Thursday Reads: Obama and CBC, Judging Protesters, Net Neutrality, SCOTUS, and Sly Stone

Good Morning!! Let’s start out with a little fire and brimstone. Glen Ford had a rousing rant at the Black Agenda Report about Obama’s disgusting treatment of the CBC last weekend. Here’s just a sample:

…in the same week that he bowed down to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the assembled nations of the world, in New York City, Obama took his church voice to the Congressional Black Caucus annual awards dinner to very pointedly demand that Blacks stop bugging their president about the economic catastrophe that has befallen them, and his own role in it. “Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes,” Obama hectored. “Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”

Black Caucus chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver had earlier told reporters, “If Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this [Black unemployment] problem, we probably would be marching on the White House.” But Obama came to lay down the law: any marching that you might do will be for my re-election.

The well-oiled crowd cheered….

The Black Caucus, as a body, meekly murmured and mumbled as the administration transferred the equivalent of the U.S. gross domestic product to the banks while Black America disintegrated. Now, with Obama’s numbers falling, he has very publicly commanded them to shut up and perform what he believes is their only legitimate function: to get him re-elected. In the looming contest, he will again resort to Black-baiting whenever it is useful to shore up white support. In that – as with his foreign and domestic policies – Obama is no different than white corporate politicians. His one great distinction, is to have a core constituency that cares more for his security and dignity, than their own.

Sad but true.

In yesterday’s morning post, Minx highlighted the way so many “progressives” are criticizing Occupy Wall Street for all kinds of irrelevant reasons. Glenn Greenwald wrote a very good piece about it: What’s behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests? But I especially liked Kevin Gosztola’s piece at FDL.

Traditional media have characterized the plurality of voices and the number of issues the occupation is seeking to challenge as a weakness. Establishment media has been openly condescending. Ginia Bellafante’s report in the New York Times has generated significant attention for her focus on the fact that some “half-naked woman” who looks like Joni Mitchell to her is the leader of this movement of “rightly frustrated young people.” Bellafante accuses the protesters of lacking “cohesion” and “pantomiming progressivism rather than practice it knowledgeably.” NPR reiterated NYT’s focus on the “scattered nature of the movement” in its coverage of the occupation (and tellingly used a photo of a man holding a sign that reads “Satan Controls Wall St”). Local press have treated the occupiers as if they are a tribe or a group of nomads focusing on occupiers’ behavior instead of trying to understand the real reason why people are in the park.

Liberals have shown scorn, too, suggesting the occupation is not a “Main Street production” or that the protesters aren’t dressed properly and should wear suits cause the civil rights movement would not have won if they hadn’t worn decent clothing.

The latest show of contempt from a liberal comes from Mother Jones magazine. Lauren Ellis claims that the action, which “says it stands for the 99 percent of us,” lacks traction. She outlines why she thinks Zuccotti Park isn’t America’s Tahrir Square. She chastises them for failing to have one demand. She claims without a unified message police brutality has stolen the spotlight. She suggests the presence of members of Anonymous is holding the organizers back writing, “It’s hard to be taken seriously as accountability-seeking populists when you’re donning Guy Fawkes masks.” And, she concludes as a result of failing to get a cross-section of America to come out in the streets, this movement has been for “dreamers,” not “middle class American trying to make ends meet.”

First off, nobody in the last week can claim to be reporting on Occupy Wall Street and genuinely claim it isn’t gaining traction. Ellis conveniently leaves out the fact that Occupy Wall Street is inspiring other cities to get organized and hold similar assemblies/occupations. Second, if the protesters did have one demand, does Ellis really think that would improve media coverage? Wouldn’t pundits then be casting doubt on whether the one demand was the appropriate singular demand to be making? Third, so-called members of Anonymous are citizens like Ellis and have a right to participate in the protest. It is elitist for Ellis to suggest Occupy Wall Street should not be all-inclusive. And, finally, there is no evidence that just “dreamers” are getting involved. A union at the City University of New York, the Industrial Workers of the World, construction workers, 9/11 responders and now a postal workers and teachers union have shown interest in the occupation.

Gosztola is a young guy who replaced Emptywheel after she left FDL. He focuses on human rights issues, and he does a nice job.

It’s interesting that the progs keep comparing the Occupy Wall Street protesters to those in Civil Rights Movement of the ’50s and ’60s, claiming that protesters should wear suits! Obviously these “very serious” yuppie bloggers don’t recall the ’60s anti-war movement. I can just imagine their shock at some of the outfits we wore in those days.

