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Obama And Misty Copeland Have a Talk

Misty Copeland quite simply is the best Ballerina in America right now, and perhaps the world. To reach that pinnacle with the American Ballet, she had to overcome a lot of obstacles beyond that of just having the physical and artistic talent including race and body image. Ballet dancers at this level also are incredible athletes, at the level of he most demanding professional sports.

Growing up, I thought that Ballet, like the Opera and Classical Music were things for old white people…Until I got to see the Bolshoi perform in Moscow in their heyday in the early 70’s. The beauty and artistic form was breathtaking. In those days, the old communist government began training the dancers in state schools at 3 years old. Those that survived the brutal regimen were quite simply miles better than anything else in the world in the dance form.

BTx3 is saving his pennies for that ultimate trip to NY to see Hamilton and Misty.

Misty Copeland And President Obama Sit Down To Talk About Race

The two discussed activism, body image, gender and success.

On Feb. 29, President Barack Obama and ballerina Misty Copeland sat down with Time reporter Maya Rhodan to talk about race, gender and success in their respective careers.

While one currently resides at the White House and the other can often be found rehearsing in the storied halls of the American Ballet Theatre, they’ve encountered similar setbacks and triumphs, whether they’re talking about the body image ideals of classical ballet or the way social media is used by political activists today.

This week, Essence Magazine is running a three-part video series that gives a peek inside the White House Cabinet room, where the interview took place. The clips show Copeland, a member of the presidential Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, and Obama discussing Black Girl Magic, Black Lives Matter, and the realities of raising two African American women today.

Here are 11 of the best quotes from the interview:

On the Power Of Athleticism

“As a father of two daughters, seeing how images of strong athletic accomplished women carry over, and encouraging them in sports and dance and how they move physically, it turns out that every study shows that young girls who are involved in sports, dance, athletics end up having more confidence generally.” —Barack Obama

On Humility

“For all the blessings and privileges and responsibilities that I’ve gotten, I’m just representing a huge cross section of people who are talented and capable and supported me getting to where I came from.” — BO

On Race

“A lot of what I’ve experienced has not always been to my face, or it’s been very subtle. But it’s in a way that I know what’s going on and I feel it deep inside of me. And I, being the only African American in almost every environment in terms of classical ballet, it weighs on you and it wears on you after a while […] I think that being African American has definitely been a huge obstacle for me. But it’s also allowed me to have this fire inside of me that I don’t know if I would have or have had if I weren’t in this field.” — Misty Copeland

On the Future of Ballet

“I think that being in this position and showing that I can execute and do all of these things, that it’s possible to have any skin complexion, to have a healthy body image for the ballerina body. I think it’s given me more of a voice. And it’s I think forcing a lot of these top tier companies to address the lack of diversity and diversifying the bodies that we’re seeing in classical ballet. It’s really forcing that conversation to be had.” — MC

On Black Girl Magic

“To use social media to have a positive impact on our generation is huge […] to have movements like Black Girl Magic, I think it couldn’t be more positive for a young black girl to see that it’s okay to be yourself, it’s okay to not have to transform and look like what you may see on the cover of a lot of magazines. That you are beautiful, that it’s possible to succeed in any field that you want to, looking the way that you do.” — MC

On Social Media

“Well social media obviously is the way in which young people are receiving information in general. So the power of young activists to help shape color and politics through things like Black Lives Matter, which I think is hugely important. And when I think about the journey I’ve traveled, there’s no doubt that young African America, Latino, Asian, LGBT youth, they have more role models. They have more folks that they can immediately identify with.” — BO

On Mentorship

“I hope that there are young men of color who are looking at me and saying, I can aspire to be the president, or a senator, or a community organizer and make change in my neighborhoods. But if they are locked out of opportunity, and in neighborhoods where even if I’m on television, there are no men in their neighborhoods who’ve got jobs that are able to support a family, then you’ve still got problems.” — BO

