Interesting viewpoint – that it isn’t individual “bad cops” who are racist that is the problem, but an entire system of embedded beliefs and training that id racist.
Interesting viewpoint – that it isn’t individual “bad cops” who are racist that is the problem, but an entire system of embedded beliefs and training that id racist.
What we are beginning to see is BLM move into the political space as a method of promoting the values and issues the organization supports. A new generation of politicians not tied to the 60’s Civil Tights establishment. Making the government accountable covers a lot more ground than just stopping Police violence. Go for it!
Tishaura Jones is running to “uproot racism” just a few miles from the streets where Michael Brown was murdered.
Most political candidates would do just about anything to win the endorsement of their largest hometown newspaper, but Tishaura O. Jones knows that the old rules are rigged—and ripe for revision.
The 44-year-old city treasurer, Black Lives Matter advocate, and labor-backed progressive is running to be the next mayor of St. Louis. Last month, she declined to sit down for a standard candidate interview with the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Instead, in a stroke of gutsy defiance, she wrote a searing open letter to the newspaper’s leadership in which she criticized its coverage of poverty and racism in the city and laid out her own bold political platform.
“I had a Fannie Lou Hamer moment,” Jones says, referring to the iconic Southern civil-rights activist. “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Specifically, as her letter lays out, she was sick and tired of the way the Post-Dispatch leadership seemed to blame poor and struggling residents for St. Louis’s woes, attributing its problems to racially coded issues like “blight” and “graffiti.” She was sick and tired of the paper’s “thinly veiled racism and preference for the status quo past.” She wanted no part of it.
“What is killing our city is poverty…,” she wrote. “What is killing our region is a systemic racism that pervades almost every public and private institution, including your newspaper, and makes it nearly impossible for either North St. Louis or the parts of South St. Louis where African Americans live to get better or safer or healthier or better-educated.”
Jones believes she can begin to change all that. And she detailed a plan to do so in her unsparing letter, which quickly went viral and helped infuse her candidacy with a last-minute boost of money and populist energy. As she enters the final days of her primary run, she hopes that energy will be enough to propel “the people’s candidate,” as she calls herself, one crucial step closer to the city’s highest office.
Jones’s campaign, set against the backdrop of the murder of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, is further evidence that the movements against mass incarceration, police brutality, and entrenched racism are holding the line at the local level. Should she win, her success would offer reassurance that the progressive flame can still burn hot in City Hall, despite the reactionary white-supremacist agenda ascendant at the White House.
Indeed, most grassroots progressive groups in St. Louis back Jones’s candidacy, says Kennard Williams, a community organizer with the nonprofit Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, or MORE, which is currently leading a campaign against mass incarceration, called Decarcerate STL, in the city.
Jones’s record, her ideas and her rhetoric, he says, have earned her endorsements from organizations like MORE, the SEIU Missouri State Council, the St. Louis Action Council, and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, as well as dozens of Black Lives Matter, civil-rights, and community activists in the city. Mobilize Missouri, a statewide coalition of grassroots activists that emerged out of the Bernie Sanders campaign, endorsed her in mid-February.
“People understand that she is the best option,” Williams adds. “She is the only candidate to come out and trash on our criminal-justice system, to acknowledge there is a problem with this system and that we can’t keep operating it this way.”
In her letter to the Post-Dispatch, for instance, Jones pledged to “look at every issue through a racial equity lens” and to advocate for people who have been “disenfranchised, red-lined and flat-out ignored for way too long.”
One sees this approach in her past work. During her innovative tenure as city treasurer, a normally staid political office, she launched a program to open college savings accounts for every kindergartner in St. Louis and seed each account with $50 drawn from parking fees. She also created an Office of Financial Empowerment, which provides free financial education and credit-counseling services.
As mayor, Jones says she would expand such programs. Her agenda, though, goes far beyond that.
She intends, for instance, to close once and for all the city’s notorious Workhouse, a jail that some activists have likened to a debtors’ prison. In her open letter, Jones described the facility as a “rat hole.” If she succeeds in shuttering it, she says she will funnel the budget savings to reentry programs, mental-health services, and substance-abuse centers.
“We have advocated shutting down the Workhouse for a couple years now,” says Williams, who helps spearhead MORE’s campaign against mass incarceration. “Her plan falls perfectly in line with what we are trying to do.”
Jones supports the placement of social workers in the city’s police department, the establishment of a $15 minimum wage, and the creation of a Tenants Bill of Rights to help protect poor and working-class renters from predatory landlords. She plans to eliminate the St. Louis cash-bail system too.
“Cash bail has a domino effect on low income families,” she says. “If someone is in jail because they can’t afford to pay a cash bail, then they may lose their jobs, and from there it becomes a downward spiral.”
If Jones’s campaign prevails, if she beats out six other Democrats in the March 7 primary as well the inevitable Republican opponent in the April 4 general election, the Black Lives Matter movement will clearly, finally, have an unequivocal ally at City Hall.