The New York Times published an odd interpretation of the world-wide protest phenomenon that minimized demonstrations: As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe, by Nicholas Kulish. Kulish explains the protests as disillusionment with voting. And why shouldn’t we all be turned off by voting when it gets us nothing but a bunch of corrupt, greedy a$$holes who stab taxpayers in the back repeatedly and suck up to the top 1%?

Not surprisingly, there is only one reference to the anti-Wall Street protests, and the organizers, Occupy Wall Street aren’t mentioned at all. Also not mentioned are the supportive protests beginning in other U.S. cities. And Kulish never mentioned Wisconsin at all!

Last week the FCC announced new net neutrality rules, and now lawsuits from both sides of the issue are starting.

Verizon and Metro PCS, both wireless carriers, had already made clear their intention to sue and were widely expected to be the first to do so. Instead, they were beaten to court by the activist group Free Press—one of the strongest supporters of network neutrality.

Free Press has asked a federal appeals court to review the FCC’s rules—not because it finds them too strong, but because it finds them too weak. The group particularly objects to the way in which wireless companies are exempted from most of the meaningful anti-discrimination policies in the rules. While wireless operators can’t block Internet sites outright, and can’t simply ban apps that compete with their own services, they can do just about anything else; wired operators can’t.

Free Press complains about the “decision to adopt one set of rules for broadband access via mobile platforms and a different set of rules for broadband access via fixed platforms.” The distinction, it says, is “arbitrary and capricious” and it violates the law.

In a statement, Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said, “Our challenge will show that there is no evidence in the record to justify this arbitrary distinction between wired and wireless Internet access. The disparity that the FCC’s rules create is unjust and unjustified. And it’s especially problematic because of the increasing popularity of wireless, along with its increasing importance for younger demographics and diverse populations who rely on mobile devices as their primary means for getting online.

Here is a summary of the final FCC rules, from Connected Planet:

The FCC highlighted a total of four rules, which specify that:

— A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choice regarding use of such services and for content, application, service and device providers to develop, market and maintain Internet offerings

— A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service . . . shall not block lawful content, applications, services or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.

— A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service . . . shall not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic over a consumer’s broadband Internet access service.

— A person engaged in the provision of mobile broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block consumers from accessing lawful websites, subject to reasonable network management; nor shall such person block applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services, subject to reasonable network management.

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I’m sure you’ve heard that the Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to rule on the health care law ASAP. Dalia Lithwick at Slate had an interesting article on the case: The Supreme Court is less interested in ruling on Obama’s health care law than you think.

Apparently the Obama administration believes that 2012 will not be crazy enough already. That would explain why it has decided not to appeal a ruling from a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the individual mandate at the heart of its health reform law. Instead of asking the full, 11-member court to hear the case, the administration has voluntarily cleared the path toward the Supreme Court as early as this spring. That means there could be a ruling by the end of June, just a few months before the election.

Right now the individual mandate has been upheld, by a 2-1 margin by the Sixth Circuit and struck down 2-1 at the 11th Circuit, while the Virginia lawsuit challenging the act was dismissed on procedural grounds at the Fourth Circuit. This split between the federal appeals courts almost demands that the high court agree to hear the case, as does the fact that it’s the Justice Department filing the appeal.

Lithwick discusses the opinions of other writers on why the administration is doing this now. Then she offers her own assessment:

I remain unsure that there just are five justices at the high court eager to have the court itself become an election-year issue. I don’t think Chief Justice John Roberts wants to borrow that kind of partisan trouble again so soon after Citizens United, the campaign-finance case that turned into an Obama talking point. And I am not certain that the short-term gain of striking down some or part of the ACA (embarrassing President Obama even to the point of affecting the election) is the kind of judicial end-game this court really cares about. Certainly there are one or two justices who might see striking down the ACA as a historic blow for freedom. But the long game at the court is measured in decades of slow doctrinal progress—as witnessed in the fight over handguns and the Second Amendment—and not in reviving the stalled federalism revolution just to score a point.

