Why have I not seen this headline? Here’s the official news from the Washington Post

An overwhelming majority on the D.C. Council voted today to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, sending the District deeper into the national debate and galvanizing supporters on both sides of the issue.

The measure, approved by a vote of 12 to 1, now goes to Mayor Arian M. Fenty (D), a supporter of gay marriage.

If Fenty signs it, the District will put the same-sex marriage issue directly before the Congress. Under Home Rule, the District’s laws are subject to a 30-day congressional review period.

After the vote, a large crowd of opponents, led by local ministers, began yelling, “Get them off the council!” referring to the members who supported the measure. The crowd caused such a ruckus that security guards and D.C. police officers had to be called in to restore order

I like that WaPo is using the term “ruckus,” but let’s look deeper into this one-vote opposition. From DC’s Metro Weekly earlier today:

”All hell is going to break lose. We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this…. What you’ve got to understand is 98 percent of my constituents are black and we don’t have but a handful of openly gay residents.”

- DC Councilman Marion Barry for Ward 8 speaking to reporters after the council voted 12-1 to legally recognize gay and lesbian marriages performed in other states that do allow same-sex marriages. Last week, Barry appeared with a number of preachers to speak out against gay marriage, though he said he supports civil unions and, in fact, is recorded as a co-introducer of the bill that he is suddenly so adamantly against.

Listen, I understand some folks are opposed to recognition of equal rights, but I think when one of those folks is the only member of an elected body to vote against this measure and there is video evidence and prosecutorial history of that person smoking crack, well, I think we should laugh said person off the stage and resume our Cinco de Mayo festivities.

Afternoon Open Thread

5 May 2009

You know I couldn’t pass this picture by.

Good Afternoon.

Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.

And continue to have a peaceful day.

TerranceDC, a blogger over at BoomanTribune, has done a series on President Obama’s First 100 Days, where it concerns Black America.

Part 1:

390 Years Minus 100 Days, Pt. 1
by TerranceDC
Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 03:34:56 PM EST

It’s been pointed out by many — including the president himself — how absurd it is to Obama’s success in cleaning up messes that were decades in the making, based on his first 100 days in office. It’s equally absurd to expect that 100 days in the administration of our first African American president to even begin to address 390 years of racial history in this country. But it’s at least an opportunity to assess where we really are, where we’re headed, and how far we’ve yet to go.

Racism and the social construct of race itself are much older than the United States, with deep roots European colonialism. But its beginnings in this continent can be traced back to August of 1619, when the first Africans in America — 20 or so, stolen from a Spanish ship — were traded for food by a ship’s captain, upon arrival at the Jamestown colony, in Virginia. Categorized as “indentured servants,” but without vital dates indicating the end of their bondage, some were almost certainly slaves. By 1640, as least one African was listed as a slave, and slavery was underway.

The space between here and there is covered by enough history books to fill entire libraries. Suffice it to say that the election of a person such as Barack Obama reflects much that has changed for the better since then. The spectacle of our first African-American president, though not a descendant of slaves himself, being sworn in on the Lincoln bible — held by his wife, who is a descendant of slaves — was a “pinch me” moment for many of us. Reality, on that day, took on a dreamlike quality.

As I watched the inauguration from home, sitting on the carpet in our family room, with our two sons, I look up at my bookshelf. There, pictures of my father and grandfather seemed be to looking down at the scene. I sensed a division in time was born at that moment. On one side was the America they’d known all their lives. On the other, my family and I — along with the everyone else — were carried along by history into an America forever changed by what was unfolding before our eyes.

Rest of Article at link above.

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rikyrah already added a great video analyzing this story from the Young Turks in a recent Open Thread but I think it’s worth checking out the whole video. This video taken about a week ago has caused a real stir in the Bay Area which you can imagine is not the friendliest of territories for Bush-era war criminals.

Embarrassing black people everywhere, Condi gets visibly agitated and defensive during the discussion. At one point, I really thought she was might:

a) start popping her neck

b) start snapping her fingers in the student’s face, especially during the part where she says “You weren’t there!” in reference to 9/11

c) pull the race card to duck and cover (the students asking questions are white)

I hope every Bush administration official is forced to explain their ridiculous and illegal decisions to young people for the rest of the lives (though I’d prefer they do it from behind bars). Condi’s smart and the reason she’s upset is because, well she knows she’s talkin’ out the side of her neck and she’s sick of having to answer the same questions over and over from skeptical students and professors. She does claim the Nixonian defense that a decision the president makes must be legal because he makes it(?!) She also acknowledges the panicked decision-making of a Bush White House freaked out by 9/11. Yes, Condi, 3000 people did die on 9/11. It was a very bad, super-traumatizing day for all Americans to suffer an attack on U.S. soil. But you know what, actually I was there too on 9/11 in DC running for my life (so it seemed) that fateful day. I was also among the 30% of Americans (which included most African-Americans at the time) who thought then and now that invading Iraq was a really bad idea. Now in Iraq, the war we started for no apparent reason has killed over 4000 U.S. soldiers, close to 5000 Iraqi soldiers and almost 100,000 Iraqi civilians. The Bush administration has killed many times over the number killed on 9/11 with little effect except international suffering. The gall of it, honestly. How does she sleep at night — not well obviously. Especially since the failure to take Afghanistan & Pakistan seriously these past few years means the Taliban is closer than ever to getting nuclear weapons (shudder).