“St. Louis is the epicenter of Black Lives Matter,” says Jones. “As I wrote in my letter, after that tragic incident in Ferguson, we woke up, black people woke up, and we have seen more civic and political activity from young people than we have ever seen before. I want to make sure that we are amplifying their voices. I want to make sure we are giving them a seat at the table.”
“Uprooting racism,” she contends, “has to be the number-one priority.”
This election was hacked. Votes were moved or erased in about 4 states to produce an Trump electoral win. What is interesting here is the anticipated Hispanic tidal wave turned into a trickle. All those new registrations failed to produce matching votes.
Media exit polls in last Tuesday’s election suggested Democrats were going to win the White House and the Senate, yet the reported vote counts brought a GOP landslide. While theories abound about what happened, election integrity activists say the exit poll descrepancy underscores the need for a far more transparent and accountable process. AlterNet’s Steven Rosenfeld interviewed Jonathan Simon, a longtime exit poll sleuth and author of Code Red: Computerized Election Theft and the New American Century. Simon explains why exit polls are a critical clue in the breakdown of the voting process.
Steven Rosenfeld: Let’s start by telling people about your involvement with election integrity and tracking exit polls.
Jonathan Simon: I’ve been working in this field which we call election forensics for about 15 years, since the 2000 election. Certainly things kicked in with the 2004 election and the exit polls there. I was actually the person who downloaded the exit polls that were left up on the CNN website which then made it possible to compare the unadjusted exit polls—and we can explain that in a bit—but comparing the exit polls with the vote counts and show through all those disparities that there was reason to suspect possibly manipulation of the vote counts.
It has deep roots and basically looking at every election since has found varying, but at the same time, fairly pervasive patterns of what we call the “red shift” and where the exit polls are to the west of the vote counts. We track that, we record it and we attempt to analyze it and get some sort of handle on what has caused it as a phenomenon. Then we look at all sorts of forensic data, accumulative vote share, tables and hand counts where we can find them. I’ve always been particularly conscientious about trying to take whatever baseline we’re using and validate that baseline, so that if we have an exit poll for instance, we try to make sure something that has been skewed by over-sampling one party or over-sampling people of color or something to that effect and validate it by that.
We try as carefully as we can. I’ve been doing this pretty steadily now for the last 15 years along with some of my colleagues, and I would be the first to acknowledge that there is a lot of smoke there and there’s a lot of probative value to this work, but that bringing it forth as ironclad proof is very problematic. So we’re stuck at a place where I pivoted to is looking at the risk involved in having a computerized, privatized, unobservable vote counting system and just taking on faith that that system is not being manipulated when there is such a obvious vulnerability (on which the experts strongly agree) of the system to malfeasance and manipulation. That is where I’ve tended to go, is to look at that risk rather than screaming fraud from the rooftops and claiming proof.
SR: Let’s go through this piece by piece, because it’s a lot for people to really understand. You get the raw state-by-state exit polls that are commissioned by a big consortium of national media organizations. What did you find this year, that happened this week? What do you see in the raw data?
JS: Of course, we don’t get the raw data. The raw data would be… we have three definitions here. There’s raw data, which is the actual questionnaires and the simple numerical toning up of answers on the questionnaire. That is never publicly released. It’s if you want to characterize it as such, it’s what’s inside the sausage of exit polls, and we are not privileged to see that. I’ve had one opportunity in my life through an inside source to actually look at some of the raw data, but that’s a very rare thing. It’s not generally accessible to the public. Many of us have clamored for the public release of that raw data, certainly in the aftermath of the 2004 election and have been denied it.
Then there is the weighted exit poll data and that’s what the exit pollsters put out as soon as the polls close. This has been demographically weighted to their best approximation of what the electorate looked like and it is very valuable information. That’s what I was able to download in 2004 and that’s what I was able to download in many of the elections since, and that’s what I was able to download this Tuesday.
Then you have adjusted exit polls and what happens is they take the vote counts as they come in and they use the term as the art of “forcing,” they force the exit polls to [be] congruent with that vote count data so that by the end of the night or by the next morning when you have your final vote counts and final exit polls the exit polls and the vote counts will match, but that’s only because in essence they’ve been forced to match the vote counts.
SR: I’m looking at the New York Times website right now, at its election 2016 exit polls interactive. What are the totals then that I’m seeing?
JS: I’m not looking at the New York Times. I’ve pulled these off of CNN and I’m also looking at MSNBC. Because the firm that does this, Edison, contracts with the consortium of major networks and then has some lesser clients such as the New York Times. When I say lessor, they’re still very major clients, they just don’t have the prime membership that these five networks and the AP have, but all these major clients get the same feed of weighted exit poll data.
What you’re probably looking at now would be adjusted exit polls and they’re very close to, if not congruent with the vote counts. But if you had looked up Tuesday night, for instance, if a poll closed at 7pm Eastern Time and you had gone online to a network site at 7:01pm Eastern Time, what you would have seen at that point was a weighted poll that had not yet been adjusted to match the vote counts. They would tell you the number of respondents. They’d give you all the cross tabs, by which I mean broken down by gender, age, income, party affiliation, usually 30 to 40, sometimes 50 questions … Pretty detailed stuff that indicated how each subgroup of the polled population had answered these various questions.
