Archive | March 2013

Obama Plans to Make Guantanamo Prison Permanent

Guantanamo

Mentioning the US to people around the world brings up many facts known to many of them: 4% of world population consuming 25% of world resources, having 25% of world prison population, being responsible for the vast majority of wars since WWII and the largest number of people killed as a result, spending more on military than the next 13 big spenders combined, the only nation with military bases all over the world, the only nation operating secret prisons inside other countries, the most sophisticated and expansive system of eavesdropping and wiretapping and spying on their own citizens, having 3.5 million homeless and about 8.5 million vacant homes, a CEO making 500 and even a thousand times as much as most workers, highest level of poverty and malnutrition and infant mortality among industrialized nations, the only industrialized nation with millions of people who are either uninsured or can’t use their health insurance due to high costs, and the only nation among those who signed the Geneva Conventions after WWII to completely disregard and ignore them, along with many other international laws.

But, wait, Obama is trying to improve on all that. Four years after he promised to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, his Administration is going to spend close to $200 million to expand and renovate it and make it a permanent prison. While to Bush it was supposed to be a temporary solution (more like abuse), to Obama, it’s worth making permanent. General John F. Kelly, who leads the United States military’s Southern Command, testified in a congressional hearing Wednesday that with no end to the prison’s operation in sight, repairs and upgrades are needed (Reported by mail online). Times reported the plan included two new barracks – all this on Cuban soil, as if it’s the US’.

And it seems to bother none of the politicians in either Party that there are men being held indefinitely that are innocent and some who given a chance in court could be found innocent, even if we regard their detention legitimate to begin with which is not and even if we disregard the Geneva Conventions that prohibit such indefinite imprisonment and treatment of enemy fighters. Putting aside all legality, this is against any sense of morality and human decency, not to mention – which is usually forgotten and not mentioned – the fact that it’s all done on Cuban soil against the will of the Cuban government and people.

It’s not that there are no good, caring and just people who could be leaders here. It’s just that the corporations and the 1% who own them are far too strong and control all policies and even the groupthink and culture, through the myriad governmental and private organs and institutions, including all three branches of the government and the media which they own, and rule through the two corporate parties, at the exclusion of any other.

And when you mention these things to liberals, many of them reply with an insulted sense of nationalism that “we’re not the only ones who do bad things or that have problems” or something like: “there are good things about us too” or that Obama tries to improve things, but the Republicans won’t let him. Their reaction is understandable because they equate themselves with the corporations and the ruling class of billionaires. What we must understand is that all these injustices, abuses, acts of terror and purveyance of violence and violations of laws and human rights are related and have the same source.

Retired Air force col. Morris Davis said about the plan to make Guantanamo camp permanent: “… a lot of our prestige is going down the tubes”. That’s because photos of Guantanamo prisoners in shackles keep showing up on the Internet, so make it a regular and permanent prison with walls all around, on another nation’s grounds, without their consent, and kidnap citizens of other nations and keep them there indefinitely because an empire knows no bounds: no borders, no sovereignty and no limit to injustice, indecency and hubris.

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Obama in Occupied Palestine

Obama in Israel

All major news organizations reported and commented on Obama’s trip to occupied Palestine. MSNBC proudly raved about history being made and reminded the audience that no president has done as much for or has been as steadfast a supporter of Israel as this president which the occupiers acknowledged by awarding him their highest honor any civilian can receive – a first for any US president. London’s Guardian which does some fine and accurate reporting on many issues, especially those written by Glen Greenwald, wrote: “Barack Obama visits Israel in effort to boost relations with Netanyahu”. With this title, The Guardian thus reminded us that when it comes to occupied Palestine, it, too, like so many others, gets it wrong.

