Tuesday, November 9, 2010


O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me.
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!–Langston Hughes

Published in Res Ipsa, p. 1 (Spring Finals Edition 2007).

Author: Donald E. Wilkes, Jr., Professor of Law, University of Georgia School of Law.

Throughout our history the virus of racism has infected America’s criminal justice system, and official crime statistics and data from the Sentencing Project reflect the continued existence of racism in criminal justice.  Black females, for example, are incarcerated at three times the rate of white females.  But the principal victims of criminal justice racism are black men.  Because of criminal convictions, 13% of black males are ineligible to vote.  Although blacks make up 12.1% of the population, 28% of arrestees are black (almost all of them male), as are 34% (almost all of them male) of all drug violation arrestees.  Blacks (almost all of them male) make up 44% of all sentenced inmates in federal or state prisons and 39% of inmates in local jails.  In seven states, black prison inmates–almost all of them male–are incarcerated at more than 10 times the rate of white persons.  One-eighth–12%–of black males aged 25-29 are incarcerated in prisons or jails, compared to 1.7% of white males in that age group.  Black males have a 32% chance of serving time in prison at some point in their lives, compared to a 6% chance for white males.  In Georgia, where blacks are 30% of the population, 61% of  inmates in the state prison system are black, almost all of them males.  Incredibly, according to a recent study by the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Resource Center, more than 38% of adult black men in that state have been convicted of a felony and 27% had been incarcerated in a state prison.

Additional perspectives on racist criminal justice may be gained by even brief examinations of the so-called criminal records of three of the most memorable  black Americans of the 20th century: heavyweight boxing champions Jack Johnson (1878-1946) and Muhammed Ali (1942-), and the great civil rights leader and humanitarian, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), winner of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.

Because of racist abuse of power by police and prosecutors, all three men suffered arrest, imprisonment, and conviction, as well as other violations, major and minor, of their human rights.

Jack Johnson’s travails with criminal justice are recounted in Geoffrey Ward’s Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004).  White America despised Johnson for defeating white boxers and winning the heavyweight title, for marrying three white women and having affairs with numerous others, and for protesting racial discrimination.  Local police frequently gave Johnson traffic tickets “because white officers couldn’t bear to see a black man behind the wheel of his costly car.”  For years federal prosecutors and federal law enforcement agents, “determined to get Jack Johnson, one way or another,” spent prodigious amounts of energy to uncover evidence, any evidence, that he had committed some federal crime.  Finally, on Nov. 7, 1912, a federal grand jury indicted Johnson for violating the newly enacted Mann Act (now 18 U.S.C. § 2421), which criminalizes transporting women in interstate commerce for purposes of prostitution or debauchery.  Two days later the Chicago-American newspaper ran this headline: “Johnson Locked Up in 4½ by 8 Ft. Cell: Negro In Rage As He Is Jailed.”  Johnson was detained in pretrial custody because the judge refused to allow him to post cash bail (!), and, when he sought release on bail via the writ of habeas corpus, he was denied relief.  Johnson v. Hoy, 227 U.S. 245 (1913).  Johnson’s trial began in Chicago on May 5, 1913.  The jury included (in the words of a pleased federal agent) citizens “strongly prejudiced against negroes.”  Although the prosecution’s case was trumped up and its evidence dubious, the jury convicted Johnson on all counts after less than two hours of deliberation.  He was sentenced to one year and one day of imprisonment, and was an inmate in the Leavenworth federal prison from Sept. 19, 1920 until July 9, 1921.  Although Johnson did receive time for good behavior, “functionaries at the Department of Justice, ... outraged that he had slept with white women,” “sabotaged” his efforts for early release on parole.

