Posts Tagged prison

Hillary Clinton Does Not Deserve The Black Vote

Poor black people in this election cycle, most notably poor black women, have become the new poor, white Southerner hicks of yesteryear who voted against their own self interest for George W. Bush and every Republican there is. I say this because  Hillary Clinton’s support among women of color is stronger than among white women. In fact, it appears as though poor black women are responsible for Clinton’s lead in the Primaries and are her winning card, one that she is eager to play and one which black people seem all too eager to get played. Again.

Black voters have been remarkably loyal to the Clintons for more than 25 years. It’s true that they eventually lined up behind Barack Obama in 2008, but it’s a measure of the Clinton allure that Hillary led Obama among black voters until he started winning caucuses and primaries. Now Hillary is running again. This time she’s facing a democratic socialist who promises a political revolution that will bring universal healthcare, a living wage, an end to rampant Wall Street greed, and the dismantling of the vast prison state—many of the same goals that Martin Luther King Jr. championed at the end of his life. Even so, black folks are sticking with the Clinton brand.

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Frankly, I fail to understand why Clinton has earned the loyalty of black voters at all.

Why black people think a corporatist one percenter who has worked all her life against them, is good for them in any way imaginable.

On the campaign trail back in 1992, Bill Clinton made the economy his top priority and argued persuasively that conservatives were using race to divide the nation and divert attention from the failed economy. In practice, however, he capitulated entirely to the right-wing backlash against the civil-rights movement and embraced former president Ronald Reagan’s agenda on race, crime, welfare, and taxes—ultimately doing more harm to black communities than Reagan ever did.

Back then, Clinton was the standard-bearer for the New Democrats, a group that firmly believed the only way to win back the millions of white voters in the South who had defected to the Republican Party was to adopt the right-wing narrative that black communities ought to be disciplined with harsh punishment rather than coddled with welfare. Reagan had won the presidency by dog-whistling to poor and working-class whites with coded racial appeals: railing against “welfare queens” and criminal “predators” and condemning “big government.” Clinton aimed to win them back, vowing that he would never permit any Republican to be perceived as tougher on crime than he.

Just weeks before the critical New Hampshire primary, Clinton proved his toughness by flying back to Arkansas to oversee the execution of Ricky Ray Rector, a mentally impaired black man who had so little conception of what was about to happen to him that he asked for the dessert from his last meal to be saved for him for later. After the execution, Clinton remarked, “I can be nicked a lot, but no one can say I’m soft on crime.”

Bill Clinton presided over the largest increase in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history. Clinton did not declare the War on Crime or the War on Drugs—those wars were declared before Reagan was elected and long before crack hit the streets—but he escalated it beyond what many conservatives had imagined possible. He supported the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity for crack versus powder cocaine, which produced staggering racial injustice in sentencing and boosted funding for drug-law enforcement.

Clinton championed the idea of a federal “three strikes” law in his 1994 State of the Union address and, months later, signed a $30 billion crime bill that created dozens of new federal capital crimes, mandated life sentences for some three-time offenders, and authorized more than $16 billion for state prison grants and the expansion of police forces. The legislation was hailed by mainstream-media outlets as a victory for the Democrats, who “were able to wrest the crime issue from the Republicans and make it their own.”

When Clinton left office in 2001, the United States had the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Human Rights Watch reported that in seven states, African Americans constituted 80 to 90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison, even though they were no more likely than whites to use or sell illegal drugs. Prison admissions for drug offenses reached a level in 2000 for African Americans more than 26 times the level in 1983. All of the presidents since 1980 have contributed to mass incarceration, but as Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson recently observed, “President Clinton’s tenure was the worst.”

