Obama’s Re-Elected What Next? Michael Skolnik of Global Grind & Hip Hop Activist Rosa Clemente Weigh In

With the re-election of President Barack Obama, we been having a series of discussions on Hard Knock Radio with key activists and organizers all over the country about the next steps we should be taking. This is an important conversation considering how concerned and dissatisfied many were feeling in the weeks and months leading up to the 2012 election.

Many felt President Obama had come up short on a number of issues and was dreadfully wrong on others. Many who felt things weren’t headed in the right direction were cautioned that we should give the President time to get his bearings. We were told he inherited a tremendous mess and that change would not come overnight.

We were also told that President Obama was under tremendous pressure from his political opponents who were determined to limit him to one term. The type of obstruction Obama was up against in Congress was unprecedented. he amount of racism directed at him was unprecedented. Hence activist and organizers were encouraged to fall back and rally around the president with the goal of shielding him and getting him a second term.

That has finally happened the other night. In the aftermath of his re-election there should now be strong pushes for him to address issues of poverty, the plight of labor, ending the war and other imperialistic foreign policies, deading mass deportations and eradicating the ramped up domestic spying and erosion of constitutional rights via NDAA.

As Boots Riley of the Coup famously pointed out not too long ago, our vibrant movement for social justice where many of these key issues were being addressed and fought for long before Obama was even a presidential candidate somehow became morphed into a movement to get him into office. That was good for Obama but not necessarily good for the movement. The momentum garnered over the past 8 years should not have dwindled  It left us short-changed.

This time around, many are re-thinking, re-tooling and laying out plans of action for the next 4 years and beyond. Many activists are determined not to make the same mistake of jettisoning their respective movements for the sake of an elections. Others are determined to keep themselves and the people around politically engaged beyond 2 and 4 year contest. Still others are finding that its time to build from the ground up, by establishing strong local basis that can withstand any sort of national political storms.

Michael Skolnik

One of the people we interviewed a day or so after the election is Michael Skolnik who is editor and chief of Global Grind, which is an online publication owned by Hip Hop mogul Russell Simmons. Skolnik was also a surrogate for the Obama campaign.

During our interview we covered a range of topics including how to hold this President accountable to why we didn’t see more young people who voted in overwhelming numbers having visible seats at the table.

We discussed some of the problems that many had with Obama on key issues and what would be the best ways to push him and not get be obstructed by supporters who were over defensive.

We also talked about long term strategies and what we should be striving for during Obama’s second term. Skolnik offered some great insight and suggestions Peep the Hard Knock Radio interview below. Let us know what you think…

We also spoke with long time Hip Hop activist and former Green Party vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente. Rosa has long been pushing that the Hip Hop  generation move away from constraints of the democratic party and adopt a more radical and uncompromised politic. She feels Hip Hop has become too much of a mouthpiece for the democrats and has lost a lot of its bite and overall integrity, especially when it remains silent and actually cheerleads a president who embraces policies that Hip Hop folks have long stood against.

She talked about the importance of us focusing on younger voices, creating space for many who have been locked out and highlighting the work of on the ground organizations like the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement who never stopped organizing and pushing even with Obama in the White House.

Clemente noted that there’s been a pressure to vote over organizing and its led to folks believing that’s the only thing needed to be politically changed. This has been too much of an oversimplification in addressing systemic and complex problems and that perspective needs to be changed. With the re-election of Barack Obama, Clemente sees opportunity for endless possibilities for great change. She notes, the focus can now return to us  resolving our issues vs getting someone re-elected.

Rosa concluded our Hard Knock Radio interview by sharing her personal vision for change during which includes stepping up and strengthening the Green Party. .. Click the link below.

Was President Obama’s Re-Election About Our Hopes or Our Fears?

There’s a lot to reflect and say about last night’s election. The re-election of President Barack Obama brought enthusiastic cheers from all corners of the country. But one should be cautious and not misread those cheers. They weren’t the cheers of 2008 where there was literally dancing in the streets as history was made and folks were left hopeful.

