It’s Not Gonna Be Business As Usual


By and

Black lawmakers are starting to agitate for more representation in House Democratic leadership, frustrated by the static makeup at the top of the caucus and the fact that only one African-American is included in those ranks.

Of the six top leadership positions — including chairman of the House Democratic campaign arm — only one is held by an African-American, Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn. Congressional Black Caucus members make up nearly a quarter of House Democrats.

In interviews with 15 members — nearly one-third of the CBC — several said it’s time for more than just one black lawmaker at the decision table. Many of them said they see a Democratic takeover of the House, which looks increasingly likely, as their best chance to make it happen.

“It’s not gonna be business as usual,” said Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio). “I think that our caucus is large enough and strong enough that representation should be commensurate with what we bring to the total caucus.”

The behind-the-scenes jockeying is part of widespread shadowboxing in the Democratic Caucus as members — long frustrated by the lack of opportunities for advancement because of the leadership blockade — look for ways to grow their influence after the election.

Clyburn insists he has no plans — “yet” — beyond helping the party win back the House. But several members said he is considering a run for majority leader if Democrats regain the House. That would be one step up from his current No. 3 ranking and a move black lawmakers hope would open up a spot for another African-American member to join the top ranks.


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Black Voters Warn Democrats with 2020 Ambitions About Taking Them for Granted

, writer Washington Post,  April 20

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D-N.Y.), left, huddles with the Rev. Al Sharpton at the National Action Network’s convention, where several potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates addressed attendees. (Justin Lane/Epa-Efe/Rex/Shutterstock/Justin Lane/Epa-Efe/Rex/Shutterstock)

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren condemned housing laws that “targeted communities of color.” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker focused on the injustice of climate change. California Sen. Kamala D. Harris railed against the Education Department as hostile to affirmative action.

Potential 2020 presidential candidates addressed the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network convention this week, tailoring their pitch to black voters who complain that Democrats have taken their support for granted and pressed for more from the party.

Democrats with state and national ambitions have responded, endorsing automatic voter registration, criminal justice reform and the decriminalization of marijuana.

“They’re going to have to articulate an agenda,” said Marc La­mont Hill, a professor at Temple University who supported the Green Party in 2016. “They can’t just come to us as a captured electorate — they can’t say, ‘Hey, you’re going to vote for us anyway.’ We can leverage our power and ask them to make responsible, responsive policy.”

Black support wasn’t an issue in 2008 and 2012, with Barack Obama seeking the presidency. But in 2016, with Hillary Clinton as the nominee, the black turnout rate fell to 60 percent, the first decline in 20 years.

Donald Trump, who had questioned whether Obama was born in the United States, did better with black voters than either of the Republican nominees who had challenged Obama.

To Sharpton, it seemed that Democrats, with plenty to offer black voters, had opted for a bland anti-Trump campaign.

“They had not engaged in a lot of these issues,” Sharpton said in an interview. “For a lot of them, 2016 was a wake-up call. If Hillary got more black votes in Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, she’d be president. They’re finally getting that they were behind the learning curve.”

Democrats have been working fast to change that. On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), another potential candidate for president, used the conference to announce that he would restore voting rights to felons on parole, potentially affecting 35,000 people. On Friday, in Washington, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation that would decriminalize marijuana, saying that it would allow “minority-owned business to have a fair shot in the marijuana industry.”

Trump has remained unpopular with black voters; in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, just 11 percent said that they approved of the job he was doing. But several of the Democrats seen as potential presidential candidates don’t have an obvious claim on the black electorate.

Warren related her own story of growing up poor in Oklahoma in a “paycheck-to-paycheck family” to what African Americans had experienced during the 2008 financial crisis.

“I can’t tell you how many women told me that they had to sell their wedding rings,” said Warren. When she began to quote a verse about poverty from the Gospel of Matthew, the crowd recited it by memory.

“You can always tell a Sunday school teacher,” said Warren. “Old school. I still do King James.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who struggled to win over black voters in his race against Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016, spoke to the conference about participating in the 1963 March on Washington. He said former Ohio state senator Nina Turner, a black woman, had taken over his political group Our Revolution and helped it elect a Philadelphia district attorney who was ending mass incarceration.

“We can’t talk about a strong economy when 34 percent of African American children today are living in poverty,” said Sanders. “We can’t talk about a strong economy when black high school graduates have an unemployment rate of over 40 percent — and then we wonder why bad things happen?”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) promoted her support for a ­government-funded full employment plan, saying that Coretta Scott King had fought for it and it was time for Democrats to embrace it.