The leader of world imperialism doesn’t need to boost relations with their own henchmen and attack dogs whom they fund and arm to its teeth and keep on a leash and on the ready to attack and maul any nation or people that might get in the way of imperialism in its pursuit of world domination and profits for its corporations. The relation is not that of any two nations that might need boosting. The colonial settler state created and maintained on land forcibly confiscated from the nation of Palestine and the continued occupation and dislocation of its people has been made possible by the US and could not have continued to this day without its main benefactor and sponsor who made it its own project to keep and use for its own ends at all costs. That’s not a relation needing a boost. And Obama certainly doesn’t need to go meet the so-called Prime Minister of the occupation. In fact, many US presidents never felt the need to visit Israel. Nor was the visit about boosting the relations between the two men. The US-Israeli relations is not about these two men or any other two men or women. The relation between the Empire and its most important client state is far deeper than the relations between the two leaders.

Such visits rather are made for more more meaningful reasons than improving relations between two men. One is to dictate Empire’s orders to the occupying forces, such as what role Israel will play in toppling the regime in Syria, for example. It was no coincidence that three years after massacring Turkish activists on a flotilla beaded to Gaza to take food and medicine to besieged people of Gaza, Netanyahu only now calls the Turkish Prime Minister to apologize. Empire’s servants need to be kept from going at each other. Their cooperation is needed to finish the job in Syria, not to mention Iran. A second reason for the trip is to promise a raise for their continued and unwavering services for imperialism, as well as more military commitments and cooperation.

And, last but not least, the trip was made to pretend – both to the American public and to the rest of the world – that they’re sensitive towards and understanding of the needs, wishes and aspirations of the  Palestinian people whose resilience and heroic struggle has frustrated imperialists’ best efforts at making them go away and leave their ancestral land to pro-imperialist occupiers so they can police the oil rich region for them. The continued struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination has kept the issue of occupation and ethnic cleansing alive in the consciousness of much of the world and especially among the people of the Middle East and North Africa and threatens to discredit the Empire, despite millions of dollars it spends every year on disinformation and propaganda, otherwise known as public relations.

The talk of “two states for two peoples” which itself is a sham and a fraud and advertised falsely as the solution to the “conflict” (what conflict? There is no conflict; there’s just a brutal and murderous occupation) has been forced on them by the continued intifada. Their purpose is to sound reasonable and just while continuing the occupation, ethnic cleansing and genocide, all approved and paid for by US imperialism. Obama hypocritically says something about settlements being wrong, but continues to give billions to Israel without a single condition and blocks any effort by Palestinians to gain statehood through the UN which also prevents them to take Israel to International Court for the occupation and violations of UN resolutions, and vetoes any new resolution that would condemn blatant land grabs, dislocations, the siege, the “targeted killings”, the bombardments of defenseless people, etc.

As I’ve said many times in my writings, the notion – which unfortunately is widespread – that Israel dictates and imposes its wishes on the US is totally false. The truth is just the opposite. Israel plays the role of a henchman, a hit man, an attack dog or police, a big and reliable military base, and even a totally militarized 51st state smack in the middle of the restive and oil rich Arab World. Just look at who pays whom for services rendered and whose corporations and billionaires benefit the most and who paves the way for whom so they can topple regimes and dominate, rule over and plunder world resources and enslave cheap labor and ultimately face the Chinese and Russians.

The rise of the Arab Spring has clearly caused a setback and consternation for imperialism. It has served to raise the consciousness and political awareness of the people of the region and has threatened to push US puppets out of power, weakening the imperialist hold on these countries. The response of imperialism has been to go after their opponents with more determination and fierceness than ever before. They already toppled the regime in Libya, are trying to do the same in Syria with the help of reactionary Islamists and Al Qaeda sympathizers gathered from several countries from Saudi Arabia to Libya and Iraq to Lebanon, armed by the CIA and funded and supported by Saudi Arabia, as well as, Turkey and Israel, who once again have found themselves on the same side; which as I mentioned can explain Netanyahu’s apology three years after the incident.

Obama is also setting the groundwork to attack Iran. The sanctions are nothing but an effort to weaken and bankrupt the regime to make it easier to overthrow when they decide it’s time. Meanwhile, they continue to aid and arm despotic monarchies in Yemen and Bahrain and prevent the revolutions to proceed and achieve democracy and freedom.

To counterbalance these aggressive moves in Muslim countries, they see the need to improve their public image in the Muslim World where suspicion and resentment towards the US is at an all-time high. That’s why they’re talking about “two states”, now.

