Saturday, August 9, 2008

Does the McCain Team Pay the Toledo Blade?

Sure enough and right on schedule, The Blade posts the anti-Obama op ed written by the anemic Jack Kelly each Saturday. The Blade cuts its Letters to the Editor section in half in order to give space to the anti-Democrat column of Kelly.

Today the GOP hack penned one titled, Obama's energy plan nonsense. Before I read it I knew what Kelley's 'solution' to the energy crisis would be: more drilling. Gee, who would have imagined that? [wink, wink]

Kelly takes the side of the obese oil companies and says, "Punitive taxation of oil producers seems a peculiar way to encourage them to produce more oil." Actually Obama isn't too interested in more oil at all, but this fact apparently goes right by the author.

Kelly makes this statement:

Remember how he hooted at suspending federal gas taxes as a primary-season stunt"? the San Francisco Chronicle's editors asked. "Now he wants $1,000 rebate checks mailed out to families, paid by a windfall profits tax on the oil industry that was tried and dumped in the 1980s."

Oh really? So Mr. Kelly thinks the suspension of the federal gas tax was a good idea? I have yet to hear an economist tout that plan as anything more than a gimmick. Kelly apparently is into gimmicks as a solution to the energy problem. Figures.

Kelly finishes his weekly anti-Obama tirade by dissing the other part of the Obama plan: plug-in hybrid vehicles. What does he offer as proof of that as a fallacy? He says:

"No current plug-in hybrid gets better than 69 mpg. It will take more than the wagging of Mr. Obama's tongue to more than double that within six years."

Really? Apparently Kelly is also an amateur photovoltaics engineer too boot. No chance to do that, eh Mr. Kelly? So, American engineers are incapable of upgrading the electric car in the next six years? The fool. Apparently Kelly also hasn't been keeping up with the latest trends such as the German-made Loremo that gets 100 mpg. Yes, it's a gasoline auto. Apparently Mr. Kelly is way too busy reading his right-wing conservative papers to understand that engineering has moved beyond the Jeep or the Studebaker.

The Toledo Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette become laughable media fools when they feature columnists like Jack Kelly who are nothing more than GOP pimps masquerading as journalists.

Walmart's Anti-Democrat Strategy

The Wall Street Journal and MSNBC reported that managers at Walmart have been told to pass the word around to the employees that electing Democrats in November might threaten their jobs. Walmart fears unionizing efforts by Democrats.

The story says:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing U.S. store managers to lobby against Democrats in November's presidential election, fearing they will make it easier for workers to unionize, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if store workers unionize, the paper said.

About a dozen employees who attended meetings in seven states said executives argued employees would have to pay hefty union dues and get nothing in return, and might have to go on strike without compensation. They also warned that unionization could force the company to cut jobs as labor costs rise, the Journal reported.

I would imagine that Democrats all throughout America would be advised to stop shopping at Walmart Stores and pass that information on to hteir friends and families. The power of the dollar ought to serve as a good lesson to the GOP-friendly Walmart executives.

In Search Of: The Real John McCain Episode #2

In the first part of this investigation, In Search Of: The Real John McCain, I touched on his early days in the senate and his admission of guilt in the Keating 5 Scandal and how he used it to propel himself into the nations conciousness as a "Straight Shooter".
I have chosen not to talk about his real record in the Armed Services or his personal life, though a brief recount of his divorce would be in order. While he was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, his first wife, Carol was the victim of a tragic auto accident which left her inches shorter and in desparate need of rehabilitation.
The once statuesque blond was a short physically disfigured and disabled woman when John McCain returned home. While he wass in North Vietnam, Texas Oil Billionaire, H. Ross Perot personally undertook the expenses for Carols medical care and built the McCain family a new house designed for the disabled Carol.

John soon felt disatisfaction with his life with a crippled wife. He began to have affairs and met Cindy Lou Hensley, the heir to the Hensley & Co., the biggest beer distributor in America. She was and is worth millions.
His first wife, Carol described the utter surprise and shock she felt when she was informed that John wanted a divorce. She did not contest the divorce and took a settlement of $1625 a month.

I cannot comment on "affairs of the heart" and remain even handed in an editorial sense. I will only quote H. Ross Perot who said that John McCain was one of the vainest and cruelly selfish men he had ever met.

McCain pretty much disappeared from view in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s – the Dems controlled the Senate, the Cold War (his signature issue) was winding down and the Defense budget (his primary source of legislative goodies to dispense) was being cut. The big issues back then were the budget deficit and the economy, and McCain’s never been able to conceal the fact that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about either of them.

