Monday, May 20, 2019

A time when minority males and females were deemed "undireables" unfit to procreate with educated, White "desirables"

2019 Update connection: Ever since Roe v Wade decision was made law in 1973, abortion and a woman's right to make decisions about her own body have been tools utilized by White male politicians and White pro-life advocates for decades. They expect women and young girls--some of whom are victims of rape and incest--to bear the children of the rapists who violated them. And now Alabama's new abortion law suggests that doctors be imprisoned for years if they perform abortions. If a 12 or 14 year-old girl is impregnated as a result of incest or rape, she must bear the child, or there will be consequences. The law does not mention consequences for the incestuous relative or rapist.

During the eugenics or forced sterilization era in America, the government approved this method of permanently "fixing" minority women, girls and men. Those that needed to be "fixed" were African Americans, Native American Indians, Puerto Ricans, and poor White women. Eugenics was a form of abortion without women having to seek abortions. It was government sanctioned birth control. 

A legal abortion is not about a woman's right to get an abortion. Politicians and pro-lifers are concerned about White women having access to abortions. Minority women can abort all the babies they want; White folks would not raise an eyebrow. Politicians in Washington and state governments cannot say out loud that they do not care about minority women getting abortions. They cannot say out loud: "We don't care about Black women getting abortions. We care about White women getting abortions!" On March 12, 2017, Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, said it plain and clear, "We cannot restore our civilization with somebody else's babies". "Our civilization" is a White civilization., 2014--"Tapes recently released by the Nixon Presidential Library reveal that President Richard M. Nixon, who had been considered generally opposed to abortion, told aides on January 23, 1973 that abortion was justified in certain cases, such as in interracial pregnancies. "There are times when abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a Black and White", said Nixon. President Nixon's words, chilling as they are, are also a general reflection of the moral logic shared by millions of Americans in that day".

"Undesirables" as opposed to "desirables"

I was in the process of proofreading an article I had just completed for my blog. I was listening to the radio. The two jocks were complaining about “illegal aliens.” They griped about every American that did not fit into their Whites Only universe. Minorities and Hispanics on welfare and food stamps are deadbeats; “illegal aliens” should not get in-state college tuition; Mexican workers have no right to ask for decent wages. A caller to the show said that Mexican women working as maids should not expect more pay “just to make beds”. In other words, employers should decide what to pay these women for making beds and cleaning toilets. These illegal women are misfits. It’s their fault if they fail to improve their lives in America.

One of the jocks, an ex-cop and Christian, was extremely unhappy about the influx of “illegal” children coming to America without their parents, all looking for free handouts. He complained about their increasing America's population, and how that swelling number hurts the economy. He said the government should think about eugenics to control "illegal aliens” birth rates. 

The jock whined that educated Whites are not having children at the same rate as "illegals." He felt that White folks are gainfully employed, educated and productive, the kind of people a thriving society finds suitable. The Christian jock suggested that America should return to the day of forced sterilizations. Clip and snip undesirable immigrants; threaten them with deportation if they refuse to agree to federally funded sterilization.

The ideal prototypes to procreate America.

President Theodore Roosevelt worried that White couples were not repopulating fast enough. He declared that failure of Whites to produce larger families would lead to the collective suicide of White people. At state fairs throughout the country the American Eugenics Society set up exhibits, providing information that encouraged "high grade" White couples to conceive and have more children to benefit society. The fairs also sponsored one sided "Fitter Family" contests. Only ideal families were declared winners, none of whom were minority or poor Whites.

Thirty-two states within the United States, and the U. S. Territory of Puerto Rico, targeted specific women to sterilize; to vaginally euthanize. The purpose of the forced sterilization program was to limit undesirables before they could repopulate the U. S. and Puerto Rico. Thus enters this theory called Eugenics. The term means “the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics." Developed largely by Francis Galton, it was a method designed to improve the human race. 

An estimated 60,000 American men, women and teenagers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico were sterilized between the 1900s and 1974. Puerto Rico was noted for sterilizing the biggest number of men and women. In 1942 the Supreme Court struck down the law that allowed involuntary sterilization of criminals; however it did not reverse the actual concept of sterilization.

The first state forced sterilization legislation was passed in Indiana in 1907. “At that time, many people believed that certain traits and behavior — criminality, a propensity for poverty, mental illness — were passed from parents to children. (eugenics had only a passing relationship with actual genetics.) Eugenicists argued that society would be improved by preventing these people from reproducing. 

“Doctors in the U. S. first began employing eugenics at mental institutions, where patients would face sterilization as a condition of release. These procedures were eventually stopped because of a lack of due process for the victims — and because Americans became aware of similar procedures done at the hands of Nazi doctors, who were influenced by U.S. practices.” (Vice News, 2014) 

The first sterilization victim was a Virginia woman named Carrie Buck, a 19-year-old White female. She was the plaintiff in the case Buck v. Bell. She was targeted to undergo voluntary sterilization because the state deemed her “feebleminded and promiscuous."

The U. S. Supreme Court’s May 2, 1927 decision in Buck v. Bell, ruled that the Virginia sterilization statue was constitutional. Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. delivered a stinging decision for the Court. The decision stated that “three generations of imbeciles are enough”. Holmes was making a reference to Buck’s mother. Five months after the Court ruled that the law was legal, Carrie Buck was sterilized. 