On Opportunity

“You know, being the only African American at this level in American Ballet Theatre, I feel like people are looking at me, and it’s my responsibility for me to do whatever I can to provide these opportunities in communities to be able to educate them. And if that means having a program just for black dancers to allow them to have the same opportunity that generations and generations of white dancers have had, it’s necessary.” — MC

On Teaching Kids about Race

“You know, I mean I think about this now as a parent. Michelle and I are having a lot of conversations around the dinner table. And for me, what I always try to transmit to my kids is that issues of race, discrimination, tragic history of slavery and Jim Crow, all those things are real. And you have to understand them and you have to be knowledgeable about them. And recognize that they didn’t stop overnight. Certainly not just when I was elected.” — BO

On Divisions

“Part of what I think successful social movements have involved is having a certain righteous anger about injustices being done to you, but also understanding that people who are on the other side of this, they’ve got their own history and their own circumstances. And you have to understand that, and you have to recognize that each of us has some good and some bad in is. And that’s not an excuse, but what it does do is it gives us an opportunity then to have a conversation and to reach across the divide.” — BO

On Education

“Well, you know, I spend most of my time thinking about institutions. And there’s no doubt, even though it’s a cliché that the single biggest difference we can make is making sure that our kids get a good education. We can do a lot to keep the economy moving forward, we can do a lot to make sure that we’re enforcing our nondiscrimination laws. We can do a lot more to open up people’s perspective about who belongs where. And press to make sure that we have more women CEOs, and more African American film directors. And more Latino police officers. And all those things are important. But the foundation that all this depends is making sure that on the front end, when these little babies are born and start to get curious about the world and are like sponges, that we are giving them the kind of education and the nurturing that they need. So that they’re off to a good start. And that involves an imaginative leap, a moral leap on the part of the society as a whole that says every kid should get a genuine opportunity and we’re willing to put money behind it, and we’re willing to invest in that to break cycles of poverty.” —  BO

Misty performing solo

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Posted by on March 15, 2016 in Giant Negros


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Obama To Live in DC Area After Term is Over

Well…At least he won’t have any problem finding a home, and he possibly will be the first former President since George Washington to actually live in the area.

Daughter Will Keep the Obamas in Washington

After years of speculation, President Obama confirmed on Thursday that he and his wife, Michelle, intend to remain in Washington for “a couple of years” after his term ends.

It has been decades since a president stayed in the capital after leaving office. But Mr. Obama said during a visit here that “we’re going to have to stay” in Washington until his younger daughter, Sasha, finishes school.

“Transferring someone in the middle of high school — tough,” the president said in response to a question from a woman at a restaurant here.

Sasha is on track to graduate from the exclusive Sidwell Friends School in the spring of 2019. Mr. Obama said he was unsure where the family would move after that.

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Posted by on March 4, 2016 in Giant Negros


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How Obama’s Supreme Court Pick May Turn the Election

One of the most frustrating things about the Obama Presidency is the unwillingness or inability to deal from a position of strength against the far right. Issue comes up…Obama caves. Issue comes up…Obama caves.Issue comes up…Obama caves. Often before the issue is even joined in any substantive debate.

As such I view with great trepidation the potential selection of Nevada Republican Governor Brian Sandoval. I would find it very hard to vote for someone who put yet another Republican on the Court to potentially re-establish the 5-4 majority.Further, any decision to do so impacts the candidacy of Hillary Clinton more than Bernie Sanders worse than that of Bernie Sanders in that she has tied her campaign in close alignment with Obama’s Administration. Another Republican on the court means the support and continuation of the mass incarceration policies set forth by Bill Clinton which have devastated black low income neighborhoods, and no structural realignment of the court in any significant issue relative to the well being of Minority citizens.

I’m sorry, but I can’t see any possibility in voting for – and I’ll appropriate a Republican term here…A DINO.

Obama weighs Republican for Supreme Court

President Barack Obama is considering appointing a moderate Republican to the Supreme Court, a source close to the process said on Wednesday, but leaders in the Republican-led Senate held firm to their threat to block anyone he nominates.

The source said Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican and former federal judge, was among the possible candidates.

