Wednesday, January 5, 2011

09/01 Statement of Congressman Dennis Kucinich Reaction to Terrorist Attacks

09/01 Statement of Congressman Dennis Kucinich Reaction to Terrorist Attacks
Against U.S.
Tuesday, 11 September 2001

Washington, Sep 11 -

America grieves this day for the victims of these terrorist attacks, and for their families and friends. Our prayers are with them and our hearts go out to those who have endured unbearable loss today. Our most hopeful thoughts are with those who have risked their lives in heroic rescue efforts. In this grim moment, we must be resolute in protecting the fabric of our democracy and the individual freedoms that make America a great nation. As we grieve, we cannot let terrorists win
by turning the United States into a national security state. We cannot let their dialogue become our dialogue.

America must remain calm because such calm is essential to preserving our liberties. America must bring to justice those
responsible for these cowardly deeds. We must be cautious about rolling back freedoms at home or placing blame in the
wrong place.

America must continue to be a beacon of democracy for the world. (What kind of beacon for democracy is this nation, in truthful reality?) Let this sad moment cause all governments and all people of good will around the world to unite and to move together to challenge and uproot those who have destructive goals which seek to create death and drive the world toward chaos. Now, more than ever, America must continue to be a force for peace in the world. We must not let the terrorists win.

Mr. President, I’m Exhausted of Defending You

Well, you should have thought about that BEFORE you started defending him. Should have challenged every assertion he ever made and grilled him over the charcoals on his flip flops.
Monday, September 20 2010
While Democrats struggle to decide whether or not President Obama is a political liability this election season, there’s at least one segment of the party that’s still strongly in the president’s corner: black voters.
Polls show that the president still enjoys a 91 percent favorability rating among likely black voters, reported Nia-Malika Henderson for the Washington Post. That’s compared to a relatively dismal 46 percent job approval rating among voters as a whole, according to a recent Gallup poll. The latter number has been assigned to the president’s dramatic loss of support among independent voters, who once flocked to his side.
But in a town hall-style Q&A hosted by CNBC today, President Obama faced the sort of questioning that raises doubts about the depth of support Democrats can expect in November from their base, including black voters. Shortly after the session began, a woman rose and offered more of a testimonial than a question for the president (see video above). It may have crystalized the feelings quietly held by many of his supporters, in the black community and elsewhere, better than anything we’ve heard thus far.
The woman, who was black, identified herself as a veteran and an executive who is raising two children—and who has been a supporter of the president. “I am one of your middle class Americans and, quite frankly, I’m exhausted,” she said. “I’m exhausted of defending you. I’m exhausted of defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for. And I’m deeply disappointed with where we are right now.” 
The woman’s voice shook as she seemed to fight back both anger and fear—she was, after all, about to read the president. “I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I am one of those people and I’m waiting sir. I’m waiting. I don’t feel it yet. And I thought, while it wouldn’t be in great measure, I would feel it in some small measure.”
She went on to explain that her and her husband have put their kids in private school and, next year, will deal with college bills. They thought these and other achievements meant they had strived past the point of struggle, but now they struggle consistently to make ends meet. “And quite frankly Mr. President,” she concluded, “I need you to answer this honestly: Is this my new reality?”
The president’s answer to the woman and throughout this election cycle has been that the hole into which our economy fell during the Bush era is historically deep and it will take time to climb out. Absent efforts such as the stimulus, financial reform and new credit card regulations, we wouldn’t be as far along as we are. But that’s a tough case to make to people like this afternoon’s questioner—people who feel, nonetheless, the White House could have acted much more boldly than it has since taking office. 
Congressional Black Caucus
Meanwhile, on Saturday, the president addressed a crowd of black lawmakers at the annual Congressional Black Caucus gala, where he called for a return to the types of grassroots activism that made the civil rights movement economically sustainable. The Washington Post recounted the president saying:
“I said back on the campaign that change would be hard. It wasn’t just a matter of me getting elected, and suddenly, our problems all go away. It was a matter of all of us getting involved, all of us staying committed, all of us sticking with our plan for a better future until it was complete. That’s how we’ve always moved forward in this country.”
“Each and every time we’ve made epic change - from this country’s founding, to emancipation, to women’s suffrage, to workers’ rights - it hasn’t come from a man. It’s come from a plan. It’s come from a grass-roots movement rallying around a cause,” he said. “What made the civil rights movement possible were foot soldiers like so many of you, sitting down at lunch counters and standing up for freedom. What made it possible for me to be here today are Americans throughout our history making our union more equal, making our union more just, making our union more perfect. That’s what we need again.
Of course, the Congressional Black Caucus has hardly been the face of grassroots change this campaign season. To the contrary, since July, several members of the caucus have been besieged by allegations of ethical impropriety. Though the charges haven’t done much to tank the politicians’ standing in their home districts, they’ve been taken up by the GOP on the campaign trail. With black politicos playing political defense, it’s hard to see how they can be counted on to rally the black voters who can help buttress Democrats in at least some tough races.
Read the president’s address in its entirety:
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, CBC! (Applause.) Well, it is wonderful to be back with all of you.
I want to acknowledge, first of all, chair of the CBC, Barbara Lee, for the outstanding work that she has done this year. (Applause.) Somebody who not only is a passionate defender of our domestic agenda, but also somebody who knows more about our foreign policy than just about anybody on the Hill, the chair of the CBC Foundation, Donald Payne. Thank you. (Applause.) Our ALC Conference co-chairs, Elijah Cummings and Diane Watson — thank you. (Applause.) Dr. Elsie Scott, president and CEO of the CBC Foundation, thank you for your outstanding work.
We’ve got a couple of very special guests here today. I want to give a shout out to my friend, somebody who all of us rely on for his wisdom, his steadiness — the House Majority Whip, Jim Clyburn. (Applause.) A couple of folks who are working tirelessly in my Cabinet — the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, is in the house. (Applause.) The woman who is charged with implementing health care reform — HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is here. (Applause.) Our United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Ron Kirk is here. (Applause.)
And obviously it is a great honor to have been able to speak backstage to this year’s Phoenix Award honorees, Judith Jamison, Harry Belafonte, Sheila Oliver, and Simeon Booker. Thank you for everything that you’ve done for America. (Applause.)
I know you’ve spent a good deal of time during CBC weekend talking about a whole range of issues, and talking about what the future holds not just for the African American community, but for the United States of America. I’ve been spending some time thinking about that, too. (Laughter.) And at this time of great challenge, one source of inspiration is the story behind the founding of the Congressional Black Caucus.