The only real publicity I recall McCain getting during that time was over the "issue" (if that’s the right word) of missing POWs in Vietnam. McCain, the POW movement’s former poster boy, suddenly became McCain, Hanoi’s best good buddy on Capitol Hill. The media, which thought the POW activists were a bunch of kooks, gladly gave him an free pass on that particular flip and flop. The activists, who remembered that McCain had been sympathetic, or even a full-fledged supporter, up until about his first Senate race, were much less charitable – the diehards still hate his guts. (That the Obama campaign hasn’t reached out to them the way Rove reached out to the anti-Kerry Swiftboat cranks in 2004 tells you all you need to know about the Democrats’ nice-guys-finish-last syndrome.)

In any case, McCain didn’t register in my political consciousness again until 1999, when he, somewhat improbably, decided to run for president. Everyone in Washington knew the GOP skids had already been greased for Bush (first for Jeb, who flamed out in his first run for governor, and then for Shrub.)McCain’s media bandwagon wasn’t nearly as big and noisy as it later became. In a crowded field -- which also included Dan Quayle, Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander, Liddy Dole, John Kasich, Gary Bauer and Alan Keynes (the salt and pepper of American religious nutjobbery)-- McCain didn't exactly stand head and shoulders above the pack.

The rest of the story is more familiar: As the outsider, one of a number of outsiders, running against the GOP establishment favorite, McCain desperately needed – and knew he needed – independents and Democrats to turn out for him in the primaries where they were allowed to do so. But his record and his positions on most issues defined him as a fairly conventional GOP conservative – what’s more, one whose primary passion, national security hawkishness, was way out of fashion. So, McCain and his political advisors used his personal biography (not least his post-Keaton Five contrition) to fashion a new political persona that would appeal to independents and/or moderates: McCain 2.0. To demonstrate his bona fides, he even took a totally gratuitous (if entirely accurate) public shot at the religious right, defining them as "the agents of intolerance."

It worked well initially -- well enough to put the fear into Karl Rove and George W. Bush, not to mention the entire GOP establishment. But conservative, hardcore Republican South Carolina turned into the make-or-break primary state, and McCain’s supposed appeal to veterans turned out to be much less tangible than the Bush machine’s tight connections to the fundamentalist Taliban. So suddenly John McCain, the supposed straight talker, was ducking and weaving around the perennially important issue of whether the Confederate flag should continue to wave over the cradle of the Civil War.

He lost anyway, of course -- but here again, as during the Keating Five scandal, McCain managed to make political vice look like virtue, at least in the media’s eyes. In late April, he gave a speech announcing he’d been wrong not to denounce the Stars and Bars. "I chose to compromise my principles," he confessed, and "broke my promise to always tell the truth" in order to win in South Carolina.

"I do not intend for this apology to help me evade criticism for my failure," the noble McCain nobly added. "I will be criticized by all sides for my late act of contrition. I accept all of it, I deserve it."

Once again, the hearts of supposedly hard-hearted reporters melted like butter – not withstanding the obvious fact that McCain had saved his road-to-Damascus moment until after the votes were cast in South Carolina and after Bush had effectively nailed down the nomination. (McCain’s flips and flops on racial issues, such as his forth and back and forth on making MLK’s birthday a federal holiday, are worth a post just in themselves.)

Like Achilles, McCain largely withdrew to his tent for the 2000 general election campaign – sulking after his defeat, it was said; although, in hindsight, hedging his bets might be a more accurate description. But after the Florida debacle, with the Cheney Administration off to a rocky start and Shrub looking like a possible one-term failed nominal president, McCain re-emerged to re-define himself legislatively as a "maverick" Republican -- opposing tax cuts, slamming the tobacco lobby, embracing campaign finance reform, etc.

But then 9/11 reshuffled the political cards once again. With Bush transformed into the GOP's Maximum Leader, McCain reinvented himself AGAIN as a loyal foot soldier in the war on terrorism -- but managed to keep just enough daylight between himself and the Cheney Administration (on the conduct of the war in Iraq, the use of torture, etc.) to give himself an out if thing went South.

In the summer of 2004, when it looked like Bush might actually lose, McCain played footsie under the table with John Kerry, briefly considering a spot on the Democratic ticket. But when he saw what a lousy candidate Kerry was (and how effective the Rovian Swiftboat machine could be) he quickly switched gears and hit the campaign trail with Bush.

In 2005 and early 2006, as things DID go south in a big way for Shrub, McCain stepped up his public criticisms -- but at the same time moved behind the scenes to reassure the GOP party establishment (particularly the religious fundamentalist wing) that he could be team player. He even went down to Lynchburg and kissed the ring of Jerry Falwell (a.k.a. the "agent of intolerance.)