“Carrie Buck and her mother Emma, had been committed to the Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded in Lynchburg, Virginia. Carrie and Emma were both judged to be ‘feebleminded and promiscuous', primarily because they had both borne children out of wedlock. Carrie’s child, Vivan, was judged to be feebleminded at seven months of age. Hence, three generations of ‘imbeciles’ became the ‘perfect’ family for Virginia officials to use as a test case in favor of the eugenic sterilization law enacted in 1924". ( 

“The impact of the Buck v. Bell decision was felt nationwide. After the 1927 decision affirmed Virginia's Eugenical Sterilization Law, there was a swift rise in the number of involuntary sterilizations in the United States. By the early 1930s, thirty American states had adopted eugenics laws. American eugenicists also pushed for anti-immigration measures and stricter laws to prevent racially mixed marriages. When signing the 1924 Immigration Act, President Calvin Coolidge stated: ‘America must remain American’”. (Eugenic, University of Virginia, Historical Collections) 

From 1933 to 1977 North Carolina’s Eugenic Board reportedly recommended the sterilization 7,600 people—men and women. Minorities and poor Whites were selected because they worked at minimum wage jobs, were on welfare, homeless, lacked college educations, or locked up in mental institutions. They were the highly visible blights on an otherwise healthy society. An IQ of 70 or lower was sufficient to have an individual sterilized. Their consent was not necessary if sterilization was recommended by the state or a social worker, both of which were cited in 100 percent of the cases. 

North Carolina was the only state that allowed social workers to determine what individuals should be sterilized. An unknown number of men and boys committed to mental institutions nationwide were castrated, unaware of the severity of the operation performed on them. Later when Eugenics was hitting third gear, more categories were added to the list of misfits and undesirables: the deaf and blind, disabled and unmarried women, who were labeled promiscuous. 

“When the Eugenics Record Office opened the door in 1910, the founding scientists were considered progressive, intent on applying classic genetics to breeding better citizens. Funding poured in from the Rockefeller family and the Carnegie Institution. Charles Davenport, a prolific Harvard biologist, and his colleague, Harry H. Laughlin, led the charge”. (New York Times, 2014) 

Within the strict guidelines of forced sterilization there were no exceptions to the rule for those scheduled to have the operation. Elaine Riddick, an African American woman, was raped by a neighbor when she was 13. Her grandmother took her to the hospital when she got sick. She did not receive the kind of help she expected. She was not treated liked a young victim of rape. 

“Elaine Riddick was a confused and frightened 14-year-old. She was poor and black, the daughter of alcoholic parents in a segregated North Carolina town. And she was pregnant after being raped by a man from her neighborhood. 

“Riddick's miserable circumstances attracted the attention of social workers, who referred her case to the state's eugenics board. In an office building in Raleigh, five men met to consider her fate — among them the state health director and a lawyer from the attorney general's office. “Board members concluded that the girl was ‘feebleminded’ and doomed to ‘promiscuity.’ They recommended sterilization. Riddick's illiterate grandmother, Maggie Woodard, known as "Miss Peaches," marked an "X" on a consent form. Hours after Riddick gave birth to a son in Edenton, N.C., on March 5, 1968, a doctor sliced through her fallopian tubes and cauterized them”. (Los Angeles Times, 2012) 

Elaine Riddick and her son Tony Riddick
When she went to the hospital to have her son, Riddick said she was put in room and that’s all she remembered until she was awakened. “When I woke up, I woke up with bandages on my stomach”. During an interview with ABC News in 2014, Riddick said she felt like that she was raped twice. “Once by the perpetrator and once by the state of North Carolina. They said I was feebleminded. They said I would never be able to do anything for myself. I was a little bitty kid and they cut me open like a hog”. Riddick said she did not know that she was sterile until she got married, and they wanted to start a family. She learned about her sterility when the doctor examined her. He told her that her tubes had been tied. 

In a recent expose by The Center for Investigative Reporting titled “Female Inmates Sterilized in California Prisons Without Approval”, it was revealed that female inmates in one of the two California prisons in Corona were sterilized. Involuntary sterilization was supposed to be a violation in the prison. Fulfilling their contractual agreement with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, physicians sterilized almost 148 women without consent of the state. The method of sterilization was tubal ligation; an operation that is not reversible. 

From 1977 to 2010, the state paid doctors $147,460 to perform the procedures. The women were signed up for the surgery while they were pregnant, and housed at either the California Institution for Women in Corona or Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, now a men’s prison. Former inmates and prisoner advocates maintain that the prison’s medical staff coerced the women, targeting those deemed likely to return to prison in the future. 

Between 1909 and 1964, about 20,000 women and men in California were stripped of the ability to reproduce – making the state the nation’s most prolific sterilizer. In 2003, the state Senate held two hearings to expose this history, featuring testimony from researchers, academics and state officials. In response, then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Gov. Gray Davis issued formal apologies. “Our hearts are heavy for the pain caused by eugenics. It was a sad and regrettable chapter in the state's history, and it is one that must never be repeated again,” Davis said in a statement. 

The United States invaded Puerto Rico in 1898, taking total control of the island, becoming responsible for its economic development. Women between the ages of 20 and 49 were routinely sterilized according to a 1965 survey. Puerto Rican women were more likely to be sterilized than women and young girls in the U.S. More than a third of the women were sterilized during the 1930s and 1970s. The U.S. partnered with Puerto Rico to reduce its population.

The economy in Puerto Rico was crawling. Unemployment was high with no relief in sight. To change the bad luck to good luck the U.S. theorized that sterilization of the poor and uneducated would automatically increase the island’s economic status. Doctors who performed operations on the women did not trust that they had the intelligence to use physical contraceptives or take birth control pills as instructed. 

“Before long, Puerto Rico won the distinction of having the world’s highest sterilization rate. So common was the procedure that it was widely known as ‘la operacion’ among islanders. Thousands of men in Puerto Rico also underwent s
terilization as well. U. S. pharmaceutical researchers also experimented on women for human trials of the birth control pill in the 1950s”. (About News) 

Like in American states that targeted men and women, Puerto Ricans did not know, or understand that the procedure performed on them sealed their hopes of ever becoming parents. Doctors, medical staff or social workers did not bother to explain the operation to them. Native American women and young girls did not escape the clutches of forced sterilization. An article in "Our Bodies Our Selves" tells the story of two 15 year old Indian girls living in Montana, who went to the hospital at different times. They thought they were getting emergency appendectomies. That is what they were told. The girls were sterilized without the consent of their parents. 