Some of those questions are demographic questions: What is your race? What is your income level? What party do you identify with? Who did you vote for in the last election? etc., etc. … Then there are the current choice questions. Who did you just vote for this evening and/or this afternoon? Those are all presented in sort of a scroll fashion. You can pull that up on all these websites.
However, they will change over time as the vote counts come in. That’s why we screen-capture these initial public postings, because that contains the purest information in terms of not relying on the vote counts and if we’re approaching this with a certain amount of suspicion of the vote counts we’re trying to verify or validate the vote counts we want exit polls that are independent as possible from the actual vote count data, which then becomes blended in as the evening goes on from the time the polls close until whenever the final vote counts are available. That vote count data becomes blended in with the exit poll algorithm and gradually pulls the exit polls in congruence with the vote counts, at which point they’re used for academic analysis of demographics, but they’re not anymore used for validating the vote counts.
SR: Tell me again what the ‘red shift’ is and how you saw this shift again this year.
JS: The red shift is a term that I coined back in 2004 after the Bush-Kerry election, because the familiar term the “red shift” when we mean astronomy, that’s what brought it to my mind. But the reason it’s called the red shift is that it was very directional in that election where you saw vote counts coming out more in favor of Bush, more in favor of Republican candidates. Since Republican by that time had been designated red as in red states and blue states, that’s how it got the moniker the red shift.
What we found from that point forward is that it’s almost a singularity, very rare, that we find any significant blue shift anywhere. When we look at exit polls and vote counts, what we’re almost always seeing are vote counts that come out more in favor of the Republican candidate than the exit polls and in the case of intraparty nomination battles, more in favor of the candidate that is, I guess you’d have to say, to the right of their opponent.
For instance, in the 2016 primaries, a massive shift of exit polls state after state after state, in favor of Hillary Clinton. The vote counts were more in favor of Clinton than the exit polls, which were more in favor of Bernie Sanders. We saw a very consistent pattern of that.
In this past Tuesday, again we saw a very consistent pattern of exit polls that were more in favor of Hillary Clinton, more in favor of Democratic senatorial candidates and then vote counts were shifted from the exit polls to the right towards Donald Trump, towards the Republican senate candidates. Those are the figures that I pulled down and did a very basic analysis of. You have a column of numbers of state by state showing the degree of that shift and we’ll eventually do that for the national vote for the House of Representatives as well.
SR: When you see this discrepancy, without being overly simplistic, the question becomes, why is it there and what caused it? You’ve been through this four or five times and not even counting the midterm elections. What do you think is really going on when you see this general one-way shifting? Does it mean the polling is wrong? Does it mean the voting machinery is being tampered with? Does it mean both? How do you explain or understand this?
JS: What it means to me is that neither system is self validating. Neither system can be trusted. If you look at accounting, you do double entry accounting. I’m not an accountant so my terminology may be off, but you basically audit by checking one column of numbers against another column of numbers. If they disagree, you know something is wrong somewhere. There is some arithmetical mistake, some failure of entry, possibly fraud … you don’t know. You just know that if two things that are pretty much supposed to agree had disagreed, there’s a problem somewhere. I can rule out mathematically and scientifically, by this time, errors due to random chance. Errors due to random chance, sampling errors, what we call margin of error issues, would not be expressing themselves so consistently in one direction. They’d be going in both directions and they’d be much smaller.
If you take a mathematical sample of a whole … if you take a blood draw in a person and you look at 1,000 or so blood cells as represented in of all their millions of blood cells, that’s guaranteed to be a random sample. It’s not like all the bad blood cells hide out in a single vein or something. From that, you get a very clear and crisp mathematical margin of error and it tells you how likely you are to be within X number of percent about what the truth is about the entire target that you’re looking at of the blood of the whole body. That’s how you can make a diagnosis based on a pinprick.
In exit polling it’s not that simple. In exit polling you have sampling that is not purely mathematically random. First of all, it’s done in clusters because it would be an impractical matter to catch people all over the state randomly coming out at the polls. You’d have to have a person at each precinct, etc. We’re not even talking about early voting and absentee voting. Let’s just leave that out of the equation and assume everybody votes on election day. You’d still have to go to thousands of precincts. It would be prohibitively expensive. What they do instead, and I was a pollster for a couple of years quite long ago, but the methods haven’t changed that much, you basically cluster sample. You pick 20 or 30 precincts that are representative politically and demographically of the whole state and those are the precincts in which you do all your interviews.
That adds mathematically about a 30 percent increase to the margin of error, to the inaccuracy if you want to call that of the poll. It’s certainly a tolerable change or loss of accuracy that can be factored in mathematically, but the real problems come up in exit polling with selection bias, response bias, the possibility of people lying to the pollster, etc. These are the things that have been seized on by those who have debunked the exit polls and said they’re worthless. They’re not worthless and at the same time they’re not best evidence. Best evidence would be the voter marked paper ballots. Best evidence would be the memory cards in the computers and what program is actually determining how these votes are counted, what the code is on those memory cards.