Because he was black, a vocal defender of colored peoples, a convert to Islam, and an opponent of the Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali, like Jack Johnson 60 years earlier, was ferociously hated by white America.  Persecution by law enforcement authorities was inevitable.  Local police harassed Ali.  In December 1968 he spent 10 days in jail in Miami, Florida, for a minor traffic offense.  Beginning in 1966, the FBI secretly investigated him, put him under clandestine surveillance, and commenced preparing a fat dossier on him.  Ali was also spied on by Army intelligence.  On May 8, 1967, Ali was indicted by a Texas federal grand jury on bogus charges of draft evasion.  On June 19 and 20, 1967, Ali was tried in federal district court in Houston; the all-white jury convicted Ali after deliberating only 21 minutes.  He was sentenced to the maximum, five years imprisonment.  His conviction was twice upheld on appeal, Clay v. U.S., 397 F.2d 901 (5th Cir. 1968), and 430 F.2d 165 (5th Cir. 1970), but, due to an amazing stroke of fate, miraculously reversed by the Supreme Court, 403 U.S. 698 (1971).  For an account of the extraordinarily unusual occurrences which caused the Court to revise its preliminary determination that the conviction should be upheld and to surprise almost everyone, including itself, by unanimously ruling in Ali’s favor, see Howard Bingham and Max Wallace, Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight 237-49 (2000).  The decision could not alter the fact that due to the conviction Ali had previously been stripped of his heavyweight title and barred from professional boxing during the prime years of his athletic life.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was persecuted by both local and federal law enforcement agencies.  Numerous times he was illegally arrested for purposes of harassment or for violating state and local racial segregation laws, and he spent months in jail.  Here in Georgia, Dr. King was convicted on September 23, 1960 of a minor traffic offense in DeKalb county; absurdly, he was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, even though the maximum penalty authorized was 6 months!  King v. State, 103 Ga. App. 272, 119 S.E.2d 77 (1961).  Dr. King was even incarcerated for a time at the Georgia State Prison at Reidsville!

The FBI’s massive program, beginning in the 1960s, to use its law enforcement powers to hobble Dr. King’s civil rights efforts and to destroy his reputation is well-documented in government reports, e.g., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Case Study, Supplementary Detailed Staff Reports on Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans, Final Report of the U.S. Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities, vol. 3, pp. 79-184 (1976); Report, Select Committee on Assassinations, U.S. House of Representatives, pp. 407-16 (1979), and scholarly works, e.g., Michael Friedly and David Gallen, Martin Luther King, Jr.: The FBI File (1991); David J. Garrow, The FBI and Martin Luther, King, Jr. (1981).

The FBI began spying on Dr. King in the mid-1950s.  Then, in the words of the Senate Committee: “From December 1963 until his death in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the target of an intensive campaign by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to ‘neutralize’ him as an effective civil rights leader.”  The FBI illegally kept Dr. King under surveillance and monitored his activities; it illegally tapped his telephones and planted listening devices in his home and offices and the hotel and motel rooms he stayed in; and it surreptitiously engaged in a wide range of dirty tricks designed to discredit, intimidate, or embarrass Dr. King.

The administration of criminal justice will continue to mock America’s basic ideals--liberty, justice, and equal rights for all--until the supreme injustice, racist enforcement of the criminal law, is purged from this land.

Race, Criminal Records, and Getting a Job

In this video sociologist Devah Pager describes her experimental research on race, criminal records, and employment with Dalton Conley.  Using matched pairs of black and white students posing as job applicants, she finds, stunningly, that black men without a criminal record are as likely to get a call back for a job as white men with one (see the tables here).  Black men with criminal records receive call backs for only about one in 20 completed job applications.

The GOP vs The Tea Party For The Hearts and Minds of Republican Voters

Posted by Maggie 

Rasmussen Reports Nov. 9, 2010:

Republican voters remain strongly critical of how their party’s representatives in Congress are performing and have a highly favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement that is pushing the GOP more to the political right.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 19% of Likely Republican Primary Voters believe Republicans in Congress have done a good job representing the party’s values over the past several years.

Seventy-two percent (72%) say GOP members of Congress instead have lost touch with Republican Party members throughout the nation in recent years. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
These findings have remained basically the same in surveys since November 2008.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of likely GOP primary voters hold a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement, while only nine percent (9%) view the smaller government, lower taxes movement unfavorably.
Among all voters nationally, 41% view the Tea Party favorably, while 40% regard it unfavorably, with 19% undecided.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Republican Primary Voters was conducted on October November 1, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. [...]

Barack Obama And Ben Bernanke Continue To Defend Quantitative Easing, But For The Rest Of The World The Verdict Is In: They Hate It

Even as Barack Obama and Ben Bernanke publicly defend the Federal Reserve's new $600 billion quantitative easing program, top finance officials around the globe are expressing alarm and outrage.  But what did Obama and Bernanke expect?  "Quantitative easing" is little more than legalized cheating.  For a moment, imagine that the global economy is a giant game of Monopoly.  Essentially what Bernanke has done is that he has just reached under the table and has slipped another $600 billion on to his pile of money, hoping that the rest of the players will not call him out on it.  The rest of the world has heavily invested in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. Treasuries, and this new quantitative easing program is going to devalue all of those holdings.  If the Federal Reserve continues to go down the road of monetizing U.S. government debt, other nations are rapidly going to get spooked and will soon refuse to invest in U.S. dollars and U.S. Treasuries.  When that day arrives, it is going to cause mass panic in the world financial system.

