Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan does not add up to be a good deal for most Americans.
The businessman and Republican presidential nominee’s signature tax proposal is a regressive plan that would unfairly hurt low-income and middle class Americans by requiring them to pay more in taxes while giving a big tax break to the rich.
Cain has risen in the polls based on his folksy and brash style, his business experience, being a nonpolitician and his bold 9-9-9 tax plan. The plan calls for a flat 9 percent personal income tax and corporate tax, plus a new national sales tax of 9 percent.
Cain denies that his plan would hurt those making the least. But most liberal and conservative tax experts who have looked at the plan say that it does.
An independent analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank said in a release this week that Cain’s tax proposal would increase taxes on 84 percent of U.S. households, hitting low- and medium-income households the hardest. The analysis said that households making $10,000 to $20,000 would see a tax increase averaging $2,705 — an increase of nearly 950 percent.
However the rich would get big tax cuts under Cain’s plan according to the analysis.
Under Cain’s plan, current taxes on income, payroll, capital gains and corporate profits would be eliminated and replaced with a 9 percent tax on income, a 9 percent business tax and a 9 percent national sales tax.
Most liberal and conservative economists conclude that sales taxes tend to hurt low income families the most because they spend more of their income than the rich.
Cain’s plan would exempt used items. However it would not exempt food or medicine from sales tax.
Cain said his plan would create zones where people and business could get additional tax deductions, which would reduce taxes for low-income people. However the plan does not provide specifics on how that would work.
An analysis of Cain’s plan shows why he is a favorite of the billionaire Koch brothers which have funded tea-party causes.
Cain’s plan is simple and catchy but it does not benefit working Americans.
I watched Al Sharpton on “The Wendy Williams Show” last week. Reverend Al has really reinvented himself. Gone are the long, permed tresses inspired by his early mentor and employer “Godfather of Soul” James Brown. They’ve been replaced by a shorter, more conservative “do” that he informed Wendy he had done once a week at a Harlem hair salon. He’s slimmer, too, down 125 lbs. from his peak weight of 305. Rev. Al also has a new nightly cable show on MSNBC, “PoliticsNation,” an opinion program where he talks issues and current topics with guests, a radio show “Keepin’ It Real” broadcast on New York City’s WWRL-AM and “The Al Sharpton Show” which airs on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
Reverend Sharpton did not morph into this kind of acceptable, mainstream, media darling overnight, it’s been a long time coming. Sharpton first appeared on my radar with the Tawana Brawley accusations in 1987, in which a 15-year-old Black girl from Wappinger Falls, New York alleged that a group of white men had raped her. Sharpton was one of the young woman’s advisors at the time, along with attorneys Alton Maddox and C. Vernon Mason. The bizarre case ended with a Grand Jury finding Brawley’s charges false and Sharpton and his cohorts were looked upon with a very jaundiced eye.
Before the Brawley incident, New York City was already unhinged and Al Sharpton was the go-to guy when there was trouble impacting the Black community. There was Howard Beach in 1986, where three Black men were assaulted by a white mob and one of them, Michael Griffith, was hit by a car and killed trying to escape the brutality. Rev. Al organized a nonviolent protest in which more than 1,200 African Americans marched through the all-white Queens, N.Y. neighborhood protesting the assault and death. Then Bensonhurst happened in 1989. Again, Black youth were assaulted by a white mob and this time, Yusuf Hawkins, a 16-year-old, was killed in the predominantly white Brooklyn community. Rev. Sharpton led a march with Hawkins’ family through the streets of Bensonhurst as an angry white crowd taunted and spat on the marchers. And in 1991, Crown Heights, also in Brooklyn, erupted after 7-year-old Gavin Cato died from injuries sustained when he was hit by a car driven by a Jewish man. Rumors spread throughout the predominately Black and Jewish enclave that the two young Black children pinned by the car received medical care from the driver and passengers in the car. After several days of rioting and clashes between Black youth and Hasidic Jews, Sharpton organized a march through the Hasidic community to protest the death of Cato.
Sharpton’s ability to be at the center of major events that involve racial and social injustices, and his skills of mobilizing people around specific issues, has catapulted him to the national and international stage. In 2001, Rev. Sharpton was arrested for protesting the practice bombings by the U.S. Navy on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, along with nine protesters including political leaders from the Bronx. Other prominent demonstrators who were arrested included: environmental lawyer, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.; actor, Edward James Olmos; and New York labor leader, Dennis Rivera. The Reverend received the longest sentence, 90 days, for trespassing on the Navy firing range on Vieques. While in prison, Sharpton was visited by the who’s who of politics including Senators from New York Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, as well as civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and the Mayor of Atlanta, Maynard Jackson.
