More On Spakovsky

19 Jun 2007

According to Michael A. Fletcher of the WaPo, the Democrats may not oppose the confirmation of career vote minority vote suppression goon Hans von Spakovsky to the Federal Election Commission because it would allow Bush to further stack the deck with more recess appointments.

Senate Democrats would be happy to confirm Lenhard and Walther, but not von Spakovsky. But Senate Republicans oppose such cherry-picking and want the votes taken — as they traditionally have been — as a package, one for one: your crony, my crony.

Otherwise, GOPers grumble, they may block all nominations and leave the commission, once the three current recess nominees’ appointments expire at the end of this year, without a quorum or let Bush, if he wants, make three or four new recess appointments to the commission.

Those new recess appointments would be good until the end of next year — that is, until after the elections. Not a particularly appealing prospect for the Democrats.

Silly me, I was under the impression that majorities in the House and Senate meant that the Democrats controlled Congress. Given their inability to provide oversight on the war in Iraq, and their unwillingness to prevent the confirmation of a man who has spent his career trying to keep minorities from voting to the Federal Election Commission, voters should be asking themselves who they voted for in November anyway.

From the Iowa Independent (emphasis mine):

Speaking in Carroll, Edwards made the observation after saying there are “three of us who are most likely to be the Democratic nominee.”

“It’s not just a question of who you like,” Edwards said. “It’s not just a question of whose vision you are impressed with. It’s also a question of who is most likely to win the general election. It’s a pretty simple thing. Who will be a stronger candidate in the general election here in the State of Iowa? Who can go to other parts of the country when we have swing candidates running for the Congress and the Senate? Is the candidate going to have to say, ‘Don’t come here. Don’t come here and campaign with me. I can’t win if you campaign with me.’”

He added later, “I think it’s just a reality that I can campaign anyplace in America.”

In an interview with Iowa Independent and The Carroll Daily Times Herald, Edwards strongly rejected the suggestion that his comments about being the most electable candidate in the Democratic field were a way of saying America won’t vote for a black man (Obama) or woman (Clinton) without actually saying it – to a largely white, elderly rural audience in Carroll with no national media present.

“No, I think there are differences,” Edwards said. “First of all, if you look at who led on the big issues that America will be faced with I came out with a universal health-care plan first. I am so far the only candidate with a truly universal health-care plan. I came out with an aggressive energy plan to deal with global warming, to transform the way we do energy.”

I think Carroll is somewhere in Iowa? Anyway, this sounds like some kind of bullsh*t code-talkin’ to me. He might as well have come out and said — “I’m a safe white guy who actually has a chance at winning against the other white guy the Republicans pick as their nominee.” Edwards’ non sequitor non-explanatory statement notwithstanding, Hillary Clinton to date out of the top three Dems not to make a significant racial gaffe. That “Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)” press release is something Brother Barack is likely to pay for. Has no one at his campaign learned anything from the Macaca experience?

Obama has finally apologized
but only after hearing from offended Asian Americans:

I wanted to respond personally to the concerns you expressed regarding the recent research memo that our campaign put into circulation.

I believe that your concerns with the memo are justified. To begin with, the memo did not reflect my own views on the importance of America’s relationship with India. I have long believed that the best way to promote U.S. economic growth and opportunity for American workers is to continually improve the skills of our own workforce and invest in our own scientific research, technological capacity and infrastructure, rather than to try to insulate ourselves from the global economy.

More importantly, the memo’s caustic tone, and its focus on contributions by Indian-Americans to the Clinton campaign, was potentially hurtful, and as such, unacceptable. The memo also ignored my own long-standing relationship to – and support from – the Indian-American community.

In sum, our campaign made a mistake. Although I was not aware of the contents of the memo prior to its distribution, I consider the entire campaign – and in particular myself – responsible for the mistake. We have taken appropriate action to prevent errors like this from happening in the future.

