Discussion of reparations as history lesson

for three decades, members of Congress have introduced H.R.40

reparationsIn the current conversation about reparations, there is one thing I think we all can agree upon: we see race in America with very different lenses.

I have been skimming the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties’ hearing on H.R. 40 and the Path to Restorative Justice, which was held Wednesday, June 19, 2019. Both the bill number and the date were significant.

H.R. 40 refers to “forty acres and a mule,” a radical post-Civil war redistribution of land “set apart for the settlement of the negroes [sic] now made free by the acts of war and the proclamation of the President of the United States.” After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. this, of course, never took place.

June 19, or Juneteenth, was the date in 1865 “when the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.” After a period of decline, the celebration “received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C. [in 1968]. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor.”

The specific ask in the legislation is to establish “the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans to examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.” In other words, have a bunch of meetings.

TESTIMONY

“Reparations is not a new idea—and for three decades, members of Congress have introduced H.R.40, a bill to establish a commission that would study reparations. But only once before, in 2007, has Congress even held a hearing on the bill.”

You may have heard the riveting testimony of prominent black author Ta-Nehisi Coates. “It is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder, from enslavement, but the logic of enslavement, of white supremacy, respects no such borders. And the god of bondage was lustful and begat many heirs: coup d’etats and convict leasing, vagrancy laws and debt peonage, redlining and racist G.I. bills, poll taxes and state-sponsored terrorism.”

However, another author, Burgess Owens, whose great-great-grandfather was a slave, testified: “At the core of the reparation movement is a divisive and demeaning view of both races. It grants to the white race a wicked superiority, treating them as an oppressive people too powerful for black Americans to overcome. It brands blacks as hapless victims devoid of the ability, which every other culture possesses, to assimilate and progress. Neither label is earned.”

So you have some asking to cut the check and others who point out the statistical errors of “the reparations agenda.”

THE BIGGER PROBLEM

Like me, the Weekly Sift is “of two minds about this subject. On the one hand, enslaved Africans and their descendants built a large chunk of America’s wealth and wound up owning none of it. That long-ago injustice (plus Jim Crow plus ongoing racism) still has repercussions, and even those whites whose families never owned slaves have benefited in ways we don’t always appreciate…

“But in addition to the inadequacy of monetary settlement, there’s a bigger problem: For reparations to bring this chapter to a close, our society needs to reach some kind of consensus about what the payment is for and what it means. We’re nowhere close to that.

“If reparations for slavery were paid tomorrow, the white-nationalist types would believe blacks had used their political power to extort something, and they would want to get it back. A lot of other whites would feel like racism was a dead topic now: ‘Don’t ever talk to me about racism again. I paid my bill for that.'”

That appears to be an accurate assessment, based on the comments of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who suggested that electing Barack Obama as President made up for hundreds of years of racism. As if.

The rationale for the Supreme Court gutting the heart of the Voting Rights Act in the 5-4 Shelby County ruling of 2013 was more voter equality. Yet, even before that ruling, states have passed discriminatory laws making it HARDER for people to vote.

My inclination, in this current retrograde period, is to have the conversation about what “reparations” mean go forward. But I need to continue musing on this, with perhaps more personal observations next time. Meanwhile, listen to Let Your Voice Be Heard radio for the episode 40 Acres and Barack Obama.

Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – AOC

Almost immediately, well before the November general election, when AOC was actually elected, the 29-year-old organizer and former bartender, became a cause celebre.

AOCSome weeks ago, when I roughly plotted my ABC Wednesday for this round, I decided on O is for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I thought it’d be simple. HA!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ran for Congress in 2018. She entered the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th House District, representing parts of northern Queens and eastern Bronx.

Her opponent was the incumbent, Joseph Crowley. She campaigned hard, while Crowley, who had not been primaried since 2004, only started taking the challenge seriously in the latter stages. On June 26, she won the primary.

Almost immediately, well before the November general election, when she was actually elected, the 29-year-old organizer and former bartender, became a cause celebre. From Vanity Fair: It appears Republicans have finally learned that criticizing social-media-savvy freshman [AOC] only makes her stronger. And She Quotes Watchmen in Response to Critics.

Are the attacks because of anxiety, as one neuroscientist who studies such things suggests? Something is driving faux scandals such as a fake nude photo or dancing in college (horrors!) or not being “hot” enough.

