Silver Rights

News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.

Saturday, October 30, 2004  


News: Bush suppresses hunger report

Most indicators show that poverty has increased in the United States during the last year. Unemployment and underemployment are unabated in parts of the country. There are more people with no health care coverage. Eligibility for food stamps has risen. But, one compilation of data is missing. It measures hunger in the population. Though the 2003 report has been completed and was to have been made public this week, it hasn't been. Some people believe the report is being suppressed because it would reveal the Bush administration has failed the most vulnerable Americans right before the election.

The Associated Press reports.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Kerry campaign on Friday criticized the administration for putting off, possibly until after the election, issuing an annual report that could show an increase in the number of households that either don't have access to enough food or have experienced hunger.

The Agriculture Department report, originally scheduled to be made public either Thursday or Friday, is being reviewed by the department. No new date has been set for its release.

The food security report, compiled by the USDA's Economic Research Service, is based on a survey of some 50,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and generally comes out about a month after the Census Bureau reports on poverty in the country.

The Census Bureau said in August that the ranks of the uninsured and the impoverished grew in 2003 for the third consecutive year, with the number living in poverty rising 1.3 million to 35.8 million.

A rise in people living below the poverty line usually translates into a rise in those who experience either food insecurity - meaning they don't have access to enough food for healthy living at all times - or actual hunger.

Over eleven percent of households lacked sufficient food in 2002, up from over ten percent in 2001. The trend likely continued. The Bush administration says it needs to take a second look at "definitions' in the report. That may mean there will be an effort to reduce the number of households counted as lacking enough food by redefining some of the terminology. That famously occurred during the Reagan administration. It attempted to redefine ketchup as a vegetable to bolster a claim school lunches for poor children were more nutritious than they were.

The Kerry campaign has countered that a sudden need to revise definitions is just a pretext for withholding the hunger report until after the election.

Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said the delay, coming just days before the election, was an example of the Bush administration withholding bad news from the American people. ``It is absolutely unacceptable for the government to hold back information like this from the public,'' Singer said.

Americans who care about whether their fellow citizens go hungry (some don't) know that despite the rhetoric of 'compassionate conservatism,' the poor and working-class have seen their already meager resources dwindle during the Bush years. The suppression of the report on hunger makes additional information that definitely provides food for thought unavailable to voters before they go to the polls.

posted by J. | 9:00 AM

Friday, October 29, 2004  


News: Old style racism mars S.C. election

Election officials in South Carolina report that a dirty trick that dates back to the civil rights movement is occurring there as Election Day approaches. The people behind the tactic, directed toward African-American voters, rely on frightening them, perhaps because of the old stereotype of blacks being easily scared. They also depend on the stereotype that all or most African-Americans are lawbreakers. Additionally, the perpetrators assume black people are stupid.

The Associated Press reports.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A bogus letter circulating in South Carolina, purporting to be from the NAACP, threatens the arrest of voters who have outstanding parking tickets or failed to pay child support. The NAACP said Friday the letter is a scare tactic and called for an investigation.

``I'm outraged,'' said Jill Miller, director of the Charleston County Board of Election and Voter Registration. ``This is so bogus.''

The Rev. Joe Darby, vice president of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he received the one-page letter - which had a Columbia postmark with no return address - at his Charleston home.

He said it was an attempt to frighten minorities from voting Tuesday because the letter-writer assumes black people are in trouble with the law.

``This is old South Carolina politics,'' said Darby. ``I don't think anybody will fall for this.''

. . .The letter also says voters must have a credit check, provide two forms of photo identification, a Social Security card, a voter registration card and a handwriting sample.

``None of that is true,'' said Miller. ``I certainly hope no voter would be taken in by this.''

The overwhelming majority of African-Americans in South Carolina traditionally vote for Democratic candidates. Republicans would benefit from suppressing their votes.

Reasonably related

The Daily Kos says incidents of voter suppression can be traced to the GOP.

posted by J. | 10:20 PM

Tuesday, October 26, 2004  


News: League of the South assails SPLC

The League of the South, one of the largest racist organizations in the country, had its annual convention last weekend. That meant is was time for antics meant to raise the group's profile and insult its enemies. Meeting in Mobile, Alabama, members of the LOS protested at the civil rights monument and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The monument is a memorial to the Americans who fought to end desegregation. The SPLC is the foremost authority on hate groups in the United States. It has also brought lawsuits that thwarted the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nations and compensated victims of violence by bigots.