Already, investors across the globe are flocking out of the U.S. dollar and into safe investments such as gold and silver.  On Monday, gold closed at an all-time record high of $1,403.20 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and silver closed at a 30-year high of $27.43 an ounce.

Unfortunately, our leaders seem absolutely clueless about what is really going on.  In fact, Barack Obama is very much in Bernanke's corner.  During his trip to India, Barack Obama made it clear that he very much supports this new round of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve....
"I will say that the Fed's mandate, my mandate, is to grow our economy. And that's not just good for the United States, that's good for the world as a whole."
This is the exact opposite of what Barack Obama should be doing.  He should be demanding accountability from Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve.  He should be trying to get the U.S. financial system back on some kind of solid footing.

But we all know that is not going to happen.  Obama had no problem renominating Bernanke to another term, and Obama has publicly supported him at every opportunity.

Well, if Obama isn't going to do it, shouldn't some of our other representatives in Washington D.C. be calling for the resignation of Bernanke?  After all, how many chances does one guy get?  Bernanke's record is littered with so much gross incompetence that it makes Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys look like Coach of the Year.  The video posted below shows Bernanke reassuring the public over and over and over between 2005 and 2007 that the U.S. economy was in great shape and that we would continue to experience solid growth....
How long is it going to be until everyone wakes up and starts acknowledging that "the emperor has no clothes" and Bernanke is running the U.S. economy into the ground?

At this point, Bernanke has lost virtually all credibility.  In 2009, he promised the U.S. Congress that the Federal Reserve would not monetize U.S. government debt, but now that is exactly what is happening.
Most of the top finance officials in other countries realize what is going on, and they are really starting to make their displeasure known.  The following are just a few examples of the global outrage that has been expressed about the Fed's new quantitative easing program over the past few days...
*Xia Bin, an important member of the monetary policy committee of China's central bank has called the Fed's new quantitative easing plan "abusive" and is warning that it could set off a global economic meltdown.
*On Monday, Chinese Finance Vice Minister Zhu Guangyao expressed his extreme dismay regarding the Fed's new quantitative easing scheme....
"As a major reserve currency issuer, for the United States to launch a second round of quantitative easing at this time, we feel that it did not recognize its responsibility to stabilize global markets and did not think about the impact of excessive liquidity on emerging markets."
*German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who has called current Fed policy "clueless", says that he is absolutely disgusted with the Federal Reserve at this point....
"They have already pumped an endless amount of money into the economy via taking on extremely high public debt and through a Fed policy that has already pumped a lot of money into the economy. The results are horrendous."
*Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the President of Brazil, says that he is incredibly upset about QE2 and that he is going to arrive for the G20 meetings in Seoul ready "to fight".

*Bloomberg is reporting that at the upcoming G20 meetings, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is going to "insist" that any future quantitative easing measures be globally coordinated.

*Even some top Fed officials are speaking out publicly against this new round of quantitative easing.  For example, Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig recently made the following statement about the new direction the Fed is taking....
"I worry that by pumping in significant amounts of dollars we then build the inflationary pressures for the future, and we do encourage then an easier credit environment that helped create this problem in the first place."
The Federal Reserve had better hope that the rest of the world does not get scared off from buying U.S. government debt.  According to the Wall Street Journal, in order to repay maturing bonds and finance the budget deficit, the U.S. government will have to come up with 4.2 trillion dollars over the next year.
If the rest of the world cuts back on buying U.S. Treasuries, the Federal Reserve is going to find itself with a gigantic mountain of debt that it will be forced to monetize.

So what happens someday when China, Japan, Russia and the major oil producers in the Middle East decide that enough is enough and they are not going to buy any more U.S. debt?

Don't think it can't happen - these nations are not stupid and if they realize that the U.S. dollar is going to continually keep falling in value there could be a dramatic move away from U.S. debt.

If the rest of the world quits lending massive amounts of money to the U.S. government, our leaders will be faced with three options.  The U.S. government could start trying to operate within a balanced budget (which would crash the economy), interest rates on U.S. government debt could be raised until people would be willing to invest in Treasuries again (which would probably crash U.S. government finances and the economy), or the Federal Reserve could just start monetizing most of the debt on a regular basis (which would likely eventually crash the entire world financial system).

In order for the current world financial system to maintain stability, it is essential for there to be faith in the U.S. dollar and for there to be faith in U.S. Treasuries.  Once faith in them is lost, it will only be a matter of time until the world financial system totally crumbles.

This new round of quantitative easing could be the "tipping point" that opens the door to the eventual complete and total collapse of the U.S. dollar.  Let us hope that the dollar does not completely fail any time soon, but with jokers like Bernanke and Obama running the show, there is not much reason for optimism.


