George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.
Although the federal government secretly spied on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders in the past, Blacks are more willing than Whites to have their privacy rights invaded if it will help investigate possible terrorists.
A recent joint poll by the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post showed that a majority of Americans support the National Security Agency’s tracking of telephone and Internet records of millions of Americans in an effort to make them safe from terrorists.
According to the poll, 56 percent of Americans support the NSA obtaining special court orders to track telephone calls of millions of Americans to investigate terrorism. Forty-one percent found the practice unacceptable and 2 percent were undecided.
However, on several key security issues, Blacks were more accepting of government intrusion than Whites.
For example, pollsters asked this question: What do you think is more important right now – (for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy); or (for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats)?
When you drill down to the race of registered voters who were interviewed, there were significant racial differences. Of Whites polled, 60 percent said yes, the government should be able to monitor everyone’s email and online activities; 36 percent objected. Among all people of color, 67 percent said yes and 30 percent said no. But among registered African American voters, 75 percent – 15 percent more than Whites – replied that such invasions were fine with them while 23 percent objected.
Respondents were also asked: As you may know, it has been reported that the National Security Agency has been getting secret court orders to track telephone call records of MILLIONS of Americans in an effort to investigate terrorism. Would you consider this access to telephone call records an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism?
Overall, 56 percent of Americans said the NSA action was acceptable and 41 percent said it was unacceptable. A bare majority of Whites – 53 percent – found such activity acceptable, compared to 44 percent who considered it unacceptable. Among African-American voters, 62 percent found the practice acceptable and 37 percent found it unacceptable.
A similar divide appeared when respondents were asked: Do you think the U.S. government should be able to monitor everyone’s email and other online activities if officials say this might prevent future terrorist attacks?
Fifty-five percent of Black voters said yes and 44 percent said no. Among Whites, the numbers were flipped. Only 42 percent said yes and 55 percent said no.
Amazingly, Blacks are more trusting of the federal government even considering its past abuses.
As I mentioned in a column last year: “From 1956 to 1971, the FBI operated a program called COINTELPRO, an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program. Initially established to spy on organizations suspected of communist ties, the program was expanded by J. Edgar Hoover to include the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the National Lawyers Guild and other left-leaning groups.
“A congressional committee, chaired by Senator Frank Church, issued a report that concluded, ‘Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that…the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas protect the national security and deter violence.’”
The goal of COINTELPRO was to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, or otherwise neutralize” organizations that the FBI deemed “subversive.” The FBI harassed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. until his final days.
Under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover and with the approval of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the FBI wiretapped King’s home and office telephones, decided not to tell King of credible threats on his life, taped what the FBI claimed were illicit sexual activities and mailed them to Dr. King’s wife.
And perhaps in its most disgusting move, as David Garrow recounts in Bearing the Cross, a Pulitzer-Prize winning book about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, the FBI tried to get the civil rights leader to commit suicide.
An anonymous letter and copy of taped sex recordings were mailed to King at his SCLC office in Atlanta. The letter said, “There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
If anyone has reason to distrust the federal government’s monitoring of its citizens, it’s African Americans. Yet, we continue to hope against hope, placing our trust in people and institutions that have sought to destroy us.
The next major showdown in Washington may not be over how best to reduce the deficit or involve another Obama cabinet appointment. Look for sparks to fly over the president’s constitutional prerogative to nominate federal judges and the Senate’s responsibility to either confirm or reject those nominees.
The latest manifestation of this is President Obama’s decision to fill three vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a frequent stepping stone to the Supreme Court. The president said he is merely fulfilling his constitutional responsibility as president, but Republicans are accusing him of “packing the court.”
Clearly, the courts are anything but packed. In fact, more than 10 percent of all judgeships are unfilled. There are 87 vacancies, up from the 55 when Obama first took office.
To fully appreciate the significance of this standoff, it is important to remember that in their effort to radically shift the nation to the right over the past two decades, Republicans have gone all out to control the federal judiciary by placing young, arch conservatives on the bench.
According to a March 5 report by the Alliance for Justice titled, “The State of the Judiciary: Judicial Selection At the Beginning of President Obama’s Second Term,” Republican appointees still control the federal judiciary.
However, the study found, “Since the end of the Bush Administration, the percentage of Republican-appointed circuit judges dropped from 61.3% to 51.2%, and the percentage of Republican-appointed district court judges dropped from 58.6% to 53.6%.”
Political affiliation isn’t the only thing that is changing.
“President Obama’s nominees have been the most diverse in terms of race and gender in American history,” according to the report. “Forty-one percent of his appointees have been women and 36% have been people of color, a far higher percentage than any of his predecessors.”
Bill Clinton had the second-best record, with 29 percent of his appointees women and 24 percent people of color.
Obama’s record would have been even more impressive had he made nominations at the same pace of his immediate predecessors.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report on May 2, titled, “President Obama’s First Term U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations: An Analysis and Comparison with Presidents Since Reagan.”
It noted, “President Obama is the only one of the five most recent Presidents for whom, during his first term, both the average and median waiting time from nomination to confirmation for circuit and district court nominees was greater than half a calendar year (i.e., more than 182 days).”
There is plenty of blame to go around for such a slow confirmation pace, beginning with Obama.
“… Of the 81 circuit or district court vacancies that existed at the end of President Obama’s first term, 50 (or 61.7%) were vacancies for which, as of January 19, 2013, the President had not selected a nominee,” the CRS study found.