“Coretta refused to accept the concept that full employment, a job for everyone, was impossible,” said Gillibrand. “I agree with Coretta.”

Former attorney general Eric Holder also spoke to the conference.

“None of them have announced. They’re on what we call a temperature tour,” said Sharpton.

But in the crowded conference rooms, it was hard to miss the enthusiasm for Harris and Booker — two of the three African Americans in the Senate.


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Kamala Harris Positions Herself for Presidential Run

Sen. Kamala Harris is increasingly positioning herself for a what is expected to be a crowded Democratic primary for the White House in 2020.

The former California attorney general, who is just at the beginning of her second year in the Senate, is taking positions that could endear herself with the Democratic base while allowing her to stand out from a group of Democrats who might seek the progressive mantle.

Harris voted against a Senate immigration bill backed by centrists from both parties earlier this month, waiting until the last minute to break with other liberals such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who both backed the measure.

She argued that while the bill would provide a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants who entered the country illegally, she could not support it in good conscience because of the inclusion of money for President Trump’s proposed wall on the Mexican border.

“While this bill would put Dreamers on a pathway toward citizenship, the appropriation of $25 billion for a border wall is a waste of taxpayer money,” she said. “A wall will not secure our border and I remain concerned those billions of dollars may also be used to implement this Administration’s anti-immigrant agenda — one that targets California and its residents.”


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Michael Steele Blasts Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Official for ‘Painfully Stupid’ Insult About His Race

, USA TODAY Published 11:11 a.m. ET Feb. 24, 2018

Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele on Friday refused an apology from a conservative official who said Steele had only been elected chairman “because he was a black guy.”

Ian Walter, communications director for the Conservative Political Action Conference, “did call and tried to explain himself,” Steele told MSNBC’s Joy Reid. “And he related it back to Barack Obama’s election. And he said at one point, ‘I apologize.’ And I said, ‘That’s not acceptable, that’s not enough.'”

While speaking at CPAC’s Ronald Reagan dinner on Friday night, Walters described former president Barack Obama’s election as a “big deal,” but said it led to the “terrible” selection of Steele to head the RNC back in 2009.

“We elected Mike Steele as chairman because he was a black guy,” Walters told the room, reportedly drawing gasps. “That was the wrong thing to do.”

According to the Observer, Steele was standing near the back of the room when the comment was made.

“I wanted to talk to (CPAC chairman) Matt Schlapp first, but I think it’s painfully stupid what he said,” Steele said. “If he feels that way, I’d like him to come say that to my face. And then I’d like him to look at my record and see what I did.”

He later addressed the remark again on MSNBC.

“We have allowed this element to have a voice, we have given countenance to it, we have given it the space to express itself,” he said. “There is no taking that back. You can’t deny that that has been freed up.”

He said Walters felt comfortable making the remark during the dinner because “you think everyone in that room is going to be in agreement with you.”

Steele served as RNC chairman from 2009 to 2011 and was the first African-American to hold the role.


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Obama Portraits Drawing Huge Crowds to Gallery

By Peggy McGlone | Washington Post

WASHINGTON – The Smithsonian’s presidential portraits are feeling the selfie love.

The new paintings of former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, attracted big crowds to the National Portrait Gallery last week, where thousands of visitors lined up for hours to see the works and snap selfies in front of them.

The gallery commissioned contemporary powerhouse Kehinde Wiley and emerging star Amy Sherald to create the paintings of the former first couple. The portraits attracted international attention when they were unveiled Feb. 12, and the enthusiasm continued during the first week they were on view to the public.

More than 72,100 visitors – including 50,000 during the long Presidents’ Day weekend – entered the museum during the first week, officials said. Those numbers are three times greater than last year’s holiday weekend, which attracted 16,041 visitors.

“What I loved most about it is people are talking about portraiture,” said NPG Director Kim Sajet, who milled about the gallery Sunday afternoon. “There was a lot of intrigue about them, they had heard about them, and they had a lot of questions.”

The works are surprising, which is part of their appeal, according to Washington Post art critic Philip Kennicott. Wiley and Sherald “have combined traditional representation with elements that underscore the complexity of their subjects, and the historic fact of their political rise. And both painters have managed to create compelling likenesses without sacrificing key aspects of their signature styles.”