But, there is a big difference between words and deeds. Words are uttered into a microphone and the resulting sound waves fizzle out into the air soon after they’re spoken. Deeds, on the other hand, cause attack helicopters, fighter jets and cluster and phosphorous bombs and billions of dollars to be sent over to aid the occupation and continue the settlements and the killings, despite those nice sounding words. It’s deeds that matter when vetoing at the UN, or when others are pressured and blackmailed to vote with them (and still the US stands all alone with Israel aside from one or two tiny island “countries” near US coast that are nations only in name, nations that are as independent from the US as a 3 year old is from her mother).

But, even Obama’s disingenuous gesture and the lame attempt to seem fair towards the Palestinians is ludicrous, not just because of all that he does for Israeli occupation forces, not only because he defends Israel when they bomb heavily populated Gaza where people have no way of defending themselves and then right after that attack goes ahead and increases financial and military aid to the aggressor, but also because he decides who the Palestinians’ leader is. Obama meeting with Mahmoud Abbas makes as much sense as the leader of some nation coming to meet the US President, but instead of meeting with Obama, going and meeting with Romney instead because he doesn’t recognize Americans’ choice for president.

And as for the “two states for two peoples” garbage, that’s just another fraud they’re trying on people. The fact is two states still means keeping most of Palestine under occupation, giving it the name of a state without any of the requirements for a free, independent and viable state, without even as much as a contiguous territory, still keeping the wall and the check points, still controlling the borders, the airspace and water, still making Palestinians who end up on the “wrong” side of the wall second class citizens in their own ancestral lands and giving preference to Jews over others, and still preventing millions of Palestinian refugees from going back to their homes. While such a phony and sham “state” would not even remotely meet the just aspirations of the Palestinian people for self-determination, it would give ammunition to Zionists and their imperialist backers to vilify and demonize and attack and kill Palestinians more than before since they will rightly continue their struggle for complete liberation which means a democratic and secular Palestine with equal rights for all, regardless of religion, race or ethnic background, without a wall and with the right of return for all refugees.

The truth of the matter is US imperialism can never be a fair and honest broker and any offer it makes will be for its own imperial and hegemonic interests and objectives with the ultimate goal of domination over and plunder of the world. Such goals have nothing to do with justice or peace and are in fact contradictory to them. And we should not expect anything different: Obama is just another lying scum of a politician serving the interests of giant multinational corporations and the super wealthy 1% who own them.

Drone Attacks Against US Citizens On US Soil

obama-admin-has-63-drone-launch-sites-in-us

US Senate confirmed, on Thursday, Obama’s nominee, John Brennan, the mastermind behind Obama’s drone attacks and kill list, to head the CIA. Four years ago, Obama shied away from nominating him for the position, due to his association with Bush’s policies of torture and rendition, but now, in his second term, the President seems less concerned about such issues. Now, in addition to continued torture in Guantanamo Bay and CIA kidnapping of opponents and rendition to countries for torturing, he openly maintains a “kill list” and continues drone attacks in several countries.

And, as if that wasn’t enough to make people who believe in the democratic and due process and peace concerned and frightened, there is a new discussion and admission by this Administration: that the US government has the authority to kill US citizens on US soil, if it thinks – rightly or not – that they’re  “engaged in combat”. Who decides and by what criteria or process that someone is “engaged in combat” is conveniently and purposely vague and undefined, which leads one to believe it would be the CIA or the military or the President or someone reporting to the president. This must make the future Dick Cheney’s of this country salivate in excitement. Already, the US military calls anyone it kills an “enemy combatant”, even if the killing was by mistake. It should not be hard to imagine the government chasing down and shooting hellfire missiles at US citizens who in a mass protest, the like of which we saw in Egypt and elsewhere, try to bring about real and meaningful change. Dr. Martin Luther King’s and Malcolm X’s of the future would not stand a chance.