As for her defense on torture, she employs the classic Nazi defense that she was just carrying out orders essentially: “I didn’t authorize anything.” Sure, sister. She also points the finger at Abu Ghraib like it was a unique situation rather than what we know now through the de-classified memos to be a blanket Bush admin policy of torture. But again, Condi’s no slow study. Here’s what the Geneva Convention to which we and 193 other countries have agreed upon actually says, in case you’ve never read it:

No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.

“Enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding and some of the other hijinks at Gitmo would clearly seem to be outside those limits. We agreed upon this in 1949 to protect our own soldiers from harm when captured. Smartypants Condi would have to know all about this which makes her brittle, belittling self-defense that much more sickening. Ms. Rice — if you want an academic career, be prepared to face the questions of the no longer over-awed public.

Hat tip: Miranda

From Kansas City InfoZine:

Elderly Black Farmer Arrested on Terroristic Threatening Charges
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

By Monica Davis – Harry Young, an 82 year old black farmer from Owensboro, Kentucky has been released on $50,000 bond after being arrested on allegations of terroristic threatening. It all stems from a contested foreclosure and sale of his family farm in 2005.

Evansville, IN – infoZine – Young was arrested on allegations that he threatened a federal marshal five years ago and allegedly made a bomb threat to an employee of the Farm Services Agency over the phone a few days ago. Supporters are questioning the arrest on allegations that old, particularly given the fact that Young has consistently maintained an orderly, legal attempt to regain his land and has been in plain sight, presenting his case to Congress and to the world and working his rented fields for years.

Given the long standing feud between FSA employees and Young, critics also question the difference in the wording of the alleged threat, which changes, depending on whether the employee who received the “threat” is quoted, or whether the investigator is quoted.

Readers of a local newspaper question the “he said, she said” nature of the bomb threat. One reader noted:

“USDA has been known to use force and intimidation tactics before. And, it seems to me, they are using it in this man’s case. Plain, cold fact here: the man is 82 years old. The government knows he hasn’t that long to fight this and his children probably don’t know first hand all the knowledge that can prove his case.

Read the rest of this entry »

Okay, so it’s neither Jack nor Jill, it’s dnA, but you get the picture. Senator John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden are set to speak today, and I’ll be liveblogging below.

Tuesday Open Thread

5 May 2009

President Obama at the National Academy of Science

President Obama on the Necessity of Science from White House on Vimeo.

Good Morning.

As you go through your day, don’t forget JJP.

Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.

And always, have a peaceful day.

Afternoon Open Thread

4 May 2009

Condi Rice Using the Nixonian Defense:

Um, Condi…didn’t work for Tricky Dick, and won’t work for you.

Good Afternoon.

Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.

And continue to have a peaceful day.

You listen to crooks like Geithner and Summers. You bail out the crooks that got us into this financial situation, but where is the help for the Average Homeowner? When people voted for you, they expected more than this from you.

From the NYTimes Editorial Page:

As Foreclosures Surge …
Published: May 3, 2009

The Obama administration sat by last week as 12 Senate Democrats joined 39 Senate Republicans to block a vote on an amendment that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to modify troubled mortgages.

Senator Obama campaigned on the provision. And President Obama made its passage part of his antiforeclosure plan. It would have been a very useful prod to get lenders to rework bad loans rather than leaving the modification to a judge.

But when the time came to stand up to the banking lobbies and cajole yes votes from reluctant senators — the White House didn’t. When the measure failed, there wasn’t even a statement of regret.

Not even a statement of regret.

YOU COULD HAVE placed this in the reconciliation Bill.


You chose to stiff those in most need, Mr. President. Just like you’re trying to stiff those Black Farmers -don’t think that has gone away from our consciousness – your BETRAYAL of them.

Mr. President, you allowed those thieves -Geitner and Summers- to swindle the average American Taxpayer into bailing out folks that won’t even admit that it’s their fault and their mismanagement that got THE WORLD into this financial crisis.

The Average American isn’t a simpleton. They understand the interconnectedness of the financial situations. All they have asked for is that, as you look out for Wall Street, you all look out for Main Street.