During her lectures about forced sterilization, history professor Lisa Emmerich, talks about the plight of a young Indian woman. "In the early 1970s a young American Indian woman visited her physician and made an unusual and troubling request. She wanted to know if her doctor could perform a uterus transplant. Her doctor asked why. The young woman reported that during her teens after the birth of a child, her doctors on the reservation told her that they'd ‘fixed it’ so she could not have children for a while. 

“According to the General Accounting Office (GAO) report, 3406 Native American women between the ages of fifteen and forty-four were sterilized between 1973 and 1976. Because the investigators did not find any systematic attempt to single out any one American Indian nation and sterilize its child-bearing women, they concluded that this was not genocide. In Washington, Congressmen called for more investigations. 

“On reservations Native American activists conducted their own surveys of women, finding more incidents of sterilization without informed consent. As a direct result of the public reaction, new rules were mandated for federally funded sterilizations, including providing interpreters for non-English speakers, allowing witnesses to accompany a patient during her discussion with a doctor, forbidding sterilization of minors, assuring patients that their benefits will not be denied based on their medical decision, and requiring a thirty-day waiting period”. (Genocide or Family Planning) 

Lewis Reynolds, a male victim who was sterilized without his knowledge or consent, told the Associate Press, “I think they done me wrong. I couldn’t have a family like everybody else
does. They took my rights away.” Reynolds was sterilized by doctors who said he was epileptic. “It was later concluded that he was demonstrating only temporary symptoms because of a head injury”. 

Virginia and North Carolina are the only two states to come forward with offers to compensate forced sterilization victims. The state of California apologized by has not discussed compensation. Of the 7, 600 victims in North Carolina an estimated 2,000 are still alive. Virginia lawmakers passed legislation in which it agreed that sterilization victims should be awarded $25,000 each. More than 8,000 people in Virginia were sterilized. As of February 2015 only 11 of them have been identified.

Forced sterilization timeline

1849--Gordon Lincecum, a famed Texas biologist and physician, proposes a bill mandating the Eugenic sterilization of the mentally handicapped and others whose genes he deems undesirable. Although the legislation was never sponsored or brought up for a vote, it represented the first serious attempt in U.S. history to use forced sterilization for eugenic purposes. 

1897--Michigan's state legislature becomes the first in the country to pass a forced sterilization law, but it is vetoed by the governor. 

1901--Legislators in Pennsylvania attempt to pass a Eugenic forced sterilization law, but it stalls. 

1909-1979-- 20,000 operations performed in California. In a 70-year period, California performs a third of all government funded sterilizations in the United States. The practice largely targets Latinos and Blacks, and lead to a 1975 class-action lawsuit by working class Mexican women who were coerced into the procedure sometimes minutes after giving birth. California's continued and central role in the sterilization programs of the 20th century is highlighted by Dr. Alexandra Stern in "Sterilization in the name of Public Health: Race, Immigration and Reproductive Control in Modern Califonia" (2005). 

In the article, Dr. Stern writes that Mexican-Americans and African Americans were disproportionally represented in the percentages of sterilization, and that this was rationalized by concerns about bad parenting, population burdens and even as "a punishment for bearing illegitimate children, or as extortion to ensure ongoing receipt of family assistance in the 1950s and 1960s." 

1922--Harry Hamilton Laughlin, director of the Eugenics Research Office, proposes a federal mandatory sterilization law. Like Lincecum's proposal, it never really goes anywhere. 

1927--In Buck v. Bell, the U.S. Supreme Court rules (8-1) that laws mandating the sterilization of the mentally handicapped do not violate the Constitution. Writing for the majority, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes makes an explicitly eugenic argument: “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind”. 

1936--Nazi propaganda defends Germany's forced sterilization program by citing the United States as an ally in the Eugenic movement, and its laws as proof of its status as same. World War II, and the atrocities committed by the Nazi government, would rapidly change U.S. attitudes towards eugenics. 

1942--In Skinner v. Oklahoma, the U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously against an Oklahoma law targeting some felons for sterilization (the plaintiff, Jack Skinner, was a chicken thief) while excluding white-collar criminals. The majority opinion written by Justice William O. Douglas, rejects the broad Eugenic mandate previously outlined in Buck v. Bell (1927): “[S]trict scrutiny of the classification which a State makes in a sterilization law is essential, lest unwittingly, or otherwise, invidious discriminations are made against groups or types of individuals in violation of the constitutional guaranty of just and equal laws.” 

1965--The results of a sterilization campaign in the island of Puerto Rico that began shortly after WWI left 30 percent of the women there unable to have children by 1965. The earliest governor of Puerto Rico is cited as saying that there were too many unskilled laborers, and not enough jobs in the island. This long sterilization campaign resulted in this practice becoming the birth control of choice for Puerto Rican women, a remarkable feat in a mostly Catholic society where birth control was illegal up to 1930. 

1970--The Nixon administration dramatically increases Medicaid-funded sterilization of low-income Americans, primarily Americans of color. While these sterilizations are voluntary as a matter of policy, anecdotal evidence later suggests that they are often involuntary as a matter of practice, as patients are often misinformed, or left uninformed regarding the nature of the procedures that they have agreed to undergo. 

