The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Civil Rights’ Category

Hello Widdershins! What a week. As usual, the Beltway press was salivating and the pundits were putting debt default countdown clocks on every show because McConnell Said The Republicans Wouldn’t Vote to Raise the Debt Ceiling OMG! We’re all going to dieeeeeeeee!

But that didn’t happen, mainly because the Democrats threatened to nuke the filibuster. Apparently, McConnell didn’t think Manchin and Sinema would withstand the pressure from the rest of the caucus, who all want to do SOMETHING about the 60-vote rule, in this very dire situation. McTurtle blinked, and 11 Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling. And some members of his own Party are shaking their heads. Lady Lindsey, Ted Cruz and (of course!) der Drumpfenfuhrer are calling it capitulation. On the Democratic side, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer mildly and rightfully criticized all Republicans for bringing the U.S. to the point of financial ruin to try to win some pathetic partisan advantage. [Thanks for facepalming behind him, Joe Manchin – I don’t even have words at this point.]

Upon receiving bad reviews from the left and the right, McTurtle went on offense to try to make himself look less weak. In an embarrassing letter to President Biden, he sputtered in hypocritical fauxrage, lambasting Schumer and making hollow threats. Yeah Mitch, we know. You’re very powerful. Do you need some warm milk?

“[Schumer’s] tantrum encapsulated and escalated a pattern of angry incompetence from Senator Schumer … this childish behavior only further alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate this short-term patch. It has poisoned the well even further.”

Democrats argue it was McConnell who poisoned the well by refusing to co-operate with raising the debt limit, a step they took repeatedly with Donald Trump in power. Experts say a US default would be catastrophic for the global economy.

McConnell insisted: “In light of Senator Schumer’s hysterics and my grave concerns about the ways that another vast, reckless, partisan spending bill would hurt Americans and help China, I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement.”

This is, of course, complete Kentucky Derby horse pucky. I’m sure you all know this, but I feel compelled to point out that all of the spending McConnell claims to be upset about has already been authorized! Indeed, $7T of it came from the maladministration of The Former Guy, and even if the Democrats hadn’t passed ANY spending bills in 2021, the ceiling would still have to be raised. This means that trying to prevent the debt ceiling from being raised doesn’t have any impact on future Democratic spending. At all.

The way this went down proves that the Rethugs are indeed terrified that the Democrats will alter the filibuster in some way, robbing them of any power whatsoever, and that McTurtle, despite all the ink and screen time the pundits give him, is not immune to that threat.

Let’s see what happens when the codification of Roe v. Wade, passed on a party line vote in the House in late September, comes before the Senate. Will the Democrats have the same energy to protect these existential threats to the health of hundreds of millions of Americans, as they did to protect existential threats to the economy? Will they finally nuke the filibuster?

When women’s rights are on the table, McConnell is armed with thousands of years of white supremacy on his side to defeat them. The Beltway press and punditry are already saying the House bill has no chance in the Senate. I sincerely hope they’re wrong, again.

Open thread, as always. DYB, this musical selection is for you!

Shinners, I am a curious person. I like finding out all the five W’s and H (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How) to learn more about a subject of interest. Like birds – I’ve spent a lot of time recently learning about them.

But damn, when your educational system prevents you from even knowing what you don’t know…neither curiosity nor all the will in the world will help.

I was never taught about the Tulsa Race Massacre in school. I guess whomever wrote the textbooks knew how much negative perception would go along with that knowledge – the deep-seated racism in this country, the pure evil of that mass murder, and the reality that would tarnish America’s well-crafted egalitarian image. It was only in the past year (I think it was on Rachel Maddow’s show?) that the veil of my ignorance was lifted. And for the first time, an American President has addressed it, on the shameful and tragic anniversary of its occurrence. Biden made a historic speech, in which his trademark empathy was on full display. But as we’ve started to see with Biden and Harris, words are just the beginning. And now, Biden is looking to begin to address some of the racial disparities that have been kept in public policy and hidden away from public view.

The Tulsa massacre has only recently entered the national discourse — and the presidential visit put an even brighter spotlight on the event.

Biden, who was joined by Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge and senior advisers Susan Rice and Cedric Richmond, also announced new measures he said could help narrow the wealth gap between races and reinvest in underserved communities by expanding access to homeownership and small-business ownership.

The White House said the administration will take steps to address disparities that result in Black-owned homes being appraised at tens of thousands of dollars less than comparable homes owned by white residents as well as issue new federal rules to fight housing discrimination. The administration is also setting a goal of increasing the share of federal contracts awarded to small disadvantaged businesses by 50% by 2026, funneling an estimated additional $100 billion to such businesses over the five-year period, according to the White House.

It is shocking to think that Black prosperity in Tulsa could have been extinguished so quickly. 30 blocks of “Black Wall Street” were destroyed, up to 300 Black Tulsans were killed, and the Greenwood area has never recovered, 100 years later. White people just couldn’t handle the fact that Black people clearly aren’t inferior – when they have equal opportunity, they are able to prosper – and so they made up some excuse about a black man stepping on a white woman’s foot to justify their murderous hatred. But really, they just wanted to stop Black Americans from prospering, and scare them into leaving all the money for white people.

The attempted coup on January 6th was the same type of rage. White men (mostly) are in a panic that when those uppity wimminz (especially Black women) gain power, their power diminishes; thus they decided to scream and attack and kill. Just as on that day in 1921 in Tulsa, no one got arrested on the scene, and it took national attention and a new Justice Department leader to really get the investigations moving. Republicans have begun to gaslight and try to wipe the horrific event from everyone’s minds.

