Jackson speaks for me on this one. And probably a lot of other African-Americans too. From his official statement:

“The U.S. should discourage the barbarity of hanging Saddam Hussein. His execution will not make us safer or more secure. It will not increase our moral authority in the world. It will increase tensions.

Saddam’s heinous crimes against humanity can never be diminished, for he was our ally while doing them. Pictures of Saddam and Rumsfeld shaking hands have been projected all over the world. His trial and preparation for hanging are taking place while he is in U.S. custody.

“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” will make us blind and disfigured. The most civilized of us must break the cycle of violence.

To whom is the U.S. accountable for our role in thousands killings and being killed in Iraq? For our role as invader and occupier, under false pretense of weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaeda connections and imminent threat? We must not live above the world, nor operate beyond the rules of international laws. Saddam as a war trophy only deepens the catastrophe in which we are embroiled.”

Jeralyn at TalkLeft is reporting that Saddam may be hung as soon as 10pm EST or 6am Baghdad time. According to the BBC: The U.S State Dept has “cabled all embassies, and also denied reports that Iraq’s former leader had already been transferred to Iraqi custody.” Steve Gilliard says: “Weak governments kill their enemies” and compares the execution to that of the Russia czar and their family by a still fragile Soviet state.

Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and despot, no doubt. Yet, this probably, um, wasn’t one of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, I’m guessing. Is there a risk that this will exacerbate the situation on the ground while making Hussein a martyr of the American occupation of Iraq? Doesn’t this action of hangin’ Hussein high put our troops at even greater peril?

Our European allies tend to see capital punishment as barbaric so I have real concern about our deteriorating image abroad both there and in the Middle East. What exactly does the Bush Administration hope to gain in doing this? Don’t get me wrong –> Saddam Hussein = bad man. It’s said though that many Iraqis compare their lives under Saddam more favorably than their current lives under the U.S. occupation. Is Bush killing a perceived rival? This execution — aided, abetted and sponsored by America — seems like a risky maneuver at best that, like the Iraqi invasion itself, we may come to rue and regret. This just looks like a very bad idea.

There must be some rather complicated math behind CNN’s decision to text message “breaking news” to the people. Sanctions on Iran? Text it. Britney’s divorce? Text it. Death of one of the most influential musical and cultural figures of the 20th century? Nah!

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, hardest working man in show business and many other titles died yesterday. He was 73 years old but still had moves like the 20-something who shook the foundation of American music 50 years ago, with more swagger, slide and coife than we knew how to handle, then or now.

Some music you can live without. Other music puts a nice beat into your head. For me, James Brown’s music transported me back through time and into the spirits of my parents. When I see old photos of them dashiki’d out, marching down the street, I hear James backing them up. And when I hear James, I see my parents loud, black and proud.

Let’s have a moment of silence for a man who barely gave us one himself.

While I’m here: habari gani!

Umoja — unity — the first day of Kwanzaa.

peace people.

Wow. Apparently she also said some stuff about Iraq and how she thinks we can still succeed there. Whatever. What people really noticed is (from the AP via Washington Times):

The nation’s highest-ranking black government official, Rice has said repeatedly she will not run for president despite high popularity ratings and measurable support in opinion polls.

“Yes, I think a black person can be elected president,” Rice said in an Associated Press interview Thursday.

Apparently she was asked whether watching Obama’s success, if Americans were ready to put a black presidential candidate in the White House. According to the article, about 80% of Americans say race does not matter to them at the polls. Hmm…we’ll see! Especially since she echoed what I think your average African-American thinks based on our daily experiences:

At the same time, [Rice] said, “we should not be naive. Race is still an issue in America. When a person walks into a room, race is evident. It’s something that I think is going to be with us for a very, very long time.”

I have to admit, this FiredogLake story doesn’t surprise me.

From Latina Lista:

The T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas (on the outskirts of Austin, Texas) is a private detention facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America. It and a smaller center in Pennsylvania are the only two facilities in the country that are authorized to hold non-Mexican immigrant families and children on noncriminal charges.

