When the wolves of hate are loosed on one people, then no one is safe
Over nine hundred thousand people have signed a petition calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman who killed Trayvon Martin for being black.
But as imbecilic as Zimmerman is, let's call this murder what it is: A lynching.
Zimmerman felt entitled to hunt down, assault and then shoot to death Trayvon Martin while speaking to a 911 operator for one reason: Zimmerman is empowered to do so by the Florida statute and the political culture in which we live, one where a major political party constantly strokes racist sentiments among the population to get elected.
Culture does matter. So does political rhetoric.
We understand why President Obama cannot comment now, as press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday, "I note that the Justice Department has said that it?s looking into the matter, and I would refer you to the Justice Department. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers, as I said yesterday, are with Trayvon Martin?s family. But beyond that, not least because there is an investigation going on, I don't have anything else I can add."
But condemnation from Presidents Clinton and Carter, and the Bush family is called for. And that especially includes former Flordia Gov. Jeb Bush. Even Florida legislators who sponsored the Stand Your Ground law are speaking out. So where are the Republican candidates running for president? Not word one.
The family and folks such as Color for Change and the Congressional Black Caucus are driving this investigation for now.
If we cannot communicate a moral imperative for political leaders to speak up, consider the public safety imperative. A deadly riot broke out in 1991 after racist Los Angeles cops who beat Rodney King were acquitted.
Young Trayvon Martin was hunted down and lynched with the implicit approval of the Sanford, Florida police department, and the a racist political culture.
So the next time the Republican Party plays their race card, like it is right now, consider the words of Ralph McGill in the Atlanta Constitution, Oct. 13, 1958, after the dynamiting of a Jewish Temple in Atlanta.
Let us face the facts. This is a harvest. It is the crop of things sown. It is the harvest of those so-called Christian ministers who have chosen to preach hate instead of compassion. Let them now find pious words and raise their hands in deploring the bombing of a synagogue. You do not preach and encourage hatred for the Negro and hope to restrict it to that field. It is an old, old story. It is one repeated over and over again in history. When the wolves of hate are loosed on one people, then no one is safe.
Neil Livingstone, polls suggest, is unlikely to be Montana's next governor. He does, however, have some excellent tips for hiring hookers overseas. [...]
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Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Can you hear us now, Verizon?
There are actions and events taking place frequently, related to the 1% / 99% divide. An action today is about one of the best known corporations, Verizon.
From the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, today is the Verizon Day of Action. At CWA:
Verizon has made tens of billions in profits and its top executives walked away with $283 million in the last four years. But when it comes to the 45,000 workers who made Verizon?s success possible, suddenly the company cries broke.
Verizon has sent thousands of American jobs overseas and wants to outsource even more jobs, gut pensions, charge current and retired employees thousands of dollars more for health benefits, and cut disability benefits for workers injured during their jobs.
On March 22, CWA and IBEW workers and thousands of others will be rallying around the country to support good jobs and the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act.
Many of the laws that got Trayvon Martin killed were passed in 2006 as a result of a huge push by the NRA. The following, from a piece by Rick Perlstein in The New Republic and published at the time, details much of this effort. It's fascinating and prescient.
Note as you read the use of the phrase "Castle Doctrine" ? a brilliant bit of false framing, a perversion of something in English common law that allows a person to defend himself in his home ? a place from which there is no retreat. If you can't retreat, you get to stand your ground; otherwise, you must retreat if you can.
The NRA (per)version of the Castle Doctrine, as Perlstein explains, applies a "no retreat needed" rule to any place a person has a "right to be." License to kill, in other words, from wherever you happen to be standing.
Note also the indemnification of the shooter provided by these laws. The perfect one-two punch enabling the modern citizen-assassin.
Perlstein has added elsewhere that the "NRA got [these insane laws] passed around the country, with practically nobody noticing, and far too few Democrats objecting." Too right.
Here's a chunk from of his TNR piece. Classic Perlstein.
Enjoy (sorry, no online version; my emphasis and some reparagraphing):
Unnoticed by most of the national media, 2006 became the year the National Rifle Association got its way ? and average citizens in almost a dozen states earned more leeway to shoot first and ask questions later than, in some circumstances, officers of the law.More on the history of the Castle Doctrine from Garrett Epps at The American Prospect.
The NRA calls it the "Castle Doctrine," after a mellifluous passage in Book 4 in Blackstone's Commentaries:"And the law of England has so particular and tender a regard to the immunity of a man's house, that it stiles it his castle, and will never suffer it to be violated with immunity."But what has been sold to state legislators as the restoration of a stolen patrimony ? "the Castle Doctrine, in essence, simply places into law what is a fundamental right: self defense," as an NRA newsletter puts it ? is in actuality quite radical.
Existing statutes and court precedents impose a "duty to retreat" in the face of an intruder. Genuine self-defense is legal ? always has been, always will. For over 200 years, distinguishing the one from the other was for police, prosecutors, juries, and judges to decide.