He should have responded immediately. For something this serious, a video and not a written response would have been more persuasive. Obama feels a day late and a dollar short on this situation. Frankly he’s probably lost a little cred from the delay. I’d love to hear more about what “appropriate action” was actually taken. Did anyone lose their job over this? They should have.

I like both Edwards and Obama so these mistakes are gut-wrenching and alienating. Kudos to Clinton’s team so far though for keeping it squeaky clean.

Great news (from Reuters):

JACKSON, Mississippi (Reuters) – A former Ku Klux Klansman was found guilty of kidnapping on Thursday in the 1964 killings of two black men in Mississippi, a case that highlighted white supremacist violence during the civil rights era.

A federal jury deliberated just two hours before convicting James Seale, who was also charged with conspiracy in the killings of 19-year-old Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore who were kidnapped while hitchhiking.

According to the indictment and testimony, they were taken to a national forest and Seale trained a shotgun on the teenagers while his companions beat them.

They then stuffed Dee and Moore into the trunk of a car, drove them to an offshoot of the Mississippi River, attached heavy weights to them and threw them alive into the water from a boat, prosecutors said.

America acts like 9/11 was the first time its citizens were victimized by acts of terrorism, as if a great Age of Innocence had come to an end. Well, many of us (ahem, red and black folks) know differently. Terrorism in the form of slavery, man hunts, lynchings, bombings and targeted murder has been employed in this country since before its founding. I guess the only thing left to do with former Klansman Seale is to send him to Guantanamo right? That’s what we do with terrorists. Right?

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The Hill has the story:

Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) waited almost two years before notifying the House ethics committee of a loan he made to Vernon Jackson, the Kentucky businessman now in prison for bribing him, according to financial disclosures released yesterday.

The debt’s late disclosure to Congress could further hobble Jefferson’s defense when his case goes to trial in January and embolden the members in both parties calling for his resignation. According to Kentucky media reports, Jackson reported the loan to the FBI in August 2005.


A Jefferson spokesman declined yesterday to answer questions about the loan to Jackson. In a May 15 letter to Reps. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) and Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), the chairman and ranking member of the ethics panel, Jefferson said the $10,000 “was extended on a personal basis to cover personal and family expenses” between April and June 2005.

The loan, which remains outstanding, may play a more infamous role in the government’s case against the embattled Louisianan. The $90,000 found in Jefferson’s freezer came out of the $100,000 offered him by government informant Lori Mody in July 2005, but little is known of the remaining $10,000 — other than its FBI status as accounted-for.

Brace yourself for more revelations of Dollar Bill’s corrupt bidness dealings. What’s really astonishing is that all of this grotesque rolling humiliation for the CBC and the Democratic Party at large could have been avoided. Had Democrats put enough energy behind Karen Carter’s campaign against Jefferson this fall, she would have won and Jefferson would be a footnote rather than a front page story.

When something like a whole bunch of fake ids and credit cards are found under someone’s floorboards or body is found buried in someone’s backyard or perhaps $90,000 is found hidden in someone’s freezer, usually things are likely to go downhill for that someone. This was predictable and avoidable. And we told you so.

More of this mess can be avoided if Jefferson is pushed harder to resign. Surely Democrats can figure this out. Or maybe they aren’t so interested after all in differentiating their party from the GOP’s history of winking at corrupt cronies.

A lot of people have been asking what is up with the cheezy, sex-infused, supposedly amateur I’ve Got A Crush on Obama video. While it’s caused a sensation on the YouTubes and in the MSM, African-American Political Pundit has dug a bit deeper and written a great piece on this. After all, the fact that the audio/video was played on Racist Rush Limbaugh’s show should be cause for pause.

Seems all is not what it appears to be. Is this an attempt to prey on some whites’ discomfort with a black man’s appeal to white women? We’ve seen that lever pulled before with the RNC-calculated “Harold, Call Me” commercial in which a blond bombshell talks about meeting TN Senate candidate Harold Ford at a Playboy party.