Wiley’s portrait of the 44th president shows Obama leaning forward in a chair surrounded by vibrant green foliage that includes references to Chicago, Hawaii and Kenya. Sherald’s portrait Michelle Obama depicts the first lady in a dramatic printed dress before a blue background.

Sajet said she fielded many questions about the unusual works, especially about Sherald’s use of gray skin tones, a reference to black-and-white photography.

“(Sherald) sees this as part of the trajectory of African-American portraiture, trying to take the race out of the person,” Sajet said. “There was lots of debate and that’s what has gotten me excited, that people want to talk about it.”

Elisabeth Kilday, visitor services manager for the NPG and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which share the historic building, described a festive atmosphere in the galleries and courtyard, which on Saturday hosted family programs tied to the holiday.


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New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and California Senator Kamala Harris Join Senate Judiciary Committee

January 09, 2018 06:12 PM

Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California have been appointed to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, becoming just the second and third African-Americans to serve on the committee in its 200-plus-year history.

Senator Cory Booker, New Jersey and Senator Kamala Harris, California

Senator Cory Booker, New Jersey and Senator Kamala Harris, California

Democrats had to replace Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who resigned after being accused of sexual misconduct. They also picked up a spot with Doug Jones’ victory in last month’s Alabama Senate race.

The Congressional Black Caucus had been urging Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to appoint one of its members to the committee.

“The experience and expertise they bring to the committee will be beneficial for all Americans, especially those disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond, the group’s chairman.

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Historians Rank Former President Barack Obama 12th Best President


It’s only been a few weeks since former President Barack Obama left the White House, but presidential historians have already placed him on the right side of history.

AC-SPAN survey of 91 historians and presidential experts ranked the Democrat the 12th best leader in United States presidential history — just ahead of James Monroe and right behind Woodrow Wilson.

Another Illinois politician, former President Abraham Lincoln, claimed the survey’s top spot. He’s followed closely by George Washington, with Franklin D. Roosevelt rounding out the top three.

Experts who participated in the survey were asked to grade the presidents on 10 different facets of their terms in office, like “Crisis Leadership” and “International Relations.”

Obama earned high marks for his pursuit of “Equal Justice for All,” ranking third in the category behind Lincoln and former President Lyndon B. Johnson. He also cracked the top 10 for his “Moral Authority” and “Economic Management,” ranking seventh and eighth, respectively.

The 44th president’s lowest mark is for his relationship with Congress. Historians ranked him 39th, ahead of only a few others including former presidents Franklin Pierce and Andrew Johnson, who was ranked last.

Experts said the passing of time will likely effect Obama’s rankings in the future and remained mixed on whether the former President’s marks were higher or lower than expected, Politico reported.


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Where Former President Obama Ranks Among All Presidents


Former President Barack Obama appears in C-Span’s Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership for the first time, and he has placed just outside of the top 10 in the overall ranking. On Friday, the television network released the results of its survey of 91 historians, its third following versions in 2000 and 2009.

Members of the advisory team for the survey had varied reactions to Obama’s placement. “That Obama came in at number 12 his first time out is quite impressive,” Douglas Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University, said in a statement. Edna Greene Medford, a history professor at Howard University, had a different take: “Although 12th is a respectable overall ranking, one would have thought that former President Obama’s favorable rating when he left office would have translated into a higher ranking in this presidential survey.”

The top slots in the overall rankings are unchanged since the 2009 survey: Abraham Lincoln at No. 1 (he also earned the top rank in 2000), George Washington at No. 2, Franklin D. Roosevelt at No. 3 and Theodore Roosevelt at No. 4. Others in the top 10 are Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson.

At No. 12, Obama falls in between Woodrow Wilson and James Monroe. As for recent presidents, Bill Clinton continued to occupy the No. 15 slot, and George W. Bush improved three spots, to No. 33. That president “has benefited somewhat from the passing of the years,” C-Span said in a statement.


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The World Can’t Afford President Obama’s Silence Anymore

Dave R. Jacobson Huffington Post Democratic Strategist, Campaign Consultant and Political Analyst based in Los Angeles, California.  01/28/2017 09:08 pm ET

Co-Authored by Maclen Zilber, Democratic Strategist and Campaign Consultant based in Hollywood, CA

Under the less than ten day old Trump presidency, it seems that every day there’s a new war.

A war against the facts. A war against the president of Mexico. A war against the media. A war against the environment. A war against NATO. A war against muslims. A war against our election system. A war against Hollywood celebrities. A war against women’s rights. A war against China. A war against presidential etiquette. A war against refugees.