The new laws remove that discretion. In Arizona's, passed in April , a shooter "is presumed to be acting reasonably," their target presumed to intend bodily harm, if the target "unlawfully and forcefully enters or entered the person's dwelling, residence, or motor vehicle," or merely "is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied motor vehicle to further an unlawful activity." Notes NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam, "if someone breaks into your dwelling, it's reasonable to assume that person is in there to do you harm."
But in Florida, Georgia, Kansas, and Oklahoma, the same immunities apply in any place you have a legal right to be.
Florida's law also immunizes against the deaths of innocent bystanders ? like the two men in a gunfight, Damon "Red Rock" Darling and Leroy "Yellowman" Larose, both of whom, according to the Miami Herald plan Castle Doctrine defenses once it is determined whose bullet it was that cut down Sherdavia Jenkins, nine, on her front porch in Liberty City. (Responds the NRAs Arulanandam: "Look, any law on the books will, you know ? there are going to be people who are going to try to take advantage of the laws on the books.")
The Castle Doctrine covers shooters who simply feel at risk. In Winter Haven, Florida, Justin Boyette meant no harm when he approached Michael Brady on Brady's lawn, unarmed, possibly to shake his hand. Brady felt menaced and shot him anyway.
Brady feels deeply remorseful ? but plans to attempt a Castle Doctrine defense nonetheless. But Castle Doctrine laws provide little guidance about what happens once cases reach the courts. An Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney in Kentucky, Kimberly Henderson Baird, was so baffled as to how the new law applied to the case of a drug dealer beaten to death by one of his customers that she gave up and accepted a manslaughter plea. "If we couldn't understand it ourselves, how are we going to get a jury to understand it?"
The victim's sister, when she learned her brother's killer would be eligible for parole in two months, noted Kentucky's new law "basically says if anyone comes into your home, and if you have a grudge against them or anything, you can do this and get away with it." She wonders whether the legislature "thought things through."
Good question. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as soon as the 2006 legislative sessions opened, the NRA roared into action so quickly gun control groups were blindsided. Bills were introduced in Georgia and South Carolina January 10; Arizona's was first read two days later; South Dakota's was signed by February; by summer, ten new Castle Doctrine laws were in force. Texas is scheduled to introduce theirs in January 2007.
The NRA has described it as a train "chugging through the nation, reuniting Americans with the right to protect themselves and loved ones from danger." Both Democrats and Republicans have been glad to grease the rails. Only one state legislator voted against Kentucky's law; Georgia's passed the state senate 26 to one. Democratic governors signed them in Louisiana, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Michigan.
Some of the laws specifically withhold immunity from those who shoot cops. Georgia's, however, does not....
Source: ForexYard Euro-Zone News Set to Impact Markets Today
The US dollar was able to reverse some of its recent losses during the afternoon session yesterday, following the release of the Existing Home Sales figure. While the figure came in below expectations, it was still taken as a sign that the housing market in the US is improving. Turning to today, the marketplace could see some volatility as significant British and euro-zone news is set to be released. Traders will want to note the results of the British Retail Sales figure and a speech from the ECB President. Should either of them turn out to be positive, there may be an increase in risk taking throughout European trading.. . . → Read More: Euro-Zone News Set to Impact Markets Today
Merah reportedly claimed to police that he was affiliated with Al Qaeda, and he was seeking revenge for Palestinian children killed in the Gaza Strip. But Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad denounced the “cowardly” attack yesterday. “This terrorist crime is condemned in the strongest terms by the Palestinian people and our children,” he said. “No Palestinian child can accept crimes against innocent people.” Fayyad went on:
It is time for these criminals to stop exploiting the name of Palestine through their terrorist actions, and to stop pretending to stand up for Palestinian children, who only seek a decent life for themselves and for all children of the world.
The missions of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO to France also issued a joint statement condemning the attack, noting that “the murderer is driven by a multi-faceted racist hatred.” The move was welcome despite some standing criticisms that Palestinians don’t do enough to discourage violence.
– Mohamed Merah, the 23-year-old gunman suspected of killing seven people in southern France, jumped to his death after police stormed his Toulouse apartment on Thursday.
– In formal talks set to begin today on the long-term military relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan, Afghan officials are expected to press the U.S. for veto power on controversial night raids in Afghan homes.
– Defense Secretary Leon Panetta refused to approve the transfer of five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay after Qatar balked at imposing restrictions on their movements, a development which casts doubts on hopes for progress in talks between the U.S. and the Taliban.
– The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, began talks with North Korea over arrangements to follow through on an invitation to inspect nuclear facilities, a recent conciliatory move by the isolated nation even amid separate provocations.
– VoteVets.org co-founder Jon Soltz notes that in the House GOP’s budget, the word “veteran” does not appear once. “Do Republicans care about keeping our promise to veterans?” Soltz asks.
– Unable to find an outside candidate to run with its backing, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is reconsidering its pledge to not field a presidential candidate of its own.