1973-1976--3,406 Native American women sterilized without permission. The U.S government recently admitted to forcing thousands of Native American Indian women to be sterilized. The procedures even included 36 women who were under 21 years old, despite laws prohibiting anyone 21 years and younger from receiving the procedure. Dr. Pinkerton-Uri found that 25 percent of Native American Indian women had been sterilized without their consent. Pinkerton-Uri also found that the Indian Health Service had “singled out full-blooded Indian women for sterilization procedures.” In total, it is estimated that as many as 25-50 percent of Native American women were sterilized between 1970 and 1976. 

1979--A survey conducted by Family Planning Perspectives finds that approximately 70 percent of American hospitals fail to adequately follow U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines regarding informed consent in cases of sterilization.

1981--Oregon performs the last legal forced sterilization in U.S. history. (data gathered by Tom Head for About News and Policy. Mic)

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Democrats can vote to impeach Donald Trump, but adoring Republicans will not prosecute him

Before Barack Obama was inaugurated as president of the United States, January 20, 2009, Tea Party patriots and Republicans were ready to impeach him. They wanted to impeach him for not proving that he was born in America, not Kenya as pushed by birthers and Donald Trump. A Texas Republican wanted to impeach Obama to just to stop his agenda. They wanted to impeach him over his immigration policies, and the attack of the American compound in Benghazi, Libya.  

At a 2014 campaign town hall meeting, Republican candidate Joni Ernst, told the crowd she believed President Obama had become a dictator. She said he needed to face the consequences for his actions, which she did not name. Ernst said President Obama should be impeached and removed from office. The same Joni Ernst is defending Donald Trump. Maybe the fondness runs deep because Trump wanted her to be his VP. Family issues forced her to turn down the offer. 

Reasons to impeach President Obama were endless. The rise of the Tea Party quickly took hold, immediately co-opting Republicans, none of whom wanted the wrath of the Tea Party raining down on them. Despite all the complaints and threats to oust the President, no one of the wish-he-was-gone politicians was brave enough to begin the impeachment process. Not even the Tea Party could back Republicans into that corner.

Wandering into valley of impeachment, Democrats and Republicans cannot be willy-nilly. They have to weigh the good vs the bad; the benefits vs alienation of voters who may not agree with their decision. The party that’s in control of the Senate may not be willing to prosecute. But there is another choice: Censure. This which is a formal statement of disapproval or public reprimand. 

There was no hesitation to impeach President Bill Clinton, December 19, 1998. Ken Starr, a Republican, was appointed special counselor in the Clinton sex scandal. He was cited for committing two sins: lying to investigators about his sexual affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, 22, and attempting to influence White House staff to lie for him about the affair.

Fifty Republicans voted to remove Clinton from office on obstruction of justice; 45 voted to remove him for perjury. No Democrats voted to remove him from office, but 31 of them supported the proposal to investigate him. Republicans voted for the resolution to impeach Clinton. The resolution was presented to Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Harley Hyde of Illinois.

“Barely six weeks after the American people had plainly sent them a message against impeachment, the House passed two of the four articles of impeachment approved by the Hyde Committee. The first, accusing me of lying to the grand jury, passed 228-206, with five Republicans voting against it. The second, alleging that I had obstructed justice by suborning perjury and hiding gifts, passed 221-212, twelve Republicans voting no. The two charges were inconsistent.  . . . Five Democrats voted for impeachment. Four of them came from conservative districts. The fifth said he wanted to vote for censure then brought the argument that he was doing the next best thing.

“Peter King, with whom I had worked on Northern Island, withstood weeks of enormous pressure, including threats to destroy him politically if he did not vote for impeachment. In several television interviews, King made a simple argument to his fellow Republicans: ‘I’m against impeachment because if President Clinton were a Republican, you’d be against it, too. The pro-impeachment Republicans who appeared on the programs with him never had a good response to that’”. My Life Bill Clinton.

Andrew Johnson was selected by Abraham Lincoln to be his VP in 1864. He stepped into the presidency after Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. Johnson was impeached in 1868 for dismissing Edwin M. Staton, Secretary of War. Johnson ignored the Tenure of Office Act, passed in 1867, which curtailed his presidential power. He was not authorized to remove Staton on his own. The House voted to impeach Johnson, making him the first U. S. president to be impeached. The vote was 35 for, 19 against. Senator Edmund G. Ross’s no vote kept Johnson in office to complete his term. He dodged a Senate trial.

In 1974 Richard Nixon avoided impeachment by resigning after the Watergate burglary scandal was exposed. On February 6, 1974 the House of Representatives approved H. Res. 803, giving the Judiciary Committee authority to investigate Nixon. Weeks later, July 27, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee voted 27 to 11 to recommend the first article of impeachment. A couple of days later two more articles were added: obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress.

A number of Democrats got angry at Speaker Nancy Pelosi because she would not agree to impeach President George Bush and VP Dick Cheney. Democrats wanted to charge them with war crimes for the bombing innocent Iraqis. In 2008, Joy Behar of The View, scolded Pelosi on national TV. The talk show host wanted her to launch impeachment against the pair.

Behar said to Pelosi, “You’ve ruled against impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney. And now Kucinich is trying to pass that. Why do you . . . why you insist on not impeaching these people, so that the world and America can see the crimes that they’ve committed”?

In 2014 the Tea Party balked at impeaching President Obama because the 2016 presidential election was too close. They hated Obama with a purple passion, and they did not want to help candidate Hillary Clinton realize a victory.