Last night what we heard were cheers of relief. It was relief that came from millions of people having to endure he humiliation of chaos at the polls , where many wound up standing for up 6 or 7 hours or were aggressively questioned by Tea Party backed True the Vote poll watchers who suspected their eligibility, and a range other widespread voter suppression efforts.

Last night the cheers were being relieved of having to deal with Neandrathrolic behavior from sitting lawmakers who felt that there was ‘legitimate rape‘ and that women should not only not be allowed to have abortions, but shouldn’t have access to birth control

Last night we heard cheers of relief, because folks were fearful of having what little safety nets were left to be immediate dismantled or repealed on the day those seeking power took office…

Like it or not, Obama won last night’s election because of widespread politics of fear..not hope. Many who voted for him, did so with lots of dissatisfaction and disappointment on an array of policies the President championed or did not champion, but what they perceived was coming down the pipe was so frightening folks quickly got in line and pulled the lever for the President..

It was clear with Mitt Romney that there was a 47% of the population that needed to be ousted. He and many of his supporters felt like many of us were ‘leeches’ and no longer needed to be seen as fellow human beings… The mean-spirited racially charged policies being proposed and brought before the floor in Congress, sent a strong message to many, that there was a helluva a lot of white folks who were not playing around and were going all out to roll back anything and everything that had progressed in the past 50 years. That frightened people and Obama was a beneficiary.

Last night Mitt Romney had a voting base that consisted of 89% white people. That xenophobic angry base and how they see the world is best personified with the remarks of Bill O’Reilly and his Fox News cohorts. Its personified with the nasty tweets sent out by singer Ted Nugent where he refered to Obama supporters as whores and welfare cheats. Its personified by the angry tweets from Donald Trump who said the election was  sham and a travesty and America must fight to stop what had just happened.. (an Obama win)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZZt3jPDvNQ

Only time will tell if what we experienced was some grand exercise of Good Cop Bad Cop with the end game of getting everyone to reinvest into a system that has constantly failed people. But for now many are happy that they pushed back on something they felt would be irreversibly catastrophic. By voting and re-electing Barack Obama many who are part of a growing demographic of folks who feel they’re constantly marginalized felt like they were standing up and pushing back on the type of attitude expressed in the O’reilly video..

Unfortunately, it’ll take more than just voting. More push back is needed. It ranges from deading citizens united which allowed unlimited money to come into politics to having comprehensive election reform that restricts deceptive practices and voter suppression tactics. Close to 5 Billion dollars was spent for this past election..

It’s gonna require push back to stop the relentless attempts by corporate giants to own and privatize everything from our drinking water to FEMA which is what Mitt Romney proposed. It’s gonna require us to push back and demand economic and social justice..

All the forces that worried folks are still here, most likely plotting and scheming on how to better advance their cause. Bain Capitol and uncaring companies like it are still around and doing business as usual. In fact that might be vengeful and economically spurn their workers because of the win.

The forces behind banning ethnic studies books in Arizona have not left. Those who wish to public education and privatize public universities are back at work gearing up for the next round of tuition hikes. Police are still gunning down Black people every 36 hours..The people who obstructed Obama and demonstrated racial hostility are still in Congress and the Senate.

The policies that Obama embraced or didn’t embrace are still in front of us..How will we get him to match the words he uttered in his speech last night that left many feeling re-charged?  How will we become partners in reshaping America so that beneficial for all vs being disposable tools who are only tapped when its election time? In short there’s lots more work to do and hopefully all of us are up to the challenge.

written by Davey D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddx8t6zGWxA

Voter Suppression Intimidations Tactics in Full Swing All Over the Country this Election Day

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_AN_jJ_BzA

Barbara Arnwine

After 2 years of campaigning and over 4 billion dollars spent, it all comes down to Election Day which is happening as we speak..Voter Suppression is everywhere with the power elite trying everything they can to stop folks from voting.. You can peep the video above where they tried to close the doors on people in Ohio.. Thank God Jasiri X, Bakari Kitwana, Angela Woodson and Paradise Gray were on hand..

Today we spoke with Barbara Arwine from the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights who broke down all the  Voter Suppression tactics are being used everywhere. you can listen to our interview by clicking the link below..