AAPP links to this Newsbusters article that dishes the dirt on the originator of this garbage: a new site called Certainly, it’s living up to its name. A commenter on Young Black Professional Guide wonders correctly IMHO: is this a trojan horse?

Meant to post this a few days ago, but this is a big week:

Kevin Powell Presents


A 3-Day National Conference
FRIDAY, JUNE 15 thru SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2007

A FREE Conference geared toward redefining and empowering Black males

More on the conference from Davey D here.

Speakers include filmmaker Byron Hurt, DJ Ed Lover and Kevin Powell. Clearly this is not the same Kevin Powell that ran the Federal Communications Commission. Here’s the real Kevin Powell’s intro letter:

We do not propose to have all the answers with this conference. Indeed, more questions will be asked than answered. What we do propose is that we not see this very critical life-saving and life-empowering work as rocket science.

Some of the proactive things we need to do are very simple: we’ve got to know our history, we’ve got to know who we are, where we’ve come from; we’ve got to have a plan of action for every aspect of our lives, even in the face of institutionalized racism; we’ve got to be willing to do whatever it takes, by any means necessary, to improve ourselves, to heal, to grow, to change, to move from being just males to men with a sense of purpose, honesty, transparency, accountability, and responsibility; we’ve got to move to a place of sincere respect for all the females in our lives, the women and the girls, and to a place of viewing them as our equals, as partners, as the givers of life who should be honored for what they have to endure in a world dominated and controlled by the male gender; and we’ve got to move away from very predictable and self-defeating male behavior around violence, around sex, around money, ego, senseless competition and jealousy, and materialism.

Frantz Fanon once said that each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it. We got next, right now, and it is our time to have real talk with each other, to be the examples of manhood we want to see, and to create the kind of world we want for ourselves and for the generations not yet born.

Is anyone going to this? I wish I could. If you are going, please post some dispatches in the comments for this post.

Paul Kiel is over at TPM discussing the latest developments in the confirmation hearing of Hans Spakovsky, which began yesterday. When asked about his tireless support of election regulations that regularly disenfranchise minorities, and that have been struck down as unconstitutional by courts, Spakovsky gave the usual Bush Justice Department answer:

I don’t remember.

Time and again during his confirmation hearing, he cited either the attorney-client privilege or a cloudy memory for his purported role in restricting minorities’ voting rights.

Von Spakovsky couldn’t remember blocking an investigation into complaints that a Minnesota Republican official was discriminating against Native American voters before the 2004 election.

Under oath, he also said he didn’t recall seeing data from the state of Georgia that would have undercut a push by senior officials within the Civil Rights Division to approve the state’s tough new law requiring photo IDs of all voters. The data showed that 300,000 Georgia voters lacked driver’s licenses. A federal judge later threw out the law as unconstitutional.

Apparently, having the courts overturn laws pushed by the now ironically named Civil Rights Division was a regular occurrence for Spakovsky.

Feinstein questioned von Spakovsky about allegations that he impeded an investigation of allegations that Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer had wrongly interpreted a new state ID law to bar 200,000 Native Americans from using tribal ID cards to vote.

“I don’t remember that complaint at all,” von Spakovsky said.

Durbin, after listening to von Spakovsky’s memory lapses, remarked that it was “an affliction to which many people in the Department of Justice suffer.” He referred to recent testimony by other department officials who are facing allegations of partisanship.

The Democrats brought up several strong reasons why Spakovsky should not be confirmed, as though his own absent-minded testimony wasn’t incriminating enough. Can you imagine going to a job interview and telling the interviewer you don’t remember half the things on your resume, or why you did them?

Citing a scathing letter from six former senior officials of the Voting Rights Section, Committee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told him bluntly: “It is really a problem for this body to vote for someone with this letter on the record.”

Illinois Democratic Sen. and presidential candidate Barack Obama said this week that he thought that von Spakovsky should be rejected “unless he can provide legitimate explanations for his conduct.” Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., expressed similar misgivings.