– While open to closing foreign military bases, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) voiced opposition to shutting down domestic bases, vowing to not join any commission designed to do so and effectively killing a Pentagon proposal.
– Harvard announced yesterday that it would open a campus office for the Army R.O.T.C. later this year. Since the military ended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, many universities have re-opened their R.O.T.C. offices.
A convenient excuse to cover up its crushing loss in New Hampshire yesterday, the National Organization for Marriage has launched a “Dump Starbucks” campaign in protest of the company’s support for marriage equality. The boycott’s website launched shortly after Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz rebuffed NOM’s complaints at a shareholders’ meeting yesterday:
SCHULTZ: I think Starbucks has many constituents, and from time to time we are going to make a decision that we think is consistent with the heritage and the tradition of the company that is perhaps maybe inconsistent with one group’s view of the world… We made that decision through the lens of humanity and being the kind of company that embraces diversity.
Starbucks came out in support of marriage equality in Washington state, where it’s based, and also recently joined an amicus brief in a case opposing the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. The same can also be said for Google, Microsoft, Levi Strauss, and Nike, so expect additional boycotts to follow such as, “Give Up Google,” “Lose Your Levis,” and “Microsoft Off-it.” Plus, as Jeremy Hooper pointed out, one cannot dump Starbucks without first purchasing Starbucks, so the likelihood of the boycott making any headway is improbable.
Mitt Romney was forced into damage control mode yesterday, holding a brief press conference to respond to his aide’s “Etch A Sketch” comment. ?The issues I?m running on will be exactly the same,? he told reporters.
Would Mitt Romney be the most unpopular nominee ever? He currently has the worst favorable-unfavorable split of any major nominee in 36 years, the Daily Beast notes.
Faced with growing public outcry, the city council in Sanford, Florida passed a vote of no confidence on Police Chief Bill Lee over his handling of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Lee has continued to defend the department?s decision not to arrest shooter George Zimmerman.
The man who admitted to a recent shooting at a Jewish school in France died this morning after a 30 hour stand off with police. Authorities had been hoping to arrest him alive, but the man jumped out of a window firing a weapon.
By a vote of 133-202, the Republican-controlled New Hampshire House defeated a bill to repeal marriage equality in the Granite State.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation continues to see fallout from its decision to defund Planned Parenthood. The chief executives of Komen affiliates in New York and Oregon have announced depatures, and questions remain about the charity’s fundraising ability, as staff are being told to anticipate a drop in revenue for the coming fiscal year.
Republican candidates are dragging their religion front and center on the campaign trail, and a new poll shows that a record number of Americans are turned off by it, saying politicians are ?overdoing it? with their public expressions of religion.
Over the last decade, federal workers who are Latino, Asian, and African-American have made the most gains in securing senior-level positions, according to a new report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Of the 2.8 million federal employees in 2010, 56 percent were men, 44 percent were women, and 35 percent were minorities.
And finally: Little Rock, Arkansas just named their airport after Bill and Hillary Clinton. It may be the first airport in the U.S. named after a woman, even if only partially.
Jonathan Cohn notes an odd quirk about a recent American Bar Association poll showing that 85 percent of legal experts polled by the ABA believe that the Affordable Care Act will be upheld by the Supreme Court. The same experts are more likely to pick conservative Chief Justice John Roberts than slightly less conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy as the most likely conservative to uphold the law:
The experts ABA surveyed were unanimous in predicting that the four liberal justices (Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg) would vote to uphold and that Clarence Thomas would vote to strike it down. Fifty-three percent said Anthony Kennedy would join the liberals, but a higher proportion, 69 percent, thought Chief Justice John Roberts would join the majority. Majorities of about 60 percent predicted that the other two conservatives, Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia, would determine the law is unconstitutional.
Although this view of Roberts and Kennedy is counterintuitive, it is not exactly surprising. In 2010, the Supreme Court handed down a case called United States v. Comstock which upheld a law that was very much at the margins of Congress’ lawful authority. In that opinion, Roberts took a somewhat more expansive view of federal power than Kennedy.
Because the Constitution gives Congress authority to “regulate commerce,” the United States has broad, sweeping authority over economic matters, but far more limited authority over non-economic regulation. Comstock upheld a federal law allowing for the indefinite detention of some sex offenders — a law which has virtually nothing to do with the nation’s economy. Nevertheless, Chief Justice Roberts joined the Court’s four more moderate members in a majority opinion upholding this non-economic law. Justice Kennedy wrote a separate concurrence which upheld the law as well, although on somewhat narrower ground.
Both the opinion Roberts joined and Kennedy’s concurrence support the conclusion that the ACA is constitutional. Moreover, unlike the law in Comstock, the ACA is very much at the core of Congress’ lawful authority because the Affordable Care Act regulates a market that comprises one-sixth of the national economy. Nevertheless, the fact remains that, in the only major federal power case that both Roberts and Kennedy sat on together, Roberts took the more expansive view of federal power.