During our conversation she explained that there are long lines in many places where folks have stood for up to six hours as biased election boards have lessened voting sites and voting machines available for the public in some areas. In short folks are being discouraged to vote with the long lines

The Voter Suppression billboards erected by Clear Channel in Black neighborhoods in places like Cincinnati, Ohio, have been replaced by people driving tracks with mobile billboards.

The biggest problems is True The Vote, a Tea Party/ Koch Brother backed organization out of Texas which had as it’s goal to recruit one million vote challengers. As we speak in places like Pittsburgh, PA, African-American voters are being bombarded with TTV folks demanding to see IDS and questioning folks… The laws are that people do not have to answer or show any ID to anyone..In fact in almost all the states except Tennessee, restrictive voter ID laws have been struck down, but that hasn’t stopped True to Vote poll challengers from harassing people.

We are also finding that phone calls are being made telling folks they can vote over the phone. Some of these calls are coming from people pretending to be from the Board of Elections.. There is no such thing as voting by phone…

Here in the Bay Area, thousands of people woke up to deceptive flyers that rearranged voting endorsements from a Democratic club. On the new flyers Prop 37,the GMO labeling bill has switched from Vote YES to Vote NO.. That’s totally inaccurate and a distortion of what the Democratic club had stated..There has also been ballot tampering in nearby Vallejo.. People seeing any of this are being asked to call 1-866-OUR-VOTE

Our guest Barbara Arwine from the Lawyers Committee of Civil Rights said that what will need to happen after this election is nationwide election reform bill banning deceptive practices and voter suppression tactics..

Here’s our insightful intv w/ Barbara Arwine, giving us the lay of the land all over the country

Some Food For Thought on Cali’s Crazy & Controversial Propositions

Yes I know I posted this article earlier, but I’m having to do this again because apparently some of these popular social media sites including the one your reading FB wanted me to pay 2k to reach the large number of followers I spent 4 years building..

In the initial title of my post I called it a voter guide, which we believe triggered a pop up window asking for an obscene amount of loot, so we are reposting this with a different title..  In the meantime readers can do a couple of things to insure our blogs are showing up in your news feed..

1-Go to the our page and click the little “gear” they can add my page or others you like to their “interests” which will make posts from us appear in your timeline (all the time).

2-alert people that not all status updates are being delivered unless we pay some outrageous fee, so visit our page often.. Bookmark it can visit we will do the same for other. Thanks for understanding.. Now  here’s the article on Cali Propositions…

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With a few days left before Election Day, which is Tuesday November 6th 2012.. I wanted to weigh in on a few of the California state propositions and measures.. Yes all the attention is between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and billions are being spent to get one of them in the White House.. While watching that contest where more than 3 billion dollars has been spent, i wanna remind folks that neither Obama or Romney have any say so on ending the death penalty or 3 strikes in Cali..There are propositions on this years ballot where voters can make those two factors disappear or forever remain.. The hell with those who tell you voting doesn’t matter when you can walk in a elementary school classroom in any hood and damn near every hand is raised if you ask ‘do you have a parent. older sibling or close relative in jail?

The hell with those telling you not to vote when you look at the fact we built 34 new jails in Cali over the past 20 years vs one university. Most doing time are for minor or low-level drug related offenses.. Many of those incarcerated are also getting out with no rehabilitation, training or prospect for employment so they wind up re-offending and heading back.. While the prison population booms, we have a powerful set of corporate backed politicians, many of them Democrats sadly, who are gung-ho about privatizing the California University and college system. The head of the CSUC system recently said students are lazy and that anyone who was a super senior, meaning they been there more than 4 years needs to be kicked out to make room for new students.