The dollar awaits the FOMC

The dollar has lost ground during after that the Federal Reserve looks to add more effort to stimulate the recovery of the market. This is a move that could weigh on the returns of U.S. and, ultimately could put more pressure on the greenback.

Markets are generally tending to the fact that the Fed may commit to purchase at least $ 500 billion of U.S. treasury bonds with maturities of over five months, while some think that the U.S. central bank may eventually decide to buy less. There is uncertainty about the details of the movements of the Fed, but in the end everything would lead to lower yields, which should mean a drop in the dollar in the long term. The dollar meanwhile slipped 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies.

The euro rose a little and is held in a range between 1.4000 and 1.4050 U.S. dollars for most of the European session. The pound reached its maximum of nine months or so, after macroeconomic data was stronger than expected. This suggests that the Bank of England can no longer implement the incentives to the market.

Traders also said that liquidity has dried up after the start of the week, as can be seen even after the fact that some traders have indicated that their turnover for the last two days were the lowest in five years.
Meanwhile, the market expected the Fed to make an announcement in order to provide greater clarity on the issue of the dollar. The market hopes that the FOMC is going to break the inertia, in one way or another. Could this be a week on which to focus before the end of the year.

Black Males Feel BASHED By "For Colored Girls" Movie?

Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls" movie may have raked in the dough to the tune of $20.1 millie and landed at the #3 spot at the Box Office opening weekend (even though it was shown on half as many screens as the #1 and #2 movies).  But even with the relative success of his stage play adaptation, there are some (possibly many) black men who are up in arms about how the movie put them in a bad light to the rest of the world.

Y'all know I have my thoughts on that ish.  But check out the article written by a black male Washington Post writer who blames Tyler for the way black men are portrayed in movies, especially in his latest.
Washington Post writer Courtland Milloy took a slightly comedic approach to his For Colored Girl complaints that I personally heard from other black men as well this weekend.   Here's the article (some parts removed for length reasons):

Can anyone name a movie that came out recently starring a black man who wasn't a sociopath? Someone who had a terrific screen presence, like a young Paul Robeson? And he portrayed a character who was complex and fully drawn? Did he respect black women, too?
Anybody saw that movie? I didn't. But surely it's out there somewhere, right? An alternative to those Tyler Perry films portraying black men as Satan's gift to black women? But where is it?
Maybe I didn't hear about it because of all the buzz over Perry's "For Colored Girls," which opened Friday and is based on Ntozake Shange's 1975 stage play, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf."
Or maybe I didn't hear about it because I was retching too loudly after seeing "For Colored Girls" - and reading so many inexplicably glowing reviews.
"This movie is powerful," Demetria L. Lucas wrote recently in Essence, the nation's premier magazine for black women. "It is incredible. The performances in it are astonishing, but most of all, this film will leave you lifted."
Me, I thought the movie should have renamed: For Black Men Who Have Considered Homicide After Watching Another Perry Movie.
"Oscar buzz, breaking news," read the Hollywood Reporter on Friday. "Will 'For Colored Girls' blindside Tyler Perry's critics?"
Too late. I was blindsided while watching the movie, especially when superstar Janet Jackson appeared on screen looking like Michael Jackson with breast implants.
"Don't laugh," says Shadow and Act, an online publication about black films and filmmakers. " 'For Colored Girls,' an Oscar contender?"
Oscar for what?
In the category for best infection of a black woman with a sexually transmitted disease that renders her infertile. . . . And the winner is: Black man.
For best down-low, double-dealing husband who has sex with wife while sneaking around having sex with men on the streets. . . . And the winner is: Black man.

What an awful year for movies featuring black actors. Samuel L. Jackson in "Unthinkable." Thoughtless would be more like it. "Brooklyn's Finest" had a nice cast, with Don Cheadle and Wesley Snipes. But Richard Gere and Ethan Hawke got top billing. "Our Family Wedding" with Forrest Whitaker was okay. But how many black wedding comedies can you watch. Even preacher T.D. Jakes is coming out with his own copycat wedding movie next year.
Surely Spike Lee and Denzel Washington could team up for a sweeping historical drama - say, a black sharecropper's son, educated in a one-room schoolhouse built by slaves in Alabama, who grows up to become one of Wall Street's most powerful CEOs.
Smarter than Gordon Gekko, but more complex. With a cameo appearance by former Merrill Lynch chief executive Stanley O'Neal.
Maybe you saw the kind of movie I'm talking about. If not, maybe it's time to make one.
Hmm.  My take?  This movie was a true representation of real and horrific events that many black women (and women of all races) suffer through during their lives.  Many of those events are at the hands of men.  And in For Colored Girls, at the hands of black men specifically.  But we can't and shouldn't ignore these things simply because of the ignorant folks who will generalize a few men on a movie screen to all 20 million+ black men in America.