What does this mean?

It means that at the Taylor facility of the 400 people “held” there, 200 are children. And all are families that can be held there for whatever length of time without due process conducted in a timely manner.

To top it off, as long as the men, women and children are held there, the facility’s operator draws a daily profit – per person.

The children range in age from infants on up.

I know everyone’s busy with the holidays. But please take a moment to let your Member of Congress know what’s going on (consider it the extra-special gift of knowledge) and feel free to let folks like the media know too. It’s too much like the internment camps set up for those of Japanese descent (but strangely not those of German descent) during WWII. The Bush administration’s continuing war on poor brown people must be exposed and it must be stopped. Democrats now have no excuse for letting this type of situation continue in the next Congress.

Happy holidays, y’all! Posting will be light during the holidays until the first week of January. I hope you enjoy the pause that refreshes.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is the Stevie Wonder classic “Someday at Christmas“, (listen) later recorded by the Jackson 5 and more recently by Mary J. Blige. “Someday at Christmas” was originally written in 1967 and references the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. It’s a bit hopeful, I know. But hope is what we need when the words to this song seem so appropriate 40 years later. Let me share it with you (Feel free to swap in your favorite holiday for “Christmas” if you don’t celebrate it):

Someday at Christmas men won’t be boys
Playing with bombs like kids play with toys
One warm December our hearts will see
A world where men are free

Someday at Christmas there’ll be no wars
When we have learned what Christmas is for
When we have found what life’s really worth
There’ll be peace on earth

Someday all our dreams will come to be
Someday in a world where men are free
Maybe not in time for you and me
But someday at Christmastime

Someday at Christmas we’ll see a Man
No hungry children, no empty hand
One happy morning people will share
Our world where people care

Someday at Christmas there’ll be no tears
All men are equal and no men have fears
One shining moment my heart ran away
From our world today

Someday all our dreams will come to be
Someday in a world where men are free
Maybe not in time for you and me
But someday at Christmastime

Someday at Christmas man will not fail
Take hope because your love will prevail
Someday a new world that we can start
With hope in every heart

Someday all our dreams will come to be
Someday in a world where men are free
Maybe not in time for you and me
But someday at Christmastime
Someday at Christmastime

It’s the Iraqi Insurgency — And You Don’t Understand, Son!

Had to go old school and reference LL Cool J when I read the newspapers this am.

Bush’s thinking of a “surge” is dangerous and denial. We’ve lost the war already. All continuing denial of this self-evident truth costs us lives, our hard-earned tax dollars and our national reputation. Proof we’re losing the war? Baghdad is under siege and has very little electricity. The situation has gone from bad to worse to rout. Re-construction is not a real option under the current circumstances. Why — the insurgents have won the battle there. We are unlikely to get it back.

I’m with columnist Eugene Robinson. A “surge” or escalation, even if temporary is a really dumb idea.

Whom would they fight? Would they ally themselves with those elusive “mainstream” Sunnis, or maybe those publicity-shy “moderate” Shiites? Would they capture and hold territory, or would they continue the practice of staying for a while, turning the job over to Iraqi forces and then watching as the militias move back in? If an extra 20,000 troops were sent to Baghdad tomorrow, could they realistically be expected to establish order in a sprawling megacity where some two dozen armed militias control the streets? Since we would be providing 20,000 new targets for snipers and roadside bombs, how many do we calculate will die?

It is unconscionable to think about dispatching more young men and women to Iraq without the realistic expectation that their presence will make a differenBlogger beta: Jack and Jill Politics – Create Postce in a war that is no longer in our control. Here in Washington, proponents of a troop “surge” speak of giving the whole Iraq adventure one last try. But they sound as if they’re more concerned about projecting an image of American resolve than anything else. Does anyone think a symbolic troop increase is going to have the likes of Moqtada al-Sadr or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tossing and turning through sleepless nights?

Conservatives have made America look weak and ridiculous on the world stage. They failed to go into Iraq with enough troops, failed to keep the country under control, failed to win hearts and minds. The humvees our troops drive are *still* not fully armored. It’s time to cut our losses now and take our lil handguns home.