Chancellor Charles B Reed who recently stepped down, ignored the fact that tuitions in some universities have increased by 300% in the past 5 years..yes you read that right tuition has increased by 300% Schools that were once free for all Californians now have students strapped with loan debts of 15, 20 and even 30k by their 3rd and 4th years. Many students are holding down 2 and 3 jobs which means their stays at the university are longer, but we still have people like Reed and many on the Board of Trustees at CSUC and on the Board of Regents at UC who not only think like him, but are hell-bent on implementing more tuition hikes and policies to destroy these once revered public schools.. There are propositions on the ballot that will immediate stop proposed fee hikes and turn things around.. Obama and Romney have nothing to do with any of this…

There is a measure on the ballot that will make foods companies tell you when they are using GMOs (genetically modified organisms). It’s a bill against big agribusinesses like Monsanto who routinely sue farmers and other countries and small farmers because their patented seeds blow into other people’s farms and sprout up. Monsanto considers it theft. They’ve also been spending 10s of millions to defeat Prop 37. Obama and Romney have nothing to do with that…

This Monday at 4pm on Hard Knock Radio heard on 94.1 FM KPFA we will being doing a round table with community folks about the propositions… In the meantime here’s a few resources to get you acclimated and here’s my personal endorsements..

California-Calls-2012-voter-Guide2.pdf

http://www.theballot.org/guides/CA

Davey D’s 2012 Proposition Picks

Proposition 30-Vote Yes Save Education..This is a proposition against the 1%. It’s a vote against those who wish to raise tuitions and privatize the UC, CSUC and community colleges. The measure will temporarily raise sales taxes on the wealthiest Californians, many who pay lower rates the majority of us.. Keep in mind many of the folks pushing to raise tuitions at these schools got to go to them for free. There’s no excuse for students coming out of UC to be owing more in student oans then students coming of Ivory League schools. Education is a Right not a Privilege.. VOTE YES on PROP 30

Proposition 31 Vote NO… Govt Accountability.. This proposition is designed to streamline the often confusing and stagnant budget process in Sacramento. It highlights a pay as you go ethos, meaning that no program can be supported unless there’s money to pay for it or there is a revenue stream attached to it.. It also allows any governor to unilaterally cut out programs. It also allows local city government to set up its own rules as to who is and isn’t for state funded programs. I don’t know any way to describe this but to say its a slick confusing austerity measure program where the belief is that our budget crises is caused by folks who are recipients of safety net programs vs those who game the system by not paying their full share via tax loop holes etc.. I say VOTE NO on PROP 31

Proposition 32 Vote No... This is a real sinister bill. It masquerades like it’s a campaign finance reform bill when in reality its a pro-corporation anti-union bill. Given the obscene amounts of money spent on national and now local elections, many people are eager to get behind any bill that would reign the spending in and put a dent in the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. The problem is this bill doesn’t do that

Prop 32 is put together by folks who have the backing of large corporations, Big Oil, Superpacs, the Koch brothers and Karl Rove types all who would be exempt the campaign restrictions put into this bill. I kid you not, big businesses would be free to spend as much as they want like they always could on campaigns. Prop 32 is a bill designed to silence the few unions that are left..Keep in mind 30 years ago 20-25% of workers belonged to a union.. Nowadays its less than 7%..

Under Prop 32 workers in Cali who are trying to unionize Wal-Mart would be prohibited from giving money to campaigns that support their cause like raising the minimum wage, but their bosses who run Wal-Mart which spends millions on campaigns, candidates and superpacs, would be allowed to give unlimited amounts of money to anti-union candidates. This reminds me of Prop 209 from 15 years ago which was against affirmative action but advertised itself as a Pro- Civil Rights Proposition. This is a deceptive bill. Don’t be fooled VOTE NO on PROP 32

Proposition 33 Vote No. This is yet another proposition put together by big corporation with a deceptive premise. Its a bill put together by Mercury Car Insurance where they say they wanna add a hefty surcharge to certain drivers supposedly to save you money. That’s some real laughable BS. Here’s the breakdown..

Insurance companies have been pissed off ever since Cali voters put the clamp on them several years back. At every turn they been attempting to find loopholes and new ways to charge folks new fees. This is the latest scam. They wanna be able to raise rates on any driver who hasn’t had car insurance for 90 days in the past 5 years even if they didn’t own a car.. Yep you read that right..Even if you didn’t own a car they wanna charge you.