That’s why I suspect that even if there are five justices who believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional, there probably aren’t five votes to decide that question in this instant. Lyle Denniston over at Scotusblog reminds us that the court has a lot of options to forestall a showdown with the president. If the justices opt to consider the technical question raised at the Fourth Circuit—about who has legal standing to challenge the mandate in the first place—the court could dodge the constitutional question altogether until 2015, when the first penalties will be paid. It’s not so much a matter of the court having to decide whether to bring a gavel to a knife fight. It’s just that this isn’t really this court’s knife fight in the first place.

Roman Polanski is back in the news, because he supposedly “apologized” to the woman he raped when she was only 13.

In a documentary about his life, the Oscar-winning director, 78, admitted Samantha Geimer had been left scarred by his exploitation three decades ago. The Polish-French film maker publicly apologised for the first time for his “mistakes” that included the sexual attack on Mrs Geimer, now 47.

The director of Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown admitted she was a “double victim” after being caught up in the subsequent media storm, forcing her to move to Hawaii for privacy.

The married mother-of-three successfully sued him and accepted a private apology in 2009, saying she had been left more traumatised by ensuing legal battles to bring him to justice than the assault itself.

Finally, here’s another celebrity story: According to the New York Post, 1960s rock star Sly Stone is homeless, living in a van in L.A.

Today, Sly Stone — one of the greatest figures in soul-music history — is homeless, his fortune stolen by a lethal combination of excess, substance abuse and financial mismanagement. He lays his head inside a white camper van ironically stamped with the words “Pleasure Way” on the side. The van is parked on a residential street in Crenshaw, the rough Los Angeles neighborhood where “Boyz n the Hood” was set. A retired couple makes sure he eats once a day, and Stone showers at their house. The couple’s son serves as his assistant and driver.

Inside the van, the former mastermind of Sly & the Family Stone, now 68, continues to record music with the help of a laptop computer.

“I like my small camper,” he says, his voice raspy with age and years of hard living. “I just do not want to return to a fixed home. I cannot stand being in one place. I must keep moving.”

It’s a pretty nice van, BTW. But the LA Times says if Stone is homeless, it’s his own choice.

If Sly Stone is homeless, it’s by choice and not necessity, according to sources close to the funk legend.

Stone’s attorney Robert Alan has supposedly rented a four-bedroom home in Woodland Hills for his client, one unnamed source told Showbiz411 exclusively. “He’s too paranoid to come inside,” another source told writer Roger Friedman. That person was described as a friend of the singer.

Though Alan wouldn’t comment on the rental house, Friedman said, the lawyer confirmed that Sly Stone documentarian Willem Alkema had paid the singer $5,000 upfront for a recent interview. (An additional $2,000, source unknown, was reportedly paid when the story was picked up.) Alkema, whom Friedman says is trying relaunch his documentary and could benefit from the publicity, co-wrote Sunday’s “Sly Stone Is Homeless and Living in a Van” article for the New York Post.

That’s not to say Stone hadn’t admitted struggling with drugs, nor that he isn’t in financial trouble of the maybe-a-$50-million-lawsuit-will-fix-it variety — he sued former manager Jerry Goldstein in early 2010, alleging fraud and the diversion of $20 million to $30 million in royalties.

I’m just glad to know that Sly is still with us. What a great band he had. I remember seeing Sly and the Family Stone at an outdoor concert at Harvard Stadium–I think it was in 1969. It was fabulous! So in honor of Sly and nostalgia…

So…. what are you reading and blogging about today?

23 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Obama and CBC, Judging Protesters, Net Neutrality, SCOTUS, and Sly Stone”

  1. paper doll says:

    great post!


    His one great distinction, is to have a core constituency that cares more for his security and dignity, than their own.


    ouch…and boy does Obie know how to work that gig. Glad to see someone complaining about HIM lecturing people about work! I guess he thinks they should trade in the bed room slippers for golf cleats ? And as long as they clap when he takes them to the wood shed,…well… what can one say? How does a Dem primary this guy? They can’t while he owns the AA vote…and he does ….which his handles counted on .It would be nice if , for once, he lectured the GOP to stop complaining and was nice to his core constituency …wouldn’t it?

    BAR calls Obama’s “g” dropping in front of black audiences his “church ” voice. It’s pretty appalling when he does it.The patronizing condescension gushes from the podium.

    Sly Stone music was and is amazing… individual, ahead of its time and very influential.
    I thought Sly went to the everyday people place awhile ago! Glad to know he’s still around .
    One can’t hear his classics without moving

    • Peggy Sue says:

      Obama did the preacher speak in Detroit on Labor Day. I found it disgusting. Detroit. Where unemployment is 50%, where the mayor was deciding what parts of the city he’ll service with police, trash pickup, etc., where they haven’t had enough resources to bury their own dead and Obama does the Preacher-Man act: I’m here for you. Reelect me.