None of these policy changes that not only affect foreign policy and issues of war and peace and international relations and laws and human rights, but also Americans’ civil and constitutional rights and freedoms and due process under law, is being debated and decided openly and democratically. There is no Congressional debate and vote on abandoning and violating the constitution; there is no public discourse or referendum that such fundamental changes would deserve. The CIA or the military or the President’s office suddenly and quietly acquiring such extra-judicial and extraordinary powers that tosses aside the judicial process of making an arrest, reading the person’s rights, charging him with a crime, trying him in a court of law with the right to a lawyer and competent defense and sentencing him if found guilty, and replacing it with the firing of a missile from a drone, operated from some secret military building and away from public’s view or knowledge, is not a small matter. Actually, what’s taking place is nothing short of a full-fledged coup.

Such quiet coups are done in stages, so as to evaluate the public’s reaction in each stage, to the degree that they’re allowed to know or find out about them. First, came the drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan and elsewhere where suspected terrorists and their families were being targeted and killed with drones – solely on the suspicion of their association with Al Qaeda or being “engaged in combat” – and against international laws, and Americans said nothing. Then, came the assassination of US citizens overseas, and the American people said nothing. And now, they’ve floated the idea of assassinating US citizens on US soil, as Attorney General Eric Holder’s March 7 letter to Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky made clear. Should you be naive enough, you’d expect at least some kind of outcry from at least those news organizations that consider themselves liberal, such as New York Times or MSNBC, to such egregious overstepping of the Constitution and due process, but they too are mostly ignoring the gravity and ramifications of such changes.

But, even the “focus” and attention that the drone killings have received of late is troubling to the Pentagon and the White House. As reported by Reuters, today, U.S. Central Command, which oversees the Afghanistan war, said in a statement that it will no longer include the data on drone attacks in its reports because it was “disproportionately focused” on the use of weapons by the remotely piloted aircraft. It’s hard to keep the killing of an entire family in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Yemen a secret, but it doesn’t mean they won’t try.

The pattern should be clear to anyone paying attention. With the pretext of “war on terror”, the US military complex has been engaged in a two-pronged war: an endless war against its opponents overseas that has included several simultaneous wars for both regime change and for targeted killings of its opponents, and a war within the US against the constitutional and civil rights of the citizens and for gradually turning the country into a full fledged police state with the government having the right to indefinitely detain citizens without a charge or trial (NDAA signed into law on 31, December, 2011) and targeted killings with the use of drones, as floated by the Obama Administration. There is reason for all this and it’s not “war on terror”. That’s a fabrication and a red herring. Of course, if you attack and kill others, they will try to someone retaliate. “War on those who seek justice against US atrocities” would be much more appropriate and much more reflective of the reality than “war on terror”. The real reason they’re changing the rules and tossing aside the Constitution is because they’re anticipating riots and uprisings due to the economic crises and impasse capitalism is finding itself in. You don’t expect them to just lay down their weapons and say “okay you win, we lose”, do you?

This is the time to raise hell and resist against these attacks on the Constitution, on due process and our civil rights. The more we give up, the harder it’ll be to get them back and the harder to fight for social and economic justice. And, that’s the motivation behind the changes and turning the country into a police state: to make it hard to fight for and bring about real change.

Occupy Hospitals and Insurance Companies

healthCareCosts

Writing for Time magazine (20 February, 2013), Steven Brill   reports that hospitals, including those that are supposedly non-profit and are therefore exempt from taxes, routinely charge for their services at a markup of tens and even hundreds of times their cost. For example, for a procedure for which Medicare pays a few hundred dollars, based on their calculation of the cost to the hospital, including salaries, use of equipment and overhead, they charge others over $15,000. That’s about 30 times as much. Such exorbitant charges that pour millions of dollars into the pockets of the managers and CEO’s, plus the profit of insurance companies that perform no function other than being an unnecessary middlemen who get in between the patient and the hospital and collect a part of what’s spent by the patient, just as Mafia henchmen would do, has resulted in most families having to pay over 20% of their household income on healthcare insurance, often having to cut corners on other expenditures, including on food, just to keep up with the premiums. And that’s just the cost of their insurance payments, not actual care. When people, who have been paying their premiums month after month and year after year, get sick, they’re shocked to find out how much they have to pay out of picket, despite having insurance. They also discover, when sick, just how little their expensive insurance covers. They also find out that not every hospital will take their insurance, especially for expensive treatments such as for cancer. An insurance that costs hundreds of dollars every month, may only pay $2,000 for each overnight stay at the hospital which is far less than what most hospitals charge, leaving the burden of paying the rest with the patient who has to be stressed about money on top of his illness. No wonder close to half of all bankruptcies filed by American households is healthcare related. Getting sick has become a choice between dying and losing everything, including your home, your life savings and your children’s future. And when it comes to paying out of pocket expenses, they’re often forced to pay in advance, often made to sit in the waiting room until their check is cleared before anything is done for them, no matter how urgent the need for care.