“But while there are a plethora of reasons to impeach Obama, is the Republican leadership—are the RINOs—really likely to get behind it? Not in a million years. Why? Because it would hugely increase Hillary Clinton’s chances of victory in the 2016 presidential election. While impeaching Obama would undoubtedly be bad for the Republican Party going into 2016, it could be one of the only action that will save America from collapse in the long term”. The Tea Party

The print media and TV talking heads have gone batshit crazy because Pelosi is refusing to jump head first into the impeachment pool before seeing how deep the water is.  With the release of Robert Mueller report on Donald Trump and his connection to Russia, more and more Democrats are now demanding that he be impeached. Pelosi and committee chairs are not nibbling at the bait. They are conducting their own investigations, putting together separate cases. Democratic chairmen are subpoenaing current and former employees of the Trump Administration. Not surprisingly, he warned Congress that he will not allow anyone in his administration to cooperate with them, or submit requested documents.

Trump is sitting on the impeachment hot seat. For three years he has been screaming about a “witch hunt” specifically created to bring down his presidency. He has been telling the world that he is innocent of “collusion and obstruction of justice.” He has refused to show his tax returns, saying he is under audit. He has refused to produce an IRS letter to back his excuse. The Constitution does not require that presidential candidates or presidents show their income tax returns. 

Trump refused to participate in a live interview with Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor hired to investigate the firing of James Comey, former FBI director. Trump had previously declared that he would be glad to talk to Mueller when asked by the media. His attorneys were way past too scared to let Trump be questioned by Mueller and his team of investigators. Trump has a problem telling the truth.  

Subsequently, Trump filled out a questionnaire sent to him by Mueller. Reponses to the questions were sketchy and incomplete. Despite saying he has the best memory in the world, Trump appeared to have lost his when his attorneys answered the questions for him. Robert Mueller’s report, after a two years investigation, concluded that Trump had committed 10 acts of obstruction. Unable to prosecute a sitting president, Mueller left it to Congress to make a decision to appoint the punishment.

Using his usual mode of communication, Twitter, Trump attempted to intimidate Michael Cohen, his “fixer” and attorney for 10 years. When he talked to Mueller, Trump called him a “rat”. He promised a pardon to those who did not/would not cooperate with Mueller. Cohen not only cooperated, he offered Mueller audio tapes and documents. Despite cooperating with Mueller, Cohen is going to prison for the three years.

Trump was incensed when Cohen testified in front of Congress, basically retelling his story to the public. He hosted a Twitter bitchfest, in which he threw all kinds of shade and accusations at Cohen. He tweeted that Mueller should look into the finances of Cohen’s father. This caused Cohen to fear for the safety of his family and himself. Congress had to assure him that his family would not face any danger if he testified publicly.

Donald Trump said if Congress tries to impeach him, he will go straight to the Supreme Court. Given that he does not believe rules or the Constitution applies to him, Trump intends to push aside steps that may lead to his impeachment. He thinks the majority of conservative judges on the court will save him. He is assuming that the Supreme Court justices will admonish Congress for daring to impeach him.

“Impeachment, in law, a criminal proceeding instituted against a public official by a legislative body. In the federal government of the U.S. the House of Representatives initiates the impeachment proceedings, and the Senate as judge. The impeachment process has rarely been employed, largely because it is cumbersome. It can occupy Congress for a lengthy period of time, fill thousands of pages of testimony, and involve conflicting and troublesome political pressures. Repeated attempts in the U.S. Congress to amend the procedure, however, have been unsuccessful, partly because impeachment is regarded as an integral part of the system of checks and balances”. Encyclopedia Britannia

The United States Constitution says that a sitting president can be impeached with due cause. That being: 1.) Treason, 2.) Bribery, 3.) High Crimes and Misdemeanors.  Impeachment of a president was initially suggested by Benjamin Franklin in 1787 at the Constitution Convention. It was a good idea and common sense to suggest impeachment instead of the alternative, which was assassination. Franklin reasoned that a president  could not clear his name if he was shot dead.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unleashed a stern warning to Democrats after their 2018 blowout mid-term victories. He told them to go light on thoughts of impeaching Donald Trump. “ . . . the business of presidential harassment might not work out for you too well”.  

McConnell reminded Democrats that when Republicans impeached Bill Clinton it did not work out well. Clinton’s approval ratings went up; Republicans went down. Speaker Pelosi is now weighing the best route to take regarding Donald Trump. Impeachment is not an emotional strategy. It is pure politics spurred by revenge and power. Republicans are better at the game than Democrats, who endeavor to steer clear of knee jerk reactions.

Some framers of the Constitution opposed the impeachment clause. They did not want to endow a legislative body with the power to stand in judgement against the executive branch. They were of the notion that such a clause might compromise the separation of powers.

Not until Trump was elected president did the three branches of the U. S. government get fused into one. A crew of old White Congressmen and Senators have been feigning ignorance for almost three years, blindly allowing Trump to run over the Constitution. They have allowed him to think that all government employees are his personal hires; their salaries paid by taxpayers. 

Massachusetts’s Elbridge Gerry, who served in the House of Representatives, and was VP under James Madison, said: “A good magistrate will not fear [impeachment]. A bad one ought to be kept in fear of them”.

“Individual members of the House can introduce impeachment resolutions like ordinary bills, or the House could initiate proceedings by passing a resolution authorizing an inquiry. The committee on the judiciary ordinarily has jurisdiction over impeachments, but special committees investigated charges before the Judicial Committee was created in 1813. 

"The committee then chooses whether to pursue articles of impeachment against the accused official and report them to the full House. If the articles are adopted (by simple majority vote), the House appoints members of resolution to manage the ensuing Senate trial on its behalf. These managers act as prosecutors in the Senate and are usually members of the Judiciary Committee. The number of managers has varied across impeachment trials  . . . The partisan composition of managers have also varied depending on the nature of the impeachment. The managers, by definition, always support the House’s impeachment action”. History, Art and Archives

House members act as the managers during the course of the trial. Just as any case where guilt or innocence must be proven, the president has the right to have an attorney or attorneys to litigate his defense. In the event the Senate concurs with impeachment, the Supreme Court Justice presides over the trial in the Senate chamber. At its conclusion of Senators deliberates in private. After a decision is render a copy of the judgement is filed with the Secretary of State. If guilty, the impeached president is removed from office, and barred from holding office in the future. Bill Clinton was disbarred.