      Gag! And even more revolting? People cheered: Four more years, Four more years.

      You can’t make this shit up. I wondered how much they had paid the front row cheer squad.

      I’m also aghast at how many people want to piss all over the NYC protests. Particularly liberals. They’re too young, they aren’t organized, they’re wasting their time, yada, yada, yada. At least they’re doing something, pushing back, encouraging others to do the same. And the movement has spread to other cities. Things have to start somewhere.

      God knows, elections won’t change anything. Same old, same old.

      Btw, Dylan Ratigan has started his GetTheMoneyOut push. Anyone interested can sign on and get updates for the passage of an amendment to strip out the corrosive and corrupting nature of money in our electoral process. Is it pie in the sky? Sure it is. And that’s why I love it. To touch the sky, you have to reach for it. They’re pushing for 1+ million signatures and offer updates on where the movement is going. Ratigan has a public platform to move something like this forward. Link here for an explantion and links to signing:

      In addition, I received a surprising email from New York AG Eric Schneiderman, thanking me for my ‘thumbs up’ note as he pushes the investigation forward on malfeasance in the housing collapse. It’s a small thing. But even this gives me encouragement. There are people of goodwill and honesty out there. The trick is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with each and every one of them.

      • paper doll says:

        I’m also aghast at how many people want to piss all over the NYC protests. Particularly liberals. They’re too young, they aren’t organized, they’re wasting their time, yada, yada, yada. At least they’re doing something, pushing back, encouraging others to do the same. And the movement has spread to other cities. Things have to start somewhere


        Indeed, but as Glenn Greenwald pointed out, unless something comes from and benefits Dem candidates , the pro left isn’t interested…frankly the kids are working THIER corner. ( how dare they! ) Which in their view is to make protest nosies for fundraising sake and then cave in to what the power elite wants ( over and over) vowing to fight “next time” …I LOVE the style make over comments…the freedom riders were successful because they wore suits???! One’s WTF meter goes off the chart on that one LOL!! And as BB points out….they are over looking the protests later in the ’60’s by that remark. The lameness of their excuses beggers belief. But if this keeps up, the unions will soon be dispatched to muzzle the movement…hopefully it will resist…and I say that having been in a union family since 1912…but the national legacy ones aren’t what they use to be imo.

      • These rank amateurs would do much better with their protest if they were more agreeable. Listen to others who are not protesting on how to protest better.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I just don’t believe working within the system is ever going to accomplish anything. It didn’t work back in the ’60s and ’70s and it definitely won’t work now. I’m sure Dylan Ratigan means well, but I’ve had it with signing petitions and writing to my Congresspeople. Nothing but in-their-face demonstrations in public places is going to change a f–king thing. In previously administrations, more than 6-7 percent unemployment would cause panic. With Obama, nothing.

      • madamab says:

        I like “Get the Money Out.” It is a simple, not liberally-identified message. Anyone can understand it.

        I have had more than one experience trying to get protests going, and I do criticize “Occupy Wall Street” for not having a simple message. Historically, movements that present mixed messages do not succeed. “Inclusiveness” is not a policy statement. And while I don’t think that people should be excluded in general, I do not think that half-naked women (unless everyone is half-naked) are helpful.

  2. Ellis says:

    “In the looming contest, he will again resort to Black-baiting whenever it is useful to shore up white support.”

    “Black-baiting” isn’t something that appeals to Democrats in general or to liberals specifically, so I assume that Glen Ford is referring to 0bama’s white supporters among independents and conservatives.

    • bostonboomer says:

      A lot of the progs who supported Obama might fit the type Ford is talking about–especially the wealthy elites on Wall Street and in corporations. They wanted a black President to show how open-minded they are, but they don’t actually want to bring the mass of African Americans into the middle class.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Setti Warren, the guy the MA Dems were supporting for Senate is pulling out of the race, eclipsed by Elizabeth Warren.

    • paper doll says:

      wow..the Kerry ” touch” strikes again . Can’t wait to see him as SOS / snark/sob .
      I said Liz should be GLAD Kerry wanted Seth…

  4. purplefinn says:

    Wow, what a rich array. Just beginning to follow the vote protests link. Perhaps some of the criticism of protesters is a diversionary tactic by people who aren’t willing to put themselves on the line. They want a protest to get behind that is certain to be successful and guaranteed not to hurt them – doesn’t exist.