Feinstein is referring to a letter written by six former colleagues of Spakovsky from the Civil Rights Division, which described Spakovsky as “the point man for undermining the Civil Rights’ Division’s mandate to protect voting rights. “

Of course, the Democrats might confirm him anyway.

Whether Democrats can derail von Spakovsky’s appointment is unclear.

Feinstein cautioned that “a very serious situation could develop if the Senate fails to confirm at least some” of the four nominees by fall because none of the current commissioners has won Senate approval for a full six-year term.

Another problem for foes of von Spakovsky is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing a home-state candidate, recess appointee Steven Walther of Reno, Nev., and Republicans are likely to put a retaliatory hold on Walther if von Spakovsky is rejected.

The choice the Democrats are facing is whether to confirm someone to the Federal Election Commission who has spent his entire career trying to prevent minorities, blacks and Native Americans in particular, or possibly face a confrontation with their rival party.

The choice sounds clear to me, but apparently it’s not to the Democrats. Which is why my voter registration card still says “Independent.”

Attorney General Gonzales
is already under investigation for possibly obstructing justice for his actions surrounding the U.S. Attorney firings. Yet the Democrats are actually considering whether or not to confirm someone who has been equally dishonest in his Senate testimony.

If the Democrats cannot prevent the confirmation of someone who has made deliberate efforts to disenfranchise American voters based on race, then in my opinion, they don’t deserve to be in office. They certainly don’t deserve my vote.

I was checking out the new website, and they featured this video of Maya Angelou endorsing Clinton. The endorsement is a bit… strange. Angelou focuses almost exclusively on Clinton as a strong woman and what her rise to power represents. She also draws parallels to Hillary and black women everywhere. That angle got me cogitating on the “Bill Clinton is our first Black president” theme and an interesting article on the subject from almost five years ago.

Will this endorsement have any meaningful impact on H. Clinton’s support among African-Americans or women? What are your thoughts?

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Scooter Libby has been ordered to jail during his appeal.

Libby’s attorneys asked that the order be stayed, but U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton denied the request and told Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff that he has 10 days to appeal the ruling.

Do you think that the THREATS he’s been receiving had anything to do with the judge’s decision?

You chose to lie Scooter. Deal with the consequences of your actions.

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Christy Hardin Smith at FireDogLake wrote the post (Bass Ackwards)I was planning to write after seeing the coverage yesterday of the Golden Mosque’s second bombing.

The first time the Shi’ite Golden Dome was blown up, it led to a massive new escalation in sectarian violence. That along with the systematic bridge destruction in Iraq recently points to a deterioration on the ground there. Things are not at all likely to get better over there — not for Iraqis and definitely not for our troops — until the U.S. gets out of the way and lets the Iraqis’ determine their own political future.

How long will Democrats sit by and allow this cruel desperate farce to continue?

How long will Americans let them?

Here’s an idea for an ad for those opposing the surge in Iraq and the calls from folks like Lieberman to force a conflict with Iran. How about having ordinary black person and/or family after another talk about the impact on their lives that the Iraq war has wrought? It’s that simple. Won’t be hard to find us. We work in your office or down at the corner store. We live next to you. We went to high school or college with you.

African-Americans remain the moral conscience of the nation. Too long have our voices and our experience around Iraq been ignored. There is no more passionate, sincere and directly impacted anti-war contingent out there just waiting to tell you what we think should happen next. There is no way, particularly post-Katrina, that this type of messaging will not destroy any Republican moral sway over the issue of Iraq. Just a suggestion.

Hat Tip: Racewire

A Louisiana town has managed to find another profoundly trivial reason to trample the first amendment.

The new indecent exposure ordinance in this Cajun-country town of about 2,000 carries penalties of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for being caught in pants that show undergarments or, in the mayor’s phrase, “private parts.” “I don’t know if it will do any good, but it won’t hurt,” said Delcambre Councilman Albert Roy, who introduced the ordinance. “It’s obvious, and anybody with common sense can see your parts when you wear sagging pants.”