I want us to all take a moment and remember what was happening 40 years ago when 13 black members of Congress decided to come together and form this caucus. It was 1969. More than a decade had passed since the Supreme Court decided Brown versus Board of Education. It had been years since Selma and Montgomery, since Dr. King had told America of his dream — all of it culminating in the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.
The founders of this caucus could look back and feel pride in the progress that had been made. They could feel confident that America was finally moving in the right direction. But they knew they couldn’t afford to rest on their laurels. They couldn’t be complacent. There were still too many inequalities to be eliminated. Too many injustices to be overturned. Too many wrongs to be righted.
That’s why the CBC was formed — to right wrongs; to be the conscience of the Congress. And at the very first CBC dinner, the great actor and activist, Ossie Davis, told the audience America was at a crossroad. And although his speech was magnificent and eloquent, he boiled his message down to a nice little phrase when it came to how America would move forward. He said, “It’s not the man, it’s the plan.” It’s not the man, it’s the plan. That was true 40 years ago. It is true today. (Applause.)
We all understood that during my campaign. This wasn’t just about electing a black President. This was about a plan to rescue our economy, and rebuild it on a new foundation. (Applause.)
Statistics just came out this week: From 2001 to 2009, the income of middle-class families in this country went down 5 percent. Think about that. People’s incomes during that period, when the economy was growing, went down 5 percent. That’s what our agenda was about — making sure that we were changing that pattern. It was about giving every hardworking American a chance to join a growing and vibrant middle class — and giving people ladders and steps to success. It was about putting the American Dream within the reach of all Americans — not just some — no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, everybody would have access to the America Dream. (Applause.)
I don’t have to tell you we’re not there yet. This historic recession, the worst since the Great Depression, has taken a devastating toll on all sectors of our economy. It’s hit Americans of all races and all regions and all walks of life. But as has been true often in our history, as has been true in other recessions, this one came down with a particular vengeance on the African American community.
It added to problems that a lot of neighborhoods had been facing long before the storm of this recession. Long before this recession, there were black men and women throughout our cities and towns who’d given up looking for a job, kids standing around on the corners without any prospects for the future. Long before this recession, there were blocks full of shuttered stores that hadn’t been open in generations. So, yes, this recession made matters much worse, but the African American community has been struggling for quite some time.
It’s been a decade in which progress has stalled. And we know that repairing the damage, climbing our way out of this recession, we understand it will take time. It’s not going to happen overnight. But what I want to say to all of you tonight is that we’ve begun the hard work of moving this country forward. We are moving in the right direction. (Applause.)
When I took office, our economy was on the brink of collapse. So we acted immediately, and the CBC acted immediately, and we took steps to stop the financial meltdown and our economic freefall. And now our economy is growing again. The month I was sworn in we had lost 750,000 jobs. We’ve now seen eight months in a row in which we’ve added private sector jobs. (Applause.) We’re in a different place than we were a year ago — or 18 months ago.
And let’s face it, taking some of these steps wasn’t easy. There were a lot of naysayers, a lot of skepticism. There was a lot of skepticism about whether we could get GM and Chrysler back on their feet. There were folks who wanted to walk away, potentially see another million jobs lost. But we said we’ve got to try. And now U.S. auto industries are profitable again and hiring again, back on their feet again, on the move again. (Applause.)
There were folks who were wondering whether we could hold the banks accountable for what they had done to taxpayers; or were skeptical about whether we could make infrastructure investments and investments in clean energy and investments in education, and hold ourselves accountable for how that money was spent. There was a lot of skepticism about what we were trying to do. And a lot of it was unpopular.
But I want to remind everybody here, you did not elect me to do what was popular. You elected me to do what was right. (Applause.) That’s what we’ve been fighting together for — to do what’s right. (Applause.) We don’t have our finger out to the wind to know what’s right.
That’s why we passed health insurance reform that will make it illegal for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition. (Applause.) Historic reforms that gives over 30 million Americans the chance to finally obtain quality care, tackles the disparities in the health care system, puts a cap on the amount you can be charged in out-of-pocket expenses. Because nobody should go broke because they got sick in a country like the United States of America. Not here. (Applause.)
That’s why we passed Wall Street reform, to finally crack down on the predatory practices of some of the banks and mortgage companies — so we can protect hardworking families from abusive fees or unjustified rates every time they use a credit card, or make a mortgage payment, or go to a payday loan operation, or take out a student loan, or overdraw on their account at an ATM. Laws that will help put an end to the days of government bailouts so Main Street never again has to pay for Wall Street’s mistakes. (Applause.)
That’s why we made historic investments in education, including our HBCUs — (applause) — and shifted tens of billions of dollars that were going to subsidize banks, and made sure that money was giving millions of more children the chance to go to college and have a better future. That’s what we’ve been doing. (Applause.)
That’s why we’re keeping the promises I made on the campaign trail. We passed tax cuts for 95 percent of working families. We expanded national service from AmeriCorps to the Peace Corps. We recommitted our Justice Department to the enforcement of civil rights laws. We changed sentencing disparities as a consequence of the hard work of many in the CBC. We started closing tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas so we can give those tax breaks to companies that invest right here in the United States of America. (Applause.)
We ended our combat mission in Iraq, and welcomed nearly 100,000 troops home. (Applause.) In Afghanistan, we’re breaking the momentum of the Taliban and training Afghan forces so that, next summer, we can begin the transition to Afghan responsibility. (Applause.) And in the meantime, we’re making sure we take care of our veterans as well as they have taken care of us. We don’t just talk about our veterans, give speeches about our veterans; we actually put the money in to make sure we’re taking care of our veterans. (Applause.)
And even as we manage these national security priorities, we are partnering with developing countries to feed and educate and house their people. We’re helping Haiti rebuild, following an unprecedented response from the United States government and the United States military in the wake of the devastation there. (Applause.) In Sudan, we’re committed to doing our part — and we call on the parties there to do their part — to fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and ensure lasting peace and accountability in Darfur. (Applause.) As I said in Ghana, it is in America’s strategic interest to be a stronger partner with the nations throughout Africa. That’s not just good for them; that’s good for us. (Applause.)