Perhaps it is their fear of her support of a high marginal tax rate for rich people, which is supported by people such as Peter Diamond, Nobel laureate in economics “and arguably the world’s leading expert on public finance…

And “it’s a policy nobody has every implemented, aside from… the United States, for 35 years after World War II — including the most successful period of economic growth in our history.” She is on Financial Services Committee, and Banks Are Afraid.

The New York Democrat has been met with warm welcomes from working people in red states, such as Kentucky, where poor communities would benefit from progressive policies, such as the Green New Deal, a framework for environmental considerations.

The Onion kiddingly said that Fox News debuted a premium channel for 24-hour coverage of AOC. Fox News’ Laura Ingraham actually did rant about AOC’s “Minority Privilege”. Rush Limbaugh complains
the Member of Congress is too “uppity.” James Woods calls her “The Most Dangerous Person” in the nation.

On the other hand, her lightning-round exploration of government ethics limits was brilliant as was her questioning of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney. Her explanation of a broken system was spot-on. She encourages people to “shake the table” in pursuit of justice.

Even an AIER writer believed that The Amazon Deal Was An Outrage From the Beginning, something AOC opposed for NYC.

As a novice political entity, she’s been told to “wait her turn,” advice which she has largely ignored. Noam Chomsky says she and other newcomers are rousing the multitudes. And don’t we want an engaged electorate?

Film director Michael Moore dubbed AOC the leader of Democratic Party now. Surely, she is challenging the Democratic establishment.

As a result, a least one House Democrat is trying to recruit someone to run against her in a primary in order to make her a ‘one-term congresswoman.

AOC says “I’m not a superhero. I’m not a villain.” Well maybe; there IS a comic book about her. She’s normal enough to gush at meeting Bill Nye, the science guy.

For ABC Wednesday

November rambling – We are not the enemy

Tips on how to endure the 18+ hour flight

Cease fire Sooner or later, tyrants are always abandoned by their followers

The American civil war didn’t end, and we have a Confederate president

The First Family of Fraud

Fox and Friends: If the Media Doesn’t Want to Be Called ‘The Enemy’They Should Report the Story How He Wants

Amy Biancolli: We are not the enemy

John Oliver: Migrant Family Separation and Drain the Swamp

Why Is It So Hard to Vote in America? Voter turnout lags in the world’s most powerful democracy? and Cost of Voting in the American States

A Legislative Agenda for House Democrats

What Republicans fear most of all

A man who survived a mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017 was among those killed in the 2018 mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA

There’s very little known about the thousands of victims who survive deadly shootings

Tammy Marshall – My Breast Implants Almost Killed Me – The Truth About BII

The US just elected 9 new scientists to Congress

The Ancestor Hunt: Historical Jewish American Newspapers Online

Why are the Spanish living so long?

Ken Levine interviews media consultant, Valerie Geller – Tell the truth, make it matter, never be boring: Learn the keys to successful communication

Ntozake Shange, Who Wrote ‘For Colored Girls,’ Is Dead at 70

Former San Francisco Giants first baseman Willie McCovey’s presence was one of a kind

In Conversation: Alex Trebek The Jeopardy! icon on retirement, his legacy, and why knowledge matters

Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), a former Navy SEAL, representative-elect: SNL mocked my appearance; here’s why I didn’t demand an apology

Jimmy Kimmel: Trumpy bear

John Boehner: Washington Needs to Legalize Cannabis – NOW, he says it

The Crazy Contentious History Of Taco Tuesday

Scott McCartney, travel writer for WSJ, taking world’s longest flight — Newark to Singapore; tips on how to endure the 18+ hour flight

The cheapest ways to get to the center of Manhattan from the three airports that serve the Big Apple

Esquire Fiction: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah – Annual holiday super sale? Or zombie apocalypse?

Video tour from the forties Los Angeles side-by-side with the same route in 2016

It slices, it dices, and it’s older than me

This image has exactly 12 dots, but it’s impossible to see them all at once

Now I Know: The Problem With Anonymous Lottery Winners and The Cat’s Meow, Instrumentalized

Fabulous German words with no English equivalent

MUSIC

Take the A Train – Roy Clark And Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown; Roy Clark, country guitar virtuoso, ‘Hee Haw’ star, dies at 85

Above The Law – The O’Jays

BE A DJ: Kathy Buckley – 10/30/18 (WDST, Woodstock, NY)

Snippets of Hey Red! B/W We’re Not Going Steady – Herb London on Buzz Records; London, Conservative Thought Leader and occasional political candidate in New York State, died at 79. (HT to Dustbury)

Solid Rock is now a cultural part of Australian music history

Alexander Borodin’s String Quartet No 1, performed by the Moscow String Quartet

Recording of a warning chime recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra – In all, Lincoln commissioned six different non-critical warning chimes from the orchestra, covering 25 vehicle functions

Careless Whisper – Train, ft. Kenny G

Happiness is just around the bend – Brian Auger

Anything You Can Do – Voctave

9,999,999 Tears – Dickie Lee

Alice Cooper in a Dodge commercial

K is for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

“We are here to put others first, to live a day in their shoes, to understand what their life is like and try to make it better.”

When Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was appointed Secretary of State by President Barack Obama in 2009, New York governor David Paterson selected Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the Senate vacancy.

Liberal Democrats, primarily from downstate (New York City) were not happy with the pick of the upstate Congresswoman with moderately conservative credentials. But, as Paterson knew, Gillibrand had won her House seat in 2006 and 2008 in a district gerrymandered to be in the Republican column.

As a Senator, she moved her political positions towards a far more liberal/progressive agenda. Her first early issue that I was aware of, though, didn’t seem to skew left or right, as she worked hard for passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

She has become a champion for victims of sexual assault, first in the military and then nationwide. She said, “This is a moment in time, unlike any other, with the ‘Me Too’ movement. Women are feeling the ability to tell what happened to them, some of the worst moments they’ve lived, and tell it publicly, and that is powerful and it is affecting everything.”

She’s also championed female candidates for office with the group Off The Sidelines, which professes not taking any corporate PAC money.

In 2017, no senator voted more often against the regime’s Cabinet nominees than Kirsten Gillibrand. She said recently: “We have a president who silences and demeans women, rigs the economy so corporations and the wealthiest few get richer while American families get by on less, allows the NRA to dictate his gun policy and threatens Dreamers with deportation from the country they call home. And what’s worse, the Republican Party has fallen in line behind him.”

A vulgar and suggestive message from the Tweeter-in-chief may have done her more political good than harm. The Washington Post reported that he raised her profile and fired up her supporters. She denies that she’s a contender for the 2020 presidential election.

She has been quite visible on television of late, including a 60 Minutes profile. “We are here to help people. We are here to put others first, to live a day in their shoes, to understand what their life is like and try to make it better.”

Kirsten Gillibrand is running for re-election to the Senate in 2018, and it appears extremely unlikely that she could lose.

For ABC Wednesday

M is for Senator Lisa Murkowski

“Good news: her name will appear on a list of potential write-in candidates. Bad news: there are about 100 people on the list.”

There were three Republican Senators who voted against the so-called ““skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare in July 2017. One was John McCain of Arizona, who made a dramatic return to DC that week after a diagnosis of brain cancer. The other two were women who had been bucking their party all that week, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. All, it could be argued, put principle before party.

The female senators were on receiving end of insults from male officials. “They were told that they… deserve a physical reprimand for their decisions not to support Republican health-care proposals.”

Senator Murkowski is particularly interesting to me because she has won three full terms to the Senate, yet has never won a majority of the vote. “Murkowski was appointed to the U.S. Senate by her father, Frank Murkowski, who resigned his seat in December 2002 to become the Governor of Alaska. She completed her father’s unexpired term, which ended in January 2005. She ran for and won a full term in 2004,” with 48.5% of the vote.

“She ran for a second term in 2010. She lost the Republican Party nomination to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller. She then ran as a write-in candidate and defeated both Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams in the General Election,” with 39.5% of the vote, “making her the first U.S. Senator to be elected by write-in vote since Strom Thurmond [of South Carolina] in 1954.”

In fact, I predicted that victory in this very blog on 2 November 2010:
“But I will go out on a limb to say that I think Lisa Murkowski will barely retain her Senate seat in Alaska. Three-way polling is much less reliable than that done for a two person race.

“Good news: her name will appear on a list of potential write-in candidates. Bad news: there are about 100 people on the list. Good news: she has great name recognition in the state. Bad news: she’s been around a long time, and her father before her. Good news: it is established that a vote for a write-in candidate must be counted, if the intent is clear.”

So someone drawing the three pictures on this page could be seen as voting for Murkowski, like so:

“The French word for sea is MER + COW + SKI = Murkowski.”

In 2016, she won again, with 44% of the vote. The political threats have not fazed her, maybe because she doesn’t have to run for office again until 2022.

For ABC Wednesday