From the last Racial Politics This Week article, you may have seen that I referenced the outrageous Department of Homeland Security racial profiling raids and some of the folks covering the story including Latina Lista, MigraMatters, The Unapologetic Mexican, Atrios and Pachacutec @ FireDogLake. Latina Lista is on it with 2 posts since then. Well, just so bloggers and others know, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) released a statement earlier this evening (I got the email at 6pm) making a strong stand. Sort of weird to send this out after press deadlines, but whatever. Note to LULAC: get your press outreach and for pete’s sake that sad little Executive Director’s non-blog together. Blog softly and carry a big stick?

But I digress. The point is that LULAC is a really big organization with well over 100,000 members. Their structure is modeled after the NAACP. They have cred both on the local level in states where Hispanics are numerous and also at the federal level, where Latinos are recognized as a major swing vote. LULAC was one of the orgs behind the big immigration protests in spring 2006.

The press release is inexplicably not up on the website yet. But here’s a quote:

The League of United Latin American Citizens condemns the unnecessary worksite raids that took place last week at six Swift & Co. meatpacking plants. Over 1,300 employees were arrested and families were separated from their children in the towns of Greeley, Colorado; Grand Island, Nebraska; Cactus, Texas; Hyrum, Utah; Marshalltown, Iowa; and Worthington, Minnesota.

“We demand a halt to further immigration raids unless the government demonstrates that a particular arrest is necessary to protect public safety or for national security,” said LULAC National President Rosa Rosales. “The manner in which the raids were conducted has caused psychological harm to the immigrants and their families. LULAC is working with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice to investigate possible civil rights violations based on reports that Latinos were treated unfairly during the raids. We must enforce our laws in a humane manner that balances our economic and security needs with our national values.”

LULAC plans to challenge any violations of the workers constitutional rights in court. We have joined with other national Hispanic organizations, including MALDEF, NALEO, NCLR and the National Hispanic Bar Association in sending letters to U.S. Secretary Michael Chertoff urging for a temporary halt on the raids. There is concern that some arrested in Minnesota were denied access to an attorney in violation of federal law. Of the1, 200 individuals arrested only 65 have criminal charges pending against them. The rest have been placed into administrative proceedings.

Might want to learn more about that alphabet of acronyms — If you don’t know much about these organizations, you will know more in the next 5-10 years. Anyway, the release goes on to urge Congress to um, do something about immigration. Soon-like. That is unlikely to help those families in a timely enough way. How about some action right now?

On a side note, the Unapologetic Mexican has some good advice from an African-American (Marcus Reeves of TellSpin) to his Latino brothers and sisters. My favorite part?

Also, nip that division along dark/light complexions in the bud. Don’t think folks aren’t listening when, for instance, non-Dominicans call Dominicans “the niggers of the Latin world,” or say that Mexicans are lowest on the Latin totem pole. In the mainstream’s eye, a nigger can be a spic, but all spics are niggers (you just got off the slave ships a little early).

My final piece of advice has to do with politics. In the event of a fight for civil or human rights in this country, don’t let the media pick your leaders. I bring up this point because when you become the largest minority group, things will prove to be interesting. With your numbers rising in states like California, the minorities (Latinos, blacks, and Asians) become the majority — and New York, Texas, and Florida are soon to follow. When the “majority” starts to feel the squeeze, look out for the backlash and the slipping away of rights and services. After you start voicing your discontent, the media will pick a moderate figure from your group — someone who has no interest and no connection to your angst — to quote and put in the spotlight.

Take it from folks who know.

Cross-posted at MyDD

Ain’t I a Woman?

Sojourner Truth

Welcome to Sista Scola in what is becoming Woman Weekend at MyDD. I am Woman, hear me blog. Feel the Femininity. Of course, I too am Jerome Armstrong in reality. It’s sort of like Eddie Murphy in the Nutty Professor. I find inspiration for the character of “Jill” in my big butt and bad attitude.