That’s what we’ve been doing, CBC, at home and abroad. It’s been an important time. We’ve had a historic legislative session. We could have been just keeping things quiet and peaceful around here — because change is hard. But we decided to do what was hard and necessary to move this country forward. Members of the CBC have helped deliver some of the most significant progress in a generation — (applause) — laws that will help strengthen America’s middle class and give more pathways for men and women to climb out of poverty.
But we still got a long way to go — too many people still out of work; too many families still facing foreclosure; too many businesses and neighborhoods still struggling to rebound. During the course of this recession, poverty has gone up to a 15-year high.
So it’s not surprising, given the hardships we’re seeing all across the land, that a lot of people may not be feeling very energized, very engaged right now. A lot of folks may be feeling like politics is something that they get involved with every four years when there’s a presidential election, but they don’t see why they should bother the rest of the time — which brings me back to Ossie Davis. Ossie Davis understood — it’s not the man, it’s the plan. And the plan is still unfinished. (Applause.)
For all the strides we’ve made in our economy, we need to finish our plan for a stronger economy. Our middle class is still shaken, and too many folks are still locked in poverty. For all the progress on education, too many students aren’t graduating ready for college and a career. We still have schools where half the kids are dropping out. We’ve got to finish our plan to give all of our children the best education the world has to offer.
We’ve still got to implement health care reform so that it brings down costs and improves access for all people. And we’ve got to make sure that we are putting people to work rebuilding America’s roads and railways and runways and schools. We’ve got more work to do. We’ve got a plan to finish.
Now, remember, the other side has a plan, too. It’s a plan to turn back the clock on every bit of progress we’ve made. To paraphrase my friend, Deval Patrick, the last election was a changing of the guard — now we’ve got to guard the change. (Applause.) Because everything that we are for our opponents have spent two years fighting against. They said no to unemployment insurance; no to tax cuts for ordinary working families; no for small business loans; no to providing additional assistance to students who desperately want to go to school. That’s their motto: No, we can’t. (Laughter.) Can you imagine having that on your bumper sticker? (Laughter.) It’s not very inspiring.
In fact, the only agenda they’ve got is to go back to the same old policies that got us into this mess in the first place. I’ll give you an example. They want to borrow $700 billion — keep in mind, we don’t have $700 billion — they want to borrow $700 billion — from the Chinese or the Saudis or whoever is lending — and use it on tax cuts, more tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. Average tax cut, $100,000 for people making a million dollars or more.
Now, the next few years are going to be tough budget years, which is why I’ve called for a freeze on some discretionary spending. If we are spending $700 billion, we’re borrowing $700 billion, not paying for it, it’s got to come from somewhere. Where do you think it’s going to come from? Who do you think is going to pay for these $100,000 checks going to millionaires? Our seniors? Our children? Hardworking families all across America that are already struggling?
We shouldn’t be passing tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires right now. That’s not what we should be doing. We should be helping the middle class grow. We should be proving pathways out of poverty. And yet, the man with the plan to be speaker of the House, John Boehner, attacked us for closing corporate tax loopholes and using the money to keep hundreds of thousands of essential personnel on the jobs all across the states. He called these jobs — and I quote — “government jobs,” suggested they weren’t worth saving. Teacher jobs, police officer jobs, firefighter jobs.
Ask your sister who’s a teacher if her job is worth saving. Ask your uncle who’s a firefighter if his job was worth saving. Ask your cousin who’s a police officer if her job was worth saving. Ask your neighbors if their jobs were worth saving. (Applause.) Because I think a job is worth saving if it’s keeping Americans working and keeping America strong and secure. That’s what I believe. That’s what’s at stake in this. (Applause.) They want to hand Washington back over to special interests. We’re fighting on behalf of the American people. They want to take us backwards. We want to move forward.
Their main strategy is they’re betting you’ll come down with a case of amnesia, that you’ll forget what happened between 2001 and 2009, what that agenda did to this country when they were in charge. And they spent almost a decade driving the economy into the ditch. And now we’ve been down in that ditch, put on our boots — it’s hot down there — we’ve been pushing the car, shoving it — (laughter) — sweating. They’re standing on the sidelines, sipping a Slurpee — (laughter) — watching us, saying, “You’re not pushing fast enough. You’re not pushing hard enough.” (Laughter.)
Finally we get the car out of the ditch, it’s back on the road. They tap us on the shoulder. They say, “We want the keys back.” We tell them, you can’t have the keys back. You don’t know how to drive. (Applause.) You can’t have it back. (Applause.)
That’s right. You can’t give them the keys. (Laughter.) Now, I just want to point out, if you want your car to go forward, what do you do? You put it in “D.” You want to go backwards, what do you do? (Applause.) That’s all I’m saying. That’s not a coincidence. (Applause.) That’s not a coincidence.
All right, we’ve got to move this program along. (Laughter.)
There are those who want to turn back the clock. They want to do what’s right politically, instead of what’s right — period. They think about the next election. We’re thinking about the next generation. (Applause.) We can’t think short term when so many people are out of work, not when so many families are still hurting. We need to finish the plan you elected me to put in place. (Applause.)
And I need you. I need you because this isn’t going to be easy. And I didn’t promise you easy. I said back on the campaign that change was going to be hard. Sometimes it’s going to be slower than some folks would like. I said sometimes we’d be making some compromises and people would be frustrated. I said I could not do it alone. This wasn’t just a matter of getting me elected, and suddenly, I was going to snap my fingers and all our problems would go away. It was a matter of all of us getting involved, all of us staying committed, all of us sticking with our plan for a better future until it was complete. (Applause.) That’s how we’ve always moved this country forward.
Each and every time we’ve made epic change — from this country’s founding to emancipation, to women’s suffrage, to workers’ rights — it has not come from a man. It has come from a plan. It has come from a grassroots movement rallying around a cause. That’s what the civil rights movement made possible — foot soldiers like so many of you, sitting down at lunch counters, standing up for freedom; what made it possible for me to be here today — Americans throughout our history making our union more equal, making our union more just, making our union more perfect, one step at a time.
That’s what we need again. I need everybody here to go back to your neighborhoods, to go back to your workplaces, to go to churches and go to the barbershops and got to the beauty shops, and tell them we’ve got more work to do. Tell them we can’t wait to organize. Tell them that the time for action is now, and that if each and every person in this country who knows what is at stake steps up to the plate, if we are willing to rise to this moment like we’ve always done, then together we will write our own destiny once more.
Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Dave Somersby, one of the nation's leading education experts weighs in

