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The Pile: Thoughts, Life, and Photography of Joshua Davis

Family Painting Barn for Obama

Filed under: American Politics, Politics,

Supreme Court Gives a Hand to Criminals, Twice

We have a seriously messed up court here in America. Yesterday the Supreme Court voted to ban executing child rapists. Today the courts struck down Washington, DC’s murder prevention law, a handgun ban. So in one weeks time nations highest court has effectively protected the life of a child rapists, while threating the life of the 600,000 residents of DC, plus of countless other jurisdictions with tough anti-crime measures.

At stake was a question over a coma. The Second Amendment says:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Those who believe the constitution says you can bear arms, so long as you’re a member of the milatary cite the fact there’s a coma and not a period between “free state” and “the right.” I believe that the framers of the document meant for the right to bear arms to be in conjunction with milatary or law enforcement service. However five justices felt that the coma was better read as a period. (Insert joke about justices needing better reading glasses).

Even though the ruling has granted the broad rights that radical groups like the NRA believe are present in the Second Amendment, it doesn’t not rule out laws that cities dealing with high crime, and regular murders could use.

Te District of Columbia should enact a law banning the purchase and importation of out of state weapons by it’s citizens. In conjunction they should also require a license to be issued to sell firearms, and then not grant these licenses to any business. No where in the constitution is a right to be able to purchase weapons found, which is the reason bans on automatic weapons are constitutional. Second, DC and other cities should enact vast gun free zones in high crime neighborhoods racked by near nightly murders.

Flickr photo by Drab Makyo.

Filed under: American Politics, Politics, , ,

The Isms are Still Alive

Hillary Clinton, Baracm Obama, Bill Richardson, Mitty Romney, John McCain, and Rudy Giulani all broke barriers for their various ethnic, gender, race and religious groups.

This primary saw so many records broken. We had a woman run the longest and most successful primary campaign ever. We had a man who would be the oldest president if he wins. We had an African American take the nomination. We had a Latino run, and be viewed as a somewhat serious threat, and seen as a serious contender for vice president. Then there was an Italian who had a front runner campaign for many months, and we can’t forget that a Mormon ran too.

The primary season was a wonderful example of the diversity of America and a reminder that who you are doesn’t have to define what you will be. But it also was a reminder that isms (chauvinism, racism, religionism, ageism…) are still a problem in America. From the media, to political campaigns, to individuals, this hatred has reared it’s ugly head. But the times when identity became a part of politics, equal opportunity discrimination resulted.

Probably most notable in terms of media sanctioned sexism was Chris Mathews, who has also made many comments indicating his support for Barack Obama, at one time saying Obama made his “thighs tingle.” He made offensive comments about Hillary saying “The reason she’s a U.S. Senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front runner, is that her husband messed around. […] She didn’t win it on the merits.” Then of course there is the frequent use of the word bitch to describe Hillary. We heard McCain chuckling and saying “How do we beat the bitch” was an excellent question. And then of course everyone refers to Hillary, as Hillary, highlighting her gender in a way that last names don’t.

Even though there was only one candidate with a groundbreaking religion running in the 2008 primaries, Mitt Romney, three religions still came under fire. There was a county chairman working for John McCain that blasted Romney’s religion according to the Boston Globe, “[He] questioned whether Mormons were Christians, discussed an article alleging that the Mormon Church helps fund Hamas, and likened the Mormons’ treatment of women to the Taliban’s.”

Then came attacks on Obama’s religion. Conservatives maintained that he was a secret Muslim who wanted to impose Sharia law, while those same people attacked him for being to closely attached to the black church. Then came comments from a Clinton adviser saying Obama was only good for being your “Imaginary hip black friend.” And then there where those who feel Obama’s win was an exercise in affirmative action. Geraldine Ferraro, Rush Limbaugh and others have made statements that “Obama was only winning because he was a black male.” For comparison there’s one black in the US Senate, versus the 16 white woman, prior to 2004 there was only one black, who was a female.

