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How the CBC Became Irrelevant

The Congressional Black Caucus is one of he most reliably Democrat organizations in politics. This has created a “go along to get along” mentality, which often fails to serve the black community has too often been the operational motif of the CBC. Part of that is due to a generational gap between the membership in the CBC and groups and organizations in the black community increasingly started and led by millennials, The other part of that dysfunction has to do with the Faustian bargain with conservative Republicans which essentially created “Black Zones”, principally concentrated in urban areas. A long term loosing proposition because of gentrification, and black flight to the suburban areas. Leaving the largest population of black folks in the US without representation, as black lawmakers respond to a steadily decreasing urban base, and urban issues.

On the flip side, the artificial gerrymandered whitening of the Districts surrounding urban areas provides ample fodder for white Republican candidates who cannot win in a district with above 20% minority population, and who are either diametrically opposed to the black/minority community, or see no political interest in serving it’s interests. Encouraging racial politics, and enabling a Republican majority in the House far beyond what any general vote totals would accord. The most egregious recent example of which is North Carolina.

The result of this is that the CBC ill serves those groups of black folks who either don’t live in the urban center, or whose educational, economic, and professional interests extend beyond asking for a welfare check. Ergo the very people driving black economic empowerment and inclusion into the social fabric of the nation. The very people who are the center of Color of Change and the BLM movements.

Another day, another Gala…

The Increasing Irrelevance of the Congressional Black Caucus

The group has failed to connect with young voters, which is not a good sign for its future.

On January 25, 1972, Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the United States Congress, announced her candidacy for president in a stump speech that sounded very much like those of today’s presidential candidates. Shetold the Brooklyn crowd, “I am not the candidate of any political bosses or fat cats or special interests. I stand here now without endorsements from many big name politicians or celebrities or any other kind of prop.” She also stood there without the support of the Congressional Black Caucus, which she helped found the previous year. The reason? Some of the CBC’s members thought Chisholm’s focus on gender and outreach to other groups subverted the caucus’s mission and explicit focus on race.

Four decades later, Representative Donna Edwards sought to become the first black senator from Maryland and only the second black woman ever elected to the body. Like Chisholm, she also did not enjoy the explicit support of the CBC. Edwards confronted CBC members, and they cited her “difficult nature” and failure to establish good relationships as reasons for not endorsing her. On Tuesday, Edwards lost her bid for the Senate seat in a close primary race that may have turned out differently if she’d received the endorsement from more members of the nation’s most powerful body of black legislators.

Among young African Americans, there is a growingsense that there are significant generational differences with the CBC and that the organization may have lost its conscience. Hillary Clinton has taken heat for the 1994 crime bill that led to the disproportionate incarceration of black people, but the bill was only assured passageonce the CBC withdrew its opposition. CBC members have clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters. And activists have criticized the CBC Political Action Committee, a separate but associated group, for the board’s ties to private prisons and big tobacco.

While some of these criticisms are valid, there is little question that the CBC is of immense value to African Americans and the nation at large. For decades, it’s been the organ through which the concerns of black Americans have entered the halls of Congress and the means by which policy victories have been delivered for disenfranchised minority communities. There is simply no doubting that the interests of black America remain central to the caucus’s aims. But there is also little doubt that the black electorate is changing, and the CBC will have to keep pace with this evolution if it wants to remain relevant to black Americans…

Protest is very much a part of the CBC’s character—many of today’s CBC members are contemporaries of the civil-rights movement. It would seem that today’s protest movements would be fertile ground for CBC goals. But many of today’s black activists are not as interested in what they see as respectability politics or dressing in their Sunday best for protests like their civil-rights-era predecessors. They are taking the stage whenever they choose and demanding that presidential candidates hear them. They are challenging leaders from previous generations, and some of those leaders don’t necessarily like it. In the black community, where eldership is revered, the boldness of today’s protesters has rubbed some CBC members the wrong way. Many black activists don’t care; they are less concerned with paying homage to elected officials and more interested in expedient policy outcomes…Read the Rest Here

 

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Why DC’s Metro Subway System Is Failing

One of the central destructive beliefs of right wingers is that the Government is evil. That and that somehow you can tax cut your way out of debt. That is about as stupid as saying I am jobless, so I don’t need my computer and the Internet. When Republicans control the House, which appropriates all the monies to run the Government – bad things happen. Having an inborn and irrational hatred of DC, that means that cuts and services to the region tend to go to hell in a handbasket.

