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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Bi Partisanship Drop Dead!!!

Right On, Katrina! The Republicans are irrelevant. Conservatism has proven itself to be bankrupt. On with the public option!! RGN

Time to End False Bipartisanship
posted by Katrina vanden Heuvel on 06/28/2009 @ 5:41pm

God I hope David Broder is wrong. "The President has told visitors," the Washington Post columnist wrote last week, "that he would rather have 70 votes in the Senate for a bill that gives him 85 percent of what he wants rather than a 100 percent satisfactory bill that passes 52-48." The good news is that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is now talking about how bipartisanship may need to be redefined downward if the Democrats are going to pass meaningful healthcare reform. In a meeting with journalists last week, Emanuel proposed that healthcare legislation could be bipartisan without Republican votes. "There will be ideas from both parties, and individuals from both parties, in the final product," he said. "Whether the Republicans decide to vote for things they promoted will be up to them." ( David Axelrod seconded the emotion in his appearance on ABC's "This Week.")

The trick now is to ensure that "centrist" Democrats (who, as Paul Krugman notes, "are in fact way out in right field") pay more attention to the broad majority favoring a strong public option than to the wads of dough lavished on them by big Pharma and insurance lobbyists. As Joe Conason put it in his invaluable New York Observer column, "If Congress fails to enact healthcare reform this year---or it enacts a sham reform designed to bail out corporate medicine while excluding the 'public option'---then the public will rightly blame Democrats, who have no excuse for failure except their own cowardice and corruption." Blame could well be registered in ugly midterm election results in 2010.

It's time to part ways with obstructionist Republicans and pass a strong healthcare bill with a majority vote, which is possible if efforts cease to get a handful of Republicans to cross over. Redefining bipartisanship at a time when the GOP has become a male, pale and stale party committed to deficit demagoguery and fearmongering is the common sense and, I'd even argue, pragmatic course. Instead of wasting time on recalcitrant GOP holdouts, do what Drew Westen, author of the terrific book "The Political Brain," advises to pass meaningful healthcare change: "Focus on principles, tell compelling stories, move people emotionally and send clear messages."

Sure, there are legitimate issues raised by people I admire about the value of a public plan. Even President Obama once said, "If I were designing a system from scratch, then I'd probably set up single-payer." Like 59% of the Americans surveyed in January 2009 by CBS News and the New York Times, I would prefer, as would my colleagues at The Nation, to see Congress respond to this country's healthcare crisis by scrapping a failed-for-profit system and replacing it with a comprehensive national health insurance program.

But for now, the calculus of political viability has taken single-payer off the table. That doesn't mean we cease fighting to get it back on --but it probably means we need to balance our short and long-term goals. Let's assume some compromise in our political system is inevitable. The hard question is whether the compromise opens the door to greater progress or forecloses opportunity. A weak public plan will make it harder to get healthcare expenses under control while extending care to all. A weak plan may discredit healthcare reform for a generation. Real reform will cement strong attachment to the party which has shown it can pass legislation truly improving the condition of people's lives. (That's a key reason why former Dan Quayle adviser and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol fought tooth and nail to derail Clinton's healthcare reforms.) And for all the wrongheaded deficit anxiety circulating, do Democrats really think that if they pass major health care reform, and increase access--that voters will punish them for growing the deficit? (And the cost debate is forcing to the fore much-needed consideration of changes to our dysfunctional and unjust tax structure that will enable us to pay for these healthcare reforms.)

Congress is, of course, usually pretty skittish about reform, but with a President with high approval ratings and an historically unpopular GOP--if this isn't a time to pass sweeping reform with a strong public plan, then when is?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Paul Krugman on Health care and Democratic Party Spine!!

June 22, 2009
Health Care Showdown

America’s political scene has changed immensely since the last time a Democratic president tried to reform health care. So has the health care picture: with costs soaring and insurance dwindling, nobody can now say with a straight face that the U.S. health care system is O.K. And if surveys like the New York Times/CBS News poll released last weekend are any indication, voters are ready for major change.

The question now is whether we will nonetheless fail to get that change, because a handful of Democratic senators are still determined to party like it’s 1993.

And yes, I mean Democratic senators. The Republicans, with a few possible exceptions, have decided to do all they can to make the Obama administration a failure. Their role in the health care debate is purely that of spoilers who keep shouting the old slogans — Government-run health care! Socialism! Europe! — hoping that someone still cares.

The polls suggest that hardly anyone does. Voters, it seems, strongly favor a universal guarantee of coverage, and they mostly accept the idea that higher taxes may be needed to achieve that guarantee. What’s more, they overwhelmingly favor precisely the feature of Democratic plans that Republicans denounce most fiercely as “socialized medicine” — the creation of a public health insurance option that competes with private insurers.

Or to put it another way, in effect voters support the health care plan jointly released by three House committees last week, which relies on a combination of subsidies and regulation to achieve universal coverage, and introduces a public plan to compete with insurers and hold down costs.

Yet it remains all too possible that health care reform will fail, as it has so many times before.

I’m not that worried about the issue of costs. Yes, the Congressional Budget Office’s preliminary cost estimates for Senate plans were higher than expected, and caused considerable consternation last week. But the fundamental fact is that we can afford universal health insurance — even those high estimates were less than the $1.8 trillion cost of the Bush tax cuts. Furthermore, Democratic leaders know that they have to pass a health care bill for the sake of their own survival. One way or another, the numbers will be brought in line.

The real risk is that health care reform will be undermined by “centrist” Democratic senators who either prevent the passage of a bill or insist on watering down key elements of reform. I use scare quotes around “centrist,” by the way, because if the center means the position held by most Americans, the self-proclaimed centrists are in fact way out in right field.

What the balking Democrats seem most determined to do is to kill the public option, either by eliminating it or by carrying out a bait-and-switch, replacing a true public option with something meaningless. For the record, neither regional health cooperatives nor state-level public plans, both of which have been proposed as alternatives, would have the financial stability and bargaining power needed to bring down health care costs.

Whatever may be motivating these Democrats, they don’t seem able to explain their reasons in public.