In my experiences in life (and even backed up by a few controversial scientific studies), black women are treated without empathy, without respect, without praise, and quite honestly, worse than the other gender and many other races.  I would go so far as to say one of the worst when it comes to how we are perceived --thanks to sweeping and usually incorrect stereotypes perpetuated by the masses and media.  This movie truthfully and tastefully showcases these hardships women go through on the daily like abortion and rape and molestation and oversexualization and cheating and STDs.  So if the movie slightly affects how black men are perceived, then so be it.  At what point do we stand up and take a bold stance to air out the issues in order to combat them?  When will we have to stop apologizing for being a black woman?  We have these issues--which many times include the black man--and they need to be addressed.  PERIOD.  If we don't address them, who will?

The last thing on my mind while watching this movie was, "I wonder how the black man feels."  There were MUCH bigger issues at hand.  And quite honestly, the black men who felt threatened by the visuals and actions of the men portrayed on the screen, should maybe channel that anger into changing the root of the problem in their own communities.

I do agree with Mr. Milloy, however, that this was far from an uplifting movie.  I barely found half of a moment of joy or upliftment.  The ish was depressing.  But needed.

While Tyler is not responsible for the original literary work, he did make it come to life on a large Hollywood scale, which made it even more powerful.  I had to have not one, but SEVERAL drinks after seeing the movie.  So yes, it was difficult to process or even discuss right away.  And instead of missing the entire point of it all and whine about how it made black men look, how about we focus on the fact these ARE relevant problems to our community today.  And we should focus on fixing that fact.
Your thoughts?

FYI: Tyler stated on his interview on the "Today Show" that he took it upon himself to add in Hill Harper's cop character (the only "good guy" in the movie), as he didn't want his fellow brothas to feel and appear totally bashed.  He commented that he wanted to show a different, more loving side of the black male.

Georgia Teens Denied Bail in Beating Death

"Senseless" is how authorities are describing the death of Bobby Tillman. 

                        Bobby Tillman murder suspects
The Georgia teenager was killed after four teenagers allegedly attacked him for no reason outside a Atlanta house party. One of the teenagers allegedly told his three friends that he would hit the next person that walked by. Bobby Tillman soon passed the boys, who all joined the attack, stomping and beating Tillman. Four teenagers Horace Coleman, 19, Emanuel Boykins, 18, Quantez Mallory, 18 and Tracen Franklin, 19, face murder charges.

Police were called to the scene early Sunday morning after reports of a fight outside a party. Police arrested the four boys and held 57 witnesses for questioning. A judge has denied all four teenagers bail. According to Sheriff Phil Miller, the attack on Tillman, who was 5 foot 6, 125 pounds, was unprovoked. "[T]hey beat him up and stomped him and killed him," Miller said.

One witness is Ed Stephens, who lives nearby and saw the attack through his bedroom window. "I just thought he was hurt. I never thought that his life was ending," he said.

So why would a person randomly decide to attack the next person to walk by? According to the Associated Press, a woman standing outside the party hit one of the four teenagers, and he refused to hit the woman. Instead, he said he would hit the next man to walk by. Unfortunately that's about as much sense as we're probably going to get from this case.

The party apparently began with a small group of about 10 high school friends, but grew to 80 people or more after word got out about the party. At some point, the mother told everyone to leave but the party spilled out into the yard and the street, which led to the fight. So far, police have not found any evidence that alcohol or drugs were being served and the mother is not expected to face charges. If the mother had been serving intoxicants or allowing their use, she could have faced charges including contributing to the delinquency of a minor as well as social host liability.
David McDade, Douglas County District Attorney, said he did not know whether he would seek the death penalty, but he said that there was little point in seeking any answers: "This is an absolutely unprovoked, senseless killing by young people killing another young man for no reason, no motive."

Tale of the Titans: Black Filmmakers Spike Lee and Tyler Perry

Though several black film directors look to him as a mentor in Hollywood, Spike Lee hasn't been too pleased with Tinsletown's most successful black filmmaker of the day, Tyler Perry.

Lee has been very vocal about his frustration with the images of black America shown in some of Perry's films, saying, "We shouldn't think that Tyler Perry is going to make the same film that I am going to make...but at the same time, for me, the imaging is troubling and harkens back to 'Amos n' Andy.'"

In response to the criticism, Perry told a '60 Minutes' reporter that Lee's comments "pissed him off" and were "insulting" because he creates all of his characters as "bait to get people talking about God, love, family and faith."