And Main Street’s patience will only last for so long, before they return the FU.

I’ll say it again: Fredo and Summers aren’t serving you. They serve Wall Street, and you better wake up to that point before it’s too late.

Monday Open Thread

4 May 2009

The President with the University of Connecticut Women’s Team

The President Honors the Huskies from White House on Vimeo.

Good Morning.

As we begin a new week, don’t forget JJP.

Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.

And always, have a peaceful day.

via First Lady in Control of Building Her Image – NYTimes.com.

thanks to Nicole for recommending. Sorry I’m posting it a week late!

Indeed, the new first lady is methodically shaping her public image, and in ways that extend far beyond fashion.

She has given coveted interviews primarily to women’s magazines and news outlets that have allowed her to highlight her domestic side: her focus on motherhood and her efforts to settle her family in the White House; her interest in gardening and healthy living; her affinity for mixing off-the-rack and designer goods; and her efforts to open up the White House to ordinary Americans.

Mrs. Obama’s aides meet regularly with the president’s senior communications team and select public events that will maximize her message. She sticks closely to her script, delivering lively, brief speeches that rarely stray from her prepared remarks and steer clear of controversy. She talks about her support for volunteerism and military families, but seldom discusses race, her keen interest in influencing public policy or her place in history as the first African-American first lady.

I shared a panel last week with the author of this piece. His name is Binyavanga Wainaina. He’s a writer and newly appointed director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Literature and Languages at Bard College. He wrote this satire piece for Granta magazine.

Afternoon Open Thread

3 May 2009


Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.

And continue to have a peaceful day.

Hat tip: Craig Hickman

On CommonDreams.org

Published on Saturday, May 2, 2009
Mortgaging the White House
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Finally, here we are at the end of this week of a hundred days. As everyone in the western world probably knows by now, this benchmark for assessing presidencies goes back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who arrived at the White House in the depths of the Great Depression.

In his first hundred days, FDR came out swinging. He shut down the banks, threw the money lenders from the temple, cranked out so much legislation so fast he would shout to his secretary, Grace Tully, “Grace, take a law!” Will Rogers said Congress didn’t pass bills anymore; it just waved as they went by.

President Obama’s been busy, but contrary to many of the pundits, he’s no FDR. Our new president got his political education in the world of Chicago ward politics, and seems to have adopted a strategy from the machine of that city’s longtime boss, the late Richard J. Daley, father of the current mayor there. “Don’t make no waves,” one of Daley’s henchmen used to advise, “don’t back no losers.”

Your opinion of Obama’s first 100 days depends of course on your own vantage point. But we’d argue that as part of his bending over backwards to support the banks and avoid the losers, he has blundered mightily in his choice of economic advisers.

Last week, at a hearing of the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) monitoring the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner tried to correct AFL-CIO General Counsel Damon Silvers. “I’ve practiced law and you’ve been a banker,” Silvers said. Never, Geithner replied, “I’ve only been in public service.”

We beg to differ. Read Jo Becker and Gretchen Morgenson’s front-page profile of Secretary Geithner in Monday’s New York Times, and you’ll see how Robert Rubin protégé Geithner, during the five years he was running the New York Federal Reserve, fell under the spell of the big barons of banking to whom he would one day help shovel overly generous sums of money at taxpayer expense.

Read the rest of this entry »

A few weeks ago, Jill and I received a message from Lola Adesioye asking if she could write a guest post. Lola’s got an interesting, international perspective on race, and we thought yall would dig it. Please let us and Lola know what you think! – Jack

The UK is not a haven of racial tolerance

In the UK, the police tactic of ‘stop and search’, when a police officer stops and searches you on suspicion of being a likely criminal, has always been highly controversial. It is the police misuse of stopping and searching – a tactic that requires little justification or evidence apart from the fact that you simply look suspicious – that led to the 1981 riots in Brixton (London) and it has been largely responsible for poor relations between the police and the black British community. Over the years, it has been shown that black men are disproportionately more likely to be stopped and searched.

When 10 years ago, top judge Lord McPherson shocked the UK by condemning the police force as ‘institutionally racist’ (after their discrimination resulted in a botched enquiry into the racist murder of a young black man called Stephen Lawrence) it was hoped that racially-motivated biases in police practices would be reduced. However, the police have continued to fight for their right to use stop and search, despite little evidence that it’s effective.

This week new evidence has come out to show that not only are racial discrepancies in stop and search ongoing but that they are progressively worsening. Black men in the UK are now 8 times more likely (up from 6 times) to be stopped and searched than white males.

Read the rest of this entry »

Who We Are

Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell

Special Contributors: James Rucker, Rinku Sen, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Adam Luna, Kamala Harris

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