Fifteen Republicans were designated managers during Clinton impeachment. One of them is a Trump spokesman: Lindsey Graham. He has changed his stance on impeachment now that a Republican president might get impeached. In a January 23, 1999 video, then Congressman Graham said a president can be removed “if this body [Congress] determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role  . . . because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. 
Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office”.

Speaker of the House designate Bob Livingston, asked President Clinton to resign.  Some of the more vociferous complainers against Clinton were later run out of Congress for making the same mistake: committing adultery. Livingston, Newt Gingrich, Helen Chenoweth, Henry Hyde. Gingrich is perhaps the worst of all the adulterers. 

Charles Ruff, White House counsel Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial, said, “Impeachment is not a remedy for private wrongs. It’s a method of removing someone whose continued presence in office would cause grave danger to the nation”.

Monday, February 18, 2019

'Cultural appropriation' is tantamount to identity theft of African Americans

The late Ralph Ellison, an African American author, wrote an essay on America’s identity in 1958. It has always been common knowledge that African Americans were never a part of America’s identity, as detailed in the three-fifths compromise, in which African Americans are not counted as full human beings. African Americans are viewed through jaundiced eyes, discussed in negative narratives supported by warped descriptions of a group of people. 

Ellison wrote: “America is a land of masking jokers. We wear the mask for purposes of aggression as well as for defense when we are projecting the future, and are preserving the past … the joke is at the center of the American identity”. 

Blackface in America is the masked jokester. African Americans are targets of the jokesters seeking temporary identities at the expense of Black folks, some of whom get angry and are embarrassed by the showboating.
Jim Crow

