Go Back To Africa

Go back to Africa…a little bit if vitriol that should never have survived into the 21st Century.

Go back to Africa…something I wouldn’t be writing about except it’s being re-voiced by supporters of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Go back to Africa…being said to people whose ancestors have been Americans for generations…in most cases far longer than the familial lines of the racists who are shouting it.

Go back to Africa…go back to what? these people are wholly Americans!

And the response in some of the videos I’ve seen have included Go back to Europe…which often leaves the racists sputtering and only able to shout back F*ck You! But that isn’t equal…not by a long shot…my ancestors came here voluntarily…could settle anywhere they wanted…and could return home if they desired. They weren’t torn from their families and communities and culture and sold to slavers. If they were lucky enough to survive the journey to America they were trapped under institutional slavery. So by no means does Go back to Europe carry the weight that Go back to Africa bears.

The only maybe benefit coming out of the Trump campaign is the nakedness of racism and xenophobia in America being exposed for all thinking people to see. That we aren’t a post racial society…we haven’t yet attained the land of the free and the home of the brave…not by a long shot.

Go Back To Africa…when someone says that: they OWN Slavery.

What’s the Deal with Progressives and Agism?

Just about a year ago, a candidate for local office visited Drinking Liberally to present a case for being elected over the long term incumbent. One of the knocks on the incumbent was the officeholder’s age put him out of touch with the district. Looking around the room at all of the gray hair and bald heads…many whose support at the doors, on the phones, and with contributions the candidate was hoping to gain…and knowing the incumbent was younger than myself…I commented to the candidate, that although I would accept the position that the incumbent was out of touch with the district and the area…I wouldn’t suggest attributing that to age. Instead of picking up on my hint, the candidate doubled down on the age theme. That candidate did not win and will not garner my support in any future attempts at elected office.

Just following the November 6th Presidential election, a rather premature Facebook discussion posited the question about potential Democratic candidates in 2016. Of course current favorite, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was mentioned. One of my progressive friends suggested that in 2016, Ms. Clinton would be 69 years old…too old to run for president. Senator John McCain was 72 when he was nominated at the 2008 Republican National Convention…and President Reagan was 69 when he started his first term as President (But of course they were Republicans, so we can discount that). So despite the recent lionization of former US Congressman David Obey, who was already over 69 during the protests in Madison or the reverence shown for State Senator Fred Risser who is well into his 80s, Ms. Clinton at 69 would be too old to be President. When I brought up the ‘elder’ statesmen Risser and Obey, I was reminded that the job of President is far more stressful and important than legislative positions. Maybe so…but I would suggest that the second most stressful job in US government…and one that is extremely taxing physically because of the continual world travel involved…is US Secretary of State…which by all accounts Ms. Clinton has filled with energy, grace, and diplomacy! And I think she could work circles around many of her far younger critics.

Is age one way of gauging a candidates fitness for office…well yes…I suppose it comes into play. But we should never dismiss out of hand a fully qualified candidate simply based on when they were born!

Of Race and Re-elections

A graduate student in economics at Harvard, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, has a piece in Sunday’s New York Times that reports on a study he’s done showing how Google searches can be used to track racial bias by state and locality and how that data can be used to show voting deficits due to racial animus.

Barack Obama won 52.9 percent of the popular vote in 2008 and 365 electoral votes, 95 more than he needed. Many naturally concluded that prejudice was not a major factor against a black presidential candidate in modern America. My research, a comparison of Americans’ Google searches and their voting patterns, found otherwise. If my results are correct, racial animus cost Mr. Obama many more votes than we may have realized.

The deficits run as high as 7% in states with a high volume of racist Google searches.

Racially Charged Web Searches and Voting

His original paper can be found here.

How can we know how much racial animus costs black candidates if few voters will admit such socially unacceptable attitudes to surveys? I use a new, non-survey proxy for an area’s racial animus: Google search queries that include racially charged language. I compare the proxy to an area’s votes for Barack Obama, the 2008 black Democratic presidential candidate, controlling for its votes for John Kerry, the 2004 white Democratic presidential candidate. Previous research using a similar specification but survey proxies for racial attitudes yielded little evidence that racial attitudes affected Obama. Racially charged search, in contrast, is a robust negative predictor of Obama’s vote share. My estimates imply that continuing racial animus in the United States cost Obama 3 to 5 percentage points of the national popular vote in 2008, yielding his opponent the equivalent of a home-state advantage country-wide.