Thus Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska initially declared that the public option — which, remember, has overwhelming popular support — was a “deal-breaker.” Why? Because he didn’t think private insurers could compete: “At the end of the day, the public plan wins the day.” Um, isn’t the purpose of health care reform to protect American citizens, not insurance companies?

Mr. Nelson softened his stand after reform advocates began a public campaign targeting him for his position on the public option.

And Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota offers a perfectly circular argument: we can’t have the public option, because if we do, health care reform won’t get the votes of senators like him. “In a 60-vote environment,” he says (implicitly rejecting the idea, embraced by President Obama, of bypassing the filibuster if necessary), “you’ve got to attract some Republicans as well as holding virtually all the Democrats together, and that, I don’t believe, is possible with a pure public option.”

Honestly, I don’t know what these Democrats are trying to achieve. Yes, some of the balking senators receive large campaign contributions from the medical-industrial complex — but who in politics doesn’t? If I had to guess, I’d say that what’s really going on is that relatively conservative Democrats still cling to the old dream of becoming kingmakers, of recreating the bipartisan center that used to run America.

But this fantasy can’t be allowed to stand in the way of giving America the health care reform it needs. This time, the alleged center must not hold.

Walters on the Reagan Comparison.

The "right" is wrong with regard to the cujrrent crisis in Iran. Walters shows that the Reagan Berlin Wall analogy does not apply relative to the crisis in Iran. RGN

Obama: “Tear Down That Wall”
By Ron Walters

In the heat of all the evaluations of the Administration of President Barack Obama, we should not let this moment pass that connects his speech in Cairo to the progressive movement in Iran. I don’t agree with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel very often, but on “Meet the Press,” Sunday June 21, he answered the question of whether Obama should give more credibility to the freedom movement in Iran by saying that Obama began the process with his Cairo speech.

It would be easy to miss the important impact of Obama’s speech, because the media is focused on the issue of whether his response to the demonstrations opposing the attempt by the forces of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to steal the election has been tough enough. In fact, the dominant media acts as though they miss the swagger of George Bush whose “shoot first, ask questions later,” is the proper posture for a president faced with a complex international crisis. Most of the people urging Obama to take a hard line on the Iranian government’s opposition to the demonstrations in Tehran do not have the responsibility to sit down with whomever wins this struggle in a few weeks and try to get their cooperation to make sense out of a number of other issues. Yet they will also be poised to criticize him if he isn’t able to do so. My sense is that his response has been measured and accurate: assess the events and react according to what it gives you, not beyond what is required.

The recent Iranian election was immediately contested by expert foreign and domestic observers, as the government announced that the incumbent had won with 62% of the vote and his opponent, Mir-Hossein Mousavi former Prime Minister, had received 33%=2 0in a turnout of 32 million voters. Mousavi quickly announced that he would not surrender to “this charade” since his progressive movement had organized and contributed to the 80% turnout of the electorate and his sources had him at 58-60% of the vote.

In 2005, there may also have been some government influence in the election, as pre-vote polling placed Rafsanjani, former President, and Mostafa Moeen in first and second position, but the vote tallies from the government had Ahmadinejad and Mehdi Karroubi in second and third place. Ahmadinejad won in the 2005 runoff by a 62% of the vote, the same percent he had in the 2009 election, with a turnout that was 8 million more than in 2005.

The movement in Iran for a break with Islamic authoritarianism controlled by the clerical class has been rightly seen as a danger to its authority and that has invited a violent reaction. Nevertheless, things will not be the same because the positions of Ahmadinejad, who is the front man for the clerics, will not have the pre sumption that they represent a unified country. This could moderate some of his hard line positions and make President Obama’s task a bit less difficult, although it is not yet clear where the progressive movement comes down on the several issues where there is a difference with the U.S. So, this event that is happening on one of the most serious foreign policy fronts is an unexpected gift, but a gift nonetheless.

Nevertheless, Reaganist truly believe that when Ronald Reagan stood at the gates of the Berlin wall on June 12 (the same day as the Iranian Election) 1987 and shouted to President Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall” that ended the Cold War. Well, if that is so, then we can also believe that when Barack Obama extended a powerful open hand for a new beginning to the Muslin world in Cairo that moment ignited hope, especially among women, youth and the middle classes for a new future.

As several credible observers have noted, this turn of event in Iran is something fundamentally important, but whether it lasts or extends to other areas of the Middle East will be critical to follow -- even if the major media does not.

Dr. Ron Walters is the Distinguished Leadership Scholar, Director of the African American Leadership Center and Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland College Park. His latest book is: The Price of Racial Reconciliation (University of Michigan Press)

Clarence Thomas: A Traitor to His Race!!!!!

The gut of the Voting Rights Act was preserved by an 8-1 vote. Voting as if the whole law should be unconstitutional was Associate Justice Clarence Thomas! Clarence Thomas, who has yet to ask a question because he thinks he will sound incompetent, is a right wing extremist when it comes to the law and the rights of the people, particularly black people. The Thomas appointment was cynical to the point that even white nationalist Republicans should be embarrassed. On the Supreme Court is Rush Limbaugh's own Justice. Even Scalia voted for the narrow decision. Eight white folks voted to preserve the essence of the Voting Rights Act and the one black person on the Court sells blacks out. Need more be said? RGN

Supreme Court Rules Narrowly on Voting Rights Act
By Robert Barnes

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, June 22, 2009 12:27 PM

The Supreme Court today reached a compromise on the Voting Rights Act that allowed it to sidestep the question of whether a key provision of the landmark civil rights legislation remains constitutional at a time when the nation's racial politics have changed forever.

Instead, the court decided that all political subdivisions covered by the provision have the right to prove that they do not discriminate, and thus would not need to have federal authorities approve election law changes.

That provision, called Section 5, is the heart of the act, and applies to Virginia, Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas and parts of seven other states.

Civil rights activists had braced themselves for the conservative majority on the court to find Section 5 unconstitutional. But the court refused to do that on an 8-1 vote with only Justice Clarence Thomas, the court's only African American member, going that far. He said that "punishment for long past sins is not a legitimate basis" for imposing the act's toughest restrictions on mostly Southern states.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who at oral arguments had been sharply critical in his questioning of government lawyers who defended Congress's 2006 decision to extend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for another 25 years, said the court did not need to settle the larger issue.

