Sunday, June 30, 2019

Pitchforks&Populists: I Too Feel Kamala's Hurt on Bussing

Pitchforks&Populists: I Too Feel Kamala's Hurt on Bussing:   I'm trying to avoid boring you with personal history, but from an Anglo's perspective who supported bussing,  Like Kamala Harr...

I Too Feel Kamala's Hurt on Bussing


I'm trying to avoid boring you with personal history, but from an Anglo's perspective who supported bussing,  Like Kamala Harris,  I have scar tissue and feelings of both pain and empowerment in my work on that issue in Houston in the 70's. when we were Houston newcomers. We chose a diverse school district because we wanted our kids to have a multicultural experience and viewpoint and because we understood the coded language of real estate agents extolling the virtues of "quality education" in all white school districts.

I relate to Kamala's pain because my first wife (long since widowed) and I were activists in pro-school integration and bussing movements. I was a leader in an amazing diverse group that took over a racist, segregationist school board with a diverse slate of candidates. We instituted programs such as magnet schools, gifted and talented programs, specialty high schools for the arts, healthcare, engineering, law enforcement and many others.  Our boards created robust volunteer programs and "robin hood" funding to shift funds from rich industry located schools to neighborhood schools with low industry tax revenues.  

Additionally, during this period, I led a suburban movement to successfully stop a breakaway movement in my area led by racists. My spouse ran a campaign for State Board of Education in our area espousing bussing and got 44 % of the vote. She was brilliant and articulate on the issue and inspired non-racists to turn out in a largely white area of Houston. Our efforts were successful, but I can tell you that I still bear the scars.......we had hate and threatening phone calls and letters, garbage dumped in our front yard, we and our kids were called "N... lovers" (which we proudly loved, though the hate was painful); right wingers went to my employer twice demanding I be fired twice (as an executive at Uncle Ben's Rice). I kept my job but you can only imagine the insecurity I felt thereafter). 
Our volunteer, pro-bono liberal attorney went bankrupt from racist clients that abandoned him; I always have felt guilty about that. The breakaway school opposition lasted for 7 years and finally won in the U.S. Supreme Court. All of this affected us emotionally and financially but even with the pain and yes, fear for our safety, I'd do it all over again. Our kids grew up to be fine multiculturalists. They were bussed and had a fantastic public school education. 

But for me, though I'll vote for Joe Biden if he's the last standing, his anti-bussing work and failure to do what was right with Anita Hill and his Iraq committee work and vote, that vote will cause me pain and anguish, because in spite of what he might have learned from his great work with Obama, I'll never feel certain he'll do the right thing on the tragic race and other justice issues with his core values displayed through the pre-Obama years. His logic and legalistic crap supporting his extensive anti-bussing work is tortured and he knows it.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Pitchforks&Populists: Neo-Confederates-From Reconstruction Sabotage To D...

Pitchforks&Populists: Neo-Confederates-From Reconstruction Sabotage To D...: The current Republican, or should I say Trumpian Party tracks a very consistent history, tracing the Confederate losers back to their behavi...

Neo-Confederates-From Reconstruction Sabotage To Deconstruction

The current Republican, or should I say Trumpian Party tracks a very consistent history, tracing the Confederate losers back to their behavior in the Reconstruction era. During this period freed slaves massively began educating themselves with the reading and writing they were denied and were getting a handle on how to navigate to public office with lightning speed.  The Confederates began a process immediately to undermine their ability to gain compensated work and start businesses to support themselves.  They instituted policies to thwart Black efforts to engage in the political process, with impediments to voter registration all the way through efforts to block community organizing.

For a while, it did not work and massive numbers of freedmen were registered and voted to put their own in local public office and lobbied Congress for protections that were for the most part not offered.  In just several years, these brave souls became literate, built businesses and engaged in work to support their families.  Leaders and intellectuals among them quickly emerged and for a few years, they gained state public offices and legislated side by side with their tormentors. They even gained seats in Congress.

Ultimately, the subversion of their efforts to secure equality by the Confederates gained traction and freedman rights and participation in public life waned.  They were relegated to ghettos in cities and marginalized in rural America and were forced to focus their efforts on just survival.   Over the next several decades African Americans erupted in rage at lynchings, marginalization and discrimination and were subjected to physical retaliation by the Neo-Confederates of the day.  Mainstream whites mostly remained silent. As the right to vote was gained by women, there was some resurgence of political organization but that was largely minimized by the depression and war.