In public and his private media love sessions, McCain spoke out against torture (with the inevitable reference to those POW horrors he doesn’t like to talk about even while he’s talking about them.) Privately, he worked with the Cheney Administration on a compromise that would shift all torture-related program activities to the CIA and absolve everybody involved of any legal culpability. Publicly, he moved to distance himself from his GOP colleagues and their pork barrel ways (grandstanding all the way). But that didn’t stop him from campaigning for some of the worst offenders in the fall, collecting political chits he knew he would need for his second presidential run.

After the congressional elections resulted in a Democratic House and Senate, McCain must have realized that if the Democrats and the Jim Baker wing of the GOP succeeded in liquidating the Iraq fiasco forthwith, his political and foreign policy reputation would be left in shreds. So he backed the "surge" – but again, left himself a later out, if necessary, by publicly questioning whether a gang as incompetent as the Cheney Administration would be able to see it through.

Now, finally, all that hard work and twisting and turning have paid off, and McCain IS the GOP establishment candidate. In April, as Clinton and Obama were tearing into each other (or rather, as she was tearing into him) the McCain campaign clearly saw an advantage in positioning their guy above the fray, as the "kinder, gentler" candidate – the better to pick off supporters of the loser in the Democratic primary race. Thus McCain’s promise to run a "respectful campaign." (He didn’t explain that what he meant was respect for HIM.)

But McCain and his new team of Rovian handlers now realize they won't have a prayer in November unless they can motivate the conservative base and (to use Lee Atwater's charming phrase) "strip the bark" off Obama. And they have to do it NOW, so McCain can pivot back to a softer, more upbeat message in September.

So that's exactly what McCain is doing – instantly, unapologetically, without shame or embarrassment. His enormous cynicism about the political process and his contempt for the voters – not to mention his vast sense of self-entitlement - have led McCain to take exactly the same low road as the Bush family and its various henchmen (Atwater, Rove): Whatever works; whatever it takes.

And so it’s finally dawning, even on some members of his media "base" (ever the hapless clowns in our political theater of the absurd ) that McCain isn’t quite the straight-talking, straight-shooting military man of honor they thought he was. The White Knight has morphed into the Great White Hope – the GOP machine’s last, desperate chance to avoid the mortal humiliation of being defeated not just by a Democrat, not just by a liberal, but by a liberal Democratic black man.

Some of the suckers are even starting to suspect McCain’s been lying about them, too. Despite the cozy chats on the Straight Talk Express, the Arizona barbeque weekends, the cheerfully misogynist jokes and the teary-eyed moments when John tells one of his patented POW stories – despite, even, the donuts with sprinkles – he isn’t actually their friend at all. In fact it’s pretty obvious he despises them almost as much as he despises a system that forces him to pander both to them and to the voters.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Many Still Holding Tight to the Turnip Truck

They won't let go. They think that the truck holds the truth and still tightly cling. But the turnips rotted long ago and now it is a putrid, festering pile of garbage. Some of us knew it from the get-go; others learned later. Yet it is curious, at best, to wonder why some still cling.

Although I am not a psychologist, I've been around the block a couple of times. There are lots of people out there, I have learned, who are easily duped; some others that want to be. Take those racial bigots, for example. They are everywhere, every state, every city and every county in America. They 'wouldn't vote for a nigger' if he were the only one running for office. Deep seated prejudice, festering, fed by fear of 'the other.' Folks with limited experiences, fed by 'news' stories to bolster their fears and hatred. Clinging to the turnip truck.

They are looking for any reason [beyond their prejudice] not to vote for a black man. The McCain people dish it out on a daily basis. The latest is that Obama supports Big Oil. Of course, McCain just touted more drilling by Big oil, but that does not stick.

The turnip people liked the false 'he's a Muslim' early-on in the primaries, but now even they mostly have passed on that. Then there was the Pledge of Allegiance flap and the flag pin nonsense. Of course, the Rev. Wright replaced that one quickly, but that doesn't hold much water these days. Michelle Obama's 'unpatriotic' statement lit a fire in their bellies and those embers still smolder. They liked the painting of Obama as an elitist, especially with his Berlin speech yet that too is washing thin.

Every few days the turnip people get their hopes up when they see or read something anti-Obama, but then when it evaporates, as it always does, they are left clinging to prejudice alone. There is no doubt who they will not vote for in November. The only 'doubt' is which falsehood will they use to bely their guilt.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sam’s Club’ Republicanism

Yes, that is an actual phrase that was uttered by the potential running mate of John McCain, Governor Pawlenty of Minnesota. In fact, he urged the Republican Party to re-energize itself to become Sam's Club Republicans. Not Rockefeller Republicans, not even Regan Republicans, but Sam's Club Republicans. I guess it means China Republicans.