I sure hope they don’t succeed.

Image courtesy of KTSP TV

Widdershins, something truly extraordinary happened yesterday. Derek Chauvin, the psychopathic cop who was caught on video killing a Black man in cold blood, was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Across the country, but especially in Minneapolis, the celebration and relief were palpable. Even though the officer’s guilt was documented clearly for all the world to see, and was not questionable by any seeing human being, most people were cautious in their hopes for accountability.

After all, murdering police officers are so rarely convicted for their crimes.

Garrett said there are hundreds of instances where police use deadly force each year but despite the fatality, very few of those incidents result in an officer facing criminal charges.

In the aftermath of Chauvin’s guilty verdict, Garrett believes there will continue to be a “rethinking” of how and when officers should be held civilly and criminally liable when they cause a death. The problem is that there is very little data available on deadly force used by police.

In police brutality cases, the question is whether the officer accused of misconduct acted “reasonably” and their behavior was necessary under the circumstances — but how “reasonable” is defined remains largely elusive.

“There are so few cases that tell us what reasonable is, and that’s why a conviction in the Derek Chauvin trial would set a standard for reasonable that we didn’t have before,” said Gloria Browne-Marshall, professor of constitutional law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and civil rights attorney.

The Chauvin trial is a rare example of “zealous prosecution” in hundreds of years where prosecutors have failed to prosecute White people for crimes against Black people, Browne-Marshall said.

So the Chauvin trial turned out the way it should have, which is a rare victory for the forces of social justice. But not everyone felt that way. Some seemed to feel that Chauvin, as a white man, should have had the right to kill George Floyd however and whenever he wanted to. (No wonder the Republican House voted against Kamala’s anti-lynching law in 2019!) If you look over at Foxnews.com (don’t worry – I did it for you and I need disinfectant), you’ll see some normal-seeming headlines surrounded by batshittery: a straightforward description of the verdict is in the same space as accusations of “mob justice” from Candace Owens and Democratic extremism from some random Black guy in a MAGA hat. (I don’t know who he is, and my life is better for it.)

As so many have said, this is one very tiny step towards a better world, and it wouldn’t have happened if some very brave people didn’t record the murder on their phones. What will happen to the police officers who murdered a 15-year-old girl in Columbus on the same day the verdict was returned (yes this really f*cking happened)? What about Chauvin’s fellow officers who helped him – what will become of them when they are tried in August? Will the Senate be able to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act now? (I predict no, not without reforming the filibuster!)

So many questions about what comes next…at least we’re asking them knowing George Floyd’s killer will be held accountable.

Ze thread, she is ouverte.

On March 13th, #2020, 26-year-old emergency room technician Breonna Taylor was murdered by police in her own home for the crime of living while Black in Louisville, Kentucky. The pain of this injustice, along with the racist murder of George Floyd by white policemen captured on video, breathed new life into the Black Lives Matter movement, and inspired people across the country to “Say Her Name.”

As I write this blog post, I see a ray of hope for Black people in this country because of the way the Mayor of Louisville has settled Breonna’s family’s lawsuit. This may not be complete justice yet – but it is a step in the right direction, and one I can’t imagine would have happened without the months of activism on her behalf.

Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer on Tuesday apologized to the family of Breonna Taylor – a Black woman who was shot dead by police in a botched raid on her apartment in March – and said the city will pay $12 million to the Taylor family and implement new police reforms.

FISCHER: “My administration is not waiting to move ahead with needed reforms to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.”

While the settlement was accompanied by reforms, it did not explicitly admit wrongdoing on the city’s part.

No police officer has been criminally charged over Taylor’s death, but Kentucky’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron is expected to bring the case before a grand jury this week, and Lonita Baker – an attorney for Breonna Taylor’s estate – said she was confident an indictment was coming.

If you marched in protest of Breonna’s or George Floyd’s horrific deaths, or donated to the cause, or signed petitions, or posted on social media – you helped to do this. You helped to get Breonna’s death recognized by the mayor; you helped her family get compensatory damages (possibly the largest in history paid to a Black family); and you helped the state Attorney General bring the criminal justice system to bear on the cops who shot her.

It may not feel like it matters – but it always, always does.

This is an open thread.

Droopy Dawg

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the right of LGBTQ workers to equal protection under the law. THIS Supreme Court! The decision was 6-3. The usual assholes dissented: Alito, Kavanaugh and Thomas. (I hear Kavanaugh was seen crying into a beer afterwards, whereas Thomas had his usual Coke.)

This would be enough amazingly and shockingly good news for one day in this hellscape of a year. But wait, there’s more!

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the court’s liberals in the 6-to-3 ruling. They said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination “because of sex,” includes gay and transgender employees.

The decision was a surprise, and not the only one of the day. Even though the court’s conservative majority has been strengthened, it announced Monday that it was turning down a batch of challenges from gun rights groups eager to expand Second Amendment rights. And it rejected the Trump administration’s request to review California’s attempts to provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

Between this, and Suddenly Swing State Ohio set to send out absentee mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters for the November election, and the fact that Joe Biden took in over $80M last month (the biggest haul ever), well…it feels like the avalanche of sh*t that happens every day in 2020 just paused, briefly, for a shining sh*t-free moment.

Tawk amongst yerselves!


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