Exit polls are indirect. They’re statistical evidence and they have flaws that are difficult to quantify. When you see pervasive patterns where it is substantial well beyond the margin of error repeatedly in the same direction, in particular when you’ve been able to independently validate the demographics of the exit poll sample. This is the work that I did. It’s in my book, Code Red: Computerized Election Theft in the New American Century.
SR: So this is a persuasive and recurring pattern and not just in this week’s vote?
JS: In the 2016 primary, we compared the performance of the exit polls in the Republican primaries with the performance of the exit poll in the Democratic primaries. There was a glaring difference. I call these “second order comparatives.” Second order comparatives are very important because you’re essentially validating your baseline by doing that. If you’re conscientious about election forensics, that’s the work that you try to do. Does it add up to ironclad proof? No, but it’s a very consistent pattern that is absolutely probative enough that it says, Okay, we want to now take a look at the other system and how the votes are being counted. When you look at that other system and how the votes are being counted, your hair stands on end because it’s so vulnerable to not just outsider hacking, but to insider manipulation as well.
There are certainly a lot of anecdotal instances of this. For instance, just in this particular election, they bought machines in Ohio that had a feature in them that was basically capable of self auditing. It was a security feature. The Republican secretary of state of Ohio allowed the counties to switch off that feature. You have to ask why. You bought it and it had that feature. They said, Well, it would create chaos. You look at things like that and say hmm. You scratch your head and say, what is going on here? What may be happening in that darkness of cyberspace that the exit polls are giving us a pretty good hint about, but the vote counting system itself completely conceals?
SR: Let’s talk about what you found this week. I’m looking at your 2016 presidential chart. I’m looking at North Carolina for example, where it says the exit poll margin was 2.1% ahead for Clinton, but the final vote count showed Trump with a 3.8% lead. You have similar 4.4% Clinton lead in Pennsylvania but then losing by 1.2% to Trump, a 5.6% shift. You have Florida where she was ahead in exit polls by 1.3% and ends up losing by 1.3%, a 2.6% shift.
Is there any reason you can point to as to why you are seeing that in so many different states?
JS: First of all, let me preface it that what they’ve done since 2004 is exit poll fewer and fewer states. I think there were about 30 states exit polled this time, 20 states were left out because they were considered to be locks, non-competitive. What that does for a forensic standpoint is that it cuts our baseline… It’s as if they had a certain limited amount of resources, and they decided to really plow it into getting larger sample sizes in states that they knew were going to be competitive and possibly controversial.
North Carolina was one of those. I believe it had the largest sample size in the country. It was almost 4,000 voters were sampled and the usual sample size in these state exit polls is somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 if they expect it to be competitive. That was basically a double sampling that reduces the mathematical margin of error, but it also improves in a less quantifiable way the accuracy of the poll. That 5.9% red shift from Clinton to Trump is way outside the margin of error for that poll and therefore very unlikely to occur by chance. What might have made it happen? People could’ve been lying to the exit pollster. The exit pollster could’ve been all young urban college kids and the Trump voters might have been reluctant to comply with their requests. There might have been refusals from Trump voters.
Now Edison usually tries to get these things right and one of the ways they try to get it right is through some expensive training and they try to get a fairly represented sample of polling interviewers. The polls by the way are confidential. They’re not verbal interviews. You’re just handed a clipboard with a poll on it. It’s not as intimate as some people would believe. There’s less of an incentive to lie because it’s basically confidential. You fold your polling sheet up and you put it in the box or you hand it back to the interviewer to put it into a grab bag. There’s no name on it. There is nothing that associates you with it. The incentive to lie isn’t particularly high. We’ve always dealt with the—is there a reluctant [George W.] Bush responder going on here, is there a shy Trump voter? We don’t know. These are possibilities, but we’ve seen the same kind of exit poll pattern in intraparty contests, we’ve seen it year after year, we’ve seen it at the Senate races, at the House exit poll. It transcends an individual race like this where there was so much intensity.
If you want to sleep well at night, which I also prefer to denial, and you want to say to yourself, Yeah, it must have been people just lying to the exit pollsters and I’m not going to worry about it, that’s fine. What you’re missing at that point is the fact that if you challenge me to say, How do you know these exit polls are valid? I would turn right around and challenge you and say, How do you know the vote counts are valid?
The fact is, and this is cold hard fact, neither of us can prove our case. That is the problem. We have an unobservable system that cannot answer the challenge that it might be subject to manipulation. It can’t demonstrate that it is not rigged. Exit polls are just a tool that we use to look at it and say, Well folks, there might be something to dig deeper into here. The problem is virtually never is anyone allowed to dig deeper. We have optical scanner equipment all over this country right now that have the voter marked ballots that drop through the optical-scan reader device and sit in their cabinet below. Those voter marked ballots need to be saved 22 months in theory, although they’ve been destroyed early, in fact, in many cases, especially if when there was an investigation going on in Ohio.