One of the original designs for the DC Metro included Red Cars

The METRO Subway system is the second largest in the United States behind that of New York City. It carries 800,000 Passengers a day. 53% of those riders are Federal employees, and as such, the system is crucial to the day to day operation of the Federal Government, which actually “leases” all the Federal Grounds, including that of the White House, Capitol, Mall, and Federal Buildings in lieu of paying Taxes for city maintenance of roads, sewer, water, and City Services (Police/Fire). There is no Federal Fire and Rescue, although there are about 25,000 Federal “Police” of different types in the City – making the City have the highest number of Police per capita in the US…And perhaps the world. There are 28 separate police departments in DC, only 4 of which belong to the city.

 

  • DC Metropolitan PD (MPD)
  • US Marshals (DOJ)
  • DC Dept of Corrections
  • DC Public Library Police
  • DC Housing Authority Police
  • Metro Transit Police
  • Washington National Cathedral Police (one of my personal favorites)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Was…
  • DC Protective Services (another interesting agency http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dis…)
  • US Capitol Police
  • US Secret Service – Uniformed Division
  • Supreme Court Police
  • US Park Police
  • Bureau of Engraving and Printing Police
  • US Mint Police
  • Smithsonian Police
  • US State Dept Diplomatic Security Service
  • NCIS
  • Army Criminal Investigative Command
  • USAF Office of Special Investigation
  • US Coast Guard Investigative Service
  • US Postal Inspectors
  • FBI Police
  • Federal Protective Service (DHS)
  • Government Printing Office (GPO) Police
  • ATF
  • Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • DEA
  • Military Police

When there is a Republican majority in the House, there is a constant effort to submarine this system of payments, which includes payments to the METRO System to provide services supporting Federal Agencies. A number of the Subway stops on the METRO are where they are, specifically to serve clusters of Federal Buildings. which doesn’t get into all the special services provided to support Inaugurations, the Capitol security and Homeland.

There has been a Republican majority in the House since 2010

This doesn’t let systemic mismanagement at Metro off the hook – but is part (a BIG part) of the problem.

Congress to D.C.: We won’t ‘bail out’ Metro

House lawmakers made it clear that Congress won’t be cutting big checks to help the struggling transit agency.

Congress won’t be cutting big checks anytime soon to help D.C.’s troubled Metro system cover its operating costs, House lawmakers warned Wednesday.

A number of the 45 year old 1000 Series Cars are still running awaiting replacement

“I tell you: I am not going to bail you out,” shouted Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of a House Oversight transportation panel, during a hearing about the sometimes life-threatening safety and maintenance woes that forced a daylong shutdown of Metro’s rail system last month. He ripped into Metro officials, saying they had millions of dollars in funding on-hand but didn’t spend it as needed.

Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly fired back at Mica for trying to pin Metro’s financial burden on D.C., Maryland and Virginia, which help pay for the system’s operations. He noted the system’s benefit to the federal government.

“He says he doesn’t want a burden on his people,” Connolly said. “Well, I don’t want a burden on mine.”

At the hearing, Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans pleaded with lawmakers to boost their contribution to the beleaguered system’s operations account, which lacks a steady funding stream despite sprawling over three jurisdictions. Evans says the feds should contribute $300 million annually for operational needs.

The new 7000 Series cars feature better seating, more handholds for standing passengers, easily replaceable flooring, and a number of electronic features, Deploying them to replace the 50 year old original cars has been held up by budgeting.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has received congressional appropriations for capital projects since 2008, in addition to grant money from the Federal Transit Administration for upgrades, but typically gets no funding for running the system aside from fare revenues and its state and local government support.

Mica said Metro’s unliquidated balance as of mid-March was $783 million. WMATA officials couldn’t immediately verify that number.

Local lawmakers have generally trod carefully when talking about Congress’ role in boosting WMATA’s accounts, saying the agency should demonstrate a better safety record and command of its finances before getting more money from them. Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, has been key to securing $150 million annually since 2008 for capital projects at Metro, but the money can’t be used for operating expenses.