My point in bringing these controversies up is not to reinforce hard feelings. It’s to show that every candidate faced discrimination on the campaign trail. Being an Obama supporter I can easily say, “These race attacks on Obama where more unfair.” But since I’ve never been a woman or Hillary supporter I don’t really know how her supporters felt about the attacks. And whatever those feelings are, they’re certainly legitimate.

If Obama’s pollsters and advisers come back and tell him they need Hillary on the ticket, then those (including me) offended by her comments will need to get over them, so we can fully support the entire ticket. In identity based politics this can be hard because the attacks feel like an attack on your group. But liberals must remember the interests of women and blacks will be further eroded over the next four years if the Republicans and John McCain win, because they are still anti abortion, anti affirmative action, and want to place justices on the Supreme Court that rescind and limit rulings like Roe v. Wade, and Brown v. Board of Education.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, barack obama, , , , , , , ,

Hillary Uses More Race Baiting

Hillary Clinton campaigning in West Virginia on Wednesday.Hillary has defined herself as the white candidate today, telling USA Today that “I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on, [the AP] found how Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me… There’s a pattern emerging here. Hillary must feel pretty desperate when she has to specifically single out white voters as the hard working ones.

The Clinton’s previous comments on race where regrettable, and told black voters the Clinton’s where willing to use race baiting as their strategy. The strategy may have been offensive, but these comments are on a whole new level with Hillary implying that white voters are the only hard working voters.

Despite all her arguments that she can carry working class, rural, and Hispanic (she usually excludes blacks) voters, she needs the black vote to win in the Fall. If this group stays home or votes for an alternate candidate she will not win.

Blacks are not voting for Obama because he is black. Blacks are voting en masse for Obama because Hillary’s race baiting has driven them away. When the primaries started many African Americans where sketpical a black could win, or worried for Obama’s safety, or just felt Hillary was more likely to win in the fall. After nearly each contest more blacks vote for Obama because Hillary offends them in her attempt to court the racist vote.

It’s Hillary’s fault this primary season has turned into game a of race and gender. If she wasn’t so desperate to get back in the White House she wouldn’t have to pull tricks like this to win. If she had played less like a Republican, and more like a Democrat, maybe she’d be looking at being a vice president. But now she has shot her chance for a November win, and probably any primary wins in the future.

Hillary can try to pull in the “Regan Democrats,” but this will never work for Democrats like it did for Republicans, because they would loose their key group of civil rights advocates and blacks.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, Black Matters, Politics, , ,

Womans Group Allegedly Suppressing Black Votes

An advocacy group called Women’s Voices, Women’s Vote, is alleged to be engaging in voter suppression in North Carolina. The group sends robo-calls to predominantly black neighborhoods, telling the residents they aren’t able to vote in the upcoming Democratic primary. Technology meets government blog, Threat Level has some more details:

Voters began complaining to The Raleigh News & Observer last week that they were receiving the automated calls, which the paper reported were primarily going to black households. The calls play a 20-second message voiced by a man who calls himself “Lamont Williams.”

“In the next few days, you will receive a voter-registration packet in the mail,” the Williams recording said. “All you need to do is sign it, date it and return your application. Then you will be able to vote and make your voice heard. Please return the voter-registration form when it arrives. Thank you.”

The message doesn’t identify the group, but after some research, the Institute for Southern Studies traced the calls back to Woman’s Voices, Woman’s Vote. The group acknowledged the campaign, but it’s President, Page Gardner said the “Calls were an extension of a legitimate voter-registration drive that the group began in July 2007.”

But Gardner fails to elaborate on why the messages where done anonymously. If it truly was legitimate it would seem like the group would want it’s name attached.This isn’t the first state where the group has been accused of voter suppression. But it also turns out Gardner has donated $4200 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Wired goes on to quote another man in the automated political call industry as saying “The fact that the autodial campaign was performed anonymously suggests it wasn’t an innocent mistake. In general, automated campaigns are designed to suppress voter turnout.” Don Powell went on to say “”It does happen in North Carolina, it works, or they wouldn’t bother. It’s sleazy money, and it affects people like me who would never think about doing this.”