Whoa! China? As in Communist China? Surely this good Republican governor was not suggesting that we outsource the GOP, was he?

He said, “Sam’s Club Republicans feel like they’ve been disenfranchised.”

When asked what the Bush administration had done wrong, Pawlenty stressed that the party had gotten away from a focus on ideas, like the Contract with America.

The Hill reports: “ 'Compassionate conservatism’ has to be about more than a label,” he said. “The idea factory has been less robust than it should have been.”

Specifically, Pawlenty emphasized a new approach to education. He said it is a “near-scandal” that higher education isn’t properly preparing students to be teachers, and he advocated online courses as the cost- and time-efficient education of the future.

Oh, really? Is that what Republicans need to do to restore their once-Great Old Party to the ideals of its past? And just what does 'compassionate conservatism' actually mean? Clearly George W. Bush did not model it even though millions voted for him because he 'declared' himself an advocate of 'compassionate conservatism.'

Clearly the phony 'contract with America' [aka Mafia contract] had little to do with compassion.

Word games- political propaganda- used to cull the less-than sharp American voters. And there are millions of them. Will they fall once again like dead trees in a wind storm? Probably and with it goes the nation. Thud!

The Dopey Right-wing: Obama "$845 billion" "Global Poverty Act"

Right-wing bobbleheads have their panties all in a knot lately, having been fed the lie that Obama wants to 'tax each American $2500 to give the United Nations $845 billion.' Imagine that! Our hard-earned tax dollars sucked from our Treasury and given to nations that hate us! The audacity of it all!!

Indeed, by Googling "Obama $845 billion Global Poverty Tax" one gets over 6,000 hits on the topic. Of course quantity does not equal quality or even truth. Yet that never stops a bonehead right-winger who wants 'evidence' that Obama is a communist who hates America. They love that thought. It makes them feel good because, after all, they constantly need an enemy to spear; life would not be the same without a windmill to lance.

It keeps them happy and off the streets where, in fact, their passive aggression could easily become actively dangerous to society. As long as they play their 'computer truth games' they are not too dangerous. The real danger that these people present to society is when they leave their house on election day.

Based on information from the State Department, CBO estimates that implementing S. 2433
would cost less than $1 million per year, assuming the availability of appropriated funds.
Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or receipts.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In Search Of: The Real John McCain Episode #1

One of the many cliches I hear repeated over and over again regarding Barack Obama is the mantra like line, "Who is Barack Obama?" It's not like the information isn't out there. He's only written 3 books about himself and his beliefs. It's not as if his every action hasn't been scrutinized, analyzed and recast by every comentator in political and personality driven media.
But, who is John McCain? No one seems to be asking that. He's the Maverick, straight shooter, ex POW war hero. He's a lot of labels, but who is is he?
I admit, I haven't been helpful on my blog, thebrainpolice. I've cast him as a borderline senile unstable maniac with weak kidneys. I have portrayed him as a fake cowboy hero, a frankenstein experiment by the GOP mad scientists that went wrong, but maybe not that wrong. I just portrayed him as a remake of an old Japanese Monster Movie Star....and that's not all.
But I'm not in the buisiness of trying to make John McCain look good and, well, fun is fun.......but who is John McCain?
I first became aware of John McCain as one of the Senators, who in 1986, were involved in the Keating 5 scandal. Small potatoes by todays typical lobbyist and influence peddling pecadillos, but at the time it was big. Keating was a Savings and Loan executive who, in exchange for various regulatory favors, dispensed gifts and money to a bipartisan group of 5 senators. McCain, the young novice, in the long run, reaped the largest benefits.
In a sense, this scandal was the birth of the McCain "brand". Unlike the other four senators, McCain stood up in the Senate and declared himself guilty, but not nearly as guilty as the others....but he still felt bad about what he had done. This went over big with the media as "Senator Admits Guilt!" outranks "Man Bites Dog!" on the news-o-meter.
McCain didn't get the biggest payoffs from Keating. This was because he was a novice senator with very little influence to peddle. He sure wasn't shy about accepting the favors. If he had a problem with the way this business, a form of prostitution, was being done in Washington, you won't find it in the records of the Keating 5 Investigation.
He had his attack of Puritan self righteousness after the fact, an act of political calculation after he was caught, if you will. and yet, from that single incident, the media legend of the straight shooter began to grow and become embellished. A pretty neat trick.
To conclude this first installment in my exploration In Search Of The Real John McCain, I would like to observe that the lesson learned is that pseudo candor, or "Truthiness" as we now say in this enlightened age, usually trumps the genuine article.
John McCain was way ahead of his time here. He doesn't hesitate to flip flop shamelessly if it is in his political interest and he thinks he can get away with it.
Stay tuned for the next Episode #2 of In Search Of: The Real John McCain!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

G.O.P. Drops in Voting Rolls in Many States

The NYT reports today:

"Well before Senators Barack Obama and John McCain rose to the top of their parties, a partisan shift was under way at the local and state level. For more than three years starting in 2005, there has been a reduction in the number of voters who register with the Republican Party and a rise among voters who affiliate with Democrats and, almost as often, with no party at all."