Fast forward to the 50's and 60's with the emergence of the civil rights movement and a new era of political organizing emerged to address Jim Crow policies which restricted the initiatives to foster social equality for minority persons.  Though Black Nationalism emerged with some strength, the non-violent approach to securing civil rights prevailed and attracted white liberal support which aided creation of federal law to offset regressive policies set at the local and state level.  The Federal government and equal rights policies were the only dependable route for social progress in a racist nation through which most  minority persons could strive for improvement of their status as citizens.

Dixiecrats lost their power in the south and were driven out of the Democratic Party or departed on their own, recruited by the Bush dynasty and other allies to build an emerging, racist modern Republican Party.   These Neo-Confederates marginalized moderate and liberal Republicans and began in the 70's to build a party largely dedicated to restoring white male dominance in the political life of America.  They strategically focused on local offices, including school boards and county and state governments, and began a new era of states rights and subversion of efforts to rebuild urban America where most of the minority population resided.

Hand in hand with undermining financing of public education and urban renewal the NeoConfederate Republicans across the country began sabotaging the ability of minorities, both Black and Brown to participate in public life.  They began attacking public efforts to build voter registration of minorities. Their party initiated projects to discourage voting by minorities, including direct interventions down to the precinct level of voting.  They created ingenious  state legislation to require voter ID's inaccessible or unaffordable to millions of qualified low income voters. They purged voter rolls of legitimately registered voters, again, many either minority persons or Democrats.  They reduced access to mail and extended voting periods.    Most effectively, they gained state offices to the point of taking over redistricting efforts through the census cycles via gerrymandering by state legislatures.  This also encompassed federal House of Representatives  offices based on census data.

Neo-Confederate Republicans reemployed strategies developed during the Reconstruction era to undermine Black political participation in the 90's and 2000's.  The emergence of the  racist Tea Party faction within the Republican Party added new sophistication and dedication to undermining minority voting.  This was fully consistent to their affinity for White Nationalist dogma to preserve white, male dominance in public life in America.   From this effort grew the resurgence of the KKK, American fascism and the white nationalist movement.

These trends led to White Nationalist dominance in the electoral processes of the entirely complicit Republican party in 2016-17 and the key role played by Steve Bannon, the Mercers and the Breibart White Nationalist messaging project in that election year.   They found a willing ally in Donald Trump, himself a largely unaffiliated racist and through his populist, anti-government messaging, they eked out an Electoral College win to install their adopted candidate as the leader of the free world.  Bannon has gone on to selling a similar fascist model in several European countries with emerging hard right, Nationalist and Fascist  movements.

Encouraged by silent libertarian Republicans who advocated diminished Federal power in the American governing model, Trump embraced the Bannon/Mercer fascist initiative which included discrediting public confidence in the Federal model through both deliberately chaotic and unpredictable, unreliable governance and looting the federal treasury. This included Republican policy of shifting the tax burden further away from the wealthy and imposing it on the middle and lower income earners.  It is my belief that their affinity for Russia as a partner in collusion to undermine American institutions was in part driven by their admiration for the Oligarchic looting of the Russian treasury and the opportunity to share in some of the loot via investment and money laundering in America.

The Administration installed a cabinet designed to deconstruct liberal, republican democracy.  Their mission, through corrupt corporate players in Cabinet offices, to reverse policies and weaken regulation under the cabinet departments.  Thus commerce, energy, environmental, social services and other protections for consumers were dismantled.  Most alarming, the Justice Department, providing criminal justice and other legal protections for citizens was politicized. This led to weakening of oversight of government officials, thus liberating them to abuse their power and institute authoritarian policies and governance.

Republican congressional  leadership has been entirely supportive of the Trumpian  deconstruction initiative with their defunding of federal departments and programs, the Pentagon excepted.  Deregulation has returned with fury.  But, congressional Republicans have not limited their Deconstruction complicity to government funding and policy.  They have focused on the very lifeblood of American republican democracy.  They have begun to deconstruct the norms traditionally followed to assure the co-equal power balance between our three branches of Federal government. They are rebuffing Democrats in their attempt at restoring bi-partisan compromise in the legislative process.  Even before Trumpism, they refused to hold hearings to approve Democratic judicial appointments.  Rather than compete with better ideas on needed legislation, they simply refuse to provide public discussion on Democratic legislative proposals.  Essentially, Senate Republicans are refusing to legislate and most egregious, they are failing to provide Constitutionally mandated legislative oversight over the Executive Branch which they control. Democracy is in suspension in the U.S. Senate.

