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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 68,464

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Happy Thursday the 20th!

The base of our economy are the middle and working classes and the working poor

And the uber rich have been chipping away at that base for as long as anyone can remember.

But when that base crumbles in on itself, what does the rich think will happen to everyone above that base?

Or are they not thinking at all?

Let's Ride...

Yeaaah, I don't think I'm going back to Florida...

White fear of Black men

Bonnie Berman Cushing

I have been devoted to a white anti-racist path for close to a dozen years, but I still stiffen with fear and a state of heightened awareness when I find myself alone on a darkened street with one or more Black men nearby.

As a dedicated student of anti-racist facts and principles I know intellectually that white people are five times more likely to be attacked by another white person than by a Black one and that two-thirds of the rapes committed in our country are by white men. I am aware that the vast majority of corporate criminals are white and that most of our politicians who have declared war – bringing death and destruction to millions – also have the same skin color as I do. My own experience includes a mugging at gunpoint and a date rape – both at the hands of white men. And yet I have never found myself anxiously responding to a white male or males on an evening walk the way I do in the presence of Black men. Why, exactly, is that?

I believe there are several reasons for this disturbing phenomenon and that it certainly isn’t limited only to me, but also to most (if not all) white folks – and many people of color as well. History, psychology and media all play a significant role. The myth of the predatory Black man stands on the shoulders of centuries of stories and images shared from one generation to the next, sometimes directly and sometimes in coded messaging (such as admonishments to lock the car in certain neighborhoods or clutch your pocketbook closely on certain elevators and streets). Our collective fear of the Black man has a rich and detailed history, one that by this time has practically been encoded in our national DNA.

A Black woman, writing under the name M. Gibson, expressed this truth succinctly in a comment on a blog site shortly after a police officer killed Oscar Grant in Oakland, California:

As a nation we seem to have very short memories. Fear of the black man just didn’t start overnight, and it didn’t just happen during the course of our lifetime; like any singularity it has to have a beginning. Its origin has been embedded in this nation’s consciousness since the Nat Turner revolt; a pathological fear that the oppressed will one day rise up and inflict vengeance upon the oppressor.


I know that most of you guys probably think that I'm nuts...

After all, I've suggested that blue voters move into red districts in order to defeat GOP gerrymandering: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025765041

However, if anyone has any better ideers, I'll all ears.

First off, this country should just declare victory in the "War on drugs" and end it right away.

Close a lot of prisons, pardon non-violent drug offenders and revert our entire law enforcement model back into the community policing phase, add to it a healthy dose of demilitarization as well.

Same goes for any of our other so-called "wars" as well. We're just not very good at this stuff. Or maybe we're the best at lying about them. Nothing is ever what it seems.

However, given our track record as a nation to conduct counter-intuitive wars for fun and profit, perhaps we should use our well established skill-set and flip the script?

I can think of several "wars" we can launch that all have to potential to reap a mountain-load of beneficial results:

- Let's declare a War on Niceness:

"A True American is a Complete Asshole," our newly appointed Anti-Niceness Czar could declare. Well since people in this country all seem to have an instinctive urge to rebel against authority, I would say that the positive vibes would start perking up in a heartbeat.

Folks would think twice before shooting, beating and stabbing each other, simply because the government said that they should.

Not just that, but based on our own well worn and precedented patterns of policy creation, the government's own anti-niceness efforts would quickly have the opposite effect. The huge Anti-Niceness Industrial Complex would actually develop into mankind's greatest purveyor of human niceness ever.

The society would develop an entire underground economy of niceness. Roving gangs of rebelliously friendly youth would roam our streets in order to commit unwarranted acts of human kindness against completely unsuspecting strangers.

This country would become sweeter than a four week old puppy in an instant.

- Let's declare a War on Smartness:

"It's your duty as an American citizen to be a complete moron," so would say the newly appointed Ignorance Czar. "The greatest threat to this country is a well informed an thoughtful populace and we pledge to do everything within our power to end this scourge."

The response to such an announcement would be almost immediate, of course. All of the sudden, it wouldn't be as fashionable as it is today for a lot of Americans to look and sound like utter doofuses.

At elections, well informed voters would be wiling to stand in lines for hours on end to vote for the best candidates and most productive and positive choices on various ballot measures as a citizens protest.

Our newly developed Ignorance Industrial Complex would become the single most important engine of rational decision making, because of all the profit that it generates by perpetuating itself.

At kitchen tables all across this great land, dumbass parents would scold their children for getting good grades and reading books instead of playing video games, and those kids would act out against their parents by becoming well-informed and productive individuals, because as we all know, kids hate being told what to do.