The League is an outgrowth of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens Councils of earlier decades. It has the goals of a second secession of the South from the Union and the establishment of a nation in which only white, Christian males would have full citizenship. Within in the last three years, the LOS has more or less merged with the increasingly strident Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The Mobile Advertiser covered this weekend's protests.

About 30 protesters, in Montgomery for the National League of the South's annual meeting, waved Confederate and state flags and held up signs calling center director Morris Dees a "scalawag."

At the corner of Washington Avenue and South Hull Street sat a toilet with jeans-clad legs protruding from the bowl. A sign said "Flush the SPLC."

Dees, whose mother died Friday, could not be reached for comment.

Robert B. Hayes, director of the South Carolina League of the South, said the group was there to protest the center, which he called a "hate institution."

Yes, the old inversion trick. Take plain meaning and turn it upside down. That is one of the maneuvers real hate groups use to avoid being identified as what they are. Another is hiding behind religion. To hear neo-Confederates tell it, they the most religious people in America. Protection of Christianity is one of the pretexts offered for last weekend's activities.

Hayes and Ray McBerry, chairman of the group's Georgia chapter, blasted the center for its attempts to keep a controversial Ten Commandments monument out of the Alabama Judicial Building.

"There is no constitutional requirement for states not to support religion," Hayes said. "You will not find separation of church and state anywhere in the Constitution."

I could have sworn it is in the First Amendment, applied to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment.

When one looks behind the scrim of piety that permeates the neo-Confederate movement, one finds justification for its beliefs. Their version of Christianity affirms white supremacy and male dominance. Love thy brother as thyself seems to have completely been overlooked.

Read the entire story in the Advertiser and you will notice a dearth of context. The actions of the LOS members are described, and their remarks dutifully recorded. But, not a word about the history of the neo-Confederate movement or its role in Southern politics appears. If an indepth article were published, the paper would be met with a deluge of hate mail, and, protests from the 'heritage' movement. So, few media in the South report fully about the League of the South and its brothers, the Council of Conservative Citizens and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. That's the way it is -- in 2004.

What's the art?

The new and improved flag of Georgia. Neo-Confederates hate it because it does not bear the Confederate cross.

Reasonably related

~ The League of the South online.

~ Among speakers at the convention was a candidate for president -- Michael Peroutka of the Consitution Party, an LOS member.

posted by J. | 6:35 PM

Monday, October 25, 2004  

Law: Rehnquist treated for cancer

William Rehnquist, the jurist who has had the most impact on making the U.S. Supreme Court a bastion of the Right, has been treated for throat cancer. His illness, and his age, 80, are reminders that the next president will likely appoint one or more Supreme Court justices. Sen. John Kerry, the contender, has said he will not select justices who will attempt to withdraw constitutionally protected rights. Incumbent George W. Bush is believed to use whether judges are opposed to abortion as a litmus test for appointing them to judgeships.


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Chief Justice William Rehnquist has undergone throat surgery after a diagnosis of thyroid cancer, but is expected to be released from the hospital this week, according to the Supreme Court.

Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said the 80-year-old chief justice was admitted to the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland, on Friday, and underwent a tracheotomy Saturday.

Although no more details were released on Rehnquist's specific condition, thyroid cancer is generally one of the more curable forms of cancer. In many cases the thyroid is removed, and the individual undergoes hormone therapy thereafter.

Several other Supreme Court justices are veterans of cancer or very old. They include both women members of SCOTUS, Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The invasion and occupation of Iraq has emerged as the most important issue in the upcoming election. But, less publicized issues, such as appointments to the Supreme Court and the embryonic stem cell research controversy, could have as much as an impact on our future as the outcome of the ill-conceived invasion of Iraq.

Civil rights buffs will recall William Rehnquist began his political career harassing minority voters as a member of a vigilante group in Arizona. Democracy Now reviewed his history in 2000, as he helped decide the effect of voter disenfranchisement in Florida.

In 1964, Rehnquist demonstrated his segregationist sentiments when he fought the passage of a Phoenix ordinance permitting Blacks to enter stores and restaurants.

Between 1958 and 1962, when Rehnquist was a private attorney in Arizona, he served as the director of Republican "ballot security" operations in poor neighborhoods in Phoenix. Rehnquist was part of Operation Eagle Eye, a flying squad of GOP lawyers that swept through polling places in minority-dominated districts to challenge the right of African Americans and Latinos to vote. At the time, Democratic poll watchers had to physically push Rehnquist out of the polling place to stop him from interfering with voting rights.

Rehnquist's proclivities may have influenced the decisions he participated in as a Supreme Court justice.

posted by J. | 1:20 PM