As governor, Sandoval has taken a traditional Republican stance in support of gun rights, but his more moderate views on social issues, such as abortion rights, could make him an attractive choice for the Democratic president.

A 52-year-old Mexican-American, Sandoval was appointed a judge by Republican George W. Bush, Obama’s predecessor, before being elected governor in 2010. He abandoned his state’s legal defense of a same-sex marriage ban before the Supreme Court declared such bans unconstitutional last year.

The Feb. 13 death of long-serving conservative Justice Antonin Scalia created a vacancy on the nine-seat court and ignited a political fight. Republicans are maneuvering to foil Obama’s ability to choose a replacement who could tilt the court to the left for the first time in decades. Scalia’s death left the court with four liberals and four conservatives.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday the Senate will not hold hearings or vote on any Supreme Court nominee until the next president takes office in January 2017, following the Nov. 8 presidential election. Republicans hope to win back the White House then.

The Senate must confirm any high court nominee, but McConnell remained unswayed even with word that Obama was considering the Republican Sandoval for the job.

“This nomination will be determined by whoever wins the presidency in the fall,” McConnell said.

Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee that would hold any confirmation hearings, concurred, saying, “It’s the principle, not the person.”

The White House said it was hoping for a meeting with Grassley and his committee’s top Democrat, Patrick Leahy. A McConnell aide said McConnell was trying to schedule a meeting with Obama to reiterate his opposition to any nominee…

Some liberal groups expressed alarm that Sandoval would be considered. Charles Chamberlain of the group Democracy for America called it “downright absurd” that Obama would risk his legacy by appointing “another anti-labor Republican” to an already pro-big business Supreme Court.

Sandoval opposed Obama’s healthcare law, but opted to expand his state’s Medicaid health insurance program for the poor under the measure, breaking from a number of Republican governors who refused to do so.

He expressed support for bipartisan immigration legislation that passed the Senate in 2013 before dying in the House of Representatives amid Republican opposition.

In 2013, Sandoval vetoed legislation to require background checks on all Nevada gun sales. Last year, he signed a law backed by the National Rifle Association that expanded the defenses for justifiable homicide and repealed a local ordinance that required handgun registration…Read The Rest Here

Demo Yellow Donkey

Yellow back Donkey Award!


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Uncle Ben Claims to be “Authentically Black”

This is indeed funny! The whitest black man in the Republican Party wanting to play blacker then thou.

I gave a speech once at a management retreat of 2,000 of the Senior Executives of a major corporation I worked for at the time. At the time in the mid-80’s I was the only black person in the room, and there was only one other minority (an Asian friend I had recruited), and maybe 5 women.

I damn sure didn’t do the speech in ghetto slang.

Ghetto Ben Carson – “Straight out of his ass”

In order to communicate and work in environments in which black folks are a small minority (and to rise in the ranks) black folks do something sociologists call “code switching”. In other words, if you talk like little Tanaweekaschwanbelle – then your career opportunities are limited to shuffling mail in the mail room. It may seem unfair until you understand that white boys talking like back woods crackers usually(AKA White Trash) don’t make it much farther. Black executives, and especially senior black executives in vast majority are extremely well spoken. Ditto for Asians, Hispanics…

Uncle Ben is no exception. He is a full participant and extremist advocate of “Acting white”. I worked with the good doctors at Hopkins at one point, and “Gimmie dat thang” in the OR is about the fastest way I know of to get your medical card pulled.

Uncle Ben here is about 180 degrees out from the truth. Obama was raised by normal, decent white folks – an really didn’t understand the southern racist mentality of white, low class Republicans. Neither does Uncle Ben.

Ben Carson: Obama ‘Raised White,’ Doesn’t Understand Black Americans

Ben Carson said Tuesday that President Obama was “raised white” and can’t understand the African-American experience the way he can.

“He’s an ‘African’ American. He was, you know, raised white,” he told a Politico podcast. “I mean, like most Americans, I was proud that we broke the color barrier when he was elected, but … he didn’t grow up like I grew up … Many of his formative years were spent in Indonesia. So, for him to, you know, claim that, you know, he identifies with the experience of black Americans, I think, is a bit of a stretch.”