Some might argue that it’s unfair to judge Hillary Clinton for the policies her husband championed years ago. But Hillary wasn’t picking out china while she was first lady. She bravely broke the mold and redefined that job in ways no woman ever had before. She not only campaigned for Bill; she also wielded power and significant influence once he was elected, lobbying for legislation and other measures. That record, and her statements from that era, should be scrutinized. In her support for the 1994 crime bill, for example, she used racially coded rhetoric to cast black children as animals. “They are not just gangs of kids anymore,” she said. “They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”

Both Clintons now express regret over the crime bill (and this has become a pattern: do horrible things and then apologize for it later. When apology becomes policy). And now that it seems politically expedient, Hillary says she supports criminal-justice reforms to undo some of the damage that was done by her husband’s administration. But on the campaign trail, she continues to invoke the economy and country that Bill Clinton left behind as a legacy she would continue. So what exactly did the Clinton economy look like for black Americans? Taking a hard look at this recent past is about more than just a choice between two candidates. It’s about whether the Democratic Party can finally reckon with what its policies have done to African-American communities, and whether it can redeem itself and rightly earn the loyalty of black voters.

To make matters worse, the federal safety net for poor families was torn to shreds by the Clinton administration in its effort to “end welfare as we know it.” In his 1996 State of the Union address, given during his re-election campaign, Clinton declared that “the era of big government is over” and immediately sought to prove it by dismantling the federal welfare system known as Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC). The welfare-reform legislation that he signed—which Hillary Clinton ardently supported then and characterized as a success as recently as 2008—replaced the federal safety net with a block grant to the states, imposed a five-year lifetime limit on welfare assistance, added work requirements, barred undocumented immigrants from licensed professions, and slashed overall public welfare funding by $54 billion

Extreme poverty doubled to 1.5 million in the decade and a half after the law was passed. What is extreme poverty? US households are considered to be in extreme poverty if they are surviving on cash incomes of no more than $2 per person per day in any given month. We tend to think of extreme poverty existing in Third World countries, but here in the United States, shocking numbers of people are struggling to survive on less money per month than many families spend in one evening dining out. Currently, the United States, the richest nation on the planet, has one of the highest child-poverty rates in the developed world.

Billions of dollars were slashed from public-housing and child-welfare budgets and transferred to the mass-incarceration machine. By 1996, the penal budget was twice the amount that had been allocated to food stamps. During Clinton’s tenure, funding for public housing was slashed by $17 billion (a reduction of 61 percent), while funding for corrections was boosted by $19 billion (an increase of 171 percent), according to sociologist Loïc Wacquant “effectively making the construction of prisons the nation’s main housing program for the urban poor.”

Bill Clinton championed discriminatory laws against formerly incarcerated people that have kept millions of Americans locked in a cycle of poverty and desperation. The Clinton administration eliminated Pell grants for prisoners seeking higher education to prepare for their release, supported laws denying federal financial aid to students with drug convictions, and signed legislation imposing a lifetime ban on welfare and food stamps for anyone convicted of a felony drug offense—an exceptionally harsh provision given the racially biased drug war that was raging in inner cities.

Perhaps most alarming, Clinton also made it easier for public-housing agencies to deny shelter to anyone with any sort of criminal history (even an arrest without conviction) and championed the “one strike and you’re out” initiative, which meant that families could be evicted from public housing because one member (or a guest) had committed even a minor offense. People released from prison with no money, no job, and nowhere to go could no longer return home to their loved ones living in federally assisted housing without placing the entire family at risk of eviction. Purging “the criminal element” from public housing played well on the evening news, but no provisions were made for people and families as they were forced out on the street. By the end of Clinton’s presidency, more than half of working-age African-American men in many large urban areas were saddled with criminal records and subject to legalized discrimination in employment, housing, access to education, and basic public benefits—relegated to a permanent second-class status eerily reminiscent of Jim Crow.

It is difficult to overstate the damage that’s been done. Generations have been lost to the prison system; countless families have been torn apart or rendered homeless; and a school-to-prison pipeline has been born that shuttles young people from their decrepit, underfunded schools to brand-new high-tech prisons.

Economic insecurity is the root cause of a lot of the issues facing African Americans who are scoring low, compared to a lot of other segments of society, on almost all socio-economic indices.

Someone who takes 250,000 dollars in speaker fees from Goldman Sachs to congratulate them on a job well done and for being “job creators” is not going to do the bidding of people socioeconomically disadvantaged by the very policies Clinton endorses.

It is utterly bizarre to me that poor, disenfranchised black men  – and most notably women  – would support this corporatist Establishment candidate.