According to the Time magazine report, Americans “spend more on health care than the next 10 biggest spenders combined: Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia” with quality and results that are no better and are often worse than in those countries that spend a fraction of the amount spent in the US.

Hospitals in the US operate literally like monopolies with complete freedom to charge whatever they desire with absolutely no oversight, logic, rhyme or reason, completely outside and beyond the reach of antitrust laws or any regulatory commission which normally applies to monopoly institutions such as utility companies. Imagine your utility company charging anything they want because you need the gas or electricity or water they bring to your home and which you have to pay regardless because you have no other choice and are therefore completely at their mercy. That’s what the current state of affairs is with hospitals. To say the situation is out of control and outrageous would be a gross understatement. And all this, four years after the passage of Obama care which was supposed to fix the problem. The fact is, however, Obama care was grossly inadequate and wrongheaded for the problem at hand and not much more than a giveaway to insurance companies and an effort to maintain rather than change business as usual and the status quo.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the pharmaceutical and health-care-product industries, combined with organizations representing doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, health services and HMOs, have spent $5.36 billion since 1998 on lobbying in Washington.

This is an egregious attack on working people’s living standards and the epitome of social and economic injustice perpetrated by the 1% against the 99%. Medicare for all Now! No more excuses, no more fake wars in the House and Senate and no more deceptive bandaid “solutions” and business and profit as usual! Redirect all that war spending in the hundreds of billions, corporate profits in the billions and ridiculous pays for CEO’s in the millions to taking care of people’s needs, now!

 

2016 Election Talk – Already

jeb bush hillary clinton

It was revealed yesterday that Jeb Bush is likely interested in running for President in 2016, in a possible showdown with Hillary Clinton – another Bush vs. Clinton contest – which prompted liberals to begin lecturing us already on how bad he would be for in comparison with Clinton.

I’ve been called stupid and a moron, among other things, for criticizing the Democrats in general and President Obama in particular because to these liberals, my criticism means that I fail to see or admit that they’re different from Republicans, or worse that I’m siding with them.

Obviously, whether or not you see a fundamental and qualitative difference between the two depends on your class perspective and on what you consider to be just or right. If you’re unjustly incarcerated, how much does it matter whether your prison guard addresses you respectfully or talks down on you and treats you with disdain every opportunity he gets? If the question is whether the Republicans are more blatant in their attacks on working people and their unconditional and unbridled defense of the corporations, sure, they are. But, the point that’s hard to deny is that both parties serve the same corporate interests at the expense of the working class. This is corroborated by the corporations which give generously to both parties which then return the favor, in almost the same manner and shape and with same results. Speaking of results, it’s hard to argue against them which show the continued rise and even a sharp upsurge in corporate profits and continued decline in income of the people at the bottom, after over four years of Obama presidency.

The point should not be to identify and back the party that kills us a little more slowly. The point should be to stand and fight for our share and our rights because neither of the two corporate parties will. The Republicans may be louder and more obnoxious, but the Democrats have been quite competent in representing corporations and their billionaire shareholders and pretty effective in imposing austerity on working people, probably even more effective than their Republican counterparts. Measures that Republicans find hard to impose on people, Democrats often step forward to undertake. They’re also good at taking away from people the spirit of resistance and fighting back due to the misplaced trust many people have for them; so, at least in that sense, they end up harming working class interests even more than the Republicans. Now, if you’re doing well and are fine with the status quo, that’s a different story. After all, liberals are mostly intellectuals from middle class and their position is not surprising. But, if you want real social justice and real democracy, then you can’t help but take a position that’s more out of the box of the two corporate parties, and this is what’s hard for liberals to understand.