The Republican presidential candidate finished sixth out of six in South Carolina; after peaking in November, he’s been polling at the bottom of the pack and struggling to turn supporters into voters. Carson’s rags-to-riches journey from impoverished the inner city of Detroit to an internationally renowned career as a pediatric neurosurgeon first got him on the national stage, but it’s this kind of inflammatory criticism of the president that got him on the radar of conservatives nationally and drafted him to run for president.

Carson long dismissed questions about race as divisive and downplayed his own race, but in these final days he’s dug into race as a campaign issue, running ads against affirmative action in South Carolina and condemning black crime as “a crisis” that only he knows how to overcome.

These attacks are nothing new: critics have been arguing that the president is too black – or not black enough – since he appeared on the political stage. Rupert Murdoch came under fire earlier last year for suggesting that Carson could be the “real black President who can properly address the racial divide,” while Rush Limbaugh has argued that Obama “disowned” his white side.

The president himself has addressed the issue at length.

“Sometimes African Americans, in communities where I’ve worked, there’s been the notion of “acting white”—which sometimes is overstated, but there’s an element of truth to it, where, okay, if boys are reading too much, then, well, why are you doing that? Or why are you speaking so properly?” he said in the summer of 2014. “And the notion that there’s some authentic way of being black, that if you’re going to be black you have to act a certain way and wear a certain kind of clothes, that has to go.”




Posted by on February 23, 2016 in Black Conservatives


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Calling Bulls**t on the Congressional Black Caucus

The battle over the replacement for deceased SC Justice Scalia has nothing to do with race…

And a hell of a lot to do with the politics of which side of the political spectrum controls the Supreme Court, and get away with (or stop) criminal actions like Bush v Gore and Citizen’s United.

So while more than few of the Republican conservatives who are fighting against Obama replacing Scalia may indeed be racists – that is not the driving reason for the fight.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield, (D-N.C.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus

Black Lawmakers Say GOP Supreme Court Obstruction Is Racist

“It’s more than a political motive — it has a smell of racism.”

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said that the backlash President Barack Obama currently faces around naming a Supreme Court nominee would never happen to a white president.

Speaking to The New York Times, Butterfield took issue with conservative comments in the wake of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Several GOP politicians have said the vacancy shouldn’t be filled until a new president is in the White House.

“It’’s more than a political motive — it has a smell of racism,” Butterfield said.

“I can tick instance after instance over the last seven years where Republicans have purposely tried to diminish the president’s authority,” Butterfield continued. “This is just really extreme, and leads me to the conclusion that if this was any other president who was not African-American, it would not have been handled this way.”

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said he agreed with the chairman’s comments.

“It is extremely alarming, and most African-Americans — and many others — believe that there is race involved in these pronouncements by the Republicans,” he said Thursday morning.

“The GOP has consistently tried to demean this president,” he added. “They have attacked him for everything from the color of suit he wears, to the Affordable Care Act — which they were for at one time.”

GOP senators, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have said they won’t even consider any nominee put forward by Obama because they want to let the next White House occupant choose — hoping, of course, that a Republican wins the presidential election.

Democrats, however, have hit back hard, publicly shaming Republicans for declaring their intent to obstruct in advance. And a few Republicans have started to break from the party line and say they’d be willing to vote on a nominee.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also implied that racism was in play this week, saying that Republicans are making statements about Obama as if “he wasn’t a real president.”

“Many Republicans talk in coded racial language about takers and losers. They demonize President Obama and encourage the ugliest impulses of the paranoid fringe,” Clinton said at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture earlier this week in Harlem. “This kind of hatred and bigotry has no place in our politics or our country.”


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Why Obama Needs to Nominate a Liberal Judge

Obama hopefully has gotten to the stage to cut the crap about making peace with Republican bigots. The New Jim Crow was subsidized and supported by the 5-4 conservative court.

As to Scalia’s Lawn Ornament…

The Human Toll of Antonin Scalia’s Time on the Court

Blacks, Latinos, and poor whites suffered because of his draconian approach to criminal punishment.

