"You rape our women," Dylann Roof is reported to have declared just prior to shooting nine black people in a Charleston church. And in that, he showed a mentality that reflects something deep in the culture.
It's not just that the idea of the black rapist has a long and sordid history in the South. And it goes deeper than that the accusation was generally a false one.
More than that, it is a mirror image of the truth. It turns things upside down. Black is white, and white is black.
While the image of the black man raping the white woman has been a powerful and deep part of the Southern political culture, the historical reality of the problem of interracial rape was the negative of that picture: i.e., the white man raping the black woman.
The meaning of that is unambiguous: in the history of this nation, many black women gave birth to children sired by white men. When the black women are owned by the white men, it is hardly voluntary. It is plain in the history of many Southern plantation families: white masters forced themselves on black women.
The following press releasew is from DPVA; the clip by homophobic bigot and right wingnut Sen. Dick Black begins at 1:27.
It's been a bad week for Senator Dick Black. First, he is still refusing to say if he agrees with the Governor's actions on Confederate flag license plates. This is notable because Black has previously gone out of his way to support the symbol -- in 2003, Senator Black authored a bill to ensure that the flag could remain on Virginia license plates.
But that's not all:
In the video clip above, Black is not shy about his bigotry and intolerance for Virginians in reacting to the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage nationally. He says "the gay community is quite militant" and vehemently opposes the Court's ruling.
"Senator Dick Black is completely out-of-step with Virginians," said Morgan Finkelstein, press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia. "In just one week, Dick Black showed a lack of leadership on the Confederate flag issue and a lack of character by insulting thousands of LGBT Virginians. Come November, voters will show him the door."
Great stuff from David Roberts of Grist on the "post-partisan fallacy" and the hard-core nature of the right wing in this country. First, though, some positive thoughts from Roberts about clean energy.
*"It's going to be the growth of cleantech that ultimately forces the climate policy question, and I sort of think we're seeing the early stages of that happening...clean energy getting so cheap that it's starting to shift the politics, mainly at the state level."
Roberts then talks about political polarization in the U.S., which he says "a lot of people still have not really, fully come to grips with."
*In Roberts' view, political polarization is not just a "Washington DC phenomenon" or just about "too much money in politics" and that there's "still this mass of sort-of moderate, centrist people out in the country who aren't having their needs met, and I just think that's wrong...the polarization in the capital reflects polarization in the country."
*"At this point, the U.S. conservative movement has become an identity movement, and part of that identity is opposing anything that Democrats support that might indicate the need for more government programs..more taxing or spending or regulating."
*The "endless quest for the bipartisan or trans-partisan or post-partisan climate message that's going to unite everyone behind sensible policy is, I think, fruitless, has been fruitless, and was always fruitless..."
*What's the alternative strategy other than coming together and joining hands?" "The other stratey is to beat the other side; if you can't win them over, you beat them. You know, this is something you don't have to explain to any Republican, but for some reason on the left, Democrats, the whole idea of winning as opposed to sort-of transcending partisan battles is still a little...alien to them."
"'While we have been fighting the last couple of years, Democrats are out grass-roots training hundreds of volunteers. They have been holding meeting after meeting while we have been fighting amongst ourselves."
"The night before the SCC meeting, the Democrats held a massive fundraiser in Fairfax County, where – joined by Hillary Clinton and Governor McAuliffe –they raised $1 million for the Democratic Party of Virginia. Yes, that’s right – DPVA raised in one night four times what it took us three months to raise. Puts things in perspective, doesn't it?"
This is good stuff overall, although vague enough that even coal industry shill Sen. Joe Manchin could sign it. Also, sorry, but this "all-of-the-above" approach is simply not going to cut it; with the climate already past the danger point, we need to get off fossil fuels ASAP. I'd further point out that the reference to "low-carbon fossil energy" is pretty much a farce. They're referring, of course, to natural gas, which certainly is lower in carbon content than coal or oil. The problems with natural gas are multifold, however: 1) its production releases the potent greenhouse gas methane; 2) it still contains climate-heating carbon; 3) in the U.S., the main way to produce it is via the dangerous, dirty, water-wasting, earthquake-causing technique called "fracking;" 4) to the extent we subsidize (implicitly and explicitly) natural gas production, we're both pulling money out of true clean energy (efficiency, wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, etc.) and also undercutting true clean energy in terms of the economics; and 5) in sum, natural gas is a "bridge" in only one sense - a bridge to nowhere.