“When you do the math, your United States Senate and the taxpayers of America have provided over $1 billion for Metro,” Mikulski said Wednesday at a meeting with Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld before the House hearing. “So we not only want to know if we’ll be getting our money’s worth, but we really do care about the constituents and the riders — about what is going on.”

Evans said Metro’s high operating costs are in part due to its size — it’s the second-largest transit system in the United States. If Congress doesn’t increase its commitment to Metro, he said, “next time something happens, I’m blaming it on you guys.”

Referring to Mica’s complaint about nearly $800 million of unspent money, Wiedefeld said Metro can be under contract to receive major purchases — such as new buses or rail cars — and the cash doesn’t immediately flow out if, for example, it’s still waiting to receive the products. So the money has been obligated for specific projects.

“I just would urge you quickly to help dispel this myth of, you’re sitting on a lot of capital and you don’t know what to do with it,” Connolly said.

 

 

 

 

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DC Metro May Shut Down Major Lines for 6 Months

The nation’s second busiest subway system may have to shut down service for 6 months in what could be a catastrophic outage for a system which carries 800,000 passengers a day. Once the nation’s crown jewel system, the problems that have brought Metro’ Subway System low are an accumulation of problems over years. About half of the blame rests with how the system is funded, the other half is based on gross incompetence at the middle and senior management level of the Authority.

Metro or the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority is an odd duck in terms of organization due to the fact that a significant portion of it’s budget comes from the Government. Which means Congressional oversight and piddling in the affairs of the company. The Company’s ownership is spread across the 7 jurisdictions it serves in the Washington Metropolitan area, including the Federal Government. The Federal Government is a player here because 53% of the passengers on the system are Federal Employees. As everything from fares to which communities are served is regulated, the company is designed never to make a profit (or even break even), and each served municipality pays a proportional part of the actual operating budget each year.

In function, the Transit Agency works like a Federal Government entity – meaning there is no motivation of the employees to either improve service, to make systems operate more efficiently, or to cut costs…Ergo the old $10,000 Toilet Seat issue. Massive cost overruns are the norm. Massive project failures are the norm. The recent Silver Line expansion ballooned from $1 billion to $3 billion, in large part due to project being managed by the corrupt Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority – a situation created because of lack of faith that Metro could manage such a large project. I mean when the Federal Government is going o take over your local transit authority – not only are things truly f’d up… But they are going to get a lot worse.

While, like any big dollar enterprise, there are incidents of corruption – even to the highest levels of the management structure, there is no evidence of any major corruption issue, or that corruption is the reason behind the Authority’s failure. It really boils down to incompetence within almost the entire senior management structure at the company’s headquarters. As such, confusion, lack of vision, lack of will, turf fights, nepotism, and duplicate organizational functions are the order of the day. And to clarify a point, very little of “the problem” has to do with the rank and file customer facing employees who in general believe in the mission of serving the community and often will go above board to make things right.

Accepting Federal money means the involvement of Congress. It also means Federal Agency Oversight, which in typical form tries to solve problems at the weed level instead of systemic. It means getting whipsawed by political trade winds in Congress, being victim to corruption at the Congressional Level, and dealing with Congressional fingers in the pie at any time. Ergo the Republicans want the system to operate without tax dollars or a fare hike (It’s the same magic which destroyed some of their own states), and the Democrats want the system to operate as a social good vehicle.

A major shutdown of the system could entail putting 500,000 cars onto the Washington area’s already gridlocked streets. It will cost the Federal Government and private businesses Billions of dollars in lost work and revenue. As a Management Consultant who has done rescues, turnarounds and restructurings of companies, and a former employee of Metro, I have a pretty good idea about what needs to be done…And it isn’t initially going to be pretty.

Lengthy Shutdowns in Washington, D.C., Metro System Are Possible

Repairs to Washington’s aging subway could require the closure of entire rail lines for months at a time, the system’s chairman, Jack Evans, said Wednesday. At the very least, Mr. Evans said, riders should expect the closure of segments of individual lines for extended periods.

His remarks were the latest indication that the system, known as Metro, will be facing significant service disruptions as its management confronts financial and safety problems.

“If we are going to fix the infrastructure, we can’t do it three hours at night,” Mr. Evans, who is also a member of the D.C. Council, said at a symposium marking Metro’s 40th anniversary.