Over the past 5 years we had a crazy recession which meant in order to pay rent and put food on the table, many California cut back on everything from cable to internet to car repairs and to car insurance. Hella people, in particular students gave up their cars because things got so bad. The insurance companies now wanna go back and look at everyone’s records, see who dropped insurance and then raise their rates, even if they had stellar driving records.. They said they would make exceptions for soldiers and the unemployed. Don’t be fooled. Unemployed is not the same as Under-Employed which is what most Californians are and were over the past 5 years. VOTE NO on Prop 33.

Proposition 34 Vote Yes.. This a proposition designed to repeal the death penalty. On the surface the bill is no brainer for those of us who feel that far too many innocent folks are on death row, its inhumane to kill and unfairly and disproportionately applied to poor people and people of color. The flip side to this is that while it repeals the death penalty and convert folks to life in prison without the possibility of parole, it would also dead much of the appeals process.

The main complaint in some civic circles is that death row has cost tax payers millions and even billions because of the long appeals process each inmate under takes to save his/her life. While Prop 34 would stop folks from going to the death chambers it would also limit the appeals, so in theory you might have an innocent person doing life behind bars with no chance for appeal. This aspect has been cause for concern and divided many on the issue. I know many who have been incarcerated and heard folks who once were on death row speak to both sides of this issue.

I thought long and hard about this and decided to vote for Prop 34. First and foremost I wanna keep people alive especially if they are innocent. We can fight to make sure cases where its clear there are innocent folks locked up and get them free. We can’t bring innocent folks back who are killed by the state. VOTE YES on Prop 34

Proposition 35 Vote No.. Human Trafficking.. One of the worse things going on in this country is human trafficking. Here in Oakland its a major problem that extends well beyond petty criminals and wanna be pimps. There are serious organized rings that make Human Trafficking an international affair and it needs to be stopped with all those involved severely punished.

Prop 35 will increase sentences, but from the folks I spoke to who really study the criminal justice system, the language while well intentioned is also seriously vague which is a red flag.The way its written is that many consensual sex workers and prostitutes will be caught up getting harsh sentences vs the real culprits and pimping types who often remain hidden in the shadows. Its like a war on drugs where street sellers go to jail but king pins don’t.

We don’t wanna see another 3 strikes situation where we still have violence and hundreds of thousands of non-violent offenders locked up.. Many of the human rights and criminal justice advocates from the ACLU to Women’s Prisoners Coalition are not feeling this bill I think this needs to go back to the drawing board with clearer language and perhaps even a collaboration with those who don’t wanna see all sorts of folks unfairly and disproportionately swept up. A vote against this bill should not be the end in terms of folks fighting to end human trafficking. If folks choose to vote yes.. considering how bad this problem is.. I understand. I say VOTE NO on PROP 35

Proposition 36 Vote Yes.. End Mass Incarceration. This is a proposition designed to repeal California’s infamous 3 strikes law. Its return to Prop 66 which was proposed several years ago and was set to win before Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger threw his weight behind opposing it at the 11th hour. The prop lost by less than 5 thousand votes. Sadly there were many at that time who proclaimed voting was a fraud and didn’t mean anything so lots of folks stayed home and sat on their butts while many in their family and the community languished and still languish in Cali jails for non-violent minor offenses under 3 strikes. For example Black folks make up 7% of California’s overall population of 40 million and consist of over 45% of those incarcerated, the overwhelming majority for non violent offenses. This is a chance to get things corrected.

No this is not a bill designed to cuddle violent offenders. This is a bill designed to get folks out who shouldnt be there in the first place. We need to be working toward rehabilitating folks not warehousing them and thus far 3 strikes has done nothing but make money for the prison industrial complex without applying resources, time and attention to root causes of crime.. VOTE YES on PROP 36

Proposition 37 Vote Yes Food Labeling Bill.. We live in a day and time where millions of people are concerned about GMOs (genetically modified organisms and how they are used in foods we routinely consume. The feeling is many are not fully tested and the many do not want to be unwitting guinea pigs. GMOs come out of the pesticide industry and is motivated as a way to not lose crops vs making sure people’s health is improved. Many big agribusiness farms are behind the GMOs as well as big seed patent giant Monsanto.