Rev. Al Sharpton has been consistent with his message and commitment to social injustices and does not shy away from the consequences. His support of President Barack Obama has been unflagging and in the interview with talk show host Wendy Williams recently he explained his position. “He [Obama] inherited the worse economy … since the depression. I think the fact that the president was able to come forward and bring this country from the threshold of a real depression ... fought, got healthcare through, the first president to do that, I think he’s done a good job. I’m with him. I think he’s gotten a bad rap … And I’m not one of these fair-weather friends.”
On Saturday, Rev. Sharpton led thousands on a March on Washington for Jobs and Justice. The crowd on the National Mall included members of labor unions, government officials, demonstrators from Occupy D.C., and employed and unemployed Americans. Organized by Sharpton’s National Action Network and partners from labor, education, civil rights and religious organizations, the rally was a platform to bring attention to a wide range of issues impacting Americans including President Obama’s jobs bill which failed passage in the U.S. Senate, the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia and voter identification cards now required by some states at polls.
The march for jobs and justice preceded the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Sunday, which brought together 10,000 people on the National Mall. President Barack Obama was among the speakers, as was Rev. Al Sharpton. The legacy of Dr. King continues and the methods that he and the leaders of the civil rights struggle employed to change American society reverberates across the globe today — in the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice. — (NNPA/The Westchester County Press)
Linda Tarrant-Reid is an author, historian and photographer. Her book, “Discovering Black America: From the Age of Exploration to the Twenty-First Century” will be published in September 2012. Visit her blog at, www.discoverblackus.wordpress.com. Send your comments to Linda Tarrant-Reid, c/o The Westchester County Press, P.O. Box 152, White Plains, N.Y. 10602.
Recently it’s been hard to escape the realization that the Black unemployment rate, at 15.1 percent currently, and over 16 percent for much of 2011, has been significantly higher than the “white” U.S. unemployment rate, currently at 8 percent.
What has gone virtually unexplored, however, is the overall U.S. employment rate, and how many African Americans participate in that — i.e., how many jobs are there, and how many of them do we, as African Americans, actually hold?
The sad fact is that, being unemployed is not the full extent of our problem. Once African Americans get the job, their ability to provide for their families is still, generally, not comparable to that of mainstream jobholders.
Surprisingly, last week, even President Obama, with the 2012 elections and an increasingly discouraged Black electorate breathing down his neck, was forced to publicly acknowledge that African Americans have faced what he called “enormous challenges” of unemployment during his presidency. And, while he didn’t offer any specific solutions to the problem during his remarks at a White House summit, he did say to those in attendance that he was leaving himself open to hearing any ideas to address the Black unemployment crisis, so that “we don’t have to wait for Congress.”
That was the same speech, by the way, in which the president noted that his administration has sped up payments to government vendors so they are paid in 15, rather than 30-day increments. Maybe before he left the podium that day, someone should have reminded the president that such a move wouldn’t have significant impact for African-American businesses because, as of the end of fiscal year 2010, Black-owned businesses only received 1.2 percent of the federal contracts let by his administration.
In any event, it appears that Black unemployment, in the eleventh month of Mr. Obama's third year in office, is now, officially, on the administration’s radar.
But as I implied earlier on, maybe we’ve been looking at the “wrong end of the elephant,” on this issue, all along. Maybe it’s time that we took a really hard look at the Black employment rate, for a change.
First of all, there are 312.6 million people living in the United States, a number that includes between 11 million and 12 million illegal immigrants. These persons include about 7.2 million “undocumented” workers, or about 5 percent of the country’s total workforce. It’s estimated that such workers are engaged in about 14 percent of all construction jobs, 17 percent of office and house cleaning jobs and 12 percent of food preparation jobs, among other employment categories.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Mexicans comprise about 56 percent of the country’s illegal immigrants, and an additional 22 percent have come to the U.S. from other Latin American countries. About 13 percent, says Pew, are from Asia; Europe and Canada add another 6 percent. If those numbers are accurate, it appears that about three percent of the undocumented immigrant population is composed of Africans, or Blacks from some other part of the Diaspora. For future reference, therefore, when we hear of issues related to “undocumented workers,” or “amnesty,” we should know that the conversation is, largely, not about us.
But I digress — let’s get back, now, to defining “employment” in the U.S., and where we, as African Americans, fit into that picture.
As of the third quarter of 2011, there were 240.3 million people who actually got counted as part of the calculation of the U.S. unemployment rate. They are members of the “civilian non-institutional population,” and they are what’s left after the U.S. government, through its monthly employment surveys, eliminates those who haven’t looked for a job over the previous month, or 12 months, those younger than 16, those in a criminal or mental institution, or in the military.
At the end of the day, there were more than 154 million Americans, or 64.2 percent, who were considered by the government as being a part of the civilian labor force.