This phenomenon is nothing new. Every period in history, including slavery, had its own liberals who were okay with the status quo, but did not want excesses and “mistreatment”, as if owning other human beings as your property was not itself mistreatment or injustice enough, worthy of resisting and fighting back. Then, too, they had no fundamental problem with the system, but just certain slave owners and their treatment of slaves and mocked and even hindered the efforts of those who wanted to fight against the system. Only after it was abolished did they come around to support the change. Liberals generally will go along with change, but only after it’s been brought about by others. It’s not hard to follow change; what is hard is to lead for and effect it, as did Dr. King for racial justice and as he was about to do for economic justice when he was assassinated.

Liberals’ political position is reflective of their class standing: what they themselves stand to lose or fear losing should the system go through a major transformation. So, their political positions are not wrong; they’re right for the class in power which they have no animosity with and wrong for working class. Their support for the Democrats leaves them with no answer to the reality of deteriorating living standards of working people, especially when corporate profitability is at all time high. They also are forced to remain silent or make excuses about policies adopted by their president that they used to scream foul when the other party was in White House. They balk at criticism from the left by saying there is no better alternative, but their disingenuousness comes to fore when a real alternative begins showing up on streets in the form of protests and civil disobedience and they begin urging people to go home and wait until election time to take their anger to voting booths and exercise their right to vote, instead of helping elevate the demands and advocating grassroots organizing and empowerment to effect real change. Accepting the status quo and playing their game is easy, but is it the right thing to do?

 

Stock Market at an All-Time High

stock-marketIt’s been all over the news yesterday and today: the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time high yesterday and continued its rise today. Some liberals pointed to that as proof that Obama has turned the economy around, while the geniuses at Fox News said it was due to the talk of reducing the deficit. While most – among both liberals and conservatives – claim that it shows the economy is doing well, the truth is it’s not. If it were, the Federal Reserve would not artificially keep interest rates low to spur investing and economic activity and unemployment would not be as high as it is and has been for years.  In fact, the economy is pretty anemic.

 

What the record high stock market shows though is that corporations are making big profits. And there is reason for that: high unemployment means lower wages, as well as less number of employees doing the work of more workers which translates into more profits. Also, low interest rates, which the Fed helps keep low, provides corporations with cheap money which instead of hiring, they use to gobble up other companies which reduces competition and further raises profits by increasing their market dominance and control, making already giant corporations even bigger.  Furthermore, corporate welfare remains high and taxes low. And while most local governments and municipalities are cutting working hours and wages of their employees or laying them off, they’re selling municipal bonds to raise money to build office buildings for giant corporations who are making obscene amount of profits and don’t need such ridiculous largess from local governments who are broke, especially when people remain jobless or on poverty wages and county hospitals are closing or cutting services. These developments are good if you’re one of those corporations (which Romney calls people) or their CEO’s or large shareholders, but not if you’re one of those millions of unemployed or employed with low or stagnant wages with no or inadequate healthcare with high deductibles and co-pays.

 

While for most of us – and I mean the vast majority – the economy has been stuck in a recession – and not a small one, either – for corporations and the rich, it’s been anything but. If this is what recession looks like, the rich will take it any day of the week. Not only do they take advantage of high number of people being out of work which helps them push wages down and extract more work from those they keep, it also gives them an opportunity to weaken or bust unions and buy other smaller companies creating monopolies.

 

The Dow Jones index and corporate profits are not the only things that are at record high at this time. So is the wealth gap between rich and poor, corporate benefits, corporate welfare, wrongdoing and fraud with impunity, corporate influence in politics and elections, attacks on living conditions of working people, government eavesdropping and warrantless wiretaps on citizens, monitoring people’s communication and activities, government secrecy, curtailment of citizens’ rights, new, special and unconstitutional rights for the Executive Branch and number of simultaneous wars being waged – all good things for corporations and their domestic and international agenda and none for wage earners. Never has this society been as divided as it is now. Never have the interests of a small number of the wealthy and those of the vast majority of the inhabitants of this land been as divergent as now. In a way, maybe that’s what the index is really telling us.