Despite them appearing to be polar opposites, both filmmaking icons have more than just a few things in common.

BlackVoices.com explores how both acclaimed directors have proved themselves to be viable commodities – helping to break the careers of new talent, while transforming and resurrecting the careers of other legendary actors -- all the while becoming their own men and unapologetically making the types of films they are passionate about.

By Bridget Bland

DOJ Prepared to Examine Oscar Grant Case

Since ex-BART cop Johannes Mehserle’s sentencing last Friday, Oscar Grant supporters angry at a criminal justice system that seems to have abandoned their efforts to bring about justice have been ramping up their actions to demand institutional recognition and accountability for Grant’s death.

First on advocates’ list of demands has been to call on Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the case and prosecute Mehserle in federal court. An online petition that was initiated this summer with those demands has been revived again in recent weeks. So far the petition has 393 signatures.

The Department of Justice has heard people’s complaints, and is examining the details of the case.
“The Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California have been closely monitoring the local prosecution of this case,” the Department of Justice said in a statement after Friday’s sentencing.

“Now that the state prosecution has concluded and consistent with Department policy, we will thoroughly review the prosecution and its underlying investigation to determine whether further action is appropriate.”
Mehserle, a 28-year-old white transit police officer received a two-year prison sentence for killing the 22-year-old black man on New Year’s Day 2009. Mehserle shot the unarmed Grant in the back while he lay face down with his arms behind his back.

After Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter this summer, the least serious of the charges he faced, the DOJ promised to open an independent review of the case.

The Justice Department would not give a time frame for when the independent review would be completed.

by Julianne Hing

Natalie Cole Rebounds from Tragedy in New Book

Natalie Cole is known for her fabulous voice and her famous father, the legendary Nat King Cole. But the singer is now known for something she never thought she’d ever have to face – she’s a survivor of kidney disease. In her new book, “Love Brought Me Back: A Journey of Loss and Gain,” Cole details just one part of her amazing life story: Her battle with kidney disease and how she, her sister and another two sisters came together in an incredible journey.

Cole, now 60, was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2008. Her doctors suspected that it may have come from Cole’s heroin addiction some 25 years earlier. Cole endured treatment for Hepatitis C, but ultimately developed kidney disease. Unfortunately, the medication that helped her liver destroyed her kidneys and necessitated a kidney transplant.

During this difficult period, Natalie’s adopted sister, Carole, was dying of cancer. Amazingly, her kidney transplant took place on the same day that her sister died - and the kidney she received came from a woman whose own sister was devastated by loss.

In her book, Cole talks about her influences and her loved ones – from her father to luminaries like Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughn, who influenced her music. Cole was already an R&B star due to her hit albums, but in 1991, she had her greatest success with by “dueting” with her late father on “Unforgettable ... With Love.” The album won six Grammy Awards and sold 14 million copies catapulting Cole to worldwide acclaim.

Yet, with all her success, Cole had her struggles with men (she married three times) and drugs as detailed in her 2000 autobiography, “Angel On My Shoulder.” For a time, her mother, with whom she has had a strained relationship, assumed custody of her son, Robbie. Cole eventually went into and completed rehab, but the damage was done, and in 2009, she needed a kidney transplant after receiving dialysis treatment for almost a  year.

“How I got my kidney is colorful,” Cole told Thirdage.com. “My nurse was the donor's aunt. Watching me, both said, 'Wish we could do something for her.' The niece, eight months pregnant, became brain dead. Her baby is now with his father. The couple, from Central America and living in L.A., were not married. All are in the nursing profession. All are donors."

Even fans who weren’t aware of her illness noted Cole’s physical appearance change drastically when the artist became very thin and started wearing a cropped haircut. She says she lost 25 pounds and only regained 10. But some good came of Cole’s struggle - she credits the disease with bringing her closer to her mother, who had already lost two children.

Cole is now the spokesperson for the University Kidney Research Organization, a charity that raises funds and hopes to find a cure for kidney disease.

“As someone who has been affected by a form of kidney disease, I recognize that I survived kidney failure and am alive and healthy today because of the availability of improved treatments, procedures, and medications devised from decades of medical research,” Cole said in a statement. “The staggering toll that kidney diseases exact makes it imperative that we vastly increase study in this field, and I am pleased and proud to support the efforts of UKRO to do so. Through my involvement, I hope to bring greater recognition to UKRO’s fundraising efforts for kidney research.”

To see where Natalie Cole is appearing next, click here. To read an excerpt from “Love Brought Me Back,” click here.