Blackface is not a new phenomenon suddenly attaching itself to African Americans. Thomas Dartmouth Rice, an itinerant performer, was credited with popularizing blackface. His first performance was at a New York theater around 1830. Dressed in tattered clothes, Rice copied slaves’ dialect, their dance, their music and songs. His plagiarized “Jump Jim Crow” routine was such a hit in America, Rice took the act to England, where it was just as popular. 
There was also another blackface character called “Zip Coon”, first performed by George Dixon in
Zip Coon
1834. Zip Coon was created to mock free Blacks. “An arrogant, ostentations figure, he was dressed in high style, and spoke in a series of malapropos and puns that undermined his attempts to appear dignified. Jim Crow and Zip Coon eventually merged into a single stereotype called simply ‘coon.’”
Blackface and buffoonery are not characteristic of African Americans. They do not strut around like simpletons proudly donning blackface, oversized red or white lips, kinky Afro wigs, plaits and braids going in all directions, consuming water melon, talking in broken dialect, mumbling unintelligently. 
Webster Dictionary . . . pickaninny: “a black child.”  African American girls are not  pickaninnies; boys and men are not oversexed brutes and rapists; older women and men are not Aunt Janes and Uncle Toms. Blackface, when worn by White folks, implies that African Americans are quick footed and ignorant, never not quick-witted and intelligent.
African Americans entertainers wanting to perform had to wear blackface to be accepted by White audiences. They could not perform in their natural state, even if they were naturally dark skinned.  They had to wear kinky wigs, black grease paint or burnt chalk on their faces, and white gloves to cover their hands. 
Depiction of a pickaninny
Looking at photos of racist memorabilia along the lines of "Little Black Sambo", first published in the U.S. in 1900; blackface yard jocks; jet black babies eating slices of  watermelon; head-rag wearing, overweight Aunt Jemimas. Jet black skin and large red lips are not inherited by African Americans. It is not in their DNA, or passed down generation after generation. None of these assumptive portraitures are “cultural” realities in Black communities. During the era in which these images were created and performed by White folks, slaves did not have the power to fight back, or disagree with how they were portrayed.
Blackface. Blackface.  In whose homes do you live? Cultural appropriation of blackface was summarily adopted by White folks, and passed down from generation to generation. In Australia blackface is more common than in America. An Australian writer summed it up thusly: “At its heart ‘blackface’ is about power. Specifically, using one’s power to take something important from someone else, and use it for ridicule or entertainment.” Blackface is widespread in many European countries.
“Blackface performers have stolen from us a complexion denied to them by nature to make money and pander to the corrupt taste of their White fellow citizens”. Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, politician, writer.
Blackface is an tool to dehumanize African Americans. But how do White folks dehumanize a people that were declared three-fifths human in 1787 at the United States Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia? They were slaves with no power. They were partial humans. They had no American identity. 
Supreme Court Chief Roger Taney in the Dred Scott v Sanford case declared that Scott, suing for freedom for him and his wife, had no right to sue the United States. As a Black man of African ancestry he was never intended to be an American. Taney said slaves were not included in the Declaration of Independence. They were not naturalized citizens. Scott was born a slave in 1799, Southampton County, Virginia.
Centuries later, Ralph Ellison wrote: “I am an invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquid—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me”.
Singer Joni Mitchell posed as an African American man in blackface for an album cover in 1977. She said she did the cover in blackface because she had “experienced” being with a Black man. One would assume that her intimate involvement with this Black man entitled her to plagiarize his perceived identity.
In 1993 Ted Danson, star of “Cheers” appeared in blackface at a New York Friars Club Roast. He
Ted Danson in blackface
performed a nigger laced comedy routine. Comedian and actress Whoopi Goldberg was the guest of honor, and Danson’s girlfriend at the time. His skit and blackface did not impress African Americans. Whoopi said she had no problem with his routine or blackface.
Outlandish TV and radio personality, Howard Stern, posed in blackface, large white lips, wearing a tux. A light skinned, kneeling mustached man smiled up at him. On the coffee table sat a quart bottle of Colt 45, a box of fried chicken, a black yard jockey on a stand was behind him. Stern was holding a framed photograph of Aunt Jemima. He hit almost every stereotype of an African American he could think of.
Megyn Kelly, former TV host on Fox and NBC, was terminated last by NBC, because of a noted entertainer she chose to imitate on Halloween. Although she did not paint her face Sambo black, she did darken her skin somewhat to imitate singer/actress Diana Ross. When she was at Fox, Kelly was chastised on Twitter for her racially charged posturing. In a heated dispute with a guest she insisted that Jesus is Black, and so is Santa Claus. Kelly insisted that she had irrefutable proof to back her assertions.
After the Ross flap, Kelly, on her NBC morning show, had a panel of three Whites to discuss race relations. She wanted to explain darkening her skin to imitate Ross. She said, “When I was a kid that was OK so long as you were dressing up as a character”. Kelly reduced Diana Ross to a Halloween “character.” She could have achieved the look by simply wearing an extravagant evening gown and a long, black wig, two of Ross’s trademarks. Darkening her face in the slightest was not necessary.
In 2002 a Syracuse University student, and member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, went bar-hopping college at bars one night. He did not go as himself, or a frat brother. He blacked his face and bar-hopped as golfer Tiger Woods. It was not Halloween; he had not attended a costume party. With all the famous golfers in America, why a blackface Tiger Woods?
Is this identity theft a deep-seated desire of White folks to be African Americans, so long as they can return to who they are when the fun ends? Is the exaggerated imitation of African Americans symbolic of something deeper? Is that what tanning their skin is about? “. . . a complexion denied them by nature . . .” said Frederick Douglass.
“The stock characters of blackface minstrelsy have played a significant role in disseminating racist images, attitudes and perceptions worldwide. Every immigrant group was stereotyped on the music hall stage during the 19th Century. But the history of prejudice, hostility, and ignorance towards Black people has insured a unique longevity to the stereotypes. White America's conceptions of Black entertainers were shaped by minstrelsy's mocking caricatures. And for over one hundred years the belief that Blacks were racially and socially inferior was fostered by legions of both White and Black performers in blackface”.
John Howard Griffin as a Black man
In my limited library of old movies I have “Black Like Me” and “Birth Of A Nation.” In Black Like Me, actor James Whitmore played White journalist John Howard Griffin, who decided to discover what life was like for a Black man living in the South. Griffin’s journey began in 1959. An adaption of his book was made into a movie in 1964. In real life Griffin wore sunshades to hide his the color of his eyes, but not in the movie. His skin transformation was not as dark as it was in the movie. There were no dark contact lenses in the 1960s, so James Whitmore eyes were light.
***Stares of hate and disgust can be seen on the faces of these White women. They do not want Griffin walking on the sidewalk with them. Realizing that he is in danger as a pretend Black man, Griffin knows not to walk too closely to the White women, which could lead to trouble. Keeping his distance is the realization of the era. Griffin had a photographer travel with him to capture his journey on film.
John Howard Griffin, himself
A SparkNotes summary states: “John Howard Griffin, the author and main character of Black Like Me, is a middle-aged White man living in Mansfield, Texas in 1959. Deeply committed to the cause of racial justice and frustrated by his inability as a White man to understand the Black experience, Griffin decides to take a radical step: he decides to undergo medical treatments to change the color of his skin, and temporarily become a Black man. 