But as I pointed out, for Black folks, actually getting the job is often where the unfairness and the disparities get “kicked up” to a whole, other level. For example, even though non-Hispanic whites constitute 63.7 percent of the overall U.S. population, they represent 115.3 million, or 82.2 percent, of actual jobholders in this country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And, once African Americans enter the workplace and actually find a job, there’s still a significantly unbalanced “playing field” for them to navigate. A recent survey, for example, of average salaries in management positions disclosed that the weekly salary for white males was about $1,290, for white females $1,130, for Black males $970, and for Black females, $810. The assumption is, of course, that in each of these categories, the jobholders were comparably experienced and educated.
Even more disturbing is the fact that, increasingly, the way that jobs are allocated in this country — even to African Americans who successfully enter the civilian labor pool — makes it virtually impossible for Black males to play the role of “bread winner" or "head-of-household" for their families, assuming that is still a desirable outcome for our community.
For example, among the 115.2 million jobs shared by white males and females, males hold down 54.4 percent and females, 45.6 percent. For Hispanics, out of a total 20.4 million jobs shared, males hold 60.3 percent and females 39.7 percent. Among the 6.8 million Asian jobholders, 54.4 percent of jobs are held by males, 45.6 by females.
It's becoming increasingly clear that the structure of the current economy and its workforce selection processes are making it more and more difficult to find examples of stable, two-parent households in Black communities. The tension of having men without jobs, or indeed, any job prospects, is making family life a difficult proposition in Black communities.
As an example, and contrary to the experience in white, Asian and Hispanic households, of the 14.9 million jobs held by African Americans in this country, 8 million, or 53.7 percent, are held by Black females, and only 46.3 percent are held by Black males, with Black females holding 1.1 million more jobs than Black males.
For those who might rush to write this problem off to the greater propensity for Black females to earn college degrees as compared to Black males, it should be informative that Hispanic women hold 61 percent of Latino bachelor’s degrees and 64 percent of master’s degrees, and that white females earn more degrees than white males for each level of education, except for “first-professional” degrees.
So it “ain’t” that.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that 846,000 Black men were incarcerated, many under racially questionable circumstances, in 2008. Maybe it’s just proof that the University of Wisconsin was accurate in its assessment that “...17 percent of white job applicants with criminal records received call-backs from employers, while only 5 percent of Black job applicants did.”
With all of this as background, one logical option for the frustrated Black employment-seeker is that of becoming self-employed, creating his/her own unincorporated or incorporated micro-business, in which they can employ themselves and, perhaps, a small number of others.
As the Urban Institute makes clear in its report, “Self-employed, less-educated, young men and women, experienced faster earnings growth on average than their wage/salary counterparts, after a few initial years of slower growth.” Similar experiences are also found among the self-employed who happen to be degree holders.
So what are Black folks waiting for? The sky to fall?
Let’s stop dwelling on the curiously calculated Black unemployment rate, and let’s begin to, more aggressively, create our own employment.
A. Bruce Crawley is president and principal owner of Millennium 3 Management Inc.
After six weeks of testimony, a major trial to determine whether Maryland’s four historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have been routinely denied funding and other needed resources that would have made them “comparable and competitive” with white universities in the state is expected to end this week, with a ruling expected by this summer.
The overwhelming majority of HBCUs, originally established shortly after the Civil War to prevent African Americans from attending all-white state universities, are located in the South. The Maryland case (Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, Inc., v. Maryland Higher Education Commission, et al.) has attracted national attention, in part, because it involves a border state that, like the South, operated a rigidly segregated school system, but unlike the South, has largely escaped intense public scrutiny.
U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake presided over the non-jury trial in Baltimore. The lead attorney for the plaintiffs was Jon Greenbaum of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Pro bono work was provided by lawyers from Kirkland & Ellis law firm and the Howard University School of Law Civil Rights Clinic.
The suit was originally filed in 2006 by the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, Inc., a community-based group comprised of alumni of public HBCUs in Maryland and other interested parties. It is seeking approximately $2.1 billion to upgrade the four state HBCUs: Morgan State University, Bowie State University, Coppin State University and the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Named as major defendants are officials of the University of Maryland Higher Education Commission, Gov. Martin O’Malley and Secretary of Higher Education James E. Lyons, Sr.
The state of Maryland’s higher education system has a long history of racial segregation, according to witnesses and court documents.
“Throughout its history, Maryland has systematically engaged in policies and practices that established and perpetuated a racially segregated system of higher education,” the suit asserts. “Maryland first instituted its system of public higher education in 1807 by establishing the University of Maryland at Baltimore. This was a white-only institution.
“Maryland subsequently established four other white-only, public institutions of higher education: the University of Maryland, established in 1865; Towson University, established in 1866, Frostburgh State University, established in 1898; and Salisbury State University, established in 1922,” the suit continued. “The state began its dual -system by assuming control of The Baltimore Normal School, an all-Black teacher’s school now known as Bowie State University. This was the beginning of Maryland’s segregated system of higher education.”