And even when Obama did submit names, the study found, his confirmation rate was lower than most of his immediate predecessors.
“Among the first five Presidents during their first terms… President G.H.W. Bush had the greatest number of circuit court nominees confirmed, 42. President Reagan had the greatest percentage of circuit nominees confirmed during his first term (86.8%). In contrast, President Obama had the second-lowest percentage of circuit court nominees confirmed (71.4%) and is tied with President Clinton for having the lowest number of circuit nominees confirmed, 30.”
There was a similar pattern with district court nominees, with Obama having the second-lowest number and percentage confirmed.
Although Obama has done an impressive job appointing nominees who reflect racial and gender diversity, he has not done as well with professional diversity, according to the report by the Alliance for Justice. While Obama has appointed 99 ex-prosecutors, he has nominated only 33 former public defenders and 16 former academics.
Á professionally diverse judiciary better reflects the range of legal and societal experiences that judges bring to the bench,” the report observed. “A judiciary heavily slanted toward former corporate attorneys and prosecutors lack the perspective of lawyers who have represented clients in criminal defense, consumer and environmental protection, personal injury, and other public interest fields.”
Unlike Republicans, Obama has tended to nominate older candidates to the bench, averaging 51.3 years old. That’s typically 2-5 years older than Republican appointees. And that could come back to haunt Democrats in the future.
“Because federal judicial appointments are for life, Republican presidents have repeatedly nominated people under 50 to circuit court seats, and in fact have placed a premium on selecting
Young nominees,” the Alliance for Justice study stated. “As for district court seats, President Reagan nominated over 30 people under 40 years old to the district court bench, while President Obama has nominated only 5.
“Since young district court appointees are often prime candidates for subsequent elevation to the circuit courts, both President Obama and future Democratic presidents may have relatively few of these potential nominees to consider going forward.”
Women serve in almost every high-powered job in the United States: CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, Senators, university presidents, race car drivers and even astronauts. Yet, there are some male bozos who think women should be treated as inferior beings.
Conservative blogger and Fox contributor Erick Erickson is the latest man to come out of his cave.
After the publication of a Pew study that found that women are the primary or sole source of income in 40 percent of all American households that have minor children, Lou Dobbs had the poor judgment to assemble an all-male panel May 29 for “Lou Dobbs Tonight” to discuss the report.
LOU DOBBS: Erick, your thoughts on this study and what it portends?
ERICKSON: Lou, I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But this is — liberals who defend this and say it’s not a bad thing are very anti-science.
When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society, and the other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complementary role. We as people in a smart society have lost the ability to have complementary relationships in nuclear families, and it’s tearing us apart.
And what I find interesting in the survey is that three-quarters of the people surveyed recognize that having moms as the primary breadwinner is bad for kids and bad for marriage, and reality shows us that’s the truth.
After pushback from a lot of women, many of them conservative, Erickson tried to clean up his remarks the next day on his radio show, but only made matters worse.
It is a fact that children in a two parent, heterosexual household tend to have a more stable upbringing and a better chance of success than those of single parents or gay parents. This is a fact. This is not to insult gay parents. This is not to insult single parents. It’s just a fact. And the, of the subset of children who are raised in a two-parent, nuclear, heterosexual household, children where the father is the one who is the leader of the family, or the breadwinner of the family, however you want to say it, tend to out-perform those where the mother is the primary provider of the family outside of the home. Those are the facts. All I have done is pointed them out.
… And I understand that some women believe they can have it all, and that’s the crux of the problem. I have to tell you, as a man, where women are told that men have so many more advantages in society, we can’t have it all. Women, you can’t have it all either. Life is a series of compromises and choices.
“America Live” anchor Megyn Kelly challenged her Fox News colleague.
KELLY: So I’ll start with you, Erick. What makes you dominant and me submissive, and who died and made you scientist-in-chief?
ERIKSON: …This isn’t healthy for society when we think that roles of gender are completely — can be interchangeable. No one’s saying women can’t be or shouldn’t be a breadwinner or even the primary breadwinner. It’s just that when we forced ourselves to this point in society where they have to be, that’s not a good, healthy thing for society.
Other women Fox contributors also weighed in.
“I’m sincerely confused as to why you used behavior of animals to suggest that women shld stay at home,” Fox political analyst Kristen Powers tweeted.
Katie Pavlich wrote on her Twitter account, “Not offended by idea of a strong male leading the household, offended he implied women aren’t capable of doing so.”
MediaMatters, the press watchdog group, noted, “What the study highlighted, and what Erickson and his fellow Fox News commentators ignored, is the persistent class divide among mothers. According to the data, married mothers who earned more than their husbands were ‘disproportionally white and college educated.’ The single mothers, on the other hand, were ‘more likely to be black or Hispanic, and less likely to have a college degree.’ They also made significantly less: single mothers in the study had a median income of $23,000, about a quarter of the median income of couples with a female primary earner. If those single mothers were never married, their median income dropped to $17,400, hovering near the poverty threshold.
“Furthermore, though more women may be ‘breadwinners,’ women still earn significantly less than men. The report showed that 75 percent of husbands still make more than their wives. In fact, women’s wages decreased in 2012, causing the gender-wage gap to widen with women earning only 80.9 percent of what men earned, or about $163 dollars less per week.”