Last but not least, I'd point out that many of these Senators - including both Warner and Kaine - support things that are fundamentally incompatible with the goals laid out here: for starters, there's no way to make offshore oil drilling or mountaintop removal coal mining clean, let alone to "[keep] our air and water clean for generations to come". I haven't heard the Obama administration or anyone who supports the so-called "all-of-the-above" strategy explain how that gets us to where the science tells us we need to be. And I know I never will, because the short answer is that continued reliance on fossil fuels is fundamentally incompatible with the future of a habitable planet for humans and other species.
P.S. Also notice the dearth of Republicans on this letter? That's truly pathetic, but sadly not unexpected from these fossil fuel industry tools.
Personally, I'd characterize this decision as far worse than "disappointing." Perhaps it's the diplomat in Don Beyer speaking there, because I suspect he must be highly displeased, just as anyone who cares about protecting our environment should be.
June 29, 2015 (Washington, DC) - Congressman Don Beyer expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court's decision today in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency that rolled back Obama Administration environmental regulations for power plants:
"Today's Supreme Court's decision in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency is disappointing. This ruling undermines President Obama's work to strengthen public health and the environment by limiting the discharge of hazardous pollutants from power plants," said Rep. Beyer. "Our environment is the lasting legacy we will leave to the generations who follow. I look forward to working with my colleagues and EPA Administrator McCarthy to craft a rule in line with today's decision that protects the air we breathe."
UPDATE: David Roberts of Vox says "The Supreme Court's mercury decision is pointless." Let's hope he's right!
This afternoon, April Moore - running for Virginia State Senate against incumbent right-wingnut Sen. Mark "Criminalize Miscarriages" Obenshain - spoke to several dozen supporters at the home of Arlington County School Board Member Barbara Kanninen, host of the event. Among the attendees were State Senators Dave Marsden, Adam Ebbin and Barbara Favola; Delegates Patrick Hope and Alfonso Lopez; Arlington Clerk of the Court Paul Ferguson; Chesapeake Climate Action Network Founder Mike Tidwell; and former Democratic nominee for Congress Andy Schmookler (or as he called himself jokingly, Mr. April Moore). Also check out the video (on the "flip") of Barbara Kanninen, who blasted Mark Obenshain for his extreme record on...well, pretty much everything (e.g., education, health care, a woman's right to choose, the environment).
Highlights of April Moore's remarks included:
*She explained why people who don't live in her district should care about helping her beat Mark Obenshain. According to Moore, Obenshain is Virginia's version of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker - the "Koch brothers' guy" who has "divided that state terribly," "has gone after workers...unions...education...women...the environment...all the while working to cut taxes for the wealthiest corporations."
*Here in Virginia, "Mark Obenshain is the Koch brothers' guy," as the Koch brothers know that Obenshain will "advance their anti-democracy, anti-environment agenda." *It's also "widely believed that Obenshain is planning to run for governor in 2017, and we have got to stop him!"
*"I'm running to win, but even if I can't win, if I can make a good showing...a better showing than Democrats typically make in our very red district, then that too will help weaken Mark Obenshain and weaken his chances of becoming governor."
*She noted that she'd never run for public office, but she's running because of her passion for the environment and for fighting against climate change. She noted the "pernicious influence of Dominion Power," which she quipped "really puts the fossil in fossil fuels." *Mark Obenshain "has been with Dominion Power" all the way - to block climate legislation, to pass whatever legislation "greedy" Dominion wants - even if it hurts people in his own district.
*More broadly, Moore argued that Dominion's power is a classic example of big corporations' "corruption" and power, "banding together basically to steal...our democracy...and the peoples' voices are being drowned out."
*Moore is trying to reach out to conservatives in her district "by trying to use language that is meaningful to them...patriotism...Christian morality" and the "Golden Rule" (that includes future generations). The "first duty of a patriot" is to "protect the gift our Founders gave us - the gift of democracy."
*"In speaking this way, I'm also talking about what's most sacred to me -- to protect our endangered democracy, to protect our endangered planet, and to protect our endangered children and grandchildren." *Finally, her goal is "to make sure that Mark Obenshain doesn't have the chance to do to Virginia what Scott Walker has been doing to Wisconsin."