Maryland was forced to expand educational opportunities for Blacks in order to qualify for federal land-grant funds. That led to the state also acquiring what is now the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Morgan State University and adding Coppin State University in 1950.
In 1954, the United States Supreme Court issued its Brown v. Board of Education ruling, holding that segregated school systems violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. “Following Brown, Maryland did nothing more than lift the rule excluding Black students from wWhite schools,” the lawsuit recounts.
After passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the state ended de jure segregation, opening the doors for African Americans to attend all-white public universities.
“In 1965, however, rather than encourage integration at Morgan State, Maryland established University of Maryland Baltimore County (“UMBC”). UMBC was a complete duplication of Morgan State’s entire institution, not just its programs,” the lawsuit stated.
In 1969, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights notified the state of Maryland that it was one of 10 states operating a racially segregated system of higher education in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Two decades later, the only two states in the group still in noncompliance were Maryland and Mississippi.
Facing the possibility of losing all federal education funds, Maryland reached agreements with the U.S. Department of Education in 1982 and again in 1985. The later called for “the enhancement of HBCUs to ensure that they are comparable and competitive with TWIs [traditionally White institutions] with respect to capital facilities, operating budgets and new academic programs.”
A major component of the plan to strengthen HBCs and encourage more Whites to attend them called for the avoiding program duplication at nearby White universities.
However, Maryland allowed the creation of an engineering program at UMBC that duplicated an offering by Morgan State. Salisbury University was permitted to offer a computer science degree that was already being offered by University of Maryland-Eastern Shore. Especially controversial was the decision made by the state in 2005 to allow Towson University and the University of Baltimore to operate a joint Master’s in Business Administration program, which had been offered by Morgan State since 1964. Overall, more than a half-dozen programs at TWIs duplicated programs already in existence at Maryland’s HBCUs.
Testifying as an expert witness, University of Wisconsin Education Professor Clifton F. Conrad said t the state of Maryland still operates a segregated higher education system.
“The dual education systems remain,” he testified. “There continue to be substantial differences – severe differences – in terms of the number of programs and the quality of programs. Those students who enter Maryland’s historically Black institutions – whether Black, White or other races – do not have an equal educational opportunity as those students who attend the state’s traditionally White institutions.” ¾ (NNPA)
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.
Last week’s court order to execute Troy Davis on the 21st of this month represents the very worst flaw in our criminal justice system: the likelihood of putting an innocent man to death. If the state of Georgia moves forward with this execution, it will not only commit a grave violation of Troy’s human rights, but also an egregious violation of our nation’s founding principles of justice and fairness. I hope that doesn’t happen.
Troy is facing execution for the 1989 murder of Mark MacPhail, an off-duty police officer in Savannah, Ga. Seven of the nine witnesses who testified against Troy have recanted their statements; several others have come forward identifying one of the remaining two witnesses as the actual killer. Since the beginning of the case, there has been a lack of any physical or scientific evidence positively identifying Troy as the shooter. As if that is not enough to halt this execution, earlier this summer the judge at Troy’s final hearing said that the case against Troy was “not ironclad.” Has the U.S. really become a country that orders the killing of a person against whom the evidence of guilt is “not ironclad”? In Troy’s case, there is just too much doubt to go forth with an execution.
Earlier this month, I met with Troy’s sister, Martina, to discuss her brother’s plight. She spoke about the pain her brother expresses from death row — his uncertain future, the isolation from his family and the frustration that comes from being unable to tell his side of the story.
Taking any life, under any circumstance, is wrong, and my prayers go out to the MacPhail family for the loss they’ve suffered. Yet, if we’re going to heal as a community, the right person must be held accountable. Putting a potentially innocent man to death is not only wrong, but immoral. If government is going to have the immense power of ending a life, it must be sure it only exercises that right in circumstances when there is no doubt about that person’s guilt.
Whether you agree with the death penalty or not, executing an innocent man is not the solution. The struggle to attack biases in our death penalty and justice system will continue. What matters so urgently right now is that the wheels are in motion to kill a man who is likely innocent. Troy currently awaits his fate in the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison.
Ultimately, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has an opportunity to take an important step towards justice, grant Troy clemency, and ensure the protection of our basic human rights and of the principles upon which this nation was built. But more than that, they have the chance to save the life of a fellow human being who is likely innocent. At this moment, this five-member board has the power to act as this country’s moral conscience. And I hope they do.
To make this happen, we must make our voices heard to the Board of Pardons and Parole. Visit www.NAACP.org to get involved and demand justice for Troy Davis.
Robert Rooks is the NAACP’s director of criminal justice programs.