Over the past few months tens of millions of dollars have been spent by corporate farmers and their lobbyists along with Coca Cola to stop Prop 37 which would require many foods to be labeled if they contain GMOs. The campaign to oppose Prop 37 has suggested that food prices would rise if they are required to include GMO labeling. They have also resorted to calling labeling GMOS a ‘deceptive practice’, using the language of activists and community groups. .

Millions of folks including myself say BS.. Outlets like Monsanto and their millions somehow got the NAACP to oppose Prop 37 which is a damn shame when you consider most civil rights groups and countries all over the world including Russia and China support labeling GMOs found in foods…It shows you the power of money. The rest of us are 100% behind this important initiative.. Right now there are 20 states with Food labeling initiatives.. All eyes are on California and the millions of fear based ads run by agribusiness to defeat the measure we say VOTE YES on Prop 37

Proposition 38 Vote No.. raise Taxes for Everyone.. This proposition basically came about in response to the push to tax the wealthiest Californians who don’t pay their fair share.. In short tax the 1%. This is basically embodied in Prop 30 and directly connected to stopping fee hikes at state colleges etc. Prop 30 is the measure proposed by Gov Jerry Brown..

The 1% folks got together and crafted Prop 38 which would raise taxes for 12 years on most Cali folks thus putting increased burdens on poor and working families. Prop 38 will absolutely do nothing to Stop the 6 billion dollars in deficit trigger cuts to happen later to education if passed. Prop 30 will stop immediate cuts..The concenses is the billionaire behind the measure Molly Hunger did this to confuse voters especially when she uses wording like this money can’t be touched by politicians in Sacramento. All money in Sac is touched.. Don’t be fooled.In the case of Prop 30 vs Prop 38 there is a transparency aspect to it where all can see where and how the money from these extra taxes are being used.. Vote NO on Prop 38

Proposition 39 Vote Yes.. Close Corporate Loopholes.. The best way to describe this bill is that it’s a way to stop instate outsourcing. In this case what we have are scores of big corporations here in Cali who operate in other states but don’t pay their share in Cali taxes. They use all our commons from freeways to police, fire and other infrastructure, but pay taxes elsewhere. They do this fancy financial trickery to avoid paying.. This bill closes those loopholes and is pretty much a no brainer..It would also push for companies to provide more jobs and training..Look if any of us do work out of state we pay taxes on the income earned.Lets make sure the big boys in business do the same.. VOTE YES on Prop 39

Proposition 40 Vote Yes Redistricting.. One of the most contentious process in government is around the issue of redistricting and how boundaries are drawn.. Over night we’ve seen long time incumbents removed from office that’s to the redrawing of district lines every ten years. The folks in charge have long been politicians. In some states it’s the governor. In other states it’s a governor and his appointees. In any cases district lines have been drawn to satisfy the political goals of those in power.

California decided to do something about this and had on the ballot a couple of years ago a proposition that created a council of citizens who got to redraw district lines. Needless to say this didn’t sit well with some Sacramento politicians, in particular Republicans have been the main opposition to this. If it fails redistrict lines will have to be redrawn again.. Call it a case of sour grapes on behalf of the GOP.. We say VOTE YES on PROP 40

 

Election 2012: Davey D’s California Statewide Proposition Picks & Voter Guide

With a few days left before Election Day, which is Tuesday November 6th 2012.. I wanted to weigh in on a few of the California state propositions and measures.. Yes all the attention is between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and billions are being spent to get one of them in the White House.. While watching that contest where more than 3 billion dollars has been spent, i wanna remind folks that neither Obama or Romney have any say so on ending the death penalty or 3 strikes in Cali..There are propositions on this years ballot where voters can make those two factors disappear or forever remain.. The hell with those who tell you voting doesn’t matter when you can walk in a elementary school classroom in any hood and damn near every hand is raised if you ask ‘do you have a parent. older sibling or close relative in jail?