As the guest editorial from Engineer of Knowledge suggests, many Republicans are fed up with the so-called 'new conservatives' aka neocons who took over their party. The data reveals that in the 26 states and the District of Columbia where registration data were available, the total number of registered Democrats increased by 214,656, while the number of Republicans fell by 1,407,971.

Fed up with Bush/Cheney/Rove politics? Fed up with massive spending? Fed up with the war in Iraq? Fed up with the politicizing of the basic framework of government here in America?

I don't know the answer because I am not a Republican, but my eyes are not shut either. My long-time friend and contributor to this blog, UptheFlag and I applauded the great principles of the Republican Party in men like Ev Dirksen, Dwight Eisenhower and Nelson Rockefeller. These men were visionaries rather than politicians, men who understood the phrase of the Constitution, 'We the People.' They did not rape the masses to benefit the few. They did not seek wars of aggression. They did not seek to enlarge the role of the Executive Office. They were genuine patriots.

They were, in effect, all that George W. Bush was not. After 8 years, it seems that Republicans are abandoning the once-great GOP. Yet, the question must be asked: who is leaving ship and who is staying aboard? Who are these 1,407,971 Republicans who have left the Party? Were they Dirksen Republicans or Gingrich Republicans? In other words, are the remaining Republicans the neoconservatives along with other 'stew' members such as the Fundamentalists and the Reactionary Right-wing?

One wonders why the Rockefeller Republicans like Olympia Snowe and her cohort in Maine Susan Collins along with the other dwindling New England Republicans allowed their party to be infiltrated with these sham-Republicans. Was it all about winning elections? Was it the quantity than quality?

If the GOP goes down to massive defeat this fall, it will not quite be an enormous victory for America. One-party rule seldom benefits a democracy. A healthy give-and-take, collaboration and common vision is the ideal to move our nation forward.

How a night in Maryland 41 Years Ago Changed the Nation's Course of Racial Politics

[A guest editorial from Engineer of Knowledge]

How a night in Maryland 41 Years AgoChanged the Nation's Course of Racial Politics

Last week I wrote a piece titled "A Whole Lotta Ugly Empowered by Stupid.” Those, whom are fans of these entertainers O’Reilly, Savage, and Hannity, would say that all they are doing is exercising their freedom of speech but freedom of speech does not allow you to shout out “FIRE” in a crowded movie theater as a joke. When inaccuracies are pointed out on something Rush Limbaugh has said, his best retort is to say that he is just exercising artistic licenses for entertainment value.
Currently of course the positive note about Rush Limbaugh is that even most conservatives have finally recognized that he is just a self loathing, inaccurate fact spewing joke whose mind has been destroyed through too many years of drug abuse and addictions. I should also add at this time that I am an active member of the Republican Party here in the first district in Maryland but I think for myself and have taken on the mission of taking back my political party from the extreme right wing returning normalcy to the Republican Party.

Everyone is the sum of one's own life’s experiences which developed my viewpoints over the years. My family moved back to the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the summer of 1967 from the suburbs of Baltimore and I had just turned 14 that spring. That summer H. Rap Brown gave an impassioned speech on civil rights in the town of Cambridge, Maryland which resulted in a riot.

The National Guard was called in along with local and state police to restore law and order. As a result Brown found himself on the FBI’s top ten list of most wanted. He was finally apprehended, paid his debt to society and is now living in Georgia. My point is that there are laws that makes it illegal by using speech to incite riots and by Jim David Adkisson’s own admissions and quoting O’Reilly, Savage, and Hannity’s own words is the evidence for his actions, these radio personalities should be investigated for the same offences as many of those whom were brought up on charges during the civil rights movement. Below is a recounting of my first summer in 1967 after being uprooted from the urban life by my parents and place in the country of the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

During the hot summer of 1967, racial disturbances swept through Detroit and Harlem and then through Minneapolis, Dayton, Cincinnati and other cities unaccustomed to civic violence. But the turning point that summer - indeed for that era - occurred in a town few Americans knew existed.