The arts and sciences would become very attractive endeavors to the counter-culture crowd. Learning about history and civics would become acts of civil disobedience.

An American War on Ignorance would have the potential to turn this country into the most educated and well informed society on the face of this Earth.

- Let's declare a War on Healthy Living:

Our experience with First Lady's campaign for healthy eating and exercise has been highly instructive. Many Americans actually came out against living and eating well. Perhaps an opposite approach would have better results.

Since the vast majority of complacently sedentary slobs in this country all elicit a visceral reaction against people unlike themselves, it would be most helpful to appoint someone that they would loathe to identify with.

Thus, our Anti-Healthy Living Czar should be an unkempt and obese ethnic minority woman (immigrant perhaps). Announcing anti-healthy dictums from the comfort of her La-z-boy chair, she would encourage her fellow Americans to do absolutely nothing that would be beneficially strenuous or nutritionally helpful.

Pointing a Doritos stained finger at America, she would impart that a life filled with diabetes, high-blood pressure and morbid obesity was our civic responsibility and the best thing ever and she would encourage all citizens to live their own lives accordingly.

The spontaneous protests against the government suggested paradigm would be explosive.

Fresh fruits and vegetables could be reclassified as "junk food" and the prices would fall. Salad delivery franchises could pop up overnight.

Running, walking and biking would become popular to the formerly Fat Lazy Bum set.

"I don't like the government telling me what to do," could say the winner of a local marathon, a former 300 pound couch potato who was incensed when an overweight brown woman with a funny accent told him that he was just like her.

If you have spent some time trying to figure out why this country seems bound and determined to do the complete opposite of the rest of the Western Industrial Civilization, you'll come to the conclusion that our fault lies in exhibiting a rebelliously contrarian streak a mile wide.

It's that thing about us which makes actual common sense all too uncommon against other countries in term of standard of living, equality and fairness. Too many people in this country believe that that foreign crap is for suckers and respond accordingly.

We're Americans, Gawd dammit! We hate being told what to do, even it's ultimately for the common good.

Perhaps it's time to declare a War on Common Sense as well, since it's all too uncommon these days.

Harvard Students Take 1964 Literacy Test Black Voters Had To Pass Before Voting — They All Failed


Recently, a group of Harvard students were asked to take the 1964 Louisiana Literacy Test — one of the extreme efforts to stop African Americans from voting that eventually led to the passing of the Voting Rights Act. Since racism is no longer a thing in America, according to the Supreme Court, and the Voting Rights Act has been effectively gutted, it might be time for a lesson from the past.

The test required those who took it to correctly answer 30 questions in 10 minutes — something even a group of Harvard students could not do today. The students were recorded struggling with the vaguely-worded questions. Under Louisiana law at the time these students would each require a 100% score on the test to be able to vote.

Carl Miller, a resident tutor at Harvard who administered the test, says that the purpose of the students’ participation was to teach them how unjust the electoral process was toward African Americans.

“Exactly 50 years ago, states in the American South issued this exact test to any voter who could not ‘prove a fifth grade education,'” said Miller. “Unsurprisingly, the only people who ever saw this test were blacks and, to a lesser extent, poor whites trying to vote in the South.”

Miller said he hoped to “see if some of the ‘brightest young minds in the world” could pass a test that was intended to “prove” someone had at least a fifth-grade education, according to the Daily Mail.


How scenic...

The Racist Housing Policies That Built Ferguson

The geography of America would be unrecognizable today without the race-based social engineering of the mid-20th century.


A 1916 leaflet proposes to segregate St. Louis. The measure passed. (Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center)

The Economic Policy Institute has just released a report by Richard Rothstein that gives some sense of how the world of Michael Brown came to be. It turns out that that world was born from the exact same forces that forged cities and suburbs across the country—racist housing policy at the local, state, and national levels. Rothstein's report eschews talk of mindless white flight, and black-hearted individual racists, and puts the onus exactly where it belongs:

That governmental actions, not mere private prejudice, were responsible for segregating greater St. Louis was once conventional informed opinion. In 1974, a three-judge panel of the federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that “segregated housing in the St. Louis metropolitan area was … in large measure the result of deliberate racial discrimination in the housing market by the real estate industry and by agencies of the federal, state, and local governments.”

Similar observations accurately describe every other large metropolitan area; in St. Louis, the Department of Justice stipulated to this truth but took no action in response. In 1980, a federal court order included an instruction for the state, county, and city governments to devise plans to integrate schools by integrating housing. Public officials ignored this aspect of the order, devising only a voluntary busing plan to integrate schools, but no programs to combat housing segregation.


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