Sunday, October 31, 2010

Obama is Suddenly Noticing Black People

Those are not my words, they come from Dr. Boyce Watkins. Watkins is pointing out a recent political phenomenon.

The Obama camp has rarely used the words ‘black man’ or ‘black woman’ in public for the last year, yet they are suddenly hanging in the hood more than the barber and the local drug dealer.  They are holding forums to rally black voters for the mid-term elections and telling black folks to vote as if Obama were on the ballot.

All the while, the issue of massive black unemployment hasn’t even been a blip on the administration’s radar screen.  Black foreclosures and the wealth gap have been seen as a nuisance to politics as usual.  Mass incarceration of African American men hasn’t become anyone’s agenda item.  Why in the world should black folks feel inspired to go out and vote?”

Why indeed. The democrats are cruising for a bruising on Tuesday. Obama’s sudden interest in getting out the black vote is proof of his party’s desperation. Most polls show that democrats will lose the house and may maintain control of the senate but will lose seats.

It looks like majority leader Harry Reid will lose as well as veterans like Russ Feingold. (Feingold was the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act. I feel a little said about him.) Obama never passes up an opportunity to stab progressives in the back, and his press secretary even said we need to be drug tested.

Fair enough. I don’t go where I’m not wanted. I am voting for green party candidates on Tuesday. I am no longer worried about hurting the democrats. We have to have competition and coalitions with leftists if we want to change this country. The democratic party has proven itself to be untrustworthy. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me 100 times, then I’m a chump.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Liberals Just Don't Care

The democrats are surely headed for big losses in Tuesday's mid-term elections. Barack Obama certainly won't lose for lack of effort. He has gone from backyard barbecues to high school auditoriums and this week deigned to speak with progressive bloggers, most of whom let him off the hook. In Salon, Dan Gillmor ponders why none of them said anything about the Obama administration defending, in court, and expanding Bush era civil liberties violations.

I commented and I kept it short and sweet.

"Most liberals are nothing but a bunch of snobs. They don't like Sarah Palin because she is dumb, but their smarty pants constitutional law professor president has gone to court to uphold and even expand Bush era civil liberties abuses and they say nothing.

They aren't wimpy, they are just dishonest. They only care about their people being in power, they don't care about what they actually do."

Most Americans think it is great idea to give up their power to the state. They just want the people they like to do it. Liberals are no different in this regard. I don't know when this attachment to authoritarianism will end, but end it must.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Smoke and Horrors

Why would Democrats support a program that has such a deleterious effect on their most loyal constituencies? It is, in part, callous political calculus. It’s an easy and relatively cheap way for them to buy a tough-on-crime badge while simultaneously pleasing police unions. The fact that they are ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of black and Hispanic men and, by extension, the communities they belong to barely seems to register.

This is outrageous and immoral and the Democrat’s complicity is unconscionable, particularly for a party that likes to promote its social justice bona fides.

No one knows all the repercussions of legalizing marijuana, but it is clear that criminalizing it has made it a life-ruining racial weapon. As Ms. (Michelle) Alexander told me, ‘Our failed war on drugs has done incalculable damage.’ “

Charles Blow, New York Times

I was never very impressed with New York Times columnist Charles Blow.  He analyzed statistics and then reached what always seemed to me to be some obvious conclusion. Big deal.

In his column published today, Blow did an excellent job of exposing how the democratic party has advocated for increased drug enforcement and therefore increased mass incarceration of black Americans.

On election day Californians will vote on Proposition 19, which if passed will decriminalize marijuana possession. Attorney General Eric Holder has already announced that the justice department will continue federal enforcement of drug laws even if states decide to move in this more humane direction.

Once again we see how damaging the first black presidential administration has been to black people. When Obama leaves office, black people will have nothing to show for their adulation. If seeing a black first couple disembark from Air Force One is enough to float your boat then you still have reason to be happy. If you are looking for substance you see that Obama’s term in office is the absolute nadir in the lives of black people. We have a president who has every disincentive to help us, but who gains support if he ignores or harms us.

Hopefully after he has left the white house more of us will have the courage to talk openly about what his presence really meant.

"We have Learned who is For Real and who is Frontin'."

American Politics is Like Pro Wrestling

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Glen Ford at One Nation - "When We Speak of Antiwar We Can't Be Generali...

I don't know what anyone else said at the One Nation democratic party pep rally, but Glen Ford definitely got to the point.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Burn Baby Burn

Gene Cranick’s house burned down in Obion County, Tennessee. Fires take place every day, but Cranick’s house burned down because he hadn’t paid a yearly $75 fee for fire protection. It sounds a bit like mafia extortion, but rural Obion County residents living outside of the city limits have to pay for emergency protection, something which ought to be a public service. In Cranick’s case, fire fighters literally stood by and watched as his home and his dogs and cats went up in flames.