"That constitutional question has attracted ardent briefs from dozens of interested parties, but the importance of the question does not justify our rushing to decide it," Roberts wrote.

The approach seemed to follow Roberts's stated goal of deciding cases as narrowly as possible and avoiding what probably would have been another divisive ruling for the court on an important constitutional issue.

Roberts made clear he had questions about the sweep of Congress's extension of the act.

"Things have changed in the South," Roberts wrote. "Voter turnout and registration rates now approach parity. Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels."

Civil rights groups applauded the decision. "It's fair to say this case was brought to tear the heart out of the Voting Rights Act, and today that effort failed," said Debo Adegbile, lead attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Although some briefs in the case had noted the election of President Obama in supporting the view that the law was no longer needed, the court did not mention the election of the nation's first black president.

Instead, the court decided a narrow issue raised by the tiny utility district in Austin that had served as a test case. It reversed decisions by lower courts that such jurisdictions did not have the ability to "bail out" -- exempt themselves from the restrictive provisions -- because they were not responsible for their own voter registrations.

The court made it clear that all of the 12,000 political subdivisions covered by the act had the ability to convince a federal court or the attorney general that they should be free from the restrictions. Each would have to meet certain requirements, such as showing it had not discriminated or been found guilty of a transgression for 10 years, and that it had "engaged in constructive efforts" to ensure minority voting participation

The subdivision that brought the challenge, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One, has never been accused of discrimination.

The case is Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

In the Balance: Health Care's Must-Win in Peril..

The success of the Presidency of Barack Obama is on the line. It is imperative that a health-care bill pass WITH a public option. Seventy-one per cent of the America people want a universal health care system that includes the public option. Fifty-seven percent say they would be willing to pay more taxes for universal health-care. Yet, conservative Democrats and Republicans in the Senate will attempt to block the public option. Obviously, they are not listening to the will of the people and what we as a nation need. Our economy is drowning in the for profit system that enriches the medical industry at the cost of the nation’s populace. They owe their souls to the “company stores” we call hospitals, the AMA, the pharmaceutical industry. Theirs is not the interest of the people. The reluctant need to have letters/Twitters sent to them. Check out Bill Maher’s assessment of the Democrats and Republicans at this stage of our history. RGN

Obama May Lack Votes for Health-Care, Feinstein Says (Update1)

By Gopal Ratnam
June 21 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama may not have enough votes in the U.S. Senate to pass his effort to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein said.

“I don’t know that he has the votes right now,” Feinstein said today on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “I think there’s a lot of concern in the Democratic caucus.” Controlling costs of the new system is a “difficult subject.”

Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana said on the same program that the overhaul should be done slowly, and not this year, to ensure it doesn’t “threaten the basic structure of the economy.”

Congress is working to meet an October deadline that Obama, a Democrat, set for signing the legislation into law. As a presidential candidate he pledged to expand coverage to the 46 million people who lack health insurance while lowering the cost of a system of care that makes up 17 percent of the economy.

Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley said on CNN that the Senate Finance Committee is “dialing down some of our expectations” of the legislation in response to an estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that earlier options under consideration would cost $1.6 trillion.

“Our goal is affordability,” said Grassley, who is the top-ranked Republican on the finance panel.

‘Running Away’

Senators from both parties are wary of health-care overhaul because of the $1.6 trillion cost estimate, Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said on ABC’s “This Week” program today. The budget office calculation “was a death blow to government-run health care plan,” he said.

Democratic senators are “running away from the government- run health care where the bureaucrat stands between the doctor and the patient,” Graham said. The Finance Committee “has abandoned” the plan, he said.

Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said the idea of delaying action on the legislation until next year is a mistake.

The last thing the American people “want us to do is to wait and delay for 2010 or 2011, because this is the economic threat to our country,” Casey said. “If we don’t get this right and get it done, American families are going to pay far too much.”

Most Americans are willing to pay higher taxes so everyone can have health insurance and back a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll. The poll of 895 adults conducted June 12-16 had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

To contact the reporters on this story: Gopal Ratnam in Washington at
Last Updated: June 21, 2009 12:09 EDT

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Complicity of Right Wing Vitrol: the Escalation of White Nationalist Violence

More on the "Lone Wolves" and the complicity of America's right wing. This take is by Judith Warner. RGN

June 11, 2009, 8:05 pm

The Wages of Hate
It is all too familiar.

A lone gunman takes a life in a hate crime. Law enforcement officials describe him as acting alone.

But he’s not alone — not in spirit, at least.

Like Scott Roeder, the man charged in the shooting of the Wichita, Kan., doctor George Tiller nearly two weeks ago, James von Brunn, the white supremacist charged with killing a guard in an attempted shooting rampage at the Holocaust museum in Washington on Wednesday, doesn’t have any current, overt links to extremist groups. Yet his violent hatred — of Jews, blacks, the government — echoes throughout the universe of right-wing extremists, who just a few years ago hailed and revered him as a “White Racialist Treasure.”

And though he’s an outlier — disturbed, deranged, disavowed now by many who share his core views — his actions really can’t be viewed in isolation. As was the case with Tiller’s murder, which followed months of escalating harassment and intimidation at abortion clinics, von Brunn’s attack on the Holocaust museum has to be viewed as an extreme manifestation of a moment when racist, anti-Semitic agitation is rapidly percolating. White supremacist groups are vastly expanding. And right-wing TV rhetoric, thoughtless in its cruelty and ratings-hungry demagoguery, is helping feed the paranoia and rage that for some Americans now bubbles just beneath the surface.

Hate group membership had been expanding steadily over the course of the past decade — fueled largely by anti-immigrant sentiment. But after Barack Obama’s election, it spiked. The day after the election, the computer servers of two major white supremacist groups crashed, because their traffic went through the roof, Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which tracks right-wing extremists and hate groups, told me this week.

As the former Klansman and Louisiana state representative David Duke predicted last June, the face of the first black man in the White House was a “visual aid” for white supremacists, spurring a rapid rise in recruitment and radicalization.

“Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported this past April.

I wrote last week about the rising threats to and vandalism at abortion clinics that followed the election of our first pro-choice president in eight years. A similar increase in intimidating activism has been observed over the past seven months among hate groups — and simply hateful individuals. In November, a predominantly black church under construction in Springfield, Mass. was burned to the ground by three men who bragged of doing so in protest of the election. A cross was burned outside the home of a family of Obama supporters in Hardwick, N.J.

As was the case with increasing clinic vandalism and verbally violent protest, it was only a matter of time before this racially motivated destruction and intimidation turned to physical violence. And there’s one additional, highly disturbing parallel between von Brunn’s intended white supremacist shooting rampage and Scott Roeder’s “pro-life” killing of George Tiller: In both cases, at least some of the core beliefs of extremists were echoed, albeit in more socially acceptable language, by right wing news commentators.

Bill O’Reilly had routinely talked in recent years about “Tiller the baby killer.” Other right-wing talk show hosts like Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh have similarly tapped into — in somewhat coded form — some of the key concerns of extremist hate groups: that the economy has been destroyed by government-proffered “bad” loans to illegal immigrants, for example, or that FEMA may or may not — Beck equivocated for an awfully long time — be running “concentration camps” for U.S. citizens, or that the Obama administration is declaring war on decent Americans by labeling them as “extremists.”

(“So you have a report from Janet Napolitano and Barack Obama, Department of Homeland Security, portraying standard, ordinary, everyday conservatives as posing a bigger threat to this country than Al-Qaeda terrorists or genuine enemies of this country like Kim Jong Il,” is what Limbaugh had to say about Homeland Security’s April report.)

The result of this wink-wink anti-immigrant and anti-government rhetoric has been “a kind of mainstreaming of hate propaganda,” Potok said. “The white supremacist propaganda agenda is being expressed by pundits, politicians, and preachers. Criminal violence by members of this movement is a tiny danger to most Americans. The larger danger is the mainstreaming of these very vile and provably false ideas that do lead to violence.”

You can’t accuse Beck or Limbaugh of inciting violence. But they almost certainly do stoke the flames. They may give people who are just about to go over the edge — the sort of “guy that could not take it anymore” as one poster on the white supremacist forum, described von Brunn — some sort of validation for their rage.

“The pot in America is boiling,” Beck said this week, in the wake of the Holocaust museum killing. “And this is just yet another warning to all Americans of things to come.”

That creepy schadenfreude just about says it all.

Paul Krugman on Conservatives and the "Lone Wolves"

Paul Krugman "outs" conservatives as shills for the angry white nationalists. He makes the point that the recent killers of Dr. George Tiller and Stehpen Johns were fueled in their hatred with the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Glen Beck to name a few. RGN

June 12, 2009
Op-Ed Columnist
The Big Hate
Back in April, there was a huge fuss over an internal report by the Department of Homeland Security warning that current conditions resemble those in the early 1990s — a time marked by an upsurge of right-wing extremism that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Conservatives were outraged. The chairman of the Republican National Committee denounced the report as an attempt to “segment out conservatives in this country who have a different philosophy or view from this administration” and label them as terrorists.

But with the murder of Dr. George Tiller by an anti-abortion fanatic, closely followed by a shooting by a white supremacist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the analysis looks prescient.

There is, however, one important thing that the D.H.S. report didn’t say: Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.

Now, for the most part, the likes of Fox News and the R.N.C. haven’t directly incited violence, despite Bill O’Reilly’s declarations that “some” called Dr. Tiller “Tiller the Baby Killer,” that he had “blood on his hands,” and that he was a “guy operating a death mill.” But they have gone out of their way to provide a platform for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric, just as they did the last time a Democrat held the White House.

And at this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.

Exhibit A for the mainstreaming of right-wing extremism is Fox News’s new star, Glenn Beck. Here we have a network where, like it or not, millions of Americans get their news — and it gives daily airtime to a commentator who, among other things, warned viewers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency might be building concentration camps as part of the Obama administration’s “totalitarian” agenda (although he eventually conceded that nothing of the kind was happening).

But let’s not neglect the print news media. In the Bush years, The Washington Times became an important media player because it was widely regarded as the Bush administration’s house organ. Earlier this week, the newspaper saw fit to run an opinion piece declaring that President Obama “not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself,” and that in any case he has “aligned himself” with the radical Muslim Brotherhood.

And then there’s Rush Limbaugh. His rants today aren’t very different from his rants in 1993. But he occupies a different position in the scheme of things. Remember, during the Bush years Mr. Limbaugh became very much a political insider. Indeed, according to a recent Gallup survey, 10 percent of Republicans now consider him the “main person who speaks for the Republican Party today,” putting him in a three-way tie with Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich. So when Mr. Limbaugh peddles conspiracy theories — suggesting, for example, that fears over swine flu were being hyped “to get people to respond to government orders” — that’s a case of the conservative media establishment joining hands with the lunatic fringe.

It’s not surprising, then, that politicians are doing the same thing. The R.N.C. says that “the Democratic Party is dedicated to restructuring American society along socialist ideals.” And when Jon Voight, the actor, told the audience at a Republican fund-raiser this week that the president is a “false prophet” and that “we and we alone are the right frame of mind to free this nation from this Obama oppression,” Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, thanked him, saying that he “really enjoyed” the remarks.

Credit where credit is due. Some figures in the conservative media have refused to go along with the big hate — people like Fox’s Shepard Smith and Catherine Herridge, who debunked the attacks on that Homeland Security report two months ago. But this doesn’t change the broad picture, which is that supposedly respectable news organizations and political figures are giving aid and comfort to dangerous extremism.

What will the consequences be? Nobody knows, of course, although the analysts at Homeland Security fretted that things may turn out even worse than in the 1990s — that thanks, in part, to the election of an African-American president, “the threat posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years.”