Barack Obama’s presidency is just a few days into the rear view mirror, and already questions are being raised about whether or not these wars that Trump has incited, will ever end.

The sitting president’s continued flame-throwing and open hostility towards the world, both domestically and internationally, is increasingly raising tensions inside the United States and abroad, while sowing the seeds of conflict, chaos and instability across the planet.

Trump’s actions are even raising questions about whether his dangerous and divisive moves are putting Americans, and all of Earth’s human inhabitants, on a collision course destined for global war.

We sincerely hope not, as this question is downright scary to imagine or even to conceptualize.

At the heart of what makes the Trump presidency so dangerous is his overt willingness to look the American people in the eye— and flat out lie to them.

Trump first did it through his press secretary, Sean Spicer, regarding the crowd size of his inauguration. Then he did it himself the following day at CIA headquarters, conveying the same falsehood as Spicer. At the same event, Trump misrepresented the facts about his relationship with the intelligence community, saying the media created the illusion that he had a poor relationship with the apparatus, when just days before his inauguration it was Trump who callously compared it to “Nazi Germany.”



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Never Trump, Never Hillary for New Jersey Woman Running for President

By Terrence T. McDonald | The Jersey Journal
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on October 27, 2016 at 7:58 AM

Supporters of Hillary Clinton use the catchphrase “I’m with her” to indicate support for the former secretary of state’s presidential campaign, but Clinton isn’t the only “her” running for president.

monica moorehead 2Here in New Jersey, Clinton is on the ballot with four other women, including Jersey City’s own Monica Moorehead, the nominee of the far-left Workers World Party.

Moorehead, 64, has run for president and lost twice before and she will not win this time either. She and her running mate, North Carolina man Lamont Lilly, are on the ballot only in New Jersey, Utah and Wisconsin. A sweep on Nov. 8 would give the team 30 electoral votes. The winner needs 270.

The objective of Moorehead’s 2016 bid, she said, is not to defeat Clinton or Trump but to bring attention to issues she said are ignored by Democrats and Republicans: police brutality, ending war, abolishing capitalism.

“Vote for Socialism!” reads a heading on the party’s campaign website.

Speaking to The Jersey Journal in her Bentley Avenue home with a black-and-white cat, Jasmine, curled up by her side, Moorehead said she thinks little of Trump — “a racist who has fascistic tendencies, who is misogynist” — and Clinton, whom she calls a “warmonger” and “just terrible.”

“You have these two choices, which we feel are not choices at all,” she said. “You’re either choosing between a quick death or a slower death.”

Not that Moorehead completely disagrees with the two leading candidates. Trump, down in the polls nationally and in key battleground states, is alleging that the election is “rigged.” Moorehead agrees, for different reasons.

“They are rigged every four years,” she said. “You’re forced to vote for the lesser evil, so to speak. The Democrats and Republicans, we feel, both represent the interests of corporate America.”


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People of Color and the Future of the Democratic Party

By Denise Oliver Velez / Daily Kos

The complexion of the United States has shifted over the last few decades, and the future will demonstrate an even more varied set of racial and ethnic demographics. Little wonder why there is a rabid response of racism, xenophobia, and anti-immigration rhetoric from the Republican Party—which we might as well call “The White People Party,” since, according to Gallup “non-Hispanic whites accounted for 89% of Republican self-identifiers nationwide in 2012.”  From my perspective they are no different from the White Citizens’ Councils of the past, who were the public face of the Klan.

Naturalization_ceremonyThis shift presents a challenge, and not just to white Americans. It also highlights inter-ethnic positions and tensions. Let’s not fool ourselves: Developing fusion politics with whites and erasing friction between and among peoples of color is a challenge. We can look to movements like Moral Mondays in North Carolina for an example of how fusion is being put into practice outside of the electoral realm.

We’ve seen some of the obstacles play out during this Democratic primary season, which Issac J. Bailey explores in “How Bernie Sanders Exposed the Democrats’ Racial Rift.” He writes:

Barring an asteroid strike that extinguishes life on Earth, the American electorate will be much more diverse in coming elections than it is today, especially the portion of it that Democrats plan to rely on. There are now more non-white than white babies being born every year, and the under-18 crowd is close to reaching majority-minority status as well. That’s the Democrats’ greatest potential strength, which grows only more pronounced the closer Trump comes to being officially named the GOP nominee.