  5. Gregory says:

    I think that Obama is the first true Wal-Mart president. The man is into rollbacks. He is rolling back everything AA’s and poor people have gained throughout the years.

    Also, any time a wealthy entertainer or athlete goes broke due to financial mismanagement or bad investments I always think that someone stole their money from them. Granted, a lot of these turkey’s spend lavishly on ridiculous crap but I’ve got to think that even the worst financial minds can understand when to stop spending.

    Personally, I’ve got no sympathy for many of these people. Yeah, it is bad that Obama is screwing the AA’s over but the warning signs were there. The man should never have been nominated or elected President. Any asshat who has the nerve to go in front of teachers on the campaign trail and promote charter schools and lecture them about doing a poor job is nothing more than a creep. The fact that after that incident teachers got out in droves and voted for the man is disgusting. I have no sympathy.

    As for that Stone character I am guessing he is mentally ill which is one of the primary causes of homelessness in the good old USA. That really is a shame to me. Nobody every should be homeless here. Maybe it is the liberal in me and I think that we all should have free housing up to a point but people don’t have to live in LA or a glitzy, glamorous lifestyle. Where I live in Texas you can by a decent home all day long for under 30K. Rent here is mostly under $500 bucks a month. My wife and I have lived in the same house in a marginal but safe neighborhood for the last 12 years. Next month we don’t owe a penny. Even here people can get their utilities paid, their rent paid, etc. So what if you have to actually get a job and pay some bills. All the rest of us do it.

  6. The Rock says:

    I posted this last night, but with BB’s morning news filled with the thrill of future race baiting by this administration, i felt it needed to show up again. I don’t even know what to say about this. The Obot sycophants are picking strawman fights with invisible opponents. This one doesn’t even make sense. Except that the Obumbles team must be scared. Their internal polling must be in the toilet for them to be pulling this tactic out this early.


    Hillary 2012

    Nice roundup BB! We don’t hear nearly enough about the Occupy campaigns going on right now, and Bumbles won’t say anything about it publicly. It will be interesting to see who benefits from the HC law’s legal showdown. I’m guessing the GOP is looking forward to the spin.

  7. Fannie says:

    Sly’s homelessness is like a cancer, it keeps spreading when not dealt with early on……..
    I use to go to his parties in Marin, north of S.F. He is a great guy, and I had no ideal what he was doing, and I thought that Michael Jackson brought the royalities from his music.

    More important, I am glad he is still connected to music………that is his reason for living, his life, and not his battle about being homeless.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has overturned a court ruling sentencing a woman to 10 lashes for breaking a ban on female drivers, reports say.

  9. dakinikat says:

    I guess giving them taxpayer funded bailouts to provide them with highly profitable years just wasn’t enough…

    Bank of America to start charging $5/month in 2012 for debit card purchases

    BOA should be pulled apart via the country’s anti monopoly laws.

  10. purplefinn says:

    Two comments from BB’s link: As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe


    I was there for the civil rights movement. I was there for the anti-war movement. I was there for the women’s march on the Pentagon…and then for two decades I got co-opted into believing the system was actually gonna work for me. Now, I’m almost sixty, unemployed for three years with a husband who just lost his job through an e-mail. Our health insurance is $800 a month, and he gets $160 a week in unemployment. Well guess what we’ve got? Time. I stand in solidarity with those on Wall Street and am ashamed that it took this long to bring me back to the essential truth of what this country is about. Unbridled corporate greed.


    Street protests are an indication of a disconnect between people and lawmakers. Demonstrators would not bother with these inconvienient and time consuming displays if they felt their positions were fully represented in policy debates.

    A move to proportional representation would enhance and legitimitize our democracy by ensuring that the views of all participants are considered, all the time. In the US context, proportional representation would usher in a multi-party electoral system that would bring fresh solutions to our problems and greatly reduce the sense of alienation most people feel toward teir government.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Here’s another comment I agree with:

      The headline for this article is extremely misleading, making it look like the protesters scorn the principle of voting, when it is the corruption of the voting process – the undermining of the vote, that protesters are fed up with.

      I would just like the Times to explain why this article did not reference Occupy Wall Street or the Wisconsin protests.