By: Tonya Pendleton

Starting a regulatory “revolution”

By Howard Rich
As published at the Daily Caller.

The rescue of America from decades of government overreaching — capped by two years of full-blown socialism — won’t be accomplished overnight. And while the federal government’s descent into fiscal madness (and regulatory mania) has accelerated exponentially following the election of Barack Obama, it is not enough to merely undo the damage done by the current administration.

A complete ideological reversal and radical rethinking of government’s role in our society is necessary.

In surveying the political landscape following the 2010 elections — and contemplating the possibility of additional Democratic losses in 2012 — there is no shortage of opinions as to how a revived Republican party can use its rediscovered political relevance to further these objectives. Obviously repealing “Obamacare” in its entirety and permanently extending tax relief for all income brackets are two items which reside at the top of the list for many free market supporters — which makes sense.

But beyond these big ticket objectives (which will likely require another election cycle to complete) what can the GOP do now to begin fulfilling its obligation to America’s not-so-silent pro-taxpayer majority?
Get full story here.

A Lot Smaller

Get permalink here.

Death Tax More Significant to Some Than Others

By Rebekah Rast
The question remains for Congress, will the estate tax rise from the dead this coming January?

Of course those with more than $1 million of assets are hoping not, but so should the rest of Americans.

Why? Combining your home, retirement accounts, savings and other assets, $1 million doesn’t seem like such a big number anymore. Now, imagine Uncle Sam taking 55 percent of everything you have over the $1 million mark when you die. That could be disastrous for your heirs who might be trying to hold onto your family home, business or farm.

That’s exactly what’s going to happen if the estate tax is reinstated to its 2001 level. Because of a disorganized Democrat-run Congress in 2009, the estate tax was repealed for 2010, but come Jan. 1, 2011, like the rest of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, the estate tax might be increasing back to a 55 percent tax rate for the value of your estate exceeding $1 million.

Get full story here.

Time to Tackle Right to Work

By Bruce Walker
The 2010 landslide means that Republicans in the House can stop any new legislative initiatives by the Democrats and that Senate Republicans, if united, can stop almost anything Democrats want to do in that body as well. House Republicans can also send to the Senate bills that will put political pressure on Obama and Senate Democrats, like a complete extension of the Bush tax cuts. But at the federal level, Republicans cannot actually do anything without Democrats caving in.

The situation is very different at the state level. Republicans now control both houses of the state legislature and the governorship in a number of states. Republicans now have complete control of state government in twenty states compared to a paltry seven states before the midterm election. Crucially, Republicans now control all state government in five industrial rust belt states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. This control will allow Republicans to draw congressional districts and also, just as importantly, state legislative districts -- a real political blow to Democrats.

Get full story here.

Decision Points: The Five Biggest Revelations from George W. Bush’s New Book

decision points photoPosted by ToniFitz76 
Decision Points: The biggest revelations from George W. Bush's book

You’d think we knew everything about former President George W. Bush, considering he grew up the son of a vice president and later became president of the United States. But his new book “Decision Points” has some meaty revelations in it about this father of two, which people on both sides of the aisle will find interesting, no matter what they think of him personally.

Here’s five of the most interesting revelations from his new book:

1. His mother, Barbara, had a miscarriage and showed her young son the fetus of the miscarried baby in a jar, which evidently helped shape Bush’s lifelong pro-life stance. (I like Barbara a lot, but I find that supremely weird and kind of feel bad for him – that can’t be an easy thing to see.)

2. He poured vodka in the bowl of his sister Doro’s fish when he was young, killing it.

3. He appears ready to rid himself of the media’s “big dummy” label, insisting he once read 110 books in a year and he read 14 biographies of Abraham Lincoln while in office. (By comparison, I read perhaps a book or two a month; but I am not leader of the free world. You’d think that would leave much less downtime for reading.)

4. The worst moment of his presidency was when Kanye West called him out on a Hurricane Katrina special
5. He had no idea John McCain was going to suspend his presidential campaign for a summit with Bush on the economy – McCain did it without setting anything up.
What do you think – will you read the book?

Federal judge blocks SQ 755

I realize a lot of you who read Political Realities every day do not live in my area of the country and consequently, you may not be as interested in some of the goings on in Oklahoma. Most of my posts deal with national issues, but with the recent elections and the importance of the results in our state,No Sharia I have been spending quite a bit of time on state issues. Such is the case with the state questions we recently considered in Oklahoma, specifically State Question 755. For what it’s worth, I think this will be a case that sets precedent for years to come. As you know, SQ 755 will amend our state’s Constitution, making it a requirement for judges in our state to consider only state and federal law when deciding a case. It specifically bans the consideration of international law and Islamic or Sharia Law. Read here why I think Sharia Law should be banned. This measure passed with a 70% majority of the votes, which gives a pretty clear indication of the will of the people of Oklahoma.