PART 2—IT ALL COMES DOWN TO US (permalink): It’s hard to fathom how poorly the mainstream press corps tends to function (though that’s an old tale around here). Consider the Washington Post report to which we linked on Monday.
Help! In this rather typical news report, Nick Anderson writes about a semi-controversial reading program, Success for All. (Why is the program controversial? Some people think it’s too “scripted”—Jonathan Kozol, let’s say.) “The evidence is that it improves reading achievement for children in younger grades,” Anderson quotes an expert saying.
Success for All “improves reading achievement for children in younger grades?” Presumably, this means that the program “improves reading achievement” as compared to other programs. If so, that’s a very good thing, of course. And indeed! When Anderson visits a school which is using the program, he seems to say that Success for All has produced a notable degree of success:
ANDERSON (1/2/11): At Grasonville Elementary School, where about 30 percent of the 475 students come from families poor enough to qualify for meal subsidies, Success for All is credited with helping students achieve perennially strong reading test scores. The Queen Anne's County school, just east of Kent Narrows, began the program in 1997.
Grasonville Elementary has used Success for All for the past fourteen years. But are this school’s “perennially strong reading scores” in some way out of the ordinary? You’d think a reform-lovin’ paper like the Post would want to answer so basic a question. But argh! Anderson makes no attempt to report Grasonville’s reading scores, or to compare its reading scores with those of similar schools. Nor does he cite any other evidence, from any quarter, in support of Success for All—though one day later, a colleague did, in a Post blog item (see below).
(For the record, Anderson seems to suggest in the passage above that Grasonville serves a low-income population. In fact, on a statewide basis, 45 percent of Maryland elementary students “qualify for meal subsidies;” Grasonville’s student population is a bit more affluent than that of the state as a whole. Beyond that, the school has many fewer minority kids than the state as a whole—about 19 percent, as compared to roughly 45 percent statewide. For all data, start clicking here.)
In short, Anderson makes no attempt to examine the central claim of his piece—the apparent claim that Grasonville’s reading scores are higher than one might expect, due to its reading program. For ourselves, we’ll only say this—after looking at Grasonville’s reading scores, we don’t see a sharply unusual degree of success. (This is notsurprisingly strong. meant as a criticism.) Grasonville’s black kids seem to do no better than the state’s black kids as a whole, for example—although we’re dealing with small numbers. But Anderson makes no attempt to evaluate the claim at the heart of his piece, even as he seems to report that Success for All has helped this school achieve “perennially strong reading test scores”—reading scores, one would assume, which are
Why do our biggest newspapers function in such puzzling ways? We can’t answer that question. But they have functioned this way for a very long way, as they cover a wide array of important subjects. Our education reporting has always been weak; our political reporting has long been dismal. Moving forward, this places a very large burden on the nation’s progressives and liberals.
Moving forward, it’s largely on us.
Our nation’s discourse is a wreck—a parody of sound intellectual function. Our big news organs routinely produce groaning work on the nation’s most important political topics. Meanwhile, one other major sector works to undermine the discourse. As our biggest news organs flounder, major conservative organs pump disinformation into the system about all major issues.
How can a modern society hope to function in these unfortunate circumstances? In this new year, we will be focusing on the burden which falls to progressives in this unfortunate cultural moment. How can progressives build an accurate, truthful discourse which is convincing and helpful to average citizens? Simple story: If we want a less ludicrous national discourse, it all comes down to us.
We’ve complained about the press corps for years. In the new year, we’ll focus on a newer question:
How should we liberals proceed? Sadly enough, it all comes down to us.
Tomorrow—part 3: Observing a few of our instincts