Forty one years ago in the small city of Cambridge, Md., H. Rap Brown crossed rhetorical swords with then Maryland's Gov. Spiro T. Agnew. The two put the convulsive actions of that summer into words in ways that deepened the nation's racial divide. They popularized a style of political speech that would increase black-white antagonism and draw millions of white Democrats into the Republican Party.

"If America don't come around, we're going to burn it down," shouted Brown, standing on the trunk of a car, to a crowd of 500 cheering Cambridge supporters. His speech occurred an hour before police exchanged gunfire with residents and several hours before a blaze engulfed a black elementary school and most of the city's black-owned businesses.

Violence, Brown would later explain, "Is as American as cherry pie."

The day after the fire, Agnew inspected the Eastern Shore city and scratched out a statement. "It shall now be the policy of this state to immediately arrest any person inciting to riot, and to not allow that person to finish his vicious speech." Agnew had been known as a moderate, but from this day forward he lashed out against civil libertarians. He refused to meet with black leaders unless they first "shun lawlessness," specifically denouncing Brown and other black power advocates.

Through their uncompromising rhetoric, Agnew and Brown climbed instantly from obscurity to icon status and would rise unexpectedly to positions of national importance, swept along in historical currents beyond their control.

Of course, there were black militants who preceded Brown, and there were tough-talking governors before Agnew. But the rhetoric both men employed 41 years ago grabbed the national consciousness, inaugurating a new politics of racial polarization by ambitious black activists on the one hand and white law-and-order politicians on the other.

Their words split the pro-civil rights coalition, inspired the Southern Strategy of the Republican Party and led to an unprecedented federal counterintelligence campaign against black political moderates.

Just three years before the Cambridge riots, Americans had elected President Lyndon Johnson by a wide margin. It would be the last election up to the present in which a majority of whites and blacks would vote for the same candidate. Ironically, both Brown and Agnew were elected to their positions as moderates, not firebrands.

Brown's appointment as head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was intended to soften the organization's image following Stokely Carmichael's tumultuous leadership. Agnew was elected governor with considerable black and liberal support. He was viewed as a moderate, clearly preferable among black voters to his opponent, a conservative Democrat known for opposition to open housing laws.

Watching these events 41 years ago in Cambridge was a slender teenager who was starting to take note of current events and the world around him.Maryland's Mississippi Freedom Riders from Swarthmore College came to the Eastern Shore to help the fledgling Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee push open the city's segregated restaurants and the chief source of entertainment, the local movie theater.

At this time, the Eastern Shore of Maryland was a lot like growing up in Mississippi. This fertile hook of Maryland that extends into the Chesapeake has always been isolated and heavily agricultural, with a profoundly different character from the rest of the state. While Maryland sided with Union forces during the Civil War, the Eastern Shore was a slave region and sympathized with the South. Harriet Tubman was born and was a slave on a farm outside of the city limits of Cambridge before escaping and starting the Underground Railroad. The attitude in this area as late as 1973 still had the "Black Only" and "White Only" signs on the bathrooms and water fountains and people still obeyed them! The local volunteer fire department admitted blacks in 1986 only after the Justice Department intervened. Even then, the tight white leadership of Cambridge complained about outsiders pushing them to change.

That summer in 1967 young, black Cambridge school students joined the Freedom Riders movement and when some sat down to pray in the restricted lobby of the town's segregated movie theater; they were arrested and sentenced by a local judge to up to six years in a juvenile reformatory.

When state authorities released these youths after three months, they returned home heroes in their communities. In the following years, civil rights efforts in Cambridge sagged as key activists left and the Freedom Riders ceased their visits. To build support in 1967, the members of the recently organized Black Action Federation invited the new head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to speak.

Brown arrives

H. Rap Brown had been in Cambridge before, as an organizer in the mid-1960s. He earned the nickname "Rap" because of his ability to talk easily with poor black people.

In 1967, just after his election to lead SNCC, Brown said at a San Francisco news conference that black people had a right to defend themselves. But he added that "if black people are organized, they can seize power politically. At this point we are against the use of arms."

This moderate approach was just what SNCC leaders had in mind when they elected the 23-year-old Brown to succeed Carmichael, whose fiery leadership had alienated many SNCC supporters. In quieter times, Brown might have avoided major controversy, but the year that he assumed the SNCC chair was one of exceptional social turmoil.

When Brown came to Cambridge July 24, he was at a point of believing that armed self-defense was necessary. Blacks had battled bitterly with police in Prattsville, Ala., Detroit and other cities already that summer.

