideology to identity

America's gun madness: How guns went from tools to ideology to identity
I was taught to handle and shoot guns as a boy. But the insane, murderous gun culture of today is something new

MARCH 27, 2021 12:00PM

(Salon) The target range was in the basement of one of the old buildings on the main post at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. It had a low ceiling, and I remember posts every 10 feet or so holding up the floor above. Our father, who was then a major in the Army, sent my brother Frank and me there every Saturday morning for NRA target shooting with .22 caliber rifles. I guess you could say it was part of our introduction into manhood. I was 13 and in the 7th grade at the time. Frank was 11 and in the 6th grade.

They took guns very seriously at that Army post. We spent the first couple of Saturdays disassembling and assembling and cleaning the target rifles and learning what they called "range discipline" and safety at the firing range. I think three weeks had passed by the time we were first given a few .22 long rifle rounds to shoot at small bullseye targets hung about 25 feet away.

"Ready on the left! Ready on the right! Ready on the firing line!" I can still hear the sergeant's voice booming from his position just behind where we lay prone ready to fire. "Commence firing!" he would bellow, and we were then allowed to pick up one of the five .22 rounds we had been given and load it into the bolt-action receiver of our target rifles and fire it downrange. We would repeat the process four more times, and then we would hear the sergeant call out, "Cease fire on the firing line!" Then we'd get up and turn our firing position over to the next boy.


That's what the NRA did back then. It sponsored courses in gun safety, range safety and shooting competitions and promoted hunting with rifles — hence its name, the National "Rifle" Association. I don't remember my father being a member, or Frank or I having an NRA membership. On an Army post, the NRA just did that stuff:, They ran the gun safety course and shooting competition because that was their purpose, their reason for being.


And then one day in 1985, I went to a gun show in New Orleans, where I was living at the time, and this is what I saw: table after table covered end to end with military-style assault rifles and machine pistols and AK-47s and chrome .44 magnum handguns and more assault rifles and silencers and kits that would transform a civilian AR-15 rifle from semiautomatic operation into a fully automatic weapon of war. Tables covered with Nazi memorabilia, Luger pistols from the Nazi era, Nazi helmets, gray Nazi uniforms, black Nazi uniforms with SS insignia, Nazi medals like the Iron Cross, swastika flags. Whole tables of Confederate flags, Confederate memorabilia like gray "Kepi" caps with crossed-rifle insignia, Kerr M-1855 revolvers used by the Confederate cavalry, Lefaucheux M-1854 revolvers carried by Confederate officers, gray wool Confederate uniforms — some replicas, some original — Confederate officer's swords, Civil War-era bayonets and "short sword" fighting knives carried by Confederate soldiers. More Nazi flags, more Lugers, more Nazi helmets, more assault rifles, more silencers, more of everything in a gigantic convention center hall that took 20 minutes to traverse … and that was a single row of tables. ...............(more)


Pandemic drop in drivers, riders cost IL and transit agencies more than $1 billion in lost revenues

Fewer drivers on the roads and passengers on trains and buses during the COVID-19 pandemic have cost Illinois more than $1 billion in lost transportation revenues, a study has found.

That includes the loss of $308 million in expected motor fuel taxes, which means less money for the state, counties and cities for transportation projects, according to the study from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute.

CTA, Metra and PACE fares and sales tax receipts were down nearly $750 million, the study found.

But it could have been worse. ..............(more)


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