And that’s a threat to take seriously. Yes, the worst terrorist attack in our history was perpetrated by a foreign conspiracy. But the second worst, the Oklahoma City bombing, was perpetrated by an all-American lunatic. Politicians and media organizations wind up such people at their, and our, peril.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

White Nationalists at War?: Right Wing Killings

The recent assassination of Dr. George Tiller by a killer with Militia ties and the killing of Stephen Johns by a known white supremacist at the Holocaust Museum in DC are no more than the violent manifestations of conservative and right wing propagandists among politicians and major media personalities. Ron Walters provides a political context that protects these so-called "Lone Wolves." Just a few weeks ago, Homeland Security was forced to apologize for an alert relative to the rise of violent right wing groups as a result of a hew and cry on the part of right wing Republicans. Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Joe Scarborugh are among the most notable white nationalist media types to provide cover for these right wing nut cases. They want to pretend that there is no blood on their hands. In fact, they now claim that these white supremacists are "Lefties." That is how bankrupt they are. This escaltion of white supremacist violence is indicative of the desperation of the extreme white nationalists and white supremacists in this new period. White nationalism was defeated at the ballot box but its intellectual class and "warring class" have not accepted that defeat. RGN

Are Racist “Lone Wolves” Really Alone”
By Ron Walters

On Wednesday evening June 10, I was supposed to have attended the preview of a play by Janet Cohen, an African American writer and wife of Jewish former Secretary of the Army, Steve Cohen at the Holocaust Museum, but that day it was attacked by James von Brunn, long time avowed white racist. At the entrance to the Museum von Brunn shot and killed Stephen Johns, a beloved African American security guard who had worked there for six years. This was a supreme irony because Janet’s play, Anne and Emmett was about introducing more Americans to the lives of Anne Frank and Emmett Till, two Jewish and African American icons of the human rights movement whose lives have been used to repudiate racist violence. Needless to say, the preview was cancelled and I awoke the next day to find the American media cutting the foundation of American racism out of the story by emphasizing that von Brunn was a “lone wolf.” But was he really? We make two points. So-called “lone wolves” are part of a larger official community which gives them substantial legitimacy and two, when that legitimacy falters they are most likely to show their violent fangs.

With the upsurge of the conservative movement, racist violence and hate speech became staples used to mobilize people, not necessarily into racist groups, but also into campaigns and voters for elected officials. When Ronald Reagan ran for President in 1980, not only did he open his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi where civil rights martyrs Schwerner Goodman and Chaney were killed by the Klan, Klan members took off their sheets and staged “Vote for Ronald Reagan” rallies at events on the campaign trail. And even though Reagan mildly repudiated their support, the new road to the legitimacy of the radical right had been forged.

In the 1990s, as one publication put it, “a feeling of rage is building across the country,” an expression of which became the militias that were forming in many states, ostensibly to protect citizens from all sorts of government conspiracies. Many of these had ties to racist, neo-Nazi and Ayran supremacy movements and most militia members were also card carrying members of the National Rifle Association which gave them political protection. So serious was this movement regarded that in return for grass roots assistance, some members of Congress included them in campaign operations and gave them access to government resources. In March of 1995, the paranoid rumor of a federal plan to raid them prompted inquiries to Attorney General Janet Reno’s office from mostly Republican members of Congress, such as: Robert Dornan (CA), Mac Collins (GA), James Hansen (UT), Larry Craig, (ID), Lauch Faircloth (NC), and Steve Stockman (TX).

Next month on April 19, when “lone wolf” Timothy McVeigh bombed an Oklahoma City federal building, because he had ties to the Michigan Militia, members of Congress with ties to such groups, such as Rep. Helen Chenoweth (ID) who had associations with the Commander of the United Militia Assn. and others were pressured to explain the nature of these ties.

Bill Clinton tried to de-legitimize the hate-filled atmosphere with speeches addressing directly the need for stronger hate crimes legislation. Official statistics indicate that most such crimes are oriented toward race and most of these involve African Americans. But although the Clinton administration wanted to expand it to include crimes against gays and provision related to the burning of churches, in his last days in office, he publicly regretted the fact that Republicans had prevented the passage of any hate crimes legislation.

Indeed, Republicans made such moves extremely difficult. When in 1999, Democrat, Rep. Robert Wexler (CA) attempted to pass a resolution condemning the Council of Conservative Citizens, a new version of the supremacist group, White Citizens Council, Republicans blocked it. Politicians who had associations with the Council inc luded Senators Trent Lott, Jesse Helms, Bob Barr, Governor Kirk Fordice (MS) and others. This led Wexler to ask why the Congress could pass a resolution denouncing black hate speech by Khalid Muhammad, then of the Nation of Islam by 97-0, but did nothing in this case. That same year, Congress also refused to denounce the speech of Republican Sen. Ernest Hollings who called black people “darkies” and Hispanics “wetbacks” and said that African heads of state came to International conferences to “get a square meal instead of eating each other.”

With the latest change of administrations it may appear that legitimacy for racism has weakened, and so the “lone wolves” may come out once more.

Dr. Ron Walters is the Distinguished Leadership Scholar, Director of the African American Leadership Center and Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland College Park. Among his books is: White Nationalism, Black Interests (Wayne State University Press)

The Iraeli Right Wing: An Obama Challenge

Barack Obama's speech in Cairo was no doubt historic and set a new path for U.S. relations with the Middle East. Barack's integrity and genuis were in clear evidence in that speech when it comes to U.S. foreign policy. Unfortunately, the right wings of the world condemned his search for resolutions to threats to civility and human rights for America and the world. While sensible forces supported the President, conservatives of all stripes, Muslim, American and Israeli, prefer belligerence and the threats or acutual violence. This includes the players in Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A real test to the Obama presidency will the Iseali right wing in their challenge to perserve the Isreali occupaction of the West Bank. The President seems to not have a partner in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The occupation must end if there is to be peace in the Region. RGN

Netanyahu endorses Palestinian independence
The Associated Press

Sunday, June 14, 2009 4:58 PM

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu endorsed a Palestinian state beside Israel for the first time on Sunday, reversing himself in the face of U.S. pressure but attaching conditions like demilitarization that the Palestinians swiftly rejected.

A week after President Barack Obama's address to the Muslim world, Netanyahu said the Palestinian state would have to be unarmed and recognize Israel as the Jewish state - a condition amounting to Palestinian refugees giving up the goal of returning to Israel.