You have these voter marked ballots that would have probably not been destroyed within two days of the election and they’re there. They theoretically could be exhumed and examined. You could go machine by machine, you could look at them in public and you could compare them with machine counts, then you could reconcile those machine counts with the central tabulator. County counts, and state counts … You could say, Yes, this was a valid election or no, this was not a valid election. We had a problem. Might have been fraud, might have been a glitch, we don’t know. The fact is, nobody has access to those ballots. They are corporate property. They are off limits to public inspection. It might as well, in the 99.9% of cases, be a paperless touchscreen that has no record whatsoever.
The fact is, we are denied, when I saw we, the candidates, the public, very often election administrators, by the rules of their states, are denied access to the actual hard evidence we call it, that would allow a determination of whether the election has been accurately counted or perhaps has been illegitimately counted and manipulated. As a matter of fact, in quite a few states and usually under Republican control, but the Democrats have not been tremendously cooperative about this either. The trend has been for ballots to be removed from public record status so that they are no longer susceptible to four-year requests and similar public information requests, Freedom of Information Act requests. They are getting less transparent, not more so….Read the Rest Here…
InfoWorld – “Every independently audited voting computer has been shown to contain numerous, basic, easy-to-exploit vulnerabilities. A fresh report from the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology puts it succinctly: “Voter machines, technically, are so riddled with vulnerabilities that even an upstart script kiddie could wreak havoc.” In 2012, white hat hacker Roger Johnston explained to Popular Sciencehow a voting computer’s votes could be changed for less than $10 worth of RadioShack hardware.”
Here is a Tutorial on how to hack a particular manufacturer’s machine. ALL of the electronic voting machines are vulnerable. All of the scanners are vulnerable. The database which draws up the votes at the national level is vulnerable.
You would think the US system for counting the vote is very secure…
There are a number of places the system can be hacked – both directly as well as electronically.
The system which rolls up the national vote totals is called GEM. It has been around pretty much for 20 years. It is rather clunky, not connected to the Internet or outside world. Cases of vote rigging have happened in the past.
The State systems which draw up data from the individual polling locations are a different matter. The electronic systems can gather heir data in a number of different ways, whether by flash drive of information directly collected from the voting machines, machine data over a private network, or machine data over the Internet.
Those electronic machines provide no audit data. In other words there is no way to tell if the information contained in the machines has been tampered with.
The systems vary greatly on security. How secure – we don’t know. Principally because there hasn’t been a concerted effort by professional level hackers to take down the system since the vote which awarded Bush II the 2000 Election successfully.
My belief the system was hacked is based on 4 things –
Trump supposedly won in actuality by only 107,000 votes in three states. You can read how that worked here.
That just so happens to be in the range of what could be done by a hack of the GEM System without raising major flags.
Now…The FBI would normally pursue this. Except, as we also know the FBI is in Trump’s pocket.
The election was fixed.
You know the “Justice” system in America is corrupt and racist when a white child rapist can spend less time in jail than a black teen caught with a joint of Marijuana.
As the judge in the Stanford rape case learned, along with the judge in the “affluenza” drunken driving case, the whole world is watching them. A crowd, an angry crowd, can form in a matter of days of people outraged by what they consider a lenient sentence for a heinous crime.
In the case of Judge Robert McKeon, as of early morning Wednesday, almost 20,000 people had signed a Change.org petition calling for his impeachment for the 60-day sentence he gave a Glasgow, Mont., man who pleaded guilty to repeatedly raping his prepubescent daughter.
“A father repeatedly raped his 12-year old daughter,” Deputy Valley County Attorney Dylan Jenson said during an Oct. 4 sentencing hearing.
“It’s time to start punishing the judges who let these monsters walk our streets,” read the petition.
Prosecutors had recommended a mandatory 25-year sentence, 100 years with 75 suspended, which is what state law calls for.
Instead, though, Judge McKeon handed down a far lighter sentence: a 30-year suspended prison sentence, which means the man will only serve it if he fails to meet the conditions of his probation.
Among those conditions, which McKeon called “quite rigorous,” was the requirement for the man to register as a sex offender, the Glasgow Courierreported. He also cannot access pornography and has limited access to the Internet.
In addition, the man will serve 60 days in jail, but McKeon gave him credit for the 17 days he already served, meaning he’ll only spend another 43 days in jail.
The Washington Post is not identifying the convicted man as it could expose the identity of his victim.
In most of these controversial cases, the judges under siege tend to remain silent. What makes McKeon’s case unusual is that he has chosen to defend himself in public.
Really good article from over at “The Root”. I agree with most, if not all of what the author is saying. AllLivesMatter is nothing more than a diversion, and a denial of the basic human right of black folks to seek redress for a system of racial privilege which catastrophically affects their lives. It is an extension of Jim Crow, in that it denies the very existence of a Criminal Justice System which has ripped any possibility of the American Dream from the poor – and serves as a constant reminder to the rest of the black community of their tenuous position in American Society. A mechanism of political and citizenship disenfranchisement, built upon the foundation…
That All Lives do not matter.