“There may be decisions where we have to close down whole lines and repair them, which are going to be very unpopular,” Mr. Evans added. “But the only way that we are going to get this system fixed is to make unpopular decisions.”

Metro officials already closed the system for a day earlier this month for an emergency safety inspection.

Mr. Evans called the system “maybe safe, somewhat unreliable, and being complained about by everybody,” and said that its health long-term requires increased — and a permanent — source of financing, like a regional sales tax and annual federal contributions.

Paul J. Wiedefeld, Metro’s general manager, will announce a systemwide maintenance plan in four to six weeks, a Metro spokesman, Dan Stessel, said Wednesday.

Mr. Wiedefeld, in his own remarks at the Wednesday meeting, said the scale of the transit agency’s woes required drastic measures.

“What we have been doing has not been working,” he said. “We cannot Band-Aid, we cannot paper over some of these issues.”

Both men’s remarks were first reported by The Washington Post.

 

 
 

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Republican Senator Puts Hold on Water Bill Designed to Combat Lead in Drinking Water

It only impacts black folks…Right.

The bill is designed around helping cities and towns with lead contamination…Not just Flint.

The portrait of yet another racist Republican asshat

Senator puts hold on lead bill, says Flint doesn’t need fed aid

A U.S. senator from Utah who put a hold on a bill to provide federal aid to Flint, Michigan, amid its water crisis said Friday he did so because the federal money is unneeded.

“The state of Michigan has an enormous budget surplus this year and a large rainy-day fund, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars,” Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican, said in a statement Friday.

“Gov. [Rick] Snyder has requested $200 million of that from the state legislature for Flint this year. Relief and repair efforts are already in the works,” Lee said. “The people and policymakers of Michigan right now have all the government resources they need to fix the problem.”

The residents of the city of nearly 100,000 were exposed to lead poisoning when the city switched water sources in a bid to save money. Lead poisoning can destroy brain tissue and cause irreversible developmental problems in children.

The $220 million bill would provide funds to help Flint and cities like it fix and replace lead pipes, as well as prevent and address lead poisoning.

Lee’s “hold” on the bill only stops the speedy consideration of a bill, and can be bypassed procedurally.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., a key sponsor of the bill, said she was surprised and disappointed that Lee would hold up a bipartisan measure that would “help communities across the country, including in his home state of Utah.” She said if Lee is opposed, he should vote against the bill rather than try and hold it up

Lee accused lawmakers of “political grandstanding” and of using the water crisis in Flint to send federal dollars to their home states.

As introduced, the legislation would provide $100 million in “drinking water state revolving funds” available to any state with a drinking water emergency; provide $70 million to back water infrastructure loans; and provide $50 million to prevent and address lead poisoning.

 

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9 Republicans Vote Against Naming a Post Office for Maya Angelou

Now…These were the guys a few years ago who were trying to name every rest stop and bat room on the nation’s interstate after Ronnie Raygun.

Yet another example of the racism, and racial pettiness of the Republican right…

Maya Angelou at Howard

9 Republicans Vote Against Naming Post Office After Maya Angelou

On Tuesday, several Republican members of the House of Representatives voted against renaming a post office in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, after Maya Angelou, an acclaimed writer and civil-rights activist. The measure ended up passing with 371 votes,with nine Republicans voting against the bill, and one voting present.

One lawmaker cited communism for his vote.

“Congressman Harris voted against the Maya Angelou post office naming because she was a communist sympathizer,” a spokeswoman for Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), told NBC News. “His parents escaped communism and he feels that he cannot vote to name a post office in the United States in honor of someone who supported the communist Castro revolution in Cuba.”

Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) said in a statement that “naming post offices is one of the most benign and bipartisan duties we perform in the House of Representatives, and there is rarely any opposition,” and that he was “shocked today as nine Republicans voted against naming a post office after Maya Angelou, indisputably one of our country’s greatest poets, authors and civil rights activists.”

Angelou, who passed away in 2014, left behind a legacy of fighting against segregation and apartheid. She also supported Democratic candidates such as Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama.

The other eight Republicans include congressmen Ken Buck (CO), Mo Brooks (AL), Michael Burgess (TX), Jeff Duncan (SC), Glenn Grothman (WI), Thomas Massie (KY), Alex Mooney (WV), and Steven Palazzo (MS).