Great stuff, go April! :)
P.S. I also had a chance to speak with April Moore prior to the event. She emphasized many of the themes that were in her talk, including how she plans to try to reach conservative voters in the district, particularly the Golden Rule. She stated bluntly, "I'm the candidate a real patriot should choose." She also talked about her grassroots strategy to get her supporters to the polls in this low-low-turnout year. She argued that Obenshain is "with the big money every time; I can't think of a single instance where he's voted for the people against what Dominion Power wanted;" also that Obenshain has been willing to "sacrifice his own constituents" on things like Medicaid expansion (just to "stick it to the President"). We discussed the rural hospitals in her district that are being severely harmed by Mark Obenshain and his party's opposition to Medicaid expansion. Finally, Moore argued that "progressive people around the state should take an interest [in this race]...It's in everybody's interest that I be able to run a strong campaign against Mark Obenshain."
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, June 29. Also check out the classic, spot-on quote from Stephen Colbert: "History moves fast; it's hard to believe that gay Americans achieved full, Constitutional personhood just five years after corporations did." LOL, exactly!
I was talking to someone at a party last night (yes, I occasionally go to parties, not just political events! LOL) and I was talking to them about how when we were growing up back in the 1970s, our parents let us wander around the neighborhood, bicycle across town, etc., and that somehow we survived it all. Today, of course, if a parent does that they're liable to get nailed for the horror of "free-range parenting".
Why have things changed in that direction? Is it because things have gotten so much more dangerous in recent years/decades? Or is it more because the media deluges us with "if it bleeds it leads" coverage, making people THINK that crime and mayhem are out of control. Like the person I was talking to last night, who when I mentioned that the crime rate today had plummeted in recent decades and was now lower than in the 1970s, when we were busy being "free-range parented" and somehow surviving it, simply looked incredulous/disbelieving, like I was making it up or something, couldn't possibly be right, etc.
Yet really, there's no reason to single out the person I was talking to last night, since I see this phenomenon all the time on a wide range of issues (also, see the graph below which shows widespread ignorance of the plunging U.S. crime rate): people simply aren't aware of the data/empirical evidence, and hold whatever beliefs they do for whatever reasons, regardless of the fact that they are not factually based in any way.
Harmless, you might think, except that these wrong/warped beliefs adversely impact public policy. For instance, to the extent that people believe crime is rampant, they might favor super-tough sentencing guidelines, militarized police forces, restrictions on civil liberties, etc. Another example: to the extent that people believe "Islamist terrorism" is a huge threat to America, even when More Killed by White Extremists Than Jihadists Since 9/11, it certainly has public policy implications. Finally, when people complete ignore decades of climate science, 99%+ consensus among scientists, and reams of evidence that the world is warming dangerously, that obviously leads to horrendous public policy consequences.
Sure, the corporate media bears a great deal of blame here, as do interest groups (e.g., the fossil fuel industry) who actually spend money trying to deceive the public. But in the end, I also believe that individuals have a responsibility as well. I mean, finding the articles I linked to above on crime in America, or the graphs in this blog post, took me about 5 minutes (max) of Googling. This really isn't that hard, which means there's really no excuse for people to be ignorant about stuff like ths.
Quite a contrast between the two Virginia political parties today, with a deeply divided Virginia GOP fighting and fighting...and fighting...and fighting over whether to hold a convention or primary for president in 2016, and also whether to hold a convention or primary in 2017 statewide elections. For more on the RPV meeting, being held in Staunton, see The Bull Elephant liveblog, Lynn Mitchell's live blog, and/or Bearing Drift's liveblog (note: yep, that's right, there are THREE conservative blogs covering today's RPV meeting live from the event; none covering today's DPVA meeting from the event itself). Anyway, here are few highlights from the two meetings.
DPVA: I'm told that the Steering and Central committees decided to push off the question of whether current chairs terms should be extened to three years (from the current two years), with an ad-hoc committee of Chairs and Steering members to be formed to study the issue and report back in September. Hopefully, that kills this truly lame idea (I've heard from a couple sources that it almost certainly does), but we'll see. Other than that, I hear that DPVA Chair Susan Swecker talked about changes she's made, including new hires (e.g., a Communications Director) to staff up/strengthen DPVA, as well as the successful "JJ" dinner.