That’s right, you can be thrown in jail for six months for wearing your pants low. The Mayor argues that the law doesn’t target black folks.

Low-hanging, baggy pants have become a fashion fad, mostly for young men in the hip-hop culture. Several residents objected that the ordinance targeted blacks. Broussard denied any racial motivation. “White people wear sagging pants, too. Anybody who wears these pants should be held responsible.”

Broussard’s point hardly refutes the idea that this law targets blacks, it just also targets in a larger sense, contemporary African-American culture in the form of Hip-hop. The law isn’t simply meant to provide another excuse to throw black people in jail, it also hopes to dissuade white people from participating in or imitating Hip-hop culture.

Could anyone imagine similar laws targeting shirts that say “No Fat Chicks?”

Broussard’s advice for people who like their pants to hang low: “Just wear it properly. Cover your vital parts. I mean, if you expose your private parts, you’ll get a fine. If you walk up and your pants drop, you get a fine. They’re better off taking the pants off and just wearing a dress.”

I’ve never seen anyone sag their pants in order to expose themselves a style choice. How much of this is at the discretion of the arresting officer? And why is the government telling people how to dress?

The fact that another racially motivated law targeting black people and black culture is being passed in the South is profoundly disturbing in the context of Genarlow Wilson, whose 10 year prison sentence for having consensual oral sex with a girl two years his junior was recently overturned after he spent two years in prison.

The case began three years ago when Mr. Wilson was arrested for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl at a New Year’s Eve party in 2003. Under Georgia law, that offense qualified as aggravated child molestation, a felony charge largely intended for use against adult sexual predators, not teenagers like Mr. Wilson, who was 17 at the time of the incident. He had no prior criminal record and was an honors student and star athlete.

Being a gifted student and talented athelete did not protect Genarlow Wilson from racial descrimination in court, which took away two years of his life. Our current legal system is racially biased enough without laws that so blatantly target black people. What does it say that such laws are once again acceptable in Delacambre, Louisiana?

UPDATE: A little cultural perspective on the hostility to Hip-hop, and charges of “obscenity”.

“A wave of vulgar, filthy and suggestive music has inundated the land with its obscene posturing, its lewd gestures,” spewed one newspaper in 1899 about jazz.

When jazz swept through Chicago, the playing of saxophones and trumpets was banned after dark; “reckless” new jazz dance steps like the bunny hug, the turkey trot and the lame duck were outlawed.

Things, change, stay the same.

I read Rep. John Conyers’ DailyKos diary yesterday entitled simply: White House Subpoenas. Here’s an example for other CBC members to follow. Do something helpful/progressive and then tell the netroots about it. Not that hard. Conyers says:

I consider these subpoenas to be essential because the evidence our investigation has uncovered points to the pivotal role the White House played in the U.S. Attorney firings. We have only sought to compel cooperation through subpoenas after more than three months of stonewalling by the White House.

I had hoped that the White House would be more forthcoming in assisting our investigation. Unfortunately, this subpoena provided the only legal means for the American people, through their elected representatives, to find out how their government functions.

This subpoena represents a very serious step by Congress not to be taken lightly. Defiance or failure to comply would run counter to the checks and balances that are the foundation of our constitution and democratic government.

I applaud this action. John Conyers is living up to his legend as a ferocious civil rights hero. His post made me proud he is a courageous leader doing the right thing who happens to be African-American.

I only wish it had come a couple of months earlier when Americans still cared about this issue. There was a time when Gonzales was really on the ropes. His strategy of clinging by his fingernails to the rocky ledge of legitimacy seems to be working — no longer does this issue dominate the morning news. No longer do we hear calls from Republicans for his resignation.

It’s summer now. People are thinking about barbeques, vacations, hot weather and high gas prices. It’s hard to hold on to indignation when it’s so dang sunny out.