Brown's speech atop the car outside the federation's headquarters 30 years ago repeated the themes of racial pride and assertiveness that were characteristic of Carmichael's speeches, but Brown went further in urging listeners to take up arms against white society.

"Don't be trying to love that honky to death," he proclaimed. "Shoot him to death. Shoot him to death, brother, because that's what he is out to do to you. Do to him like he would do to you, but do it to him first." Later, he talked about how slowly Cambridge had changed. "If this town don't come around, this town should be burned down.”

At first people just thought, "Well, that part is just to play on people's emotions." There was no violence during Brown's speech, but about an hour afterward shots were exchanged between black residents and police. According to police, Brown led a group of marchers to Race Street, the main commercial street of the city, which divided the black and white neighborhoods. Brown said later that he was simply escorting a girl home.

As he approached Race Street, a buckshot pellet struck Brown in the side of the face. He was treated at the home of Cambridge's only black doctor and left town shortly thereafter.

Within hours of the shooting, however, the elementary school in the heart of black Cambridge was in flames. Citing the threat of snipers, the local fire department refused to fight the fire despite pleas from black community leaders. Flying embers spread the blaze to 16 adjacent buildings and the sky over Cambridge was bright with fire. Enter Spiro Agnew

At dawn, with Cambridge's black business district a smoldering rubble, Agnew left his vacation home in nearby Ocean City, Md., to tour the destruction.

Agnew had been known for sensitivity to black concerns. But when he toured the damaged neighborhood the next day his attention was on apprehending Brown. "I hope they pick him up soon, put him away and throw away the key," Agnew remarked.

Despite a lack of evidence that Brown himself had participated in the burning of buildings in Cambridge, he was charged with arson and the FBI entered the case. Before being released on bond, he issued a statement declaring that America stood "on the eve of a black revolution." The black masses were "fighting the enemy tit for tat" and "neither imprisonment nor threats of death would deter him." At a Washington, D.C., news conference the following day he called President Lyndon Johnson a "white honky cracker, an outlaw from Texas."

Within days, more charges were filed against Brown. Rather than building a strong black revolutionary force capable of overthrowing the established social order, Brown became an issue in the struggle between liberal and conservative factions of that order. He became a symbol for millions of white people prepared to support repressive policies against high-visibility black militants.

End of a civil rights era

The summer of 1967 revealed the power of black people to get national attention through unfocused expressions of rage. The summer also revealed that a year of talk about black power had left SNCC militants more powerless than ever.

In Washington, the government's actions against Brown established a pattern for the suppression of highly publicized radical leaders. In August, a month after the Cambridge riot, the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Mississippi Democrat and plantation owner James Eastland, focused on the riots - with witness after witness, including the chief of the Cambridge police department, blaming Brown.

Congress passed anti-riot measures in deliberations that revealed the increasing ability of conservative politicians to strengthen their popular support at the expense of liberals over the issue of black militancy.

The most ominous news for civil rights organizations occurred off of Capitol Hill.

J. Edgar Hoover spoke before the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to condemn Carmichael, Brown and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as "vociferous firebrands," ordering his subordinates to include SNCC militants and member of other organizations on a "Rabble Rouser Index."

For the next several years, Hoover emphasized concerns about Communist infiltration of civil rights organizations. Despite a paucity of evidence, these organizations were subject to Hoover's Cointelpro operation.

On Aug. 25, Hoover ordered FBI field offices to begin a new effort to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist, hate-type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership, and supporters and to counter their propensity for violence and civil disorder." Among the groups targeted for "intensified attention" were the Nation of Islam, Congress of Racial Equality, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

The FBI goal was not only to stop violence but to prevent these organizations "from gaining respectability" by discrediting them in the respectable Negro community. . . . the white community . . . and in the eyes of Negro radicals, the followers of the movement."

The aftermath

Agnew's response to Cambridge set the pattern for his future political career. The man elected governor as a moderate began a national ascendancy using the political instincts and style of George Wallace.

When the city of Baltimore rioted in 1968, in the aftermath of the assassination of King, Agnew asked 50 black leaders to meet with him. Most walked out as he immediately asked them to denounce inflammatory remarks from Carmichael and Brown.

"What possible hope is there for peace in our community if these apostles of anarchy are allowed to spew hatred unchallenged? . . . I call upon you to publicly repudiate, condemn and reject all black racists. This, so far, you have not been willing to do."

The meeting was a disaster and Agnew's relations with black leaders were nearly destroyed. But Agnew's calculated tough talk earned him time on the national news and caught the attention of a young aide to Richard Nixon named Patrick Buchanan, who kept newspaper clips of Agnew to show to his boss, who eventually selected Agnew as his running mate in 1968.