RPV: As of 5:19 pm, according to The Bull Elephant's Steve Albertson, "Secret balloting on the 'Primary and a Promise' motion has begun." Many hours were spent today debating the relative merits (or lack thereof) of holding a primary or convention for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, as well as a primary or convention for statewide elections in 2017. Sounds like the party is deeply divided, with Republican Brian Schoeneman tweeting earlier, "41-39 vote against a roll call vote for primary vs convention. Pandemonium erupts." Discord and even "pandemonium" among Virginia Republicans? Works for me! :) In the end, it may very well be that a compromise passes, in which the 2016 nominating process is by primary, the 2017 process by convention. To my way of thinking, a Republican convention is more likely to produce an "extreme team," which is far more likely to lose in the general election than a more sane/moderate ticket, so that's fine with me. Still, would have been great to see Virginia Republicans screw up their 2016 presidential process as well (although some of them apparently fear - with the usual paranoia seen on the right wing- that Democrats might come out to vote for Donald Trump, or whoever the least electable Republican candidate might be).
P.S. Daily Press reporter Travis Fain has been covering the RPV meeting and has had some entertaining tweets. For instance: "You know that phrase 'herding cats?' Pretty sure that's easy by comparison to this RPV meeting." Also: "Whitbeck: Before you yell or blog 'think about... one thing ... Is what I'm about to do going to help us win Virginia in 2016?'" I also like this tweet by ultra-conservative Republican Del. Greg Habeeb: "FWIW, I feel like I'm usually a pretty good decision maker. I'm thinking the decision to attend this SCC meeting wasn't my best one."
UPDATE 5:46 pm: Steve Albertson of The Bull Elephant reports, "The motion to bind Virginia's Republican delegation by primary has carried. Vote was 42 to 39 and 1 abstention." That's for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. For 2017, it looks like another convention, and possibly another "extreme team." LOL. Also, Markus Schmidt (@MSchmidtRTD) of the RTD tweets, "BREAKING: @VA_GOP will hold a statewide primary on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016 to back a presidential nominee."
Another fun night at the Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) Board Thursday night, this time as the Board debated "Family Life Education" (FLE) curriculum changes. As with the May 7 School Board meeting on transgender protections, it appears that many of the same organized, right-wing, anti-LGBT folks came out to (loudly) express their point of view. See video from the meeting to the right, and let your jaw drop as you listen to some of this insanity, bigotry, ignorance, fearmongering, etc. Fortunately, as Josh Israel reports, it all turned out well in the end:
Thrilled to report that the Fairfax County School Board voted 10-2 to add age-appropriate, science-based Family Life Education curriculum changes that include the vital message that there are LGBT people in the world and that that is okay. Thanks to them, LGBT kids, questioning kids, and kids from atraditional families will be safer and our community will be stronger.
As for the video, a few highlights include strong presentations in support of Family Life Education from 43:37 to 52:07 and from 59:19 to 1:05:40); craziness starting at 52:28 (by Laura Hanford, who claims "this vote is not about bullying or hatred," that there's been "outright deceit" on this by the School Board, and that the curriculum presented is "so extreme on gender and sexaulity that it offended families and people of faith all over the county"); continuing at 56:00 (by Thomas Valentine, who complains about "radical policy changes," falsely compares being transgender identity to anorexoia and that it's a mental illness, and claims this is all about "ideologues who want to force their beliefs onto the children of the county"); predictable craziness from long-time anti-LGBT activist Steven Hunt starting at 1:05:55, from a representative from the "Traditional Values Coalition" starting at 1:09:28, and from 1:12:58 (absurdly claims that protecting LGBT students constitutes discrimination against people of faith). Then there are the bat**** crazy videos -- oh my god, the videos (starting at 1:16:34). It's hard to even know what to say about a lot of this stuff, including the 15-year-old boy reciting the Boy Scout's oath; the guy who says "mankind cannot change sex chromosomes," that transgender identity is a dangerous "belief," and then goes all "violate Godwin's Law" on us by managing to mention Sodom and Gomorrah, Nazi Germany and Martin Niemöller's "First they came for..." quote); etc. Craaazy.
Finally there's the debate itself, with the crowd getting more and more upset, and with the Board majority (other than the two right wingnuts on the Board) struggling to figure out some sort of way to move forward. I hear that they were in disarray leading up to the meeting, but finally came together just minutes before the meeting started. Of course, nothing the Board majority could ever do on this topic would have satisfied the anti-LGBT activists in the crowd, even though the fact is that parents can opt their children out of FLE if they feel strongly about it. So what's the problem then? Why do these people want to tell every other parent what to do, when they already have the right to do what they want with their own kids? Hmmmm.
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