Bernie Sanders wants to address those very inequalities Clinton’s policies have created. Clinton doesn’t. She has, time and again, ridiculed Sanders and his supporters as a bunch of naive dreamers with their head in the sky and already promised that none of the things Sanders wants done, like money out of politics, universal health-care, affordable education etc – will happen.

Sure, she has learned to use the kind of language that sounds inclusive of African Americans and that they want to hear, but without any real intention to truly reform things where they need to be, namely on the economic level, which is where the African American community is hurting the most.

 If you listen closely, and it truly bothers me that Clinton supporters clearly are not, you’ll notice that Hillary Clinton is still singing the same old tune but in a slightly different key. She is arguing that we ought not be seduced by Bernie’s rhetoric because we must be “pragmatic,” “face political realities,” and not get tempted to believe that we can fight for economic justice and win. When politicians start telling you that it is “unrealistic” to support candidates who want to build a movement for greater equality, fair wages, universal healthcare, and an end to corporate control of our political system, it’s probably best to leave the room.

For the record:  Sanders opposed the 1996 welfare-reform law. He also opposed bank deregulation and the Iraq War, both of which Hillary supported, and both of which have proved disastrous. In short, there is such a thing as a lesser evil, and Hillary is not it.

I can only surmise that black women who reflexively vote for Clinton because “Sanders is white” and a man, are oblivious to the policies and legislation Clinton stands for as well as oblivious to what Bernie Sanders stands for. Clinton stands for legislation that is un-progressive and that does not truly intend to economically empower individuals, especially African American communities that have been, and continue to be, under a massive assault by the class warfare created by the likes of Clinton and the Democratic Party which has not only capitulated to right-wing demagoguery but is now owned and controlled wholly by a relatively small number of millionaires and billionaires.

I find all this incredibly frustrating because it seems as though election outcomes always seem to be dictated by ignorant tools whose votes create the majority a candidate needs to win.

So, it’s either dumb-as-shit, white Southerners who determine everyone’s fate by voting against their own self interest.  And this year it seems to be  dumb-as-shit, black Southerners who determine everyone’s fate by voting against their own self interest.

Of course, people can vote however they want. I just hate that they are basically taking the rest of us down with them.

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More News From The Religion of Peace

Islam sure knows how to spread the love and every minute, of every day citizens of Islamic countires can feel just how much god loves them. Let’s see, the first person in the long line of people god loves especially and who got to personally experience both the Prophet Muhammad’s and also god’s love is Soheil Arabi, an Iranian man who has been sentenced to death for saying disparaging things about Muhammad.

Branch 75 of Tehran’s Criminal Court found Mr Arabi guilty of insulting the Prophet, or “sabb al-nabi”, on 30 August.

Article 262 of the Islamic Penal Code states insulting the Prophet carries a punishment of death, however, article 264 of the Penal Code says if a suspect claims to have said the insulting words in anger, in quoting someone, or by mistake, his death sentence will be converted to 74 lashes.

The anonymous source claims: “Unfortunately, despite this Article and the explanations provided, the judges issued the death sentence.

Just like Muhammed would do. And i don’t mean that tongue-in-cheek because Muhammad really did kill people for insulting him and god whose message he was carrying.

The second person at the receiving end of god’s oh so endless love as said in the Koran is a British-Iranian woman, who has been imprisoned in Iran for nearly three months, after attending a men’s volleyball match.

Ghoncheh Ghavami

Ghoncheh Ghavami: law student, charity worker, activist – imprisoned indefinitely for attending a men’s volleyball game.

Ghoncheh Ghavami has been held in Tehran’s notoriously tough Evin Prison since June 30 with no idea when she will be released.

After approximately 50 days in solitary, during which the family spoke to her just three times, they were allowed to see Miss Ghavami, once she was finally moved in with another cell mate. They have visited her four times in the last 80 days.

The infamous Evin prison, in North Tehran, known for detaining political prisoners and journalists, is one of the “most intimidating places” in the country according to Mr Ghavami.