Where I tend to wander into question is the statement “Racism is “a polymorphous agent of death.” as expressed by Leonard Harris. The goal of racism is the preservation of a system of privileges and outcomes for the majority group. It’s result may be death, especially in terms of it’s enforcement upon the body Minority – but death is neither necessary or quintessential to its goal. The use of power as a mechanism to enforce a system of racism, where the minority group has the ability and cohesion to reject racism and attack it’s benefit to the majority group, is violence and death. As such, the use of power to enforce a racist system isn’t “racism” – it is business as usual in many human endeavors – in this writer’s humble view. The goal isn’t elimination – the goal is subjugation and incorporation into the economic and political gestalt as a resource.
If you eliminate the Minority Group, as HItler and others of his ilk attempted to do – then in a system of racism and privilege another group needs take it’s place. Which is the very reason poor whites support political racism on the part of the Republican Party.
The unfortunate truth is that the hashtag #AllLivesMatter is a reaffirmation of white supremacy.
Let me be clear here. Yes, all language is contextual, and at face value, this particular hashtag, #AllLivesMatter, seems to be an affirmation of humanity. However, let us not be fooled into reading the word “all” as in “everyone.” We are reminded that the Founding Fathers used the same language of humanity. We do, indeed, “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” In the language of U.S. politics, “all” has never meant everyone. #SomeLivesMatter.
More important, #AllLivesMatter does not have an organic origin. If the hashtag began on its own—organically—it might be possible to rally around its humanist potential. But this is not the case here. Contextually speaking, #AllLivesMatter is a rejoinder. It is a retort. It originates in direct response to the creation of the hashtag and movement #BlackLivesMatter. And it is here that we find its promotion of white supremacy.
For the past couple of years, I have given talks and presentations with a general title of “Diversity Kills.” This “diversity kills” theory is a three-part argument. No. 1, “diversity” has become a shortened pseudonym for “racial diversity,” and the way that institutions and universities practice “diversity” has become a new form of racism (i.e., organizations may want a face for the poster but have few plans to become more inclusive of nondominant cultures). Diversity becomes tokenized. Diversity equals racism.
No. 2, and most important to this conversation, is my definition of racism. Racism is “a polymorphous agent of death.” Racism is “group-differentiated vulnerability to premature death.” This is to say that at the end of racism is death. Racism is a wanton disregard for humanity and life. Raced bodies are more likely to have shortened life expectancies, higher asthma rates, closer proximity to contaminations, and less access to health care, quality food and water. In addition, as Frank Wilderson once put it, raced bodies also seem to “magnetize bullets” (pdf). At the end of it all, it means inessential dying and gratuitous mortalities. Racism equals death.
The third, and last, part of the argument involves doing the math. If diversity equals racism, and racism equals death, then diversity equals death. Or … diversity kills. This is meant to be both metaphorical and literal—e.g., hypertension, stress, anxiety and hostile work environments. Diversity takes years off the lives of raced bodies. Diversity kills.
It is the racism-equals-death equation that gives the #BlackLivesMatter movement its resonance. #BlackLivesMatter has become significant to the new organizing movement precisely because it clearly and crisply identifies the truth of the racism-equals-death equation. As oppressed people speak back to and challenge white supremacy, there is a dire need for a mantra that counters anti-black racism … counters death … i.e., #BlackLivesMatter.
The response of #AllLivesMatter is an attempt to shift our focus away from the value of black lives. It is an effort to divert our attention away from the end result of racism: the death of black, brown and raced bodies. #AllLivesMatter is not a life-valuing statement. As Talib Kweli recently told an audience, “All lives will matter when Black Lives matter.” Replacing “black” with “all” is an attempt to respond to and ultimately replace (that is, silence) #BlackLivesMatter. It is a statement of disregard. It’s a denial of the reality that racism equals death. And the unfortunate truth is that this is the work of white supremacy.
Back during the late Bush and early Clinton Administrations I owned a Government consulting company which develop specialized software for a variety of systems and computer platforms. we developed systems either directly for Government Agencies or for Prime Contractors who had contracts with the Government.
Every President comes to Washington with a list of things to do. Many of those things can be implemented within the vast Federal Systems he directly controls without Congress’ approval through the passage of laws. Things like improving the system which take care of veterans, or the procedures to assist home buyers. In some cases improving how these programs work involves upgrading the computer systems which make them go.
when President Clinton came to town, Republicans had controlled the Federal apparatus for 12 years. The vast majority of the positions which are politically appointed were held by Republicans. There is a level under the appointed officeholders called the Senior Executive Service, which is not supposed to be political. It is made up of Senior professional managers who are the folks who really make things function in the Federal Government. They work under whoever is President and typically make careers out of Federal Service. Some of these people are promoted from careers within the Government. With the pay for these position tied to the commercial market, many come from the commercial industry side to work for the Government.
Historically, while the selection process for these jobs is blind, when Republicans hold power they try and recruit fellow Republicans to make the jump. Ditto for the Democrats. which during the GW Bush Administration opened the door to outright politicization of these jobs through manipulating, and outright breaking the system. This assured that many of those jobs were taken by Bush sycophants…
During the Clinton Administration I witnessed many of the Bush/Raygun holdovers working to throw a monkey wrench in many of Clinton’s signature programs.