The Apple Falls Very Near the Tree

James Edward “Billy” McKinney Laid to Rest

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Billiy McKinneyby Cynthia McKinney
Former Georgia Congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney spoke at the funeral of her father and co-struggler, July 19. Thousands attended the ceremonies at Atlanta’s Jackson Memorial Baptist Church. “Billy” McKinney, born February 23, 1927, was one of Atlanta’s first Black policemen (1947) and a 30-year veteran of the state legislature.
James Edward “Billy” McKinney Laid to Rest
by Cynthia McKinney
Through this journey with my father, I’ve learned to appreciate the African and Asian views of love--that its touch is so deep to our core as human beings, that it is unquantifiable, it is undefinable, and it is what helps to give us core and value and depth and meaning--when we find it.”
Reverend Creecy, Reverend Sutton, Reverend Rice, Elected Officials, and all of you.
Thank you all for being here with us today to honor my father and to help all of us who knew and loved him manage our collective grief. It’s funny how I never believed that it would come to this. You all know that Billy was larger than life. He was honest, smart, street-wise, pensive, yet playful. That’s why I can say without a doubt that Billy taught me how to live.
After I came back from a humanitarian mission to Gaza, but instead having spent 7 days in an Israeli prison, I went on a nationwide tour to tell interested communities what had happened to me. At the Seattle airport, a supporter who has now become my friend, paid me the highest compliment: she told me that I was “alive.”
I thought long and hard about that. Because, honestly, much to my father’s chagrin, there are so many people in our community who pass their days just marking time instead of making a difference. Billy knew that it was within our capacity to materially change our conditions, if we would only do what is required. He knew that because he did that. And somehow, he transmitted that faith in our fellow human beings to me and taught me to be free.
My father also taught me how to love. I’ve learned from my own personal experiences that it’s easy for us Americans to think that we can just order love and pick it up at the drive-through window. But through this journey with my father, I’ve learned to appreciate the African and Asian views of love--that its touch is so deep to our core as human beings, that it is unquantifiable, it is undefinable, and it is what helps to give us core and value and depth and meaning--when we find it.
Billy taught me love on two levels. He taught me the kind of love that would risk his job to challenge police brutality; that would challenge racism and discrimination; that would give away my Christmas “Etch-a-Sketch” the day after Christmas to a needy child in Bowen Homes. I never forgot that.
And so, I learned to love my community because every action in my father’s being showed me how to do that. I learned to love humanity because I saw my father grow in his own attitudes and admit that he was wrong about gays and apologize to them in 1996 when he saw their dedication to me after I was forced into a bruising legal battle to remain in Congress and it was only the white gay community in Atlanta that would cross the racial "Maginot" line that is Candler Road out in Decatur and come into my campaign headquarters and fold letters and stuff envelopes and answer phones and do whatever was necessary to help me win reelection in a vastly redrawn district. And I did win in a hotly contested race.
My father loved people. He sacrificed too much in the way of personal wants and his family sacrificed, too, because his focus wasn’t on only us, it was on his beloved community, too.
But he has been unfairly smeared by special interests in this town who want to preserve *their* interests at the expense of yours. And my father was not about to sacrifice your interests. In my father, you had a protector and I know you all know that.
He has been unfairly smeared by special interests in this town who want to preserve their interests at the expense of yours.”
And so, when the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other aspects of the pro-Israel Lobby in this country, including their supporters right here in Georgia, targeted me for defeat, my father came to my rescue by telling the truth. I was targeted by the pro-Israel Lobby because I dared to question the Bush Administration about what happened on September 11, 2001 and because I have the audacity to believe that no group of people, including Palestinians who *are* the Semitic people in this discussion, by the way, should suffer as Blacks in the United States have suffered. Billy McKinney called them out and let you know the truth about what was going on and who was doing it in the midst of intentionally-created confusion and campaign chaos.
That chaos included acts of political sabotage, including both my father and I being abandoned by some of our closest personal and political friends. The attack on us was total. And the battle was for your mind so that you would lose respect for someone unafraid of speaking truth to power.  My father came to my defense because I rightly questioned how George Bush could “win” an election in which he lost the vote; why Africa’s diamonds, oil, cobalt, copper, uranium, coltan, timber, and fisheries enriched economies in Europe, the United States, and Israel while Africa remained broke and broken. What I was doing went to the core of the existing power configuration in this country and I began to expose its method of finance.
Afterall, I was sent to Washington to represent you. Only thing was that when I got attacked, Billy came to my defense. And he was punished for doing so. Every bad word you read or hear in the special interest press about either one of us, just know that the powerful individuals who operate in the shadows of power, pulling the strings of your elected officials, the U.S. military, government contracts--they all want to keep things in your life exactly as they are now and Billy McKinney understood fully that we need change, but that we are not going to get the deep, structural kind of change we need--we can’t get it on the cheap.
Billy McKinney made the kind of principled sacrifices that allow us to sleep better at night.
Lord, what are we going to do now?
Billy McKinney was all about love. And Billy McKinney loved Leola. During his illness, he would just sit and stare at my mother. And she would ask him what he’s looking at. And he would say “I’m admiring how beautiful you are.”
Billy taught me to understand that even at the depth of my grief, I must never forget the grief of others.”
Billy and Leola were the definition of love. And in these last months, they have shown me how devoid my life is of that kind of undefinable, unquantifiable love. In that regard, I have a lot of introspection to do.
Billy McKinney also taught me how to cry. Over these past few months, I didn’t know my body could create so many tears. I have never in my life known this kind of sadness. But Billy taught me to understand that even at the depth of my grief, I must never forget the grief of others: that mothers are crying all over the world because of U.S. policy.
My father was such a strong black man. It would make me cry just to watch him endure his illness with such grace and dignity. He never complained. No matter how much discomfort my father was in, his universal response was “it’s all good.” And one day at the hospital he was so uncomfortable, he was really uncomfortable, but I heard him say aloud to himself, “It’s gonna be alright, anyway.”
One day he wanted the nurse to reposition him. He was getting his medicine in a way that prevented him from being moved, but he was uncomfortable. So he begged the nurse to please reposition him. Then, as the nurse was about to leave the room, Billy turned to me and asked, “Did she give in?”
Billy McKinney taught me how to live and how to love, how to cry and how to die. My father, BIlly McKinney, was a hell of a man.
On behalf of the family, I’d like to thank all of you for the love you gave my father during his life and the support you give to us now.
A Glimpse into the life of Honorable James Edward “Billy” McKinney
[Sunrise February 23, 1927 -- Sunset July 15, 2010]
James Edward “Billy” McKinney was born to the late Ann Lewis in Atlanta, Georgia. He was raised by his loving grandmother, Annie Bell Dixon.
Billy joined the U.S. Army in 1945. Upon his return to Georgia from the European war theatre, while still wearing his U.S. Army uniform, Billy was arrested for drinking from the “White Only” water fountain.
He attended Clark Atlanta, University and joined the fraternity Phi Beta Sigma.
In his younger days, Billy was an avid tennis player. He also spent a lot of time reading and researching, turning himself into a "walking encyclopedia." His unique view of the world sometimes found him at odds with so-called conventional wisdom, but Billy McKinney was true to his principles, regardless.
Billy,” as he is fondly known by family, friends and colleagues grew up to become a socially and politically conscious young man; always fighting for justice and equality. This mind-set led him to join the Atlanta Police Department in 1947. Billy was one of the first black policemen in the City of Atlanta. He often reflected on walking the streets of Atlanta being allowed to police only “colored” folk, since Black policemen were not allowed to arrest Whites. He readily recognized this injustice and formed a one-man protest, picketing the Atlanta Police Department headquarters on his off days, often in his police uniform and much to the ire of his fellow officers.
It was on his Grady Hospital “beat” that he met and married his loving wife of 56 years, Leola Christion McKinney. To this union, was born a daughter, Cynthia Ann McKinney. Billy also had 2 sons, Gregory and James, from a previous marriage.
Billy made a conscious decision that picketing from the outside was not as effective as being on the inside as a part of the law-making body, helping to make laws that made sense. He ran unsuccessfully for Alderman, County Commissioner, as well as U.S. Congress as an Independent Candidate in 1982, against Wyche Fowler.
Billy McKinney was NOT a quitter, and in 1970, was elected to the Georgia State Legislature after the passage of the 1965 Voting rights Act mandated election law changes in the State of Georgia. His position in the Legislature was accompanied by that of his daughter in 1989, as she too was elected to the Georgia State Legislature. Thus, Billy and Cynthia served as the first father-daughter team of lawmakers in the history of the State of Georgia. Billy served as an elected official in the State where he was born and raised for more than 30 years.
Many bills were enacted during his years as a public servant that changed the legislative landscape of the State of Georgia. In tribute to his service, a stretch of Interstate 285, from I-20 to the Cobb County line is named in his honor; Representative James E. “Billy” McKinney Highway.
Billy was one of the forgotten Civil Rights advocates and activists. He often joined causes for justice and equality with his then-young daughter on his shoulders. He marched with the more recognized leaders and fought just as hard with the less recognized, but just as important people in the neighborhoods and communities in Atlanta.
His political prowess was recognized across the nation and the world, and his advice and counsel were sought from elected officials and candidates for elected office near and far. He was requested to tell his life story annually for a period of time to students from California State University at Pomona, as the group toured the South on their Civil Rights Tour; and he often spoke at events of socially conscious organizations. Billy served on numerous boards and was active in many organizations.
He leaves to cherish his memory his wife, Leola; daughter, former Congresswoman Cynthia Ann; 2 sons, James and Gregory; one grandson, Coy and 2 granddaughters, Morgan and Lauren; sisters-in-law Joan Christian (Thurman), Atlanta, GA, Virginia Christion, (Roosevelt “Fat”), Birmingham, AL; brothers-in-law Ernest Christion (Luvenia), Birmingham, AL, Haywood Christion (Wylean), Birmingham, AL Eugene Christion (Cassandra) Atlanta, GA; and many loving nieces, nephews, cousins, neighbors, and friends.
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Best Damned Presidential Candidate I Ever Voted For