"After securing the support of his wife and of George Levitan, the editor of a Black-oriented magazine called Sepia, which will fund Griffin's experience in return for an article about it, Griffin sets out for New Orleans to begin his life as a Black man. He finds a contact in the Black community, a soft-spoken, articulate shoe-shiner named Sterling Williams, and begins a dermatological regimen of exposure to ultraviolet light, oral medication, and skin dyes. Eventually, Griffin looks in the mirror and sees a Black man looking back. He briefly panics, feeling that he has lost his identity, and then he sets out to explore the Black community”.
Griffin makes friend with shoes shine man in New Orleans
A Black man in skin color only, Griffin witnessed, experienced, felt and tasted the bitterness of being a Black man in the South. He learned that a Black man’s life simultaneously tittered on the edge of hell and earth, fraught with uncertainty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Griffin, a resident of Mansfield, Texas, was lucky and blessed with white privilege. He could make choices about his life. He could embrace white privilege or reject it. No choices were available to the Black man Griffin was imitating.
“Griffin expects to find prejudice, oppression, and hardship, but he is shocked at the extent of it: everywhere he goes, he experiences difficulties and insults. The word ‘nigger’ seems to echo from every street corner. It is impossible to find a job, or even a restroom that Blacks are allowed to use. Clerks refuse to cash his checks, and a White bully nearly attacks him before he chases the man away. After several traumatic days in New Orleans, Griffin decides to travel into the Deep South of Mississippi and Alabama, which are reputed to be even worse for blacks. In Mississippi, a grand jury has just refused to indict a lynch mob that murdered a Black man before he could stand trial”.  SparkNotes
After six weeks Griffin decided that he had enough of the unadulterated hatred for his black skin, the endless name calling and unprovoked discrimination. His article was published in Sepia magazine, 1960. TV and the print media wanted to interview him. The story went world-wide. The old adage, “You can always go home” did not apply to Griffin. When his hometown learned what he had written, how he changed his skin to be a Black man, White folks in his hometown burned him in effigy. Hometown folks made his life so miserable and drama-filled, Griffin and his family moved to Mexico to escape the hate. He had betrayed White folks. He had exposed the ugly, racist side of them.
White actor in blackface captured by the KKK
In the 1915 movie “Birth Of A Nation” African Americans were played by blue-eyed White actors, wearing terrible kinky wigs and blackface. The few real African Americans in the movie played minor, demeaning roles. The movie was over three hours long, and debuted in Boston. African Americans held demonstrations in front of the theater. The NAACP and Black folks protested in whatever states the film was shown. They confronted politicians—from mayors to governors--and initiated petition drives. Some scenes offensive to Black folks were edited out of the film. By today’s standards it was a blockbuster among White moviegoers.
Actors in the 1903 movie “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” were Whites in blackface. The “Amos and Andy” radio show were two White actors pretending to be Black, as was a supporting cast member called “Kingfish.” For years African Americans actually thought they were Black because of their jokes and dialect. “For its time, it was perfectly ok to portray Blacks as generally poor and uneducated. But in time, civil rights groups would object to the way it depicted Blacks in America”. Classic TV Archive
Universities, colleges and graduated students are checking their yearbooks for photos that are totally inappropriate. Some universities are already offering belated apologies. Blackface, KKK and Nazi costumes seems to be the most popular. A Snapshot of a Auburn High School student wearing a black face mask wrote a caption that asked: “Is this what being a nigger feels like”?
Ralph Northam's yearbook page in med school
The blackface scandal that hit Virginia in February 2019, spread like a wild fire. Because two politicians wearing blackface are White, the media jumped on the story immediately. Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam, 59, got a butt shock when a 1984 photo of him in blackface leaped off the page of the Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. Northam, then a tall, skinny 25-year-0ld White male, and a medical student, was standing next to a shorter male (or woman) dressed in full KKK regalia. The tall male was smiling. His white teeth were a contrast against his shiny black face. 
At a news conference Northam conceded that one of the individuals in the photo was him but would not say which. The next day he recanted, saying he was not in the photo. He did not take responsibility for submitting the photo for the yearbook, suggesting that someone else submitted it. There were three other photos of him alone in various poses. At the time his nicknames were “Goose” and “Coonman.” Harlem Globetrotters Reece Tatum was nicknamed “Goose.” Did Northam steal that nickname from Reece, wanting to imitate him? “Coonman” has racial overtones any way you look at it.
Hosting another press conference the next day, Northam admitted that in 1984—the same year as above--he entered a dance contest in San Antonio, Texas. He put black shoe polish on his cheeks rather than his whole face. No photos have been uncovered so far. Taking on the persona of Michael Jackson, Northam said he dressed like the famous singer, and danced the moonwalk. 
In an interview with NBC’s Gayle King, Northam said he did not understand the power of his white privilege. As an adult he said, “I’ve learned why the use of blackface is so offensive. And, yeah, I knew it in the past, but reality has really set in”. 
A few days after Northam’s confession, Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring, 57, admitted that as a 19-year-old college student he wore blackface to a party in 1980. He dressed like Kurtis Blow, a popular rapper that he and his friends listened to at the time. Instead of black polish, Herring said he put brown polish on his face and wore an Afro wig.
During a February 8 interview with TMZ, Kurtis Blow let it be known that he was not impressed upon learning that Herring imitated him wearing brownface. He said Herring’s characterization of him was “disrespectful, ugly and degrading”.
Michael Ertel, hurricane victim
Florida’s Secretary of State Michael Ertel, 49, was asked by the governor to resign in January (2019), after a 2005 photo of him in blackface was uncovered. He was dressed like a female victim of Hurricane Katrina. The devastating hurricane killed an estimated 1,800 New Orleans residents, the majority of whom were Black and poor. The hurricane left even more victims homeless. Attending a Halloween party, Ertel wore a colorful bandanna on his head, large colorful earrings and a T-shirt bearing the words: Katrina Victim. His insensitivity reduced the hurricane victims to caricatures.
“Blackface is the joke that comforts White Americans, who consciously or otherwise, are terrified of nonwhite people. . . . The critic Elias Canetti argued in “Crowds and Power”, that laughing allows us to take power over the one we laugh at; perhaps this is why, even now, blackface still exists, a crude attempt by certain White Americans to retain a sense of racial superiority. Blackface as a ghost we may never be able to exorcize. It is too deeply, painfully American”.  The Guardian, 2/2019.
It is not unusual to read about White fraternity members posting blackface photos of themselves and friends in their yearbooks and social pages. They exhibit no sense of right, wrong or shame. Blackface is fun! It doesn’t hurt Black folks. The most basic excuses they use is:  “I was young. I didn’t think I was hurting anyone.” Some assert   African Americans are “too sensitive” when they complain about the images and stereotypes. Opting for blackface fun can ruin careers. These bite-you-in-the-ass images usually pop up when an individual runs for a political office, or some other high profile occupation. 
Rev. Al Sharpton, long time civil rights activist and MSNBC TV host, spoke February 7 at Virginia Union University, Virginia’s oldest historically Black college. He told the audience, “If you sin, you must pay for the sin. Blackface represents a deeper problem where people felt they could dehumanize and humiliate people based on their inferiority. When we’re reacting to blackface, we’re not reacting to what the act represents. Forgiveness without a price is not forgiveness—it’s a pass”. Richmond Times-Dispatch

Elvis Presley stole and copied Black folks music and rhythmical styles of singing. That is cultural appropriation. Pat Boone never had a hit song until he stole Little Richard's music and claimed it as his own, making it "acceptable" to White folks. That is cultural appropriation. In the day of tap dancing, Hollywood's Gene Kelly, Fred Astire and Ginger Rogers stole steps from Black tappers like The Nickholas Brothers and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who did not get credit for the stolen choreography. That is cultural appropriation, not the popularity of blackface so acceptable to White folks.