Obama, trying to appear magnanimous refused to flugh he Bushit filled toilet when he gained office.
Anyone who has worked with computers knows that the technology is exacting. It really doesn’t take much to make a million lines of code useless. A program can fail because of one single line of code being in error. Google spent many years and millions of dollars to make their search engine be able to handle common misspellings. The engines before Google were literal. If you searched for cheeese, you got only those results with the same typo.
Suggesting the reason the Obamacare programs failed so badly…
Was an inside job.
It would be nice if our computer whizzes at the NSA took a look at that instead of spending all their time snooping on everyone’s telephone.
To the undisputed reasons for Obamacare’s rocky rollout — a balky website, muddied White House messaging and sudden sticker shock for individuals forced to buy more expensive health insurance — add a less acknowledged cause: calculated sabotage by Republicans at every step.
That may sound like a left-wing conspiracy theory — and the Obama administration itself is so busy defending the indefensible early failings of its signature program that it has barely tried to make this case. But there is a strong factual basis for such a charge.
From the moment the bill was introduced, Republican leaders in both houses of Congress announced their intention to kill it. Republican troops pressed this cause all the way to the Supreme Court — which upheld the law, but weakened a key part of it by giving states the option to reject an expansion of Medicaid. The GOP faithful then kept up their crusade past the president’s reelection, in a pattern of “massive resistance” not seen since the Southern states’ defiance of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.
The opposition was strategic from the start: Derail President Barack Obama’s biggest ambition, and derail Obama himself. Party leaders enforced discipline, withholding any support for the new law — which passed with only Democratic votes, thus undermining its acceptance. Partisan divisions also meant that Democrats could not pass legislation smoothing out some rough language in the draft bill that passed the Senate. That left the administration forced to fill far more gaps through regulation than it otherwise would have had to do, because attempts — usually routine — to re-open the bill for small changes could have led to wholesale debate in the Senate all over again.
But the bitter fight over passage was only the beginning of the war to stop Obamacare. Most Republican governors declined to create their own state insurance exchanges — an option inserted in the bill in the Senate to appeal to the classic conservative preference for local control — forcing the federal government to take at least partial responsibility for creating marketplaces serving 36 states — far more than ever intended.
Then congressional Republicans refused repeatedly to appropriate dedicated funds to do all that extra work, leaving the Health and Human Services Department and other agencies to cobble together HealthCare.gov by redirecting funds from existing programs. On top of that, nearly half of the states declined to expand their Medicaid programs using federal funds, as the law envisioned.
Then, in the months leading up to the program’s debut, some states refused to do anything at all to educate the public about the law. And congressional Republicans sent so many burdensome queries to local hospitals and nonprofits gearing up to help consumers navigate the new system face-to-face that at least two such groups returned their federal grants and gave up the effort. When the White House let it be known last summer that it was in talks with the National Football League to enlist star athletes to help promote the law, the Senate’s top two Republicans sent the league an ominous letter wondering why it would “risk damaging its inclusive and apolitical brand.” The NFL backed off.
The drama culminated on the eve of the open enrollment date of Oct. 1. Congressional Republicans shut down the government, disrupting last-minute planning and limiting the administration’s political ability to prepare the public for the likelihood of potential problems, because it was in a last-ditch fight to defend the president’s biggest legislative accomplishment.
“I think my Republican colleagues forget that a lot of people are enrolling through state exchanges, rather than the federal exchange,” Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) noted last week. “And if it wasn’t for the fact that many Republican governors, including my own,” failed to set up state exchanges, “then we wouldn’t be putting so much burden on the federal system.”
In fact, putting an excessive burden on the federal government was the explicit aim of the law’s opponents. “Congress authorized no funds for federal ‘fallback’ exchanges,” the Tea Party Patriots website noted as long ago as last December. “So Washington may not be able to impose exchanges on states at all.” The group went on to suggest that since Washington was not equipped to handle so many state exchanges, “both financially and otherwise — this means the entire law could implode on itself.” …more
I have recently been working in a country where there is no public education system. Back in the US last night…
“You don’t know how lucky you are…”
Proceeding Rhee’s resignation – A Manifesto by leading educators –
Joel Klein, chancellor, New York City Department of Education;Michelle Rhee, chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools; Peter C. Gorman, superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (N.C.); Ron Huberman, chief executive, Chicago Public Schools; Carol R. Johnson, superintendent, Boston Public Schools; Andrés A. Alonso, chief executive, Baltimore City Public Schools; Tom Boasberg, superintendent, Denver Public Schools; Arlene C. Ackerman, superintendent of schools, the School District of Philadelphia;William R. Hite Jr., superintendent, Prince George’s County Public Schools; Jean-Claude Brizard, superintendent of schools, Rochester City School District (N.Y.); José M. Torres, superintendent, Illinois School District U-46; J. Wm. Covington, superintendent, Kansas City, Missouri School District; Terry B. Grier, superintendent of schools, Houston Independent School District; Paul Vallas, superintendent, New Orleans Recovery School District; Eugene White, superintendent, Indianapolis Public Schools; LaVonne Sheffield, superintendent of Rockford Public Schools (Illinois)
As educators, superintendents, chief executives and chancellors responsible for educating nearly 2 1/2 million students in America, we know that the task of reforming the country’s public schools begins with us. It is our obligation to enhance the personal growth and academic achievement of our students, and we must be accountable for how our schools perform.