News media depict presidencies as long-running soap operas. The story doesn’t end, but it goes through changes.
In this, President Barack Obama’s autumn of discontent, a new and potentially disastrous media narrative is emerging about him: He’s the kind of liberal who loves humanity but hates people.
Such was the subtext of a stinging full-page essay that has political junkies all abuzz. Headlined “The Loner President,” the essay by White House correspondent Scott Wilson in Sunday's Washington Post says Obama has a “people problem.”
“This president endures with little joy the small talk and back-slapping of retail politics, rarely spends more than a few minutes on a rope line, refuses to coddle even his biggest donors,” Wilson observes. “His relationship with Democrats on Capitol Hill is frosty, to be generous. Personal lobbying on behalf of legislation? He prefers to leave that to Vice President Biden, an old-school political charmer.”
Of course, it is fair to ask: Is that a bad thing? After all, it is fair to say, Obama was elected by voters who sounded a lot like today's Republican primary voters do. They wanted an outsider to Washington, a new face who was not part of the back-slapping, glad-handing, noddin'-and-winkin' and donor-coddling Washington insider establishment.
But, oh, what a difference a bad economy and a stubborn congressional opposition can make. Many Obama supporters who were looking for a return of John F. Kennedy's charisma now wish they had another Lyndon B. Johnson, a tough-minded, back-slapping arm-twister. Hey, he got things done.
Most damaging to Obama's narrative is Wilson's depiction of the “No-Drama Obama” we all know as a 9-to-5 president. That's unlike, say, Bill Clinton, whose former senior advisor Rahm Emanuel, now mayor of Chicago, is quoted as remembering Clinton lobbying lawmakers at 3 a.m. to secure passage of his crime bill. "After hours, Obama prefers his briefing book and Internet browser," Wilson writes, "a solitary preparation he undertakes each night after Sasha and Malia go to bed." Of course, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were not midnight oil burners, either, but that's probably not a comparison that Obama welcomes.
Sure, Obama barnstormed the country, pitching his American Jobs Act, casting himself once again as a man alone against the Grand Old Party's stubborn congressional leaders. But to put real pressure on the House Republican majority, he needs the Senate to pass some version of the bill. Unfortunately, his political capital on Capitol Hill is running out as lawmakers face re-election races of their own.
And some of Obama's allies in the Congressional Black Caucus and the left-progressive activist communities continue to grumble that he's treating them like a stand-by date — a reliable companion for Saturday night, only to be forgotten for the rest of the week.
Left-progressive activists, including his former White House green jobs advisor Van Jones, hardly mentioned Obama's name at their Take Back the American Dream Conference, an annual gathering of liberal activists in Washington. Obamamania has dimmed as Obama, in the words of one activist leader, has become “too cautious” and “pre-compromised.”
However, before Obama's rivals on the political right become too gleeful over his political misfortunes, they should take his tale as a cautionary note about presidential campaigns in both parties: The qualities that look most attractive in a presidential candidate can prove to be disastrous in a president.
We loved Bill Clinton's jolly, freewheeling charm and lust for life — before those qualities looked in the White House like a serious lack of discipline and organization, costly to the power and majesty of his office.
And we similarly were wooed by candidate George W. Bush's folksy, straightforward and resolute certainty. But after debacles like Hurricane Katrina and Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction, his reassuring certainty looked like old-fashioned, irrational stubbornness.
We think we're voting for candidates, but we're really voting for narratives, the grand epic presidential story that we hope will come true. President Barack Obama offers us yet another case of a winner whose narrative is turned unfavorably on its head by his presidency. He has a year to turn his story around or, at least, to hope his opponent spins a narrative that sounds even worse.
WASHINGTON — In 2009, when a staunchly conservative and visibly angry group of American voters launched a new political movement they called a “tea party,” I was more than a little confused by the association with a seminal moment in the early history of this country. The Boston Tea Party grew out of American colonists’ fury at a tax imposed by a faraway British Parliament whose members they did not elect.
In 21st-century America, however, residents of all 50 states get to vote for members of Congress, who have the power to impose federal taxes. Ultraconservative voters may have been disappointed by the results of federal elections in 2006 and 2008 because Republicans lost Congress and the White House, but they could not argue they didn’t get to vote.
There is only one place in the United States where citizens can justly complain that they suffer “taxation without representation,” as colonists in Boston famously argued. That’s in the District of Columbia.
As I end my sojourn here to return to Atlanta, I realize that I’ve adopted the District’s quest for fair representation. And I wonder why tea partiers have not taken up the District’s cause.
When it comes to local affairs here, congressional conservatives routinely flout their avowed determination to stop the bossy intrusions of an overweening federal government. Though federal legislation gave the city the authority to elect a mayor and council in 1973, Congress retains significant authority over municipal government.