Cynthia McKinney: "Mr. President: Give Us a Clean Break from War"


Domestic Workers Lead the Way to 21st Century Labor Rights

Thursday, September 2 2010

This week, just in time for Labor Day weekend, New York Gov. David Paterson signed into law the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The new law, which takes effect in November, is a massive and unprecedented win for the new labor movement—and it is a model for the way organizers and lawmakers alike must begin to think about workers’ rights in the 21st century economy.

The New York law requires overtime pay for nannies, housekeepers and companions to the elderly*, guarantees them weekly time off and subjects employers to state law for minimum-wage violations and sexual harassment. These are all basic rights that traditional, full-time employees have long enjoyed, but that a broad swath of workers who are not protected by labor laws have never seen. Last week, the California State Assembly passed a resolution recognizing similar labor standards for domestic workers, rights that lawmakers will likely codify as state law next year. Organizers in other states are working to generate more such victories.

The amazing New York win, spearheaded by Domestic Workers United (DWU) and the New York Domestic Workers Justice Coalition, has received its fair share of congratulations. But this is more than a moving story of downtrodden women confronting the system. Over the longterm, DWU’s approach to labor rights should shape the larger, national project of designing a new economy that doesn’t slowly kill off its workers.

DWU is not a union, but rather what’s called a “workers’ center.” These small and scrappy but rapidly maturing collectives have formed the last line of defense for primarily workers of color who are excluded, either deliberately or by default, from U.S. labor protections. DWU’s ability to raise public consciousness about such exclusions, its innovative organizing of thousands of dispersed workers who have thousands of disparate employers, and the issues it will confront in implementing the new law raise critical questions for all economic justice activists.

Gov. Paterson’s press secretary drew a bold analogy on signing day, calling the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights the governor’s own version of the Emancipation Proclamation. That boast sounds exaggerated, but the current work life of domestic workers is in fact deeply rooted in post-Civil War racial politics.