The ballots had scarcely been counted when a lawsuit was filed in federal court, attempting to prevent the certification of the results by Oklahoma’s State Election Board. It was learned yesterday that a temporary restraining order has been issued by U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange. This injunction prevents the election results from being certified by the State Election Board until November 22, when a hearing on a preliminary injunction is scheduled. From The Oklahoman, here is part of why Muneer Awad says he filed the lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange handed down the order after an Oklahoma man filed a lawsuit claiming the amendment stigmatized his religion and would invalidate his will, which he said is partially based on Islamic Law, also known as Sharia Law.
“My constitutional rights are being violated through the condemnation of my faith,” said Muneer Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma. “Islam was the target of this amendment. This amendment does not have a secular purpose.”
Maybe I am way off base here, but I fail to see how Awad’s constitutional rights would be violated by SQ 755. It does nothing to keep him from practicing his religion, but it will prevent his religious law from being shoved down the throats of Americans. The people who voted for this measure, of which I am one, did not intend to stigmatize Islam. (Honestly, there is no need to do that, as Muslims themselves have done a fair job of that already. Actions really do speak louder than words.) All we intended was to prevent what has happened in Great Britain from happening in our state. That’s all, nothing more, nothing less.

As this lawsuit proceeds, the public relations campaign has already started. The Oklahoman is reporting Muneer Awad is claiming there is an ongoing backlash against the Muslim community in Oklahoma, starting before SQ 755 passed on November 2.
Hate mail was sent to mosques across the state before and after voters passed a measure prohibiting Oklahoma courts from considering Sharia law when making decisions.
Muneer Awad, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Monday that one of the mailed items included a DVD with hate speech and pictures of guns. Awad said the DVD was given to the FBI for further review.
“We have seen a steady increase of hate in our places of worship,” Awad said.
Awad said much of the mail is vulgar and espouses violence. He considers it a backlash against the Muslim community that began before the Nov. 2 election. Awad said he believes the campaign for the amendment contributed to the anti-Muslim sentiment.
“They implied that we’re trying to change life in Oklahoma,” he said.
First of all, I would like to see examples of the hate mail Awad says CAIR has been receiving. I have no doubt some of it was very plain in their opposition to Islam, but that doesn’t necessarily constitute hate speech. I am not fond of people expressing their opinions in a vulgar manner, using curse words and the like, but I have learned that it doesn’t pay to have such a thin skin, as it usually gets a person nowhere fast.
Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrangeAs we await the final outcome on SQ 755, I want to include a quote from Michael Clements, of Reporter 37.
As this is being worked out in the courts our state leaders should review the language of the question so that it can be reintroduced if necessary in the future. The simple fact is this is not an attempt to stigmatize any religion. It is a move designed to maintain the integrity of our court system by keeping the influence of religion and foreign laws out.
I can’t say I know for sure what the final outcome on SQ 755 will be, but I will not be surprised to see a ruling in favor of CAIR, striking down the measure. I understand our judicial system is in place for a reason, to prevent abuses of power and to protect the rights of all Americans. However, it seems increasingly more common that when the will of the people is asserted at the ballot box, a judge comes along and strikes that will down. I think that is an abuse of power, in it’s own right.

By LD Jackson

Wade Phillips You’re Fired Says Jerry Jones; LeBron James Spoof Commercial Video

I can tell you that we’re depressed and angry here in Dallas after seeing what looks like our worst season (1-7) since 1989 unfold before our eyes. Considering the season isn’t over yet, it just may be out worst season ever.  The Cowboys lost to Greenbay Packers 45-7. I understand Tony Romo is hurt, but did I miss the memo that our whole defensive team was hurt, too. Anyway, Wade Phillips head coach of the Dallas Cowboys was fired today by owner Jerry Jones, and replaced with Jason Garrett, offensive coordinator. Also considering we’ve had several high profile turnovers in the last three games, I don’t know if Garrett is a good idea either, but he can’t be worst. Last but not least, you can’t blame Romo for last night’s prime time loss.
Dallas Cowboys Wade Phillips Fired Wade Phillips Youre Fired Says Jerry Jones; LeBron James Spoof Commercial Video
In other news, Cleveland ex-fans created their own spoof of LeBron James and that sad Nike commercial, What Should I Do? Who’s smart idea was it to ask an open-ended commercial in the days of You Tube. LOL, the spoof takes some low bows, but it’s definitely entertaining. Watch the video when you continue reading…