All of us have taken steps to move our students forward, and the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program has been the catalyst for more reforms than we have seen in decades. But those reforms are still outpaced and outsized by the crisis in public education.
Fortunately, the public, and our leaders in government, are finally paying attention. The“Waiting for ‘Superman’ “ documentary, the defeat of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to Newark’s public schools, and a tidal wave of media attention have helped spark a national debate and presented us with an extraordinary opportunity.
But the transformative changes needed to truly prepare our kids for the 21st-century global economy simply will not happen unless we first shed some of the entrenched practices that have held back our education system, practices that have long favored adults, not children. These practices are wrong, and they have to end now.
It’s time for all of the adults — superintendents, educators, elected officials, labor unions and parents alike — to start acting like we are responsible for the future of our children. Because right now, across the country, kids are stuck in failing schools, just waiting for us to do something.
So, where do we start? With the basics. As President Obama has emphasized, the single most important factor determining whether students succeed in school is not the color of their skin or their ZIP code or even their parents’ income — it is the quality of their teacher.
Yet, for too long, we have let teacher hiring and retention be determined by archaic rules involving seniority and academic credentials. The widespread policy of “last in, first out” (the teacher with the least seniority is the first to go when cuts have to be made) makes it harder to hold on to new, enthusiastic educators and ignores the one thing that should matter most: performance.
A 7-year-old girl won’t make it to college someday because her teacher has two decades of experience or a master’s degree — she will make it to college if her teacher is effective and engaging and compels her to reach for success. By contrast, a poorly performing teacher can hold back hundreds, maybe thousands, of students over the course of a career. Each day that we ignore this reality is precious time lost for children preparing for the challenges of adulthood.
The glacial process for removing an incompetent teacher — and our discomfort as a society with criticizing anyone who chooses this noble and difficult profession — has left our school districts impotent and, worse, has robbed millions of children of a real future.
There isn’t a business in America that would survive if it couldn’t make personnel decisions based on performance. That is why everything we use in assessing teachers must be linked to their effectiveness in the classroom and focused on increasing student achievement.
District leaders also need the authority to use financial incentives to attract and retain the best teachers. When teachers are highly effective — measured in significant part by how well students are doing academically — or are willing to take a job in a tough school or in a hard-to-staff subject area such as advanced math or science, we should be able to pay them more. Important initiatives, such as the federal Teacher Incentive Fund, are helping bring great educators to struggling communities, but we have to change the rules to professionalize teaching.
Let’s stop ignoring basic economic principles of supply and demand and focus on how we can establish a performance-driven culture in every American school — a culture that rewards excellence, elevates the status of teachers and is positioned to help as many students as possible beat the odds. We need the best teacher for every child, and the best principal for every school. Of course, we must also do a better job of providing meaningful training for teachers who seek to improve, but let’s stop pretending that everyone who goes into the classroom has the ability and temperament to lift our children to excellence.
Even the best teachers — those who possess such skills — face stiff challenges in meeting the diverse needs of their students. A single elementary- or middle-school classroom can contain, for instance, students who read on two or three different grade levels, and that range grows even wider as students move into high school. Is it reasonable to expect a teacher to address all the needs of 25 or 30 students when some are reading on a fourth-grade level and others are ready for Tolstoy? We must equip educators with the best technology available to make instruction more effective and efficient. By better using technology to collect data on student learning and shape individualized instruction, we can help transform our classrooms and lessen the burden on teachers’ time.
To make this transformation work, we must also eliminate arcane rules such as “seat time,” which requires a student to spend a specific amount of time in a classroom with a teacher rather than taking advantage of online lessons and other programs.
Just as we must give teachers and schools the capability and flexibility to meet the needs of students, we must give parents a better portfolio of school choices. That starts with having the courage to replace or substantially restructure persistently low-performing schools that continuously fail our students. Closing a neighborhood school — whether it’s in Southeast D.C., Harlem, Denver or Chicago — is a difficult decision that can be very emotional for a community. But no one ever said leadership is easy.
We also must make charter schools a truly viable option. If all of our neighborhood schools were great, we wouldn’t be facing this crisis. But our children need great schools now — whether district-run public schools or public charter schools serving all students — and we shouldn’t limit the numbers of one form at the expense of the other. Excellence must be our only criteria for evaluating our schools.
For the wealthiest among us, the crisis in public education may still seem like someone else’s problem, because those families can afford to choose something better for their kids. But it’s a problem for all of us — until we fix our schools, we will never fix the nation’s broader economic problems. Until we fix our schools, the gap between the haves and the have-nots will only grow wider and the United States will fall further behind the rest of the industrialized world in education, rendering the American dream a distant, elusive memory.