Earlier this year, for example, President Obama received plaudits when he maintained federal funding for Planned Parenthood despite a fierce onslaught by anti-abortion Republicans. But Obama gave up some ground: To gain GOP support for his compromise, he sacrificed a District of Columbia regulation that allowed the city to use its own funds to pay for abortions to poor women. Local politicians had no vote in the matter.
Worse, residents of the District of Columbia have no voting representative in Congress. Since 1990, U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, has served as the District’s non-voting delegate. She may vote in committee meetings and speak from the floor, but she is not allowed to vote on the final version of most legislation. “It’s unfathomable” that residents of the District are still denied the full rights of a representative democracy, Norton told me.
When George Washington chose a mosquito-infested swamp on the eastern edge of the continent as the new capital of a fledgling country, he and his contemporaries believed that it needed a separate authority for its own defense. The Constitution mandates that Congress keep control over the federal district.
But since Washington’s presidency, the Constitution has been amended to extend the full rights of citizenship to those to whom it had been previously denied: black men, women, young adults. It is a glaring failure of representative democracy to restrict the rights of residents of the capital city.
A thriving metropolis of more than 600,000, the District of Columbia is no longer an overwhelmingly Black enclave known as “chocolate city.” A decade or so of gentrification has brought a stream of youngish white professionals, while steady economic growth has attracted immigrants. Currently, the city has a population that’s about 51 percent Black, 39 percent white and 9 percent Latino. (Other ethnic groups round out the numbers.)
The District’s voters remain overwhelmingly Democratic, however, a fact that may explain Republicans’ refusal to embrace the city’s cause. In 2007, Norton joined up with then-U.S. Rep. Tom Davis, R-Utah, to sponsor a bill to add two seats to the House of Representatives — one for the District and an additional seat for Utah. It passed the House but was blocked in the Senate, where it met a Republican filibuster.
In 2009, Norton tried again. That time, however, then-Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., added a poison pill: an amendment that would strip away the District of Columbia’s gun control laws, among the strictest in the nation. The amendment met fierce resistance from Democrats, and the proposal has languished since.
“No American today can possibly stand for the idea that any part of the country that gets taxed doesn’t have the vote,” Norton said. Yet Congress allows that circumstance to continue in the District, whose residents pay, per capita, some of the highest federal income taxes.
A tea party, anyone?
Pat Buchanan’s latest book, “Suicide of a Superpower,” is a continuation of his long-running racist, sexist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic rants that should have disqualified him long ago from masquerading as a respectable paid political pundit on MSNBC.
ColorOfChange.org, a group dedicated to Black political and social change, is circulating a petition asking MSNBC to immediately fire Buchanan. In a memo to its members, dated Oct. 31, it said: “If Buchanan didn’t have a powerful media platform, he’d be just another person with outdated, extremist ideas. But it’s irresponsible and dangerous for MSNBC to promote his hateful views to an audience of millions.”
In his latest book, Buchanan writes in a chapter titled “The End of White America,” “Those who believe the rise to power of an Obama rainbow coalition of peoples of color means the whites who helped engineer it will steer it are deluding themselves. The whites may discover what it is like in the back of the bus.”
He also defends New York taxi drivers who refuse to pick up African-American males.
“If [conservative political commentator Heather] MacDonald’s statistics are accurate, 49 of every 50 muggings and murders in New York are the work of minorities. That might explain why Black folks have trouble getting a cab. Every New York cabby must know the odds should he pick up a man of color at night.”
Unfortunately, that kind of talk — based on non-existent “facts” — is nothing new for Buchanan, a former editorial writer for the right-wing St. Louis Globe-Democrat who later served in the Nixon White House and ran unsuccessfully for president.
Buchanan’s extremist views have been the subject of reports published by media watchdog groups Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and Media Matters as well as the Anti-Defamation League.
Below are Buchanan’s own words:
“First, America has been the best country on Earth for Black folks. It was here that 600,000 Black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity Blacks have ever known … Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up Blacks than white Americans … Where is the gratitude?” [Syndicated column, “A Brief for Whitey,” March 21, 2008]
“This has been a country built, basically, by white folks in this country who were 90 percent of the entire nation in 1960 when I was growing up, Rachel, and the other 10 percent of the entire nation were African Americans who had been discriminated against.” [The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC, July 16, 2009]
“In the late 1940s and 1950s … race was never a preoccupation with us, we rarely thought about it … There were no politics to polarize us then, to magnify every slight. The ‘Negroes’ of Washington had their public schools, restaurants, movie houses, playgrounds and churches; and we had ours.” [Buchanan’s autobiography, “Right From the Beginning,” 1990]
“Even Richard Nixon found the views of his former speech writer, Buchanan, too extreme on the segregation issue. According to a John Ehrlichman memo referenced in Nicholas Lemann’s “The Promised Land,” Nixon characterized Buchanan’s views as ‘segregation forever.’ After Nixon was reelected, Buchanan warned his boss not to ‘fritter away his present high support in the nation for an ill-advised governmental effort to forcibly integrate races.’” [Salon, Sept. 4, 1999]
“Near the end, Buchanan added angrily: ‘Conservatives are the niggers of the Nixon administration.’ The political right, Buchanan thought, was getting nothing but rhetoric.” [Richard Reeves,” President Nixon: Alone in the White House,” Page 295.]