More on the Prison-Industrial Complex

Opprobrium was heaped upon me by various commenters for my post Arbeit Macht Frei  because I dared invoke the dreaded Nazi reference when talking about our Prison-Industrial Complex.

Phil, I’ve read the very same rants ad nauseam. It’s not like you had any news to report.

I usually enjoy your blog, I’m a Goldwater GOP and am upset with the hijacking of small government issues by a crackpot bunch of lunatics. But your use of a genocidial phase is offensive! Please don’t!!!

Dude, seriously, way to far and offensive. You make it easy for people to discount you.

Perhaps I was over-the-top in my analogy. Perhaps we can never use the Nazis as an example of what might be happening in the world today.  But I remain shocked that people responded to that analogy and not to the statistics I cited about the incarceration rates for African-American men.

Perhaps this will sway some people to my way of thinking about this problem.

Meet the GEO Group, Inc., formerly WCC (Wackenhut Correctional Corporation).  According to their website,

GEO is one of the worlds largest correctional and detention organizations with approximately 80,000 beds and 116 facilities located in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa. GEO is a leader in the delivery of private correctional and detention management, community re-entry services as well as behavioral and mental health services to government agencies around the globe. Our goal is to help our clients serve those assigned to their care through a wide range of diversified services including the design, construction and financing of state and federal prisons, immigration and detention centers, community re-entry facilities, mental health and residential treatment centers and other special needs institutions.

The GEO Group‘s 2011 annual report is quite revealing.  It identifies risks to the core corrections business from the decriminalization of drugs and a reduced demand for correctional facilities.

In particular, the demand for our correctional and detention facilities and services and BI’s services could be adversely affected by changes in existing criminal or immigration laws, crime rates in jurisdictions in which we operate, the relaxation of criminal or immigration enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction, sentencing or deportation practices, and the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by criminal laws or the loosening of immigration laws. For example, any changes with respect to the decriminalization of drugs and controlled substances could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, sentenced and incarcerated, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. Similarly, reductions in crime rates could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities. Immigration reform laws which are currently a focus for legislators and politicians at the federal, state and local level also could materially adversely impact us.

The GEO group operates correctional facilities for Federal, State and City agencies.  They even operate one in Cuba at GITMO (for migrants interdicted at sea, not the one for terrorists).  Like CCA, GEO has a strong financial interest in keeping criminals flowing into the systems.  They will resist any attempt at reforming the law or the correctional system if it inhibits profit.  And they lobby hard in Washington and at the state level to ensure that de-criminalization of non-violent drug offenses does not occur.

By privatizing correctional facilities we create a growth market for criminality.  Is that really what we want to do?  At what point do we realize that there are just some things that should not be privatized.  Police, fire, corrections…. These are just a few of the things that are best done by the public sector.

The UN Launches Human Rights Investigation in the United States

Poverty is endemic to the native peoples of America.  Take this one small example.

South Dakota is home to the 3 poorest counties in the Nation. I am very familiar with these places because 3 of the largest American Indian reservations that National Relief Charities serves – Cheyenne River, Rosebud and Pine Ridge – are located in these counties.

I’ve been to Pine Ridge and it is not a happy place to be.  Remote, isolated and lacking in basic services, the people who live there are plagued by countless social problems.  The Sioux of the Pine Ridge Reservation have a long history of struggle and resistance to Federal control.  The 1890 battle of Wounded Knee was fought there, and Pine Ridge was the epicenter of AIM (The American Indian Movement), a radical organization that sought greater independence for native peoples in North America and a renewal of all treaty relationships between indigenous people and the Federal government.  In 1975 there was armed conflict between AIM members and the FBI that resulted in the death of two FBI agents and one AIM member.

An example closer to home?  The poorest county in Wisconsin is Menominee County.  Guess who lives in Menominee County?  That’s right, lots and lots of Menominee!