As a vice presidential candidate and as vice president, Agnew delighted supportive crowds denouncing "thieves, traitors and perverts," and "radical liberals."

He became a leader in the Republican effort to woo white Southern and blue-collar voters who had traditionally voted Democratic.


Agnew resigned the vice presidency in 1973 because, while advocating law and order, it turned out that he had accepted kickbacks from contractors. He died bearing this shame of his crimes.

But Agnew's legacy lives on. Republicans have picked up conservative white votes and become the dominant party in the South and among white men.

Rap Brown lives in Atlanta, where he runs a grocery store and is an active spiritual leader.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Obama Cynical?

The following is a quote from Tucker Bounds, a
McCain campaign spokesman:

"The only cynical' candidate in this election
is Barack Obama for his continued opposition
to John McCain's comprehensive energy plan
that includes additional oil drilling, gas
tax relief and affordable nuclear energy."

If this is McCain's energy plan then this
country is headed to the poor house. I
believe oil companies have something like
70 million off shore acres to drill on
right now, yesterday. The Bush Administration's
own Energy Department says it would take about
seven years to get the first drop of oil.
The gas tax relief is the old idea of Hilliary's
during the campaign that was debunked. Under
McCain it is simply playing to people's fears
and amount to what, about a $35 one time saving?
And, to have "affordable nuclear eneryg", what
kool-ade has this man been drinking? Nuclear
is the most expensive form of energy there is.
That's why no utility has offered to build one in
the last 30 years. Let alone, whose backyard are
we going to put the contaminated waste in? Well,
maybe, Iran, after Israel nukes Iran. Ooops, sorry,
now I'm being cynical......

Utility Power

We have all heard the sad stories about people
losing their home power because the utilities
cut off their power for non-payment of bill.
Recently, in Mississippi all customers received
a 30% increase in monthly billing. Perhaps,
this is happening in other states as well.
Generally, the intended consumer watchdog
regulatory agencies are filled with utility
industry sympathizers, so there isnt much
regulatory control over the utility companies.
If consumers were not able to pay their bills
at the former rates, how will they keep the
power on?

There is a federal government program that
offers assistance call LIHEAP, or Low Income
Housing Energy Assistance Program. It is
funded at $2.1 billion which helps the elderly,
disabled, and single parent homes with
children younger than 6. Recently, a bill
was introduced in the U.S. Senate to increase
the program to $5.1 billion. It was defeated.
The past year over 96,000 Mississippi households
received this assistance.

As we have written a number of times, salaries and
wages for 96% of all U.S. workers have not kept up
with prices and inflation. For the groups mentioned
above, there is no way for them to keep up without
assistance. There is the LIHEAP which seems to be
administered by a County Agency, but there are
other means of assistance as well. Most utility
companies have assistance programs for the needy,
but, of course, there are cracks and people do
lose their power. The Salvation Army has a program
of assistance called Power To Care where customers
allocate money to a fund for others. Here in Ms
stockholders of the utility will match dolar for
dollar money donated by its customers. If this is
not done in your state this might be looked into.
The American Red Cross provides a similiar program.
Many local foundations are tapped for support.

The Posts concerning the loss of power to people in
Toledo and the terrible results which came from
that hopefully will not be repeated this next winter.
The above are some examples of what is happening in
MS. People die in Toledo from cold; people in MS
die from heat. We are all in the same boat. What
is really a shame is the negative votes of Democratic
and Republican Senators to increase funding for the
LIHEAP federal assistance.

Globalization and Wealth

How much free enterprise is enough? Should the
Federal Government encourage U. S. manufacturing
and other companies to go to foreign countries
and make more profits? What about the huge
amounts of wealth that are being accrued to thse
multi-national corporation CEOs? When do
excessive profits belong to the people? Should
the Federal Government tax excessive profits?
Obama is saying "Yes" to the oil Corporations?
Should that then be applied to all other
Corporations? Is a federal tax on globalization
appropriate? Would such a tax mimimize opposition
to globalization policies? Is it right that the
CEOs of Fredie Max and Fanny Mae maintain a $20
million dollar annual income after the recent
Federal Government bailout, and the U.S. consumer
receives nothing in return. Isn't it funny that
the federal government is praised for helping out
private corporations, but is damned if it wants
to maintain social security or provide national
health insurance? Why should, we the people, bail
out corporation after corporation and receive
nothing in return? Is it right that this super
rich elite class avoids fair taxation and pass all
of their wealth to their descendants? Why are
the wages of retail workers, service workers,
police and fire workers, factory workers , and
teachers taxed unfairly, while income from stock
trading and income from dividends have a privileged
tax status? What is to be done?

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