“Buchanan’s memo, written April 1, 1969, said Nixon should observe the first anniversary of the civil rights leader’s death by doing no more than issuing a statement. ‘There is no long-run gains, and considerable long-run risks in making a public visit to Widow King,’ Buchanan wrote. He characterized King as ‘one of the most divisive men in contemporary history’ and: “Initially, the visit would get an excellent press but … it would outrage many people who believe Dr. King was a fraud and a demagogue, and perhaps worse,” the memo said “It does not seem to be in the interests of national unity for the president to lend his national prestige to the argument that this divisive figure is a modern saint.’” [Associated Press, Dec. 12, 1986]
“…Both the GOP establishment and conservatives should study how and why white voters, who delivered Louisiana to Reagan and Bush three times, moved in such numbers to [white supremacist David] Duke — and devise a strategic plan to win them back.” [Syndicated column, Dec. 23, 1991]
“George Bush should have told the [NAACP convention] that Black America has grown up, that the NAACP should close up shop, that its members should go home and reflect on JFK’s admonition: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’” [Syndicated column, July 26, 1988]
Buchanan, appearing on Al Sharpton’s “PoliticsNation” program in August on MSNBC, referred to President Obama as “your boy.” More recently he agreed with Herman Cain’s assertion that Blacks have been brainwashed into supporting Democrats over Republicans. In an interview on CNN, Buchanan said, “I think what he’s saying is they bought a lot of liberal propaganda on the liberal plantation, and I think he’s right.”
Color of Change is right for seeking Buchanan’s dismissal. In 2008, the National Association of Black Journalists gave Buchanan its “Thumbs Down Award” that goes to an individual or news organization for especially insensitive, racist or stereotypical reporting or commentary. It is time for MSNBC to give Buchanan the boot. — (NNPA)
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. He can be reached through his website, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.
To this point, the economic growth leader of the 21st century is the wireless communications industry. Millions of people regularly use cellular phones. With today’s cell phone, you can talk to anyone on the planet. Inside your cell phone are: a compact speaker, microphone, keyboard, display screen and a powerful circuit board with microprocessors that make every phone a miniature computer. When connected to a wireless network, this bundle of modern-day technologies allows you to make phone calls or exchange data with other phones and computers around the world.
Jesse Eugene Russell is an African-American inventor who brought the world cell phones. Trained as an electrical engineer at Tennessee State University, at 63, Jesse Russell is recognized globally as a thought-leader, technology expert and innovator of wireless communications. He has over 30 years experience in advanced wireless communications and is the recognized father of digital cellular technology. The Historically Black College and University (HBCU) graduate is former Chief Wireless Architect for AT&T Bell Laboratories and served as Chief Technology Officer for Lucent Wireless. An icon in the industry, Jesse Russell holds over 75 patents in digital cellular technologies, dual-mode digital cellular phones and digital software radio. An American legend, in 1995 Russell was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering for “pioneering work in digital cellular communications technology.”
Russell’s innovations continue to spark the international economy. The globe expects some 2.5 billion smartphones to be sold from 2010 to 2015. The main reason for cell phones’ popularity over the past 20 years is the faster and easier communications it provides. A cell phone is really a very sophisticated and versatile radio. Much like a walkie-talkie, a cell phone receives and sends radio signals. Wireless networks operate on a grid that divides cities or regions into smaller cells. One cell might cover a few city blocks or up to 250 square miles. Every cell uses a set of radio frequencies or channels to provide service in its specific area. In each cell, there is a base station consisting of a wireless antenna and other radio equipment. The wireless antenna in each cell links callers into the local telephone network, the Internet or another wireless network.
African Americans can take pride in what Russell has achieved in the planet’s business advancements. From being honored by the Clinton administration for his work in cell phones and wireless communication, Russell continues to innovate, specifically in the next generation (4G) broadband wireless communication technologies, products, networks and services. Rising from a disadvantaged background, Russell’s career and knowledge in wireless technology and standards advanced as he served in numerous high-level corporate positions; director of the AT&T Cellular Telecommunication Laboratory (Bell Labs), vice president of Advanced Wireless Technology Laboratory (Bell Labs), chief technical officer for the Network Wireless Systems Business Unit (Bell Labs), chief wireless architect of AT&T, and vice president of Advanced Communications Technologies for AT&T Laboratories (formerly part of Bell Labs).