Don’t get me wrong — I am still angry. I still want justice returned to the Justice Department. I only wish the Democrats would quit scattering their momentum on Iraq and Gonzales and go for the jugular of this corrupt, inept Administration at crunch time. Not when everyone’s yawning and the curtain is halfway down.

They each have only one black woman in the top ten of their top 100 hottest women lists. Both women are lightskinned.

In the case of Maxim, the token beauty is R&B Chanteuse Rihanna.

In the case of AfterEllen, it’s L-Word star Jennifer Beals. Of course, I’m guessing many of their readers don’t even know Jennifer Beals is black.

I guess cultural standards of beauty biased against dark skin transcend sexual orientation.
Senior editor of AfterEllen Scribegrrrl writes:

Clearly, what straight men and lesbians find sexy in a woman is a little bit different.

Sadly, “a little bit” seems fairly accurate.

God Bless America.

I mean it’s not like they’re not both gorgeous, but you see my point.

Hat tip to the Dailykos.

Hat tip: Skeptical Brotha

Stop Judge Leslie Southwick.

Southwick has been nominated for the federal bench from Mississippi.

Here’s a piece of Southwick’s judicial past:

The current nominee, Leslie Southwick, in his former capacity as a Court of Appeals Judge, affirmed the judgment of the state employee appeals board to re-instate a white female state employee who called a black female co-worker a “good ole nigger.” The racist rationale is that this behavior is somehow not serious enough to warrant immediate termination.

If you want to read the Magnolia Bar Association’s letter to Patrick Leahy, it’s here.

I think it’s time that people dropped a note of concern to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Patrick J. Leahy

Edward M. Kennedy

Arlen Specter

Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Orrin G. Hatch

Herb Kohl

Charles E. Grassley

Dianne Feinstein

Jon Kyl

Russell D. Feingold

Jeff Sessions

Charles E. Schumer

Lindsey Graham

Richard J. Durbin

John Cornyn

Benjamin L. Cardin

Sam Brownback

Sheldon Whitehouse

Tom Coburn

Time to drop some Democratic Senators a nice little letter about Southwick.

Cross-posted at Mirror On America

Here’s Matt Stoller of MyDD raising money for Donna Edwards who is running once again against corporate whore Al Wynn.

Getting people like Wynn to support corporate-friendly policies has been a lynchpin of right-wing power, which means that Donna Edwards’s challenge to Wynn is both critical and systemic. This is not a normal primary challenge, this is a clash of two systems of power, of influence, and of ideas. It’s not a surprise that the Chamber is already weighing in on this race, for Wynn. This primary was critical in 2006, when her underfunded campaign, which was dismissed in DC because she did no polling, no TV, and only a bit of direct mail, nearly toppled Wynn, who was seen as invincible. It’s even more critical now. Donna is a real, legitimate candidate. She is going to raise a lot of money, and she’s going to fight for values and ideas that actually are progressive. We lost in 2006, and we see what that got us – a Democratic Party that is only responsive when it’s convenient for them. We can’t afford this kind of Democratic party, and we must support people like Donna in our movement to change it.

Why should you care? I mean, do you even live in Maryland?

Maybe not: but here’s why. The CBC has a tension among sell-outs like Al Wynn who are the reason why we have to argue about the lunacy of doing a Democratic debate with Fox News. They are the reason we must endure the humiliation of Members of Congress supporting the re-election campaign of a man who had $90,000 in his freezer. They are the reason that our relatives and frat brothers and neighbors are still in Iraq. They are the reason all children still don’t have access to healthcare in America. I could go on.

A new leadership is needed that will actually serve its constituents occasionally. It’s like the fight between Dollar Bill Jefferson and Karen Carter. We need more Karen Carters and Donna Edwards. Black blogs — let’s start talking about how we help our brothers and sisters who need us into office — including fundraising on places like ActBlue.

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