With those conditions, he said, he could accept "a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state."

The West Bank-based Palestinian government dismissed the proposal as an attempt to determine the outcome of negotiations while maintaining Israeli settlements, refusing compromise over Jerusalem and ignoring the issue of borders. They also said that demilitarization would solidify Israeli control over them.

Netanyahu, in an address seen as his response to Obama, refused to heed the U.S. call for an immediate freeze of construction on lands Palestinians claim for their future state. He also said the holy city of Jerusalem must remain under Israeli sovereignty.

"Netanyahu's speech closed the door to permanent status negotiations," senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said. "We ask the world not to be fooled by his use of the term Palestinian state because he qualified it. He declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, said refugees would not be negotiated and that settlements would remain."

But in Washington, the White House said Obama welcomed the speech as an "important step forward."

Netanyahu's address had been eagerly anticipated in the wake of Obama's landmark speech to the Muslim world.

His speech was a dramatic transformation for a man who was raised on a fiercely nationalistic ideology and has spent a two-decade political career criticizing peace efforts.

Many Israeli commentators speculated that after the re-election of Iran's hardline president, Netanyahu would focus the address on the threat of Iran's suspect nuclear program. While reiterating his belief that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave threat, Netanyahu spent little time on the issue.

"I call on you, our Palestinian neighbors, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority: Let us begin peace negotiations immediately, without preconditions," he said, calling on the wider Arab world to work with him. "Let's make peace. I am willing to meet with you any time any place - in Damascus, Riyadh, Beirut and in Jerusalem."

Since assuming office in March, Netanyahu has been caught between American demands to begin peace talks with the Palestinians and the constraints of a hardline coalition. With his speech, he appeared to favor Israel's all-important relationship with the U.S. at the risk of destabilizing his government.

Netanyahu laid out his vision in a half-hour speech broadcast nationwide during prime time. He spoke at Bar-Ilan University, known as a bastion of the Israeli right-wing establishment, and his call for establishing a Palestinian state was greeted with lukewarm applause.

As Netanyahu spoke, two small groups of protesters demonstrated at the entrance to the university.

Several dozen hard-liners held up posters showing Obama wearing an Arab headdress and shouted slogans against giving up West Bank territory. Across from them, a few dozen dovish Israelis and foreign backers chanted slogans including "two states for two peoples" and "stop the occupation."

Police kept the two groups apart.

The Palestinians demand all of the West Bank as part of a future state, with east Jerusalem as their capital. Israel captured both areas in the 1967 Mideast war.
Netanyahu, leader of the hardline Likud Party, has always resisted withdrawing from these lands, for both security and ideological reasons. In his speech, he repeatedly made references to Judaism's connection to the biblical Land of Israel.

"Our right to form our sovereign state here in the land of Israel stems from one simple fact. The Land of Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish people," he said.
But Netanyahu also said that Israel must recognize that millions of Palestinians live in the West Bank, and continued control over these people is undesirable. "In my vision, there are two free peoples living side by side each with each other, each with its own flag and national anthem," he said.

Netanyahu has said he fears the West Bank could follow the path of the Gaza Strip - which the Palestinians also claim for their future state. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas militants now control the area, often firing rockets into southern Israel.

"In any peace agreement, the territory under Palestinian control must be disarmed, with solid security guarantees for Israel," he said.

"If we get this guarantee for demilitarization and necessary security arrangements for Israel, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, we will be willing in a real peace agreement to reach a solution of a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state," he said.

Netanyahu became the latest in a series of Israeli hard-liners to soften their positions after assuming office. Earlier this decade, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon led Israel out of Gaza before suffering a debilitating stroke. His successor, Ehud Olmert, spoke eloquently of the need to withdraw from the West Bank, though a corruption scandal a disastrous war in Lebanon prevented him from carrying out that vision.

Netanyahu gave no indication as to how much captured land he would be willing to relinquish. However, he ruled out a division of Jerusalem, saying, "Israel's capital will remain united."

Netanyahu also made no mention of uprooting Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Nearly 300,000 Israelis live in the West Bank, in addition to 180,000 Israelis living in Jewish neighborhoods built in east Jerusalem. He also said that existing settlements should be allowed to grow - a position opposed by the U.S.

"We have no intention to build new settlements or expropriate land for expanding existing settlements. But there is a need to allow residents to lead a normal life. Settlers are not the enemy of the nation and are not the enemy of peace - they are our brothers and sisters," he said.

Netanyahu also said the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Palestinians have refused to do so, fearing it would amount to giving up the rights of millions of refugees and their descendants and be discriminatory to Israel's own Arab minority.

Erekat said Netanyahu's plan was unacceptable since it effectively imposes a solution on the core issues of the conflict.

"Netanyahu's speech closed the door to permanent status negotiations," he said. "We ask the world not to be fooled by his use of the term Palestinian state because he qualified it. He declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, said refugees would not be negotiated and that settlements would remain."

Although the Palestinians have agreed to demilitarization under past peace proposals, Erekat rejected it, saying it would cement Israeli rule over them.
Nabil Abu Rdeneh, another Palestinian official, called on the U.S. to challenge Netanyahu "to prevent more deterioration in the region."

"What he has said today is not enough to start a serious peace process," he added.
In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the speech "racist" and called on Arab nations "form stronger opposition" toward Israel. Hamas ideology does not recognize a Jewish state in an Islamic Middle East and has sent dozens of suicide bombers into Israel.

Netanyahu also came under criticism from within his own government - a coalition of religious and nationalistic parties that oppose Palestinian independence.

Zevulun Orlev, a member of the Jewish Home Party, which represents Jewish settlers and other hard-liners, said Netanyahu's speech violated agreements struck when the government was formed. "I think the coalition needs to hold a serious discussion to see where this is headed," he told Israel Radio.

Israeli media speculated that Netanyahu might turn to the centrist Kadima Party, which heads the parliamentary opposition, to shore up his government if the coalition falls apart.

Kadima, the largest party in parliament, denied a report that there were secret talks with Netanyahu over the matter ahead of the speech.