The prison is notorious. Ghoncheh is in the worst part of it and has been interrogated repeatedly [without a lawyer being present]. It’s the worst place you can be. It’s like something you see in the movies. The psychological conditions are awful. I’ve only seen one photo of it but my parents visited her yesterday [Wednesday] and they are at breaking point,” Mr Ghavami said. “My mother had to leave the visitor’s room and vomited so many times outside that she nearly passed out […] My sister is very distressed as she has gained the impression from her interrogators that she may have to stay for a long time.

And finally, a group of six Iranians has been sentenced to six months in prison and 91 lashes for releasing a music video in which they dance along to Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy.”

The group became famous in May when their music video for the hit song circulated on YouTube, racking up more than 150,000 views before attracting the attention of Iranian authorities. It featured three men and three unveiled women singing and dancing along to the four minute song in the street and rooftops of Tehran, mimicking the style of Pharrell’s official video.

Authorities arrested the group for contravening Iran’s strict vulgarity laws, which prohibit public displays of dancing, and paraded the six on state television, forcing them to express remorse for their behavior.

The Islamic Republic condemned the video as a “vulgar clip which hurt public chastity” and in a trial on Wednesday sentenced the participants to a suspended sentence of six months in prison.

Pharrell Williams responded to Iran’s actions on his Twitter account in May, saying: “It’s beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness.”

But. let us all walk around pretending Islam is the religion of peace, misunderstood and that the horrible things that take place as a direct results of the things written in the Koran are not really true and happening but merely confined to a few lunatics on the fringe and extremists. This is apparently not Islam. ISIS is not Islam. All the horrible things happening in the name of Islam and by Muslims are not Islam and it is everyone else’s fault for misunderstanding and misrepresenting such a beautiful and peaceful religion. Even our President went on live TV saying “ISIS is not Islam.”

Collective denial of the horror that is Islam is only going to hurt people. This is a barbaric faith and an uncivilized religion. Executing non believers and those who insult a prophet? Beheading infidels like swine at a slaughter?

The instances here are about Iran and the reason I have chosen Iran today is because Iran is not an Arab nation, thus dispelling the myth that Islamic extremism is is something confined to Arabs and Arabic countires and because the kind of atrocities that take place in Iran do not get much, if any, international attention. Let’s face it, if it does not affect the US and our war mongering efforts, we couldn’t give a shit.

Secondly, people rarely think of Iran when they think Islamic extremism.

In reality. Iran is just as bad not because of extremists but because of Islam. Period. This is not the works of extremists, this is the reality of Islam. Iran is an Islamic country and this is what you get when you have an Islamic country.

The sad truth is that what we see here and what does make the news every now and then is only a tiny glimpse of what the young people of Iran have been experiencing since the Revolution of 1979, when Iran became an Islamic Republic Shithole. The Iranian government has so much blood on its hands that the atrocities committed by known genocidal regimes, such as Rwanda, pales in comparison to it. Iran has been committing internal genocide for decades, but they have not done on a mass scale, so it is just considered internal turmoil.

Over the past 35 years, millions of young people  – mostly women, especially anyone perceived as exhibiting any kind of Western likes and traits, including Western pop music and culture – have found a torturous demise in Iran’s prisons and “judicial” system, and I use the word judicial system here quite loosely as a kangaroo court where you are guilty until proven innocent isn’t much of a judicial system at all. It is more like a tribunal the likes of which one can expect to find in any totalitarian dictatorship.

All this is a result of Islam, and Islam only. Before the so-called Revolution (more like a Devolution) Iran, while having its problems, was still a country where existence was bearable; where you wouldn’t expect execution and indefinite imprisonment and lashes for dancing or talking to a man who wasn’t a relative.  Women could get an education, a real education, and did not have to wear the hijab. Whatever it was, however imperfect it was, it wasn’t the unbearable soul crushing cesspool it is today.

When I look at these young people who have been sentenced to receive a horrible punishment for dancing happily on the streets, I not only feel sadness but also revulsion. Revulsion at a religion that tells its followers that doing such things violates god’s laws. A system that condones the murder of a man because he insulted someone.

Sure, everyone should be free to believe what they want but I would say in this case the price is too high. Islam is truly evil and it needs to be done away with. No more excuses for it, no more apologies.

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