The racial makeup of the county was 11.57% White, 0.07% Black or African American, 87.26% Native American, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.33% from other races, and 0.75% from two or more races. 2.67% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 5.0% were of German ancestry according to Census 2000.

Fast-forward to 2012.  Now, a United Nations human rights investigation into the conditions of indigenous peoples in the United States will be conducted by James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples.  His job will be to assess the treatment of all indigenous peoples in the United States and to make policy recommendations to the US government.

Anaya, a University of Arizona professor of human rights, said: “I will examine the situation of the American Indian/Native American, Alaska Native and Hawaiian peoples against the background of the United States‘ endorsement of the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.”


Apart from social issues, US Native Americans are involved in near continuous disputes over sovereignty and land rights. Although they were given power over large areas, most of it in the west, their rights are repeatedly challenged by state governments.

Most Americans have little contact with those living in the 500-plus tribal areas, except as tourists on trips to casinos allowed on land outside federal jurisdiction or to view spectacular landscapes.

Having visited tribal reservations on countless occasions, all I can say is it’s about f’ing time the UN examined how native peoples in the US are treated.  I can only hope that the Obama administration acts upon the recommendations that are likely forthcoming.

Racism: A Conservative Team Sport

Ta-Nehisi Coates:

The conservative movement doesn’t understand anti-racism as a value, only as a rhetorical pose. This is how you end up tarring the oldest integrationist group in the country (the NAACP) as racist. The slur has no real moral content to them. It’s all a game of who can embarrass who. If you don’t think racism is an actual force in the country, then you can only understand it’s invocation as a tactic.


That tradition of viewing racism, not as an actual thing of import, but merely as rhetoric continues today. To abandon that tradition, I suspect, would be cause for an existential crisis.

The “Friends” Defense

Tim Wise:

I swear, if I hear one more transparently racist person insist they aren’t racist because they have black friends, I am going to shoot them. But not because I’m violent. I’m not violent. And this I know because I have friends who are pacifists.

Indeed.  The whole logic of the “Friends” defense is illogical.  But so many people (mostly, but not always, conservatives) rely on this to excuse the most egregious racial bias.

Of course — and here’s the bigger point — even if one does have black friends, this doesn’t mean that one is free from racial bias or could never act in such a way as to further racism. I mean, if personal closeness to people of color were all it took to insulate oneself from a charge of racism then, by definition, male heterosexuality would be the perfect defense against charges of sexism: to wit, all straight men could answer allegations of misogyny, no matter how blatant, with a simple, “but I’m married to a woman!” every time they ogled a woman’s breasts in public, called a woman a bitch, claimed that women who get raped “probably asked for it,” or ruminated about how no woman should be president because of, ya know, that whole menstrual cycle thing.

Right Wing Hate

is on the rise ever since President Obama was elected.

The number of groups in the anti-government “Patriot” movement have sky rocketed 755 percent since President Barack Obama has been elected, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) yearly report found.

“These groups are becoming more and more aware as they watch the primary season unfold that Obama is fairly likely to win and some of them are having meltdowns over this,” Southern Poverty Law Center senior fellow Mark Potok told Raw Story. “They’re looking at four more years under a very hated black president — hated by them. So, we’re seeing signs of real anger over that. People saying we’re at war already, saying go out and buy AK-47s and hollow-point bullets, get tools to derail trains.”

Unlike traditional hate groups, “Patriot” groups subscribe to a set of conspiracy theories and see the government as their primary enemy

The fact that President Obama is very likely to be re-elected is not sitting well with them either:

If the president is successful in his re-election bid, Potok sees no reason that the dramatic growth will not continue.

“I think if Obama is re-elected, this is very likely to get worse before it gets better,” he said. “We’re already seeing signs of anger in groups that are coming to believe that Obama will probably win the election so they’re going a bit crazy out there.”

Hmm right wing crazy “patriot” groups……Where have I heard of them before???

Republican Humor?

Steve pointed out earlier that republicans and humor just don't mix. Unless of course you fill it with racism then that cracks the whole republican room up. Now we have Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s good friend and confidant Frank Luntz going to the racism well to win his right wing audience over…

Yes nothing funnier than talking about running over the president with your car…..

Can we please ban republicans from telling “jokes”?

H/T Raw Story.