Israel's ceremonial president, Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres, called the speech "real and brave."

© 2009 The Associated Press

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Eugene Robinson on Barack and the Muslim World

Barack Obama, just being Barack Obama, is changing the world and America's place in it. His nearly 70% approval rating is indicative that Americans like what he is doing. Though somewhat uncertain about his handling of a disastrous economy which he inherited, the American people like his straight talk and his fighting for them and not the corporations. He has been honest about our foreign policy. Eugene Robinson points out the respect he has shown to other peoples including the Muslim world. The world loves him and America is better off because of how he is viewed around the world. No one, not Hillary, not McCain, could have engendered to respect that the world has of America. He has been able to speak a truth that none of his competitors could have done. The right in America accuses him of apologizing for America. He has not apologized. On the other hand, Americans traveling overseas during the Bush administration did have apologize for our government's behavior that betrayed our fundamental values. If the trend of his first five months continues, the chance of having his image on Mount Rushmore will be greatly improved. RGN

The Importance of Being Obama
By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I used to fear that President Obama was overestimating the power of his personal history as an instrument of foreign policy. Now I wonder if he might have been underestimating.

In several interviews during the long presidential campaign, Obama mentioned the potential impact in other countries of seeing an American president with an appearance and a life story like none of his predecessors. He spoke of how the Muslim world especially, addressed by a president who had a Muslim father and who spent years of his childhood in a Muslim country, might be more inclined to believe that the United States is not an enemy of Islam.

But nations tend to act on the basis of perceived national interest, not personality. I thought that in the final analysis, if Obama became president -- which seemed a very long shot when I first heard Obama mention this theme in a March 2007 interview -- he would be seen as friend or foe depending on how he conducted U.S. foreign policy.

Now, after Obama's trip to the Middle East, I think we were both right.

Taking a cold-eyed view of international affairs is never wrong. But it's also wrong to ignore the spectacle of an audience member, at Obama's Cairo University speech, interrupting an American president to shout, "We love you!" You will recall that the last memorable presidential appearance in the Arab world was the news conference in Iraq at which George W. Bush dodged two shoes hurled at his head.

Not being Bush was a big factor. But at least as important was being Obama -- and being able to say, as the president did in Cairo, that "I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed."

Obama was referring to the "generations of Muslims" in his father's Kenyan family, his early years in Indonesia and his experience working in Chicago communities where "many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith." The most important word in that sentence, however, came at the end: By saying "revealed" rather than "born," Obama was acknowledging Islam as a divinely given faith.

Obama quoted liberally from the Koran, drawing applause. Perhaps more important was that he opened the speech by putting Islam in the historical context that many Muslims believe the West willfully ignores. He spoke of how the Islamic world kept the light of civilization burning during Europe's Dark Ages -- and mentioned the Koran that Thomas Jefferson kept in his library.

Obama was speaking the language of Islam in a tone of respect. What a concept.
The rest of his speech consisted essentially of a summary of U.S. policy in the Muslim world, and in truth there were no real departures from traditional American policy. Prior administrations have called for a Palestinian state, and Obama hasn't been nearly as tough with Israel as, say, James Baker's State Department during the administration of George Bush the Elder. Obama had nothing substantive to announce on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he properly asserted the right of the United States to defend itself against terrorists.

Familiar policies sounded different coming from Obama, though -- not just because of his identity but also because he showed a little humility. He acknowledged that in recent years our nation had acted in ways "contrary to our ideals," and noted that he had ordered an end to torture and the closing of the prison at Guantanamo. There are those who believe that admitting mistakes is a sign of weakness. I think it's a sign of confidence and strength, and I believe that's how it was received by Obama's intended audience.

Perhaps the best indication of how Obama played in Cairo is the reaction of his competitors for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. The Associated Press reported Sunday that the Iranian-backed, Lebanon-based guerrilla group Hezbollah, an influential radical Saudi cleric and the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood all warned followers not to be taken in by Obama's seductive words -- which suggests a fear that Obama had been dangerously effective. A Web site that often reflects the thinking of al-Qaeda referred to the president after the speech as a "wise enemy."

The fact that many Muslims now see a sympathetic figure in the White House creates new possibilities. It turns out that being Obama matters more than I thought.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Krugman on the Reagan "Transformation" that has Imperiled Us All

Yesterday, President Obama gave recognition to what would have been Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday this coming February. In fact, today, a statue of Reagan was unveiled. In the midst of such high praise, it should must also be made clear that Obama is now trying to clean up an economic mess that began under Reagan. Paul Krugman provides as excellent perspective of how the "Reagan Revolution" got President Obama and us into this economic mess. Obama has consistently recognized that the Reagan presidency was transformational. That conservative "revolution" ended with the election of of Obama and the economic collapse that accompanined the the election. Reagan's was the bad transformation. Obama promises to be thegood transformation. This piece by Krugman pin points the Reagan genesis of the problem Obama is now trying to solve. RGN

June 1, 2009
Reagan Did It

“This bill is the most important legislation for financial institutions in the last 50 years. It provides a long-term solution for troubled thrift institutions. ... All in all, I think we hit the jackpot.” So declared Ronald Reagan in 1982, as he signed the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act.

He was, as it happened, wrong about solving the problems of the thrifts. On the contrary, the bill turned the modest-sized troubles of savings-and-loan institutions into an utter catastrophe. But he was right about the legislation’s significance. And as for that jackpot — well, it finally came more than 25 years later, in the form of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

For the more one looks into the origins of the current disaster, the clearer it becomes that the key wrong turn — the turn that made crisis inevitable — took place in the early 1980s, during the Reagan years.

Attacks on Reaganomics usually focus on rising inequality and fiscal irresponsibility. Indeed, Reagan ushered in an era in which a small minority grew vastly rich, while working families saw only meager gains. He also broke with longstanding rules of fiscal prudence.

On the latter point: traditionally, the U.S. government ran significant budget deficits only in times of war or economic emergency. Federal debt as a percentage of G.D.P. fell steadily from the end of World War II until 1980. But indebtedness began rising under Reagan; it fell again in the Clinton years, but resumed its rise under the Bush administration, leaving us ill prepared for the emergency now upon us.
The increase in public debt was, however, dwarfed by the rise in private debt, made possible by financial deregulation. The change in America’s financial rules was Reagan’s biggest legacy. And it’s the gift that keeps on taking.