Justice Scalia Calls The Voter Rights Act “Racial Entitlement”

voter rights

African Americans have had the right to vote – on paper – since 1868 when the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution overuled the Supreme Court ruling of 1857 which had reserved the right to vote to citizens and defined African Americans as non-citizens. But that was just theory.  There is a difference between the proclamation of a legal right and its actual exercise.  Most voting districts in the South employed a variety of methods to try and prevent them from voting, such as giving them literacy tests which were evealuated by the same white officials who tried to prevent them from voting by giving them the test, in the first place.  It was not uncommon for even college graduates to “fail” such “literacy tests”. Other methods included sending them away by telling them they had come to the wrong voting precinct or giving them the wrong date and time for voting, or by asking them for picture ID and maybe even mutliple picture ID’s.  It took the Civil Rights Movement with the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King to force the government to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which President Lyndon Johnson signed, to ensure that they not only had the right to vote in theory, by virtue of being admitted as citizens – roll of eyes – but also in practice.  Since many states, especially in the South, woud often change their voting laws to make it hard for blacks to vote, the Section 5 of the Act required certain states in the South, which had demonstrated such proclivity, to have the Federal Government review and approve such changes before they could be made law.

But, that was then.  Now, the states in the South are in the mood for voter suppression – again.  On Wednesday, Shelby County, Alabama, asked the Supreme Court to overturn this provision arguing that states no longer try to make it hard for African Americans to vote and therefore this section of the law is no longer necessary.  Imagine that.  An African American gets elected as President; several states scramble to make it hard for non-whites to vote by a variety of schemes, including requiring them to show picture ID, among others, knowing that many among the poor, African Americans, the youth and elderly, especially black elderly, do not have ID’s, but are frustrated and cannot implement their voter suppression efforts due to that very Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  And what do they do? Right! Go to the conservative High Court and ague that that section is no longer needed and should be overturned. It’s not like any state in the South (wink wink) is trying to suppress black votes. If there is one thing I admire about these people is their shamelessness and gull; they seem to say:  I don’t care that I look like an ahole.  I will try to do what I want to do.  And you know what baffles me?  That the Justices actually sit down with serious faces and “consider” such blatant and clear effort towards voter suppression and discuss it like there is nothing wrong, instead of saying: “are you kidding me?” and telling them to get the f. out of the court.  I don’t think I, for one, if I were in the courtroom, would be able to refrain from yelling that all relevant and deserved question: are you kidding me?

But, I wish the ridiculousness of this whole episode ended with the Justices actually taking up such nonsense with straight face and “arguing” it.  No, it had to get more ridiculous.  Somehow, these crazies have to – just have to – remind us all about all the ugly things that went down before: slavery, lynching, Jim Crow.  Sigh!  You might have already heard that Justice Antonin Scalia called the Voting Rights Act a “racial entitlement”- you know, like welfare or handout which African Americans feel “entitled” to.  Yup, we learned on that day that the right to vote which took a movement to win was an “entitlement” – something that had been given for some time, but should not be demanded forever!

That statement speaks volumes, but I won’t write volumes on it here.  The argument is that it’s not needed anymore because states have not enacted laws to suppress black votes since its enactment, never mind that the reason they haven’t is that very law that they’re trying to overturn, now. Why would they be bothered by it if they weren’t trying to get around it?  Is it a coincidence that after the election of the first African American president several states try to suppress minorities’ votes and when they’re blocked by the law and fail they decide to challenge the law and ask for its elimination?  I suppose the Violence Against Women Act, too, is an entitlement and women feel entitled to it!  And if it actually succeeds in reducing violence against women, men who used to beat their wives should go to court and say: we haven’t been beating them since that law was passed, so it’s not needed anymore!