It’s unfortunate that at a time when America was guaranteed to see either a woman or African American in the White House, it turned into a game of identity based politics. It’s understandable that women vote for Hillary, and blacks for Obama, and it’s reasonable to expect these group to be excited about their choices. But what’s disappointing is how the primary has become a fight between white woman and blacks.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, Politics, , , , , ,

What Hillary’s Win Means

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Hillary Clinton needed to maintain the 25 point lead polls showed her with earlier, to prove she was still competitive in the race to Denver.  But her relatively lackluster showing in Pennsylvanian on Tuesday further illustrated there is virtually no possibility she’ll be able to catch up to Obama in popular vote or pledged delegate count. Exit polls even back that hypothesis, with 54 percent of respondents saying no matter what happened in Pennsylvania, Obama would win the nomination.

With only a ten point, six delegate loss, Barack Obama, showed that in a general election it would be possible for him to carry Pennsylvania. Considering the race baiting and last minute fear mongering the Clinton campaign used, Obama may have well been able to win the Keystone State. For fear of further alienating minorities the Republican party has indicated they will likely shy away from racial based attacks, which certainly was a key factor in Hillary’s win.

Her win only proved two things. She has not tarnished her reputation too much to prohibit herself from winning. Second,  that she will continue fighting even win the odds look nearly impossible.  This is what Al Gore needed to do in 2000, when Florida and the Supreme Court stole the presidency from him. Hillary has showed she is the attack dog Democrats needed in ’00 and ’04.

But after eight years of Bush’s political divisiveness and vindictiveness Americans are ready for a change from the dog fight politics has become. By the time this nearly one year election comes to end Americans will be so tired of bickering they’ll vote for the candidate they viewed as most focused on the issues. Exit polls have showed that despite her win, most Pennsylvania believed she turned the race negative. Seven months from now Americans certainly will become tired of the daily sniping.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, barack obama, Politics, , ,

McCain’s Energy Plan Will Raise Rates

I know this a few days old, but it sure hasn’t gotten enough coverage. John McCain has proposed to create a gas tax “holiday” during the summer months. He thinks that 29 cents off your gas consumption tax would lower the prices, but it is more likely to increase consumption, and the increased demand will probably outweigh saving money from the gas the tax.

And how does Mr. I’ll Stay In Iraq for 100 years, pay for the war with all these tax cuts? Oh I forgot destabilizing the Middle East creates lower prices at the pump.

The Washington Post talked to some economists who pretty much share the same view:

“You don’t want to stimulate consumption,” said Lawrence Goldstein, an economist at the Energy Policy Research Foundation. “The signal you want to send is the opposite one. Politicians should say that conservation is where people’s mindset ought to be.”

Mr. Goldstein said that instead of freezing the federal tax, the government should help lower-income populations pay for gasoline. It would be cheaper and benefit those households that need it most.

If anything, the gas tax should be increased. This would make heating bills decrease, because less gas would be consumed. Europe has some of the highest gas tax rates, which may acount for up to 70% of costs at the pump. Coincdently Europe also has the lowest gas consumption.

Having less consumption would also lower carbon outputs, and general pollution. Besides helping the disadvantaged pay for energy, a higher gas tax could be used to fund alternatives to excess oil consumption like mass transit, and green and renewable fuels.

McCain has several lobbyists from energy companies working on his campaign, and no doubt his lobbyists would love to see increased fuel consumption, leading to higher gas prices.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, Politics,

AP Compares Obama to Terrorist, Gives McCain Doughnuts

There’s been much talk of the media being somehow biased towards Barack Obama. But yesterday the presidential candidates appeared before the nation’s press. Then the chief of the AP asked if Obama would increase troop presence in Afghanistan where “Obama bin Laden is still at large?”