The story has sparked outrage, but is part of a larger trend. Across the country, accident victims are being charged for emergency service, usually fire department response. Unlike Cranick, they do get the service, but receive bills later.

If this disgraceful state of affairs isn’t proof of the end of civil society I don’t know what is. Americans can no longer count on being protected by their government. Tennessee is a low tax, and therefore low service state. Cranick’s predicament is the natural outcome of right wing ideology run amuck. I think I will stay in high tax New York.

Not only are citizens charged for fire service, but some are sent to jail when they don’t show up for debt related court appearances. Clayton County Georgia eliminated its bus service and Boulder, Colorado no longer lights the streets at night. Camden, New Jersey can’t keep its libraries open and the state of Hawaii has cut the number of school days.

There isn’t even a veneer of a social contract any longer. The ruling class rules, steals our public resources, and we are left with nothing, not even an expectation of a fire department doing its job. It is clear that America is an empire, and it is beginning to crumble. The recession that causes localities to deprive people of essential services won’t end any time soon. It is more than a recession, it is the beginning of something far worse, and we will all suffer because of it.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Tuskegee and Guatemala

Yesterday, in my zeal to write down new information, I gave inaccurate information about the connection between the Guatemala and Tuskegee, Alabama syphilis experiments. It is true that John C. Cutler was in charge of the program which infected prisoners and mental patients in Guatemala with syphilis. He did not have a connection with the Tuskegee case, in which syphilis patients were not informed that they had the disease, until the 1960s when the program was already 30 years old.

I will have more to say in my Black Agenda Report column on Wednesday.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Tuskegee Guatemala

I’m writing this some what quickly because I don’t know if the google cache will exist much longer.

Dr. John C. Cutler ran the Tuskegee experiments which allowed syphilis patients to go without treatment for decades, decades during which they infected partners, spouses, and children. Today the U.S. government revealed that sixty years ago American scientists infected Guatemalans with syphilis in order to test penicillin. Cutler was involved in that atrocity as well.

Cutler went on to the University of Pittsburgh which until today used Cutler to pitch to major donors. Notice that they do not mention his role in this notorious Tuskegee experiments.

Eleise S. Cutler and the late Dr. John C. Cutler, Friends of Pitt

Eleise Cutler has always supported the advancement of education and the exploration of public health issues. Her husband, Dr. John C. Cutler spent much of his life as a physician largely in service to global public health. Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health for his "second career", he served as both assistant surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service and deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization. Eleise was always there supporting his every effort.

Dr. Cutler's early work was in the field of venereal disease. He was a part of the group of physicians who developed VDRL, the venereal diseases research laboratory test, which has become the accepted test for the diagnosis of syphilis. "We traveled all over the world together when he was doing research work in syphilis and gonorrhea," Eleise explains. "He worked in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, in New York and also in Guatemala. And, I was with him every step of the way." Dr. Cutler's research also took the two of them to India where, while working for the World Health Organization, he organized a venereal disease laboratory for South East Asia.

When Dr. Cutler arrived at the University of Pittsburgh in 1967, he became the head of the population division of the Graduate School of Public Health where he helped establish and coordinate major international health projects in West Africa and several third world countries. He was also instrumental in the development of a joint program with the University's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Eleise, a graduate of Wellesley College in Massachusetts, also understood the importance of population control – one of her husband's passions. She has served on several boards, including Planned Parenthood, that assist in educating others on the importance of these and other issues. Her work with a visiting nurses association and the Pittsburgh Dance Council while in Pittsburgh and numerous other non-profits throughout the nation during their travels have given her a first-hand understanding of the importance of philanthropy.

In 1995, Eleise and her husband began discussing the possibility of planned gifts to support some of their favorite causes. "Since we didn't have any children and our home was our largest asset, we thought that donating that part of our estate would be a good way to give to organizations," Eleise explains. The Cutlers chose to include the University of Pittsburgh in their will, along with six other organizations, who will split the funds obtained in the sale of their estate after they are no longer able to live there. "I'm still living in my house," she reveals, "and through this gift we were able to do something wonderful that we never anticipated."

After Dr. Cutler's death in 2003 at the age of 87, the John C. Cutler Memorial Global Health Fund was established to honor Dr. Cutler's legacy of global health, leadership, research, practice, education and devotion to nurturing the careers of future public health leaders. The funds raised through their gift of real estate will be added to this fund which supports a lecture series in global public health. "I am so happy that we are able to help the university and ensure my husband's work continues." Elsie proudly says.

Southeast Asia, New York, India, West Africa, federal prisons? How many people did Cutler infect with syphilis? I hope that there is a full investigation of his activities. I find it hard to believe that Cutler didn’t repeat his Guatemala and Tuskegee horrors in a federal jail and in Asia and Africa.