Please Note: This will be my last MyDD post until 2007. In the meantime, I lift a frosty glass of soy egg nog (or as I like to call it — “snog”) to you and wish you the happiest of possible holidays.

Lead Story –

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rounds up Hispanic workers using racial profiling in TX leaving at least 400 child citizens without parents. Just in time for Feliz Navidad. Latina Lista, MigraMatters, Pachacutec @ FireDogLake, and Atrios have the story. I’ll let the Unapologetic Mexican guest-blogging at PatriotBoy have the last bitter, satirical word: I Pack the Meat That Todo El Mundo Eats

Congressional Black Caucus Members This Week –

* The Washington Post writes a love letter this week to the most powerful black legislator ever: Prometheus 6 and others comment on Charlie Rangel’s (co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus) “awesome” profile.

* Dollar Bill Jefferson does *not* re-join Rangel on the Ways and Means committee despite inexplicable appeals from the CBC. (Jack and Jill Politics)

* According to the Washington Times, Nancy Pelosi met with incoming CBC chair Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI) who urged Pelosi to address the astonishing lack of diversity in Hill staffers. Among thousands of staffers, the Times reports that only about 50 minority staffers of any race can be found in Capitol Hill offices.

According to a running joke one House staffer shared with The Times, “the only people who hire blacks and Hispanics around here are blacks, Hispanics and Republicans.”

Umm. This — in a city with one of the most affluent, well-educated and diverse talent pool of minorities in the nation. Racism looks as racism does. More at Jack and Jill Politics.


Osama, Obama; Tomato, Tomahto — let’s call the whole thing off (SOTUblog). Photo credit: Eric Kleefeld

This Week in Holocaust Denial –

Wolf Blitzer dukes it out with professional racist David Duke over the Holocaust Denial Conference.
(Wonkette)

The Stormfront crowd of white supremacists online naturally rushes to Duke’s defense.

Duke defended his actions in calling Blitzer a Jewish extremist and an Agent of Zionism.

Poor David Duke: he can’t get no respect, I tells ya!

They make sure never to give my proper title of Dr. David Duke, as they almost always give the “Dr.” title in discussing Dr. Martin Luther King. Yet, by any standard, my doctoral degree is at least as legitimate as his. When they don’t like you they can pull out all the stops.

For the video and some comic relief, head on over to Gawker.

In Other News –

Keith Ellison’s religion is still under attack as one Republican says Muslims are unfit for office.

Ciro Beats Rodriguez due to a Latino backlash? AmericaBlog and Dos Centavos report.

Thought Asian-Americans were being overly sensitive in slamming Rosie O’Donnell for her “Ching Chong” comments? Well, check out this video from Japan that mimics/ridicules African-American sitcoms and pokes fun at Japanese adoption of American pop culture. They even have a “Good Times”-like theme song. WARNING: includes liberal use of the word “nigga”. It is almost too bizarre and racist to comprehend. Props: Terrence Says

Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi got called on the carpet for the astonishing lack of diversity seen in House offices. According to the Washington Times, Pelosi met with incoming CBC chair Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI) who out the good word on her. Affirmative action ain’t dead yet apparently despite a certain referendum in Michigan. And here’s a place where it’s apparently needed.

From the article:

Despite the Democratic Party’s historical ties to minorities, Capitol Hill Republicans are said to have a better reputation for hiring minorities.

According to a running joke one House staffer shared with The Times, “the only people who hire blacks and Hispanics around here are blacks, Hispanics and Republicans.”

There are only about 50 minority staffers of any race on Capitol Hill among what must be thousands of employees. How is it that Republicans get it and Dems don’t? If Democratic representatives don’t reflect loyal African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American and Native American constituents in their hiring practices, are those constituents’ loyalties misplaced, after all? It is shameful and I am glad the CBC finally got the confidence to speak up about it.

I’m starting to like Kilpatrick! Mama don’t take no mess…

I guess it’s about time Charlie felt the love. As Prometheus 6 says, “See? Charlie’s a nice man.”