In the days since Antonin Scalia’s death, he has been duly recognized as one of the most impactful justices in the Supreme Court’s history. A critical part of his troubling legacy has long been staring us in the face, although it finally started receiving the public scrutiny it deserves in recent years. As draconian punishments became the norm over the last three decades, the Supreme Court largely rubber-stamped these practices. Justice Scalia played a key role in this process, as his hardline stances on criminal punishment significantly contributed to mass incarceration, numerous executions, and systemic racial discrimination. Scalia was an outspoken supporter of harsh punishments and wanted the court to take an even more hands-off attitude toward so-called “tough on crime” laws.

Not long after he made it onto the court in 1986, Scalia’s influence on these issues began to be felt. In McCleskey v. Kemp, one of the first cases he heard, anti-death penalty advocates brought compelling evidence of pervasive racial discrimination in Georgia’s administration of capital punishment. A sophisticated statistical study demonstrated that sentencing was tied to the race of the victim and offender. All other factors being equal, blacks who killed whites were the likeliest to receive a death sentence. Justice Scalia was unfazed. During oral arguments, he derisivelyasked: “What if you do a statistical study that shows beyond question that people who are naturally shifty-eyed are to a disproportionate extent convicted in criminal cases, does that make the criminal process unlawful?”

John Charles Boger, who represented the black death-row prisoner in McCleskey, responded by pointing to the obvious: “This is not some sort of statistical fluke or aberration. We have a century-old pattern in the state of Georgia of animosity [toward black-Americans].” Scalia and four other justices nonetheless chose to analyze discrimination out of its social context, including in cases from Southern states with a lengthy history of slavery, segregation, and lynchings.

Scalia was in the majority as the court held that statistical proof of systemic discrimination in the death penalty is irrelevant. A defendant must instead prove intentional discrimination in his own case, an almost impossible standard without considering systemic patterns. Many experts consider McCleskey among the worst Supreme Court decisions of all-time. It largely closed the door to statistical evidence as a means of challenging systemic discrimination in criminal punishment.

Scalia would also play a significant role as the Supreme Court licensed ruthless sentences leading America to world record incarceration levels. He wrote the operative part of the influential Harmelin decision, a 1991 plurality opinion holding that the Eighth Amendment ban on “cruel and unusual punishments” does not require that a prison sentence be “proportional” to the crime. The court thus upheld a life-sentence for cocaine possession.

Scalia again was in the majority in Lockyer v. Andrade, a 2003 case upholding a 50-year-to-life sentence under California’s three-strikes-law for a man who shoplifted videotapes worth $153 because he had prior convictions for petty theft, burglary, and transporting marijuana. Erwin Chemerinsky, who zealously represented the prisoner,was in tears as the media asked him about his reaction to the court’s inhumane decision.

McCleskey, Harmelin, and Lockyer were all 5–4 decisions that could have been decided otherwise if Scalia had thought differently. Naturally, he was not a swing vote but a sure one for harsh justice.

While the justices might not have been able to stop mass incarceration singlehandedly, they definitely could have limited it. Indeed, the court’s belated decision in Brown v. Plata, has contributed to reducing California’s incarceration rate. In this 2011 case, the court ordered California to reduce its dramatically overcrowded prison population because “depriv[ing] prisoners of basic sustenance, including adequate medical care, is incompatible with the concept of human dignity.” In a vehement dissent, Scalia charged that this was “a judicial travesty” and that the majority was “wildly” overstepping its authority.

Similarly, he fiercely dissented in other rare cases where the court decided to check ruthless punishments. If it had been up to Scalia, it would still be constitutional to execute mentally retarded people or teenagers, not to mention sentence teenagers to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for homicide or any other crime.