Jesse Russell’s early childhood was spent in economically and socially challenged neighborhoods within inner-city Nashville. Russell says a key turning point in his life was the opportunity to attend a summer educational program at Fisk University. It was here that Russell began his academic and intellectual pursuits. Russell continued his education at Tennessee State University where he focused on electrical engineering and received a Bachelor of Science degree (BSEE) in 1972. An excellent example of “a Black achiever,” Russell was a top honor student in Tennessee State’s School of Engineering and became the first African American to be hired directly from an HBCU by AT&T’s Bell Laboratories; subsequently he became the first African American to be selected as the Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer of the Year in 1980. Russell continues his personal and corporate leadership in the industry and is currently chairman and CEO of incNETWORKS, Inc. a New Jersey, USA based Broadband Wireless Communications Company focused on the next generation of broadband services (4G) Broadband Wireless Communications Technologies, Networks and Services. — (NNPA)
William Reed is publisher of Who’s Who in Black Corporate America and available for speaking/seminar projects via BaileyGroup.org.
WASHINGTON — If you’ve been paying any attention to the trial heats of the Republican presidential contest, you’ve noticed an alarming trend: the conflating of ignorance with authenticity. Herman Cain’s fans, for example, seem to believe that his profound lack of knowledge about most of the world is one reason to support him. It makes him a regular guy, more trustworthy than those hated “elites” and longtime Washington pols.
The trend isn’t new, of course. Sarah Palin’s admirers responded similarly to her woeful (and willful) lack of knowledge about many of the complex issues that would confront a presidential administration. Palin’s voters didn’t desert her when she showed her abysmal ineptitude about subjects that were routinely in the news. Instead, they blamed journalists who asked her questions she couldn’t answer.
Indeed, a suspicion of the well-educated is a long-standing strain in American politics. I remember the antics of the late George Wallace, who used to denounce “pointy-headed intellectuals.”
But this unfortunate proclivity seems to have reached its apex at just the wrong time: On a “flat” and interconnected planet, Americans need more knowledge, not less. We need to be better educated, not more ignorant. In other words, the nation needs all the pointy-headedness it can muster.
We certainly don’t need a president like Cain, who publicly disdained the president of “Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan” as someone he didn’t need to remember and who cannot recall why he disagrees with President Obama’s intervention in Libya. (Actually, Cain doesn’t know much about Libya, period.) Nor do we need a president like Rick Perry, who proposes to dismantle great swaths of the federal government, but doesn’t take his own plan seriously enough to recall its details.
At least Perry was contrite about his “oops” moment. More stunning is Cain’s attitude, which echoes Palin’s proud ignorance. Both behave as though their lack of knowledge is a selling point — and their supporters seem to agree.
While Republicans have been proudly showing off their anti-intellectualism of late, the strain is broadly bipartisan. I’ve known Democrats and Republicans, liberals, conservatives and independents who are dismissive of the benefits of expertise and suspicious about the well-educated.
During my Alabama childhood, for example, I knew lots of proud churchgoers who preferred a minister with little (if any) formal training in theology. Preachers weren’t expected to attend divinity school; it was more important that they claimed to be anointed by God. Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young tells a great story about learning to speak without notes when he was a young preacher assigned to a rural church; the elders were skeptical of any minister who had to read from a text.
While that story is charming, it also speaks to a bygone era. When Young was a newly ordained minister, communist China was still an economic backwater, the euro didn’t exist and the United States was a manufacturing powerhouse, providing good jobs to workers without high school diplomas. Those days are so over.
Many college graduates are struggling to find decent jobs these days, but the unemployment rate for those with post-secondary degrees is still much lower than that of high school graduates. Cain, a retired businessman, may be stunningly ignorant of foreign affairs, but he did get an undergraduate degree in math and a graduate degree in computer science. That laid the foundation for his professional accomplishments.
Even Cain must know that much of the world has embraced the knowledge economy as the ticket to a prosperous future. South Korean parents shamelessly push their children into tutorial sessions that last until the wee hours of the morning. But here in the United States, there is still a clear strain of resentment toward the learned, the intellectually ambitious, the highly educated.
And it is stoked by demagogues who dismiss the conclusions of experts on such issues as climate change, evolution and even the obesity epidemic. Why trust those “pointy-headed” intellectuals who win Nobel prizes in biology and chemistry? That resentment is further fueled by dilettantes such as Cain, who revel in their ignorance of public policy.
Last week, after his disastrous performance before the editorial board of a Milwaukee newspaper, Cain declared at a campaign event in New Hampshire that the nation needs “a leader, not a reader,” according to reporters following his campaign.
That’s simply appalling. It would be difficult for the nation to adapt to a knowledge economy with a president who is contemptuous of knowledge.