Later Dean Singleton gave McCain a box of donuts and coffee. But like Saturday Night Live’s sketch of Obama getting extra special treatment by the media, a similar scene actually happened to John McCain:

McCain’s moderators, the AP’s Ron Fournier and Liz Sidoti, greeted McCain with a box of Dunkin’ Donuts. “We spend quite a bit of time with you on the back of the Straight Talk Express asking you questions, and what we’ve decided to do today was invite everyone else along on the ride,” Sidoti explained. “We even brought you your favorite treat.”

McCain opened the offering. “Oh, yes, with sprinkles!” he said.

Sidoti passed him a cup. “A little coffee with a little cream and a little sugar,” she said.

This exchange raises a larger point. The media is being biased, but it’s not to any particular candidate. One reporter will favor Clinton, another Obama, and another McCain. And for those journalists that pretend to be unbiased, they give their support to whichever candidate appears winning at moment.

Filed under: American Politics, Politics, , ,

I Am an Angry Voter

I’m an angry voter. I worry that a Clinton or McCain administration will continue the same Washington politics that are destroying our nation. Like politicians getting free vacations trips to tropical destinations for signing free trade deals at the request of lobbyists.

There are many blacks like me that share this same anger, and even bitterness. But some of us might look at the white male factory worker as getting what he deserves, because for past generations he had  a free “white male” card. Blue collar workers might look at us as lazy, destructive people and wonder why we’re surprised Wal-Mart won’t open and bring employment opportunities in black neighborhoods.

But in the end the white father and the black father are both angry when they find it hard to place food on the table. Whether as Americans, they scrape money from the grandparents or from the federal government, the shame of not being able to provide for your own family creates anger at the system.

But the media (funded by corporations) and selfish politicians are seeking to divide Americans that are affected by the same failed economic policies, so that they can rake in more money and profits. They’re creating “voter outrage” of Barack Obama’s “bitter” comments. His statement was intended to help a group of elitist California fund raisers understand what the unemployed American feels. Every election cycle presidents and senators pose against shuttered factories and promise jobs. And the January after each election cycle we see more American jobs sent to places like Asia and South America.

The Washington and corporate establishment is scared that a candidate has finally called politicians on their economic BS. The establishment is worried that blue collar America and urban America might realize our economic issues are the same. If Americans are able to look past the small differences that separate us, and exercise our right to make America  a better place, corrupt politicians and companies looking at short term and selfish gains will be forced to change or leave.

Bitter is not a bad word. I am “Marked by resentment or cynicism” as the dictionary says, when it comes to politics. When watching you, your family, your community, and your country slowly dieing because of irresponsible decision making, it is no shame to be a bitter voter.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, Black Matters, Politics, , , ,

European Aircraft Manufacturers Love McCain

Or does John McCain love European airplane manufacturers? Media Matters is out with a graphic showing who his campaign managers, advisers, and other employees lobby for. One of the immediate names that jumped out at me was European aircraft maker Airbus, who has been siphoning off airplane contracts from American companies like Boeing.

But that’s not all he will be beholden to. The telecom industry, which surely will advocate against net neutrality, for wrestling cable regulation from local government, and for even higher cell phone, cable, and Internet prices. And if you think McCain is a saint for believing in global warming think again. Shell Oil, Honda, Florida Power & Light, Toyota, and other energy gobbling companies all employ lobbyists that work in his campaign.

There are a few other entities out there that should cause controversy too. For those who care about family values, one of his lobbyists works for the Smokeless Tobacco Council. And lets not forget, another of his advisers is a lobbyist who works for the NRA, the group that wanted to legalize assault weapons used in the Virginia Tech shootings.

The problem with lobbyists is the candidate will be beholden to them, especially if they’re credited with creating the win. For a man that labels himself as the “Straight Talk Express” I would defiantly expect him to show higher moral standards when it comes to lobbyists.

Filed under: '08 Election, American Politics, Politics, , , , , ,