An ongoing campaign in the area posting “not welcome” signs at local businesses for Andy Harris

 

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Candidates Draw Straws for Seat After Electoral Tie in Mississippi

Turns out that in the event of an electoral tie, where equal votes are cast for both candidates – some state allow a coin toss or drawing a straw to decide the matter. It is a lot less expensive than holding an entire new election. Perhaps an Act of God, or just sheer luck will save the state from going down the rabbit hole like Kansas and Louisiana with failed conservative economic policy. Mississippi is already the poorest state in the Union…At least the Rethugs don’t get to turn it into a 3rd world hell hole….Yet.

Democrat Wins Mississippi House Race After Drawing Straw

Candidates Tullos (l) and Eaton (2nd from l) Drawing Strawa

Sometimes American politics is about ideas, powered by Jeffersons and Adamses and Reagans. Sometimes it is about strategy, with races determined by the chess-match machinations of Axelrods and Roves.

But every once in a while, the fate of governments is determined by a considerably less eminent character, one usually found lurking in back-alley craps games and on the Vegas strip: Lady Luck.

In Mississippi on Friday, luck smiled on a Democratic state representative, Blaine Eaton II, who had been forced, by state law, to draw straws for his seat after his race for re-election ended in a tie. On Friday afternoon, in a short, strange ceremony here presided over by Gov. Phil Bryant and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Mr. Eaton and his Republican challenger, Mark Tullos, each removed a box from a bag. Mr. Eaton opened his box to reveal a long green straw.

And with that, a mathematically improbable tie for the House District 79 seat — each candidate had received exactly 4,589 votes — had been broken, though not by the voters.

Moments after winning, Mr. Eaton, who raises cattle and grows timber and soybeans, attributed his win to a farmer’s luck. “There’s always happiness in a good crop year,” he said.

An attorney for Mr. Tullos said that a challenge had been filed with the State House of Representatives. Mr. Tullos, a lawyer, declined to comment but had said he planned a challenge if he lost the draw. He had cited concerns about the way a county election board handled nine paper “affidavit ballots” filed by voters who believed their names were erroneously left off the voter rolls.

Resorting to a game of chance to break an electoral tie is common in many states, and coin tosses are often used to settle smaller local races. But in few instances had the pot as rich as this: If Mr. Tullos had won, his fellow Republicans would have gain a three-fifths supermajority in the State House of Representatives, the threshold required to pass revenue-related bills.

At stake, potentially, was hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue. The three-fifths requirement has allowed the Democratic minority to block Republican tax-cut proposals in the past on the grounds that Mississippi needs the revenue to finance schools and other services. Republicans, who also control the State Senate and governor’s mansion, say the cuts, including a proposal to phase out the state’s corporate franchise tax, will jump-start the economy and promote job growth….Read the Rest Here

 

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NRA Supports Selling Terrorists Guns

The whackjobs over at the NRA have truly gone off the deep end. If you are a terrorist…You can buy a gun in America! In fact, you can walk into a gun show, and by as many as you want.

Daily News Compares NRA To Jihadists On Front Page

The New York Daily News used its front page Wednesday to lash out at the National Rifle Association in a big way, comparing the powerful pro-gun group’s lobbying efforts to a “SICK JIHAD.”

“Over 2,000 suspects on terror watch list have legally bought firearms in the U.S. because gun nuts are blocking law that would end this madness,” the front page screamed.

The corresponding story — an editorial written by the paper’s staff — rips into the NRA and its “cowardly” supporters in Congress for blocking passage of the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in February by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Caf.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.):

Setting a new record for lethal insanity, Washington’s pro-gun absolutists insist that suspected terrorists must have an unfettered right to buy assault weapons rivaling those wielded by ISIS in Paris.

These members of Congress are radical fundamentalists of the Second Amendment kind, their extremism so intense that they stifle legislation aimed at denying weapons to potentially violent radicals while at the same time declaring that Syrian refugees, even toddlers, are security threats.

Although felons, domestic abusers, drug addicts and others are prohibited from buying firearms in the U.S., those on the FBI’s consolidated terrorist watch list are not currently disallowed from doing so. According to the Government Accountability Office, people on the watch list purchased guns 2,043 times between 2004 and 2014. …Read the rest Here

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2015 in Domestic terrorism

 

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