The Roosevelt administration passed many enduring economic reforms in the 1930’s, including the Social Security Act and the National Labor Relations Act. The latter made it easier for workers to form unions and bargain collectively with their employers. Domestic and farmworkers, however, were explicitly excluded from both laws, a deal that allowed Roosevelt to gather the votes of Southern, white congress members, among others. At the time, 95 percent of domestic workers were black women in the South. Most agricultural workers were Black, Filipino or Mexican.

While Roosevelt’s labor protections have expanded over time (farmworkers were included in 1966), the combination of formal exclusion and practical non-enforcement still leaves millions of workers on their own. Most Americans don’t likely know the broad swath of workers who aren’t protected by labor laws.

They include, for instance, workers who are considered independent contractors (such as taxi drivers and home daycare providers) and people working for tips (restaurant servers and runners haven’t seen their federal minimum wage rise in 20 years). Workers who receive public benefits through workfare programs, immigrant workers (day laborers, guest workers) and workers in right-to-work states are all excluded from varying sets of rights, either deliberately or by the lack of enforcement. Formerly incarcerated workers are subject to background checks when they apply for jobs, regardless of the severity of their conviction or the amount of time that has lapsed.*

Moreover, these workers have long been abandoned by unions that lack either the interest or the capacity to organize them. But for some years, workers’ centers like Domestic Workers United and their sister organizations have been stepping into that void—and often winning substantial changes. The Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, which I wrote about in The Accidental American, has improved labor conditions in some of the city’s biggest restaurant chains, replicating many elements of union contracts, even though they are not a union.

DWU started organizing 10 years ago. Having won the landmark New York law, they will now focus on making sure it is enforceable, by changing regulations such as those that govern how workers file complaints, so that their employers can’t retaliate. DWU will also advise the state Department of Labor on educating workers and employers about the new law, and will do its own outreach through workers and through an alliance with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

While workers’ centers like DWU can play a critical role in fixing the labor economy, they have been hamstrung by the fact that they cannot collectively bargain and cannot collect union dues from an organized workplace. “The traditional collective bargaining framework poses a challenge because of how the industry is set up,” says DWU organizer Priscillia Gonzalez. “There’s no central work site, and no common employer. Also, there is this dynamic that because the work takes place in someone’s home, the people who are hiring don’t see themselves as employers.”

DWU is investigating ways to get the government to hold employers accountable even in the informal economy. Can that be done by legislation or regulation, if not by collective bargaining? It’s a critical question for all workers’ centers, and for all lawmakers.

It’s also becoming a more broadly relevant question every day. As our economy continues shifting toward service and information industries, more and more formerly middle-class and white workers have seen their jobs similarly “contingentized” as domestic workers and day laborers. As employers load up on temporary, subcontracted and part-time workers rather than full-time employees, they avoid paying into Social Security and providing unemployment insurance, health coverage, and workers’ compensation. The can even avoid providing vacation or sick days.

“Labor laws aren’t sufficient anymore to protect the rights of workers, whether in the minimum standards or the rules of the NLRA,” said Ai-jen Poo, a co-founder of DWU who is now directing the National Domestic Workers Alliance. “There were flaws and holes because so many people were excluded. But even for those workers [labor laws] were meant to protect, they’re failing because the economy has changed so much.”
People of color and women certainly remain over-represented in this category. Those employed by temp agencies, for example, are more likely than traditional workers to be black or Latino. But the job sectors that have been heavily contingentized in the past 20 years range from professors, editors and writers to tugboat operators and museum guards.
The question of how to adjust to these economic arrangements has to concern traditional labor unions as well as workers’ centers. A number of unions helped DWU win in New York. The doorman’s union was particularly active, in large part because doormen in luxury apartment buildings have plenty of opportunities to witness first hand the abuse of domestic workers. Nonetheless, unions have an outdated organizing model, even when they are progressive on racial and gender matters. They go into a large workplace with a single employer, organize it, win an election and bargain for a new contract. As such workplaces disintegrate, however, unions have been slow to adjust and quick to lose members. Unlike workers in other countries, for instance, when American workers lose their jobs, they also lose their union memberships.

Nor is there any real trans-nationalism in American unions, although the U.S. workforce is increasingly foreign-born with strong global ties, including dependent family members. By contrast, DWU and the national alliance have worked with the International Labor Organization to produce a convention on the rights of the domestic worker and build, for the first time, global standards governing the industry.
“The experience of domestic workers challenges the framework we’re used to for labor law,” said Poo. “Maybe instead of talking about minimum wage, we need a floor wage. Or instead of inclusion in [existing] labor law, we need new laws.” If we’re going to develop a vision for protecting workers in the 21st century, it is far more likely to emerge from the people on the margins of the American labor movement than from those at its traditional center. This week’s New York victory is a welcome, hopeful start.

*A previous version of this post incorrectly reported that the New York law addresses overtime pay for home health aides. We also reported that formerly incarcerated applicants are the only ones subject to background checks; they are the only workers who are checked regardless of the the type of job they are seeking.

Double Dose of Media Matter for America - Beck / Breitbart & Dick Morris - Fox News' TRaveling GOP salesman

Media Matters: Will Glenn Beck's The Blaze follow Breitbart's trail?

Glenn Beck has a three-hour radio show, a one-hour television show, regular guest slots on Fox News and Fox Business, and a subscription website. Still, he doesn't have enough hours in the day for some of the "stories that matter most."
"I hired some journalists because there are stories I don't have enough broadcast hours in a day to cover them and somebody has got to cover them," Beck told viewers on September 1 while discussing his new online media site, The Blaze.

Anyone remotely familiar with Beck knows he's notoriously thin-skinned, resulting in copious amounts of time defending himself and his brand. So it's little surprise that the topic most important to Glenn Beck's The Blaze is Glenn Beck.
Within several days after launching, some of the site's stories include such page-scrollers as "NY Times Columnist on Beck: 'I Underestimated the Man,'" "Columnist: Sharpton, Not Beck, Distorts MLK's Legacy," and "Slideshow: Newspaper Coverage of 8/28."