No longer is it a given that straight white males will be always be the defining force in Democratic party national or local elections. For us, fusion is our future. Failure to accept, acknowledge, embrace, and work toward that future will set us back. It will play into the racist, sexist, regressive Republican agenda that’s espoused by not only Donald Trump, but also co-signed and reinforced by right-wing elected officials in Congress and Republican-leaning independent voters.


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How Racial Gerrymandering Deprives Black People of Political Power

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Black Political Discussion On 2016 Presidential Race

article-2599214-1CEAC0C300000578-878_634x419by: Bruce A. Dixon

2008’s black political discussion around presidential politics was all about silencing black noise over housing, jobs, unemployment, education, justice and peace. Be quiet we told each other. White folks will hear you and not vote for Obama. By 2012 we shut each other up to keep from embarrassing or the First Black President. Radical activists are now pushing for a wider black conversation about our people’s needs that includes socialism.

Remember the black presidential discussion in 2007 and 2008?

Barack Obama was the Democrat candidate, and practically all you could hear was:

  1. How black is this Obama dude anyway? Ain’t his mama white, his daddy African? What does that make him? Later on it became “How black are YOU if you don’t support Obama?”
  2. Got demands or just thoughts on issues like housing, foreclosures, low wages, no wages, black unemployment, mass incarceration or whatever? Swallow them. Siddown and shuddup before you scare white people out of voting for Obama. Keep quiet so he can get elected first.
  3. Got a hunger and thirst for peace and justice? Grow up and lower those expectations. And remember he’s running for president of everybody, not just black people so keep that peace and justice stuff in your back pocket till after the elections, or after he gets settled in or maybe for his second term if he gets one.
  4. He’s black so he obviously wants what you do, he just can’t say so out loud or he’ll scare the white folks. He’s can’t do nothin’ anyway if he don’t get elected.

There were also surrogates, who frequently lied outright to credulous black audiences, making explicit claims the candidate never wouled about rolling back mass incarceration, address black unemployment and a host of other issues if only we would keep the faith by shutting up and getting him elected first.

Some tech savvy young professionals I knew even organized a network that scooped up any short racist statement or outrage they could find online to make them viral, emailed, sent, forwarded and resent multiple times to every black person with an email address. The emails all had big headlines instructing recipients to send resend and forward the hot racist mess to every black colleague churchgoer, neighbor friend family member and friend they knew. Often these were accompanied with admonitions to register and vote. My email boxes and those of everybody I know were clogged for months with the stuff.



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Ben Carson – Republican Party Presidential Candidate – 2016

ben_carson 2Benjamin SolomonBenCarson, Sr. (born September 18, 1951) is a retired American neurosurgeon and former candidate for President of the United States. Born in Detroit, Michigan, and a graduate of Yale University and the University of Michigan Medical School, Carson has authored numerous books on his medical career and political stances, and was the subject of a television drama film in 2009.

He was the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland from 1984 until his retirement in 2013. Among his achievements as a surgeon were separating conjoined twins and developing a hemispherectomy technique for controlling seizures. Both achievements were recognized in 2008 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


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How Black Elected Officials Have ‘Helped’

Walter Williams

Let’s list major problems affecting black Americans. Topping the list is the breakdown in the black family, where only a third of black children are raised in two-parent households. Actually, the term “breakdown” is incorrect. Families do not form in the first place. Nationally, there is a black illegitimacy rate of 72 percent. In some urban areas, the percentage is much greater. Blacks constitute more than 50 percent of murder victims, where roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered each year. Ninety-five percent of the time, the perpetrator is another black. If a black youngster does graduate from high school, it is highly likely that he can read, write and compute no better than a white seventh- or eighth-grader. These are the major problems that face black Americans.

Let’s look at some of the strategy since the beginning of the civil rights movement. The black power movement of the ’60s and ’70s held that black under-representation in the political arena was a major problem. It was argued that the election of more black officials as congressmen, mayors and city council members would mean economic power, better neighborhoods and better schools. Forty-three years ago, there were roughly 1,500 black elected officials nationwide. According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, by 2011 there were roughly 10,500 black elected officials, including a black president. But what were the fruits?

So what should black politicians and activists now be focused on to address some of the problems confronting black people? Let’s look at some of the fiddling by some black politicians, white liberals and some intimidated white conservatives. How about banning the Confederate flag from public places because it is alleged to be a symbol of slavery? What would that do for black problems? By the way, one could make the case for also banning the American flag. Slave ships sailed under the American flag.

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