Dick Cheney said some things that were not so nice like:

“Charlie doesn’t understand how the economy works,” Cheney told Fox News Channel a week before the election.

But everybody knows, you don’t mess with Charlie. Jack Kemp is quoted saying:

“I don’t think Republicans should fear Charlie Rangel. But you do have to be prepared for the Charlie Rangel one-two punch.”

Also in the article (emphasis mine):

And yet so numerous are the faces of black legislators on Capitol Hill that it might not be immediately obvious: When Rangel assumes chairmanship of Ways and Means in January, he will be the most powerful black legislator ever.

“We had Bill Gray, first black chair of the House Budget Committee,” says Cummings. “But Ways and Means is far above that. Charlie’s being elevated adds another dimension to the happiness of the Congressional Black Caucus — and the Democratic Party. But it’s not a black thing with Charlie. It’s a red, white and blue thing.”

Most powerful black legislator ever. Let’s pause to take that in. Few people have actually used those words to describe Sen. Ba-rockstar Obama in contrast. People talk about his charisma or his magnetism or his inexperience. But no one really talks about Obama’s power to change the lives of ordinary Americans. That makes Charlie special. He gets a good rating (A — Honor Society) from the CBCMonitor Report. So he’s alright with me. Let’s hope he doesn’t fall sway to the corruption that such “awesome” power can bring and become, ahem, Mr. Charlie…

Here are the committee assignments (thanks MyDD) with the CBC members bolded and CHC members italicized (thanks to me) — for your future reference:

Agriculture, Collin Peterson (D-MN)
Appropriations, David Obey (D-WI)
Armed Services, Ike Skelton (D-MO)
Budget, John Spratt (D-SC)
Education & the Workforce, George Miller (D-CA)
Energy & Commerce, John Dingell (D-MI)
Financial Services, Barney Frank (D-MA)
Government Reform, Henry Waxman (D-CA)
Homeland Security, Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
Intelligence, Silvestre Reyes (D-TX)
International Relations, Tom Lantos (D-CA)
Judiciary, John Conyers (D-MI)
Resources, Nick Rahall (D-WV)
Rules, Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
Science, Bart Gordon (D-TN)
Small Business, Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)
Transportation & Infrastructure, James Oberstar (D-MN)
Veterans’ Affairs, Bob Filner (D-CA)
Ways & Means, Charles Rangel (D-NY)
(Read profiles for CBC members here)

Special mention of Velazquez and Reyes from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The CHC is generally seen as less powerful and influential than the CBC in part due to rumored infighting, yet I predict this is likely to change in coming years. Like the CBC, they have only one senator on board and none of the Republican or Cuban-American Latinos participate in the original CHC. There is another group called the Congressional Hispanic Conference that conservative Latinos founded to form their own little even less effective club.

Hey — rival CHCs: there’s strength in numbers. Surely the CBC for all its faults has proven that over the years. Surely there are some issues y’all must agree. Now is the time to get it together.


I am so relieved to hear that Bill Jefferson was left off the powerful Ways and Means Committee despite pressure from the CBC on Nancy Pelosi to re-instate him. Someone please explain to me what they think there is to gain in supporting him? Who exactly are they trying to impress???

There are a number of African-Americans who have been confirmed as chairs of key committees. This is big news, but my prediction is that all of a sudden there will be a lot of strange talk about disorganization and incompetence on the Hill, especially from conservatives or those who feel they got stiffed for a committee seat they wanted — wait for the hate.

There’s a new black blog on the block: Black Agenda Report. They’ve got a really interesting analysis of the CBC along gender lines taking a deep dive into the Sept 2006 CBCMonitor report. The BAR contention is that overall the female members are almost all great progressives and it is the men who vary along a spectrum of corporatist voting records with some progressives in the mix.