This aspect of his legacy has been overshadowed by the common misconception that “at least Scalia was quite fair to criminal defendants.” To his credit, he concluded in several procedural cases that juries, not judges, must decide if all facts leading to harsher punishment are proved beyond reasonable doubt. In various other cases, he found that police searches went too far. But these are exceptions. He regularly took an extremely narrow view of due process, such as when he argued that the Constitution does not create “a right to demand judicial consideration of newly discovered evidence of innocence.” Scalia further suggested that executing an innocent person would not be unconstitutional per se. More than 1,300 prisonerswere executed while Scalia was on the Supreme Court though he was persuaded that his colleagues created unjust procedural hurdles to executions by baselessly expanding the rights of death row prisoners.

Had Scalia had his way, far more people would have been executed during his tenure and the court would have adopted an even more accommodating approach to mass incarceration. In his view, merciless punishments were just deserts for “evildoers.” Hescoffed when fellow justices advanced a more nuanced view of criminal behavior or occasionally suggested that draconian punishments were dehumanizing. He was certain that the court already cared too much about people who faced the death penalty or endless prison sentences. Justices who disagreed with him were judicial activists who refused to defer to elected branches of government. Of course, Scalia did not do so himself in multiple cases. Tellingly, he voted to strike down campaign finance legislation in Citizens United. He likewise voted twice, unsuccessfully, in favor of eviscerating the democratically enacted Affordable Care Act…More Here


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Adding Some Color to the Supreme Court Bench

Leading candidates for President Obama’s nomination for the seat recently vacated. Most of these candidates are considered “moderates” which is a bit of a negative. I would like to see some strong liberals to bust up the last 20 years of far-right wing hegemony on the court. Because confirmation of any judge breaking up the Conservative 5 Cabal is going to be resisted by Republicans, Obama may not decide to try and compromise with the Republicans anymore and (hopefully) ram a truly liberal candidate down their throats like Goodwin Liu . These are in no particular order.


Paul Watford: Watford, 48, was confirmed to the Ninth Circuit in 2012. He clerked for prominent conservative judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit as well as for liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Watford, who is African-American, is also considered a moderate.

Sri Srinivasan: The 48-year-old D.C. Circuit Judge is considered a moderate. His unanimous confirmation to the federal appeals court for D.C. in 2013 was the first confirmation to that court in seven yearsthanks to what NPR’s Nina Totenberg called “huge bipartisan support in the legal community.” Srinivasan, who clerked for former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, has argued before the Supreme Court two dozen times (including arguments against the Defense of Marriage Act) and served in both the Bush and Obama administrations. During his nomination, senator and current Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz called him a longtime friend, and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch called him “terrific.” Srinivasan, who was born in India and grew up in Kansas, is the first-ever South Asian circuit court judge.

Merrick Garland: A Chicago native, Merrick Garland was appointed to the D.C. Circuit Court in 1995 to replace a longtime Windy City mentor of President Obama’s, Abner Mikva. His nomination was held up for two years by Senate Republicans over mostly technical issues. Senator Orrin Hatch, the Republican committee chair at the time, called Garland a “good nominee.” And since arriving on the bench, he has proved to be anything but controversial as a justice. Ed Whelan, a former Bush Justice Department official and adviser to Senate Republicans on judicial issues, calls Merrick “the best that conservatives could reasonably hope for from a Democratic President.”

Jacqueline Nguyen: Nguyen, in her early 50s, is a judge on the Ninth Circuit. Her confirmation in 2009 was unanimous. Nguyen was born in Vietnam, and her family fled to the U.S. when she was 10. Her appellate court nomination announcement from the White House notes that they lived at a refugee camp in California before settling in Los Angeles.

Kamala D. Harris: Unlike the other names so far on this list, Harris isn’t an appellate judge: she’s a politician and the current Attorney General of California. Harris, 51, is the first woman, first African-American and first South Asian to hold her current post. “Her mother was a breast cancer researcher from India, her Jamaican father taught economics at Stanford,” NPR’s Richard Gonzales reported in 2012. “As a young prosecutor, Harris cut her teeth on cases of homicide, domestic violence and sex slavery. Later, at San Francisco’s district attorney, she doubled her predecessor’s conviction rate and she talked about being smart on crime.”

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Posted by on February 14, 2016 in News, Stupid Republican Tricks


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