Their goal is to increase the power of the Executive branch as their ancestor conservatives did in the early formation of our republic in trying to empower an Executive branch with king-like authoritarianism.  The lost that one in the framing of the Constitution but may indeed win it now 250 years later.  They also are stacking the federal judiciary with hard right conservative white nationalists.   They call this very deceptively originalism, which is nothing more than  replicating the white, male racism of most of the founders.    The idea is to render the legislative branch comparatively weak, most particularly the people's House of Representatives.

Their goal is to restore states rights and reduce Federalism excepting its role in maintaining authoritarian dominance of  Anglo American males over the economic life of America and the social order, while enhancing American dominance in foreign economic affairs.  A strong federal military plays a key role in this paradigm as do multi-national corporations of American origin.   They wish to restore a feudal society with a dominant and powerful elite class who are worthy of their power status.  Religion plays a key role here in placating the lower, lesser educated classes as it did in the feudal dark ages.

So, this current political polarization between a feudal vision of the future and the enlightenment vision really tracks a several hundred year continuum of a power showdown that very much addresses radically different visions.  The current situation is not an aberration. It is a duel to the death of authoritarianism  vs. democracy.

Democracy can forestall authoritarianism though history tells us it is unlikely to defeat it.  But this can be the result only if the mostly unengaged awaken to their responsibility to inform themselves and not only vote, but actually participate in protecting their democracy.  This means going to public meetings, organizing with allies, denouncing authoritarians and bigots, engaging with their electeds and yes, working on campaigns for democracy advocates at the local and regional levels.  And even running for public office or devoting spare time to the only reasonable option right now to protect democracy, the Democratic Party.

Those of you reading this who believed the delusion that the Republican Party was the party of fiscal responsibility and individual freedom, you now have clear facts available to you that prove the contrary.  Democrats have balanced the budgets and reduced the debt; Democrats have advocated in the modern era for equality and fair participation for all, not just white men.  Just look at the current Democratic Party primary; ideas abound and diversity confronts white male dominance.  This is the history of the Democratic Party, even with its mistakes and flaws.  It has embraced every small d democratic movement and put it into policy.  You Republicans have been sold a scam and falsehood.
And frankly, political participation with Democrats is your redemption but also your only route to possibly salvaging a future for yourselves and your children , unless you find striving to join a fascist elite appealing.  

If we leave it to others to do the work of democracy for us, democracy will continue to collapse.

Friday, June 14, 2019

We Are In Full Blown Fascism in America

Given that most of our media are reluctant to tell you that America has descended into Fascism, I am sharing a scholarly work defining its characteristics.  This was written 13 years before Trump, so it is not a hit job on him.

 Fourteen Defining
Characteristics Of Fascism
By Dr. Lawrence Britt
Source Free

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. MAGA, rallies featuring bigots and authoritarianism 
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.Detention camps and Incarceration policies
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. Libertards, Muslims, Migrants
4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread
domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. His Pentagon Budget and Desire for a Military Parade
5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.  Grap them by their "parts", demeaning women, discrimination of Trans and LBGTQ
6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. Turning Fox News into the State Media, abandoning White House press briefings, labeling factual news as "Fake News"
7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. Use of exaggerated National Security Threats for border control and other desired executive actions
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions. Pandering to Evangelical, Conservative Christians
9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. Look at his cabinet and cult of corporate influence
10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.  Suppression of collective bargaining
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked. Withdrawal of funding for the parts, public broadcasting, undermining of public education
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. Police brutality, especially of minorities, militarization of policing, ICE
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders. His cabinet, family corruption and emoluments violations
14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.  Minority voter suppression, gerrymandering and denial of Russian interference
Historically, it starts with authoritarian rulers, sometimes elected, who begin the process by undermining democratic norms and laws in place.  This certainly is the case with both the Trump administration and his unprincipled colleagues  in both congress and the judiciary.  We are no longer the republican democracy we adopted 250 years ago in history's grand experiment that grew out of the enlightenment.
Hopefully, you will share this with the clueless among us.  Particular those supporting Trumpism and declaring themselves Republicans.