I am not sure why culturally we would produce this split. Socially, African-Americans can be conservative and certainly a black woman running for Congress is going to experience some tough knocks that might provide some perspective and a soft spot for the “little person”. Maybe it’s a nurturing thing — wanting to be there for ordinary constituents rather than big business in the district. I don’t know — those reasons all feel sexist and wrong to me. What’s your theory? Why are the female CBC members reliably progressive and the men aren’t?

You may be asking why I haven’t said anything about this here Iraq Study Group report. There’s still an awful lot of chatter about it (BBC). Steve Gilliard writing at FireDogLake has a good assessment of where we are with making decisions in Iraq which would be Stupid Land. Anderson at Large, African-American Political Pundit and Where’s the Outrage among other black blogs have also weighed in.

At times like these, I wonder what one of my ornery old grandpappies would have said about this. Because that’s what black people tend to do when they have a real and sensitive problem on their hands. They go talk to a grandparent — someone older with some life experience behind them. My grandfathers were both bright, self-made men. One had a year or two’s worth of college and taught himself French history and literature for fun. The other had come up from the country and had no more than an eighth grader’s worth of book learning and was otherwise a self-taught and successful businessman. He wore a collared shirt and tie everyday. They both had a rather practical grasp of the world around them and on current affairs.

If my saltier old country granddad were alive and asked him what he thought, he’d probably say something like:

Granddad: Well gal, looks to me like the President’s gotten the nation’s dick right square into a hornet’s nest. Pardon the expression. (Grumble, mumble) Pass me the salt, baby. Anyhow, as I was saying, all this fussin’ and fightin’ over whether to pull out and if we do pull out, do we pull out fast or do we pull out slow-like. G*d-damn! (shakes head with disbelief) And then there’s some — evidently, mind you! — who would have us push up in that hornet’s nest even harder and teach them mad-as-hell hornets who’s boss. Lord have mercy.

Me: Hornets, Granddad?

G: Hornets are a whole lot smarter and better-organized than most people give them credit for. I do declare. Some people refuse to learn anything from history or just to look a situation plain in its face. Anyway, ain’t much I can do ’bout it, personally. ‘Cept hope for the best. And prepare for the worst. Go get them beans off the stove. Time for dinner.

Am I the only person who hears a whispered threat in these words? For those interested in a stable Middle East, this Holocaust denial conference should be seen with grave concern for its real intent and message to the world.

The Jerusalem Post:

“Those [who have] supported the Zionist regime during their lifetime,” said Ahmadinejad, “should be aware that its lifetime will be over and their interests as well as reputation will be endangered.

“Just as the ground was prepared to assign such a regime, the Zionist regime will be overthrown by its supporters,” he added.

It’s rare that I agree with the Bush Administration, however we’re on the same page here (NYTimes):

The White House said in a statement today that the gathering of Holocaust deniers in Tehran is an “affront to the entire civilized world, as well as to the traditional Iranian values of tolerance and mutual respect.”

“While people around the world mark International Human Rights Week and renew the solemn pledges of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which was drafted in the wake of the atrocities of World War II, the Iranian regime perversely seeks to call the historical fact of those atrocities into question and provide a platform for hatred,” the statement said.

Not even Al-Jazeera is buying it.

Historians specialising in the Third Reich, basing their figures on original Nazi documents, generally believe around six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, although some estimates are slightly lower or higher.

Hitler’s government also killed millions of non-Jews.

Kofi Annan is right and Bush really needs to listen to a Brother, before it’s too late:

“Tensions in the region are near the breaking point. Extremism and populism are leaving less political space for moderates, including those states that have reached peace agreements with Israel.

[Annan] warned that the opportunity for negotiating a two-state solution – Israel and Palestine, living within secure, recognised borders based on those of June 4, 1967 – “will last for only so long”.

Annan said: “Should we fail to seize it, the people who most directly bear the brunt of this calamity will be consigned to new depths of suffering and grief. … Other conflicts and problems will become that much harder to resolve.”

Other conflicts” — hmm…could he be referring possibly to Iraq?

P.S. You might be asking: Why do you read Al-Jazeera from time to time? Simple, I like to know what other people around the world are thinking and reading. Which is why I also read the BBC.


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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