The immediate effect of Garn-St. Germain, as I said, was to turn the thrifts from a problem into a catastrophe. The S.& L. crisis has been written out of the Reagan hagiography, but the fact is that deregulation in effect gave the industry — whose deposits were federally insured — a license to gamble with taxpayers’ money, at best, or simply to loot it, at worst. By the time the government closed the books on the affair, taxpayers had lost $130 billion, back when that was a lot of money.

But there was also a longer-term effect. Reagan-era legislative changes essentially ended New Deal restrictions on mortgage lending — restrictions that, in particular, limited the ability of families to buy homes without putting a significant amount of money down.

These restrictions were put in place in the 1930s by political leaders who had just experienced a terrible financial crisis, and were trying to prevent another. But by 1980 the memory of the Depression had faded. Government, declared Reagan, is the problem, not the solution; the magic of the marketplace must be set free. And so the precautionary rules were scrapped.

Together with looser lending standards for other kinds of consumer credit, this led to a radical change in American behavior.

We weren’t always a nation of big debts and low savings: in the 1970s Americans saved almost 10 percent of their income, slightly more than in the 1960s. It was only after the Reagan deregulation that thrift gradually disappeared from the American way of life, culminating in the near-zero savings rate that prevailed on the eve of the great crisis. Household debt was only 60 percent of income when Reagan took office, about the same as it was during the Kennedy administration. By 2007 it was up to 119 percent.

All this, we were assured, was a good thing: sure, Americans were piling up debt, and they weren’t putting aside any of their income, but their finances looked fine once you took into account the rising values of their houses and their stock portfolios. Oops.

Now, the proximate causes of today’s economic crisis lie in events that took place long after Reagan left office — in the global savings glut created by surpluses in China and elsewhere, and in the giant housing bubble that savings glut helped inflate.

But it was the explosion of debt over the previous quarter-century that made the U.S. economy so vulnerable. Overstretched borrowers were bound to start defaulting in large numbers once the housing bubble burst and unemployment began to rise.
These defaults in turn wreaked havoc with a financial system that — also mainly thanks to Reagan-era deregulation — took on too much risk with too little capital.

There’s plenty of blame to go around these days. But the prime villains behind the mess we’re in were Reagan and his circle of advisers — men who forgot the lessons of America’s last great financial crisis, and condemned the rest of us to repeat it.

Ron Walters on Sotomayor and the New Haven Case

Ron Walters puts into perspective the challenge to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor nomination as the New Haven case goes before the Supreme Court. While the law might be on the side of her ruling in the appellate court, he is not as optimistic about how this right wing court will rule. It seems that we will have 5 "activist" justices overtuning aspects of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. RGN

Conservative Justice and the Ricci Firefighter’s Case
By Ron Walters

In the developing fight over the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, some conservative Republicans such as Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and Tom Delay are raising the charge that she is “racist” and would be an “activist” judge because of her ruling in the Ricci v. DeStephano case. Better known as the New Haven Firefighters’ case, its opponents apparently believe that activism only applies to Democrats or liberal judges. Moreover, the recent preliminary arguments before the Supreme Court suggest that the Conservatives on the court are poised to attack Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which protects those excluded by testing devices. This has been settled law for over 35 years.

The role of political Conservatives in the modern era, as it has been historically, is to protect white interests, not to ensure that the law is fair to all groups in society. In fact, some whites of this persuasion appear to live in a bubble of majority power, where the legitimate interests of other groups are perceived as a threat and where decisions defending their narrow group self interests are perceived to be objective.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act (Title VII, section 7h) prohibited the use of tests that would be used intentionally to discriminate, or tests that would be used without the intention to discriminate but would nevertheless, have an exclusionary (disparate) impact. The continuing importance of this is that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has found that in 2007 discrimination charges involving test screening of job applicants have significantly increased due in part to security concerns raised by 9/11 and the economy.

Now all of the protected groups under Title VII, such as the Age Discrimination Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, are protected from biased testing in addition to African Americans. So, any change in the law that seeks to invalidate Title VII for blacks would also affect others in these categories. Yet, activist conservatives on the Court seem poised to do so.

My suspicion however, is that the Supreme Court conservatives see red meat in the charge that white firefighter Ricci makes – that the City of New Haven’s attempt to comply with Title VII is, in itself, race discrimination against whites who are protected by the principle of “equal protection of the laws” under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. This charge has been the great battle ground over Affirmative Action that has had the Conservative movement proposing the ridiculous concept of “reverse racism.” Since when has limitations on the powerful from exercise of absolute power over employment, seats in college, contracts and etc, actually proven to be racist against whites? The original aim of the law was to attempt to strike a balance by opening the doors of inclusion of blacks who had been excluded from such institutions and practices of American society, but Conservatives believe that any impingement on the power of the majority in an attempt to create an equalitarian and democratic society is oppressive to whites.

You would think that the attempt to change settled law in the ’64 Act would get a push-back from other whites to believe in social justice. But the media has all but created a platform where Right wing opinion is promoted. In doing so, they are protecting their fallacious and undemocratic position. In one of my most recent books, White Nationalism, Black Interests, I have written that the reinterpretation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, as Ricci and his colleagues are attempting to do, amounts to the reconfirmation of “white rights.”

Powerful conservative politicians and judges began this project with the case, Shaw
v. Reno which narrowed the basis for the inclusion of African Americans in college enrollment to the point that we now have an ill-defined standard of something called “diversity.” This move against employment in an atmosphere of economic decline and rampant black unemployment could not come at a worse time. Blacks should not have to confront biased testing if they are to get back to work and to be promoted after this Depression is over.

But, we will eventually need two Sonia Sotomayors to have a Court that represents the interests of all the Americans.

Dr. Ron Walters is the Distinguished Leadership Scholar, Director of the African American Leadership Center and Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland College Park. His latest book is: The Price of Racial Reconciliation (Univ. of Michigan Press)