If Beck confines his website to "Glenn is great" stories, then there's ultimately no harm, no foul. But in an "exclusive" press release -- or what Mediaite refers to as an "article" -- about the site, Beck said he envisions The Blaze as having "reporting, insightful opinions and engaging videos about the stories that matter most ... I look forward to keeping [editor] Scott [Baker] and his team busy by sending countless ideas at 3am every morning." (So far, "insight" and "reporting" have been lacking.)

As Media Matters has documented, the conservative web has tried its hand at "reporting, insightful opinions, and engaging videos" -- and done it badly.

Exhibit A comes in the form of Andrew Breitbart, who -- in the words of Shep Smith -- runs a "widely discredited website" that posts "inaccurate" and "edited" videos. Breitbart, of course, was widely criticized for posting misleading videos about ACORN, and then came back for an encore by posting another deceptive tape, this time wrongly accusing former USDA official Shirley Sherrod of racism. Those two incidents are the most high-profile of a long rap sheet against Breitbart.
How does Glenn Beck feel about Andrew Breitbart? You don't have to read between any lines to see that Beck views him as an inspiration -- one of the "great journalists of our time" and a future chapter in history books:
  • "You [Andrew Breitbart] are in instrumental in changing America. I think the history books will - I mean, assuming that our side wins - the history book will reflect your service to the country." (February 12, Fox News)
  • "Thank goodness, and Andrew Breitbart are always watching, as are we." (December 7, 2009, Fox News)
  • "You know where the great journalists of our time are? Andrew Breitbart. I was just thinking when I was listening to this, I mean this Andrew. You are the only one -- you were the only one, besides watchdogs, that were really aggressively working behind the scenes with us on Van Jones." (September 10, radio)
  • "Andrew Breitbart brought this to my attention. He called me the other day. And I wanted to bring it to your attention - the National People's Action group. This action group - this is yet another community organizing group that makes ACORN look like a Sunday morning, you know, knitting clutch." (May 4, Fox News)
  • "Well, Andrew Breitbart from brought this video to my attention, and I've got to show it to you. We'll show it all tomorrow. But this is SEIU's president Andy Stern on the real motives of the unions." (March 2, Fox News)
As Media Matters has documented, Beck has frequently turned to Breitbart for stories and inspiration. Indeed, Beck was perhaps the media figure most responsible for pushing the ACORN story into the mainstream.

So when it came to launching his own site, Beck turned to one of Breitbart's top lieutenants, Scott Baker, who co-founded and served as vice president for business development at Under Baker, launched a litany of false and misleading videos and stories against progressives, such as smearing Department of Education staffer Kevin Jennings and posting a doctored video falsely claiming community organizers were "praying" to Obama.

Breitbart also hired Pam Key who, as Terry Krepel noted, is the activist behind the Breitbart-promoted operation Naked Emperor News. Key's videos are notorious for attacking the Obama administration while omitting necessary context (a la Breitbart).

After the Sherrod fiasco blew up in Breitbart's face,'s First Read blog wrote, "you would have thought that all of us in the ACTUAL news business would have learned this lesson about Andrew Breitbart and his protégés: They're not out for the truth; they're out for scalps."

Similarly, if Glenn Beck's track record on television and radio isn't enough to disqualify his new website as anything other than a dubious exercise in new media, surely his Breitbart-infused vision of "great" new media journalism is.

Dick Morris: Fox News' traveling GOP salesman

Fox News "political analyst" Dick Morris is a busy man. According to The Hill, Morris plans "to campaign for some 40 Republican congressional candidates in 2010."
Last month, for instance, Morris hit the campaign trail for Ohio congressional candidates Bill Johnson, Bob Gibbs, and Tom Ganley. The event reportedly featured a 5 p.m. "private reception and roundtable discussion with Morris, costing $2,400 a person. The cost also includes a photo with Morris and an autographed copy of his latest book, '2010: Take Back America.' It costs $500 a person for a private reception, photo and book signing at 5:45 p.m."
Morris also headlined a fundraiser for congressional candidate Scott Tipton, costing a minimum of $50 per person, with a "special VIP reception" at $500 per person.
None of the GOP fundraising and advocacy would be possible -- or even relevant -- if not for one important party: Fox News.
Consider, for instance, how Morris' appearance at an event for West Virginia congressional candidate David McKinley was described this week at the very top of a local TV station's 6 p.m. newscast:
"A Fox News commentator is here in the mid-Ohio valley for a local candidate."
The station then aired video of McKinley explaining why he brought in Morris: "I think people that have followed Fox News and get a lot of their news that way, maybe this is something that they can relate to. But this man has a national voice that understands this economy."
Indeed, throughout events across the country, Morris is often sold by touting his Fox News affiliation.
Morris' off-air boosterism is only compounded by the fact that he continues it on-air. Recently, Morris suggested that viewers donate to the anti-Harry Reid group Americans for New Leadership -- a group for which Morris is currently fundraising and helping with ad strategy. In February, the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania paid Morris $10,000 for speaking at its 2010 Lincoln Day Dinner. Following the payment, Morris repeatedly appeared on Fox News to discuss Pennsylvania politics and shill for Pennsylvania Republicans and causes. And Morris appeared on Fox News twice to tout then-Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum -- after hosting a pricey fundraiser for him. In none of the previously mentioned incidents did Morris disclose his ties.
Still, Fox News doesn't appear to care about any of Morris' GOP activism despite the fact that he's one of the channel's most frequent on-air commentators. According to a Nexis search of available Fox News programs -- this typically excludes Fox & Friends and daytime programming -- Morris has appeared on Fox News a whopping 110 times in the past year.
This weekly wrap-up was compiled by Media Matters research fellow Eric Hananoki.