The hell with those telling you not to vote when you look at the fact we built 34 new jails in Cali over the past 20 years vs one university. Most doing time are for minor or low-level drug related offenses.. Many of those incarcerated are also getting out with no rehabilitation, training or prospect for employment so they wind up re-offending and heading back.. While the prison population booms, we have a powerful set of corporate backed politicians, many of them Democrats sadly, who are gung-ho about privatizing the California University and college system. The head of the CSUC system recently said students are lazy and that anyone who was a super senior, meaning they been there more than 4 years needs to be kicked out to make room for new students.

Chancellor Charles B Reed who recently stepped down, ignored the fact that tuitions in some universities have increased by 300% in the past 5 years..yes you read that right tuition has increased by 300%  Schools that were once free for all Californians now have students strapped with loan debts of 15, 20 and even 30k by their 3rd and 4th years. Many students are holding down 2 and 3 jobs which means their stays at the university are longer, but we still have people like Reed and many on the Board of Trustees at CSUC and on the Board of Regents at UC who not only think like him, but are hell-bent on implementing more tuition hikes and policies to destroy these once revered public schools.. There are propositions on the ballot that will immediate stop proposed fee hikes and turn things around.. Obama and Romney have nothing to do with any of this…

There is a measure on the ballot that will make foods companies tell you when they are using GMOs (genetically modified organisms). It’s a bill against big agribusinesses like Monsanto who routinely sue farmers and other countries and small farmers because their patented seeds blow into other people’s farms and sprout up. Monsanto considers it theft. They’ve also been spending 10s of millions to defeat Prop 37. Obama and Romney have nothing to do with that…

This Monday at 4pm on Hard Knock Radio heard on 94.1 FM KPFA we will being doing a round table with community folks about the propositions… In the meantime here’s  a few resources to get you acclimated and here’s my personal endorsements..

Cali Calls Voter Guide 2012

http://www.theballot.org/guides/CA

Davey D’s 2012 Proposition Picks

Proposition 30-Vote Yes Save Education..This is a proposition against the 1%. It’s a vote against those who wish to raise tuitions and privatize the  UC, CSUC and community colleges. The measure will temporarily raise sales taxes on the wealthiest Californians, many who pay lower rates the majority of us.. Keep in mind many of the folks pushing to raise tuitions at these schools got to go to them for free. There’s no excuse for students coming out of UC to be owing more in student oans then students coming of Ivory League schools. Education is a Right not a Privilege.. VOTE YES on PROP 30

Proposition 31 Vote NO… Govt Accountability.. This proposition is designed to streamline the often confusing and stagnant budget process in Sacramento. It highlights a pay as you go ethos, meaning that no program can be supported unless there’s money to pay for it or there is a revenue stream attached to it.. It also allows any governor to unilaterally cut out programs. It also allows local city government to set up its own rules as to who is and isn’t for state funded programs. I don’t know any way to describe this but to say its a slick confusing austerity measure program where the belief is that our budget crises is caused by folks who are recipients of safety net programs vs those who game the system by not paying their full share via tax loop holes etc.. I say VOTE NO on PROP 31

Proposition 32 Vote No... This is a real sinister bill. It masquerades like it’s a campaign finance reform bill when in reality its a pro-corporation anti-union bill. Given the obscene amounts of money spent on national and now local elections, many people are eager to get behind any bill that would reign the spending in and put a dent in the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. The problem is this bill doesn’t do that

Prop 32 is put together by folks who have the backing of large corporations, Big Oil, Superpacs, the Koch brothers and Karl Rove types all who would be exempt the campaign restrictions put into this bill. I kid you not, big businesses would be free to spend as much as they want like they always could on campaigns. Prop 32 is a bill designed to silence the few unions that are left..Keep in mind 30 years ago 20-25% of workers belonged to a union.. Nowadays its less than 7%..

Under Prop 32 workers in Cali who are trying to unionize Wal-Mart would be prohibited from giving money to campaigns that support their cause like raising the minimum wage, but their bosses who run Wal-Mart which spends millions on campaigns, candidates and superpacs, would be allowed to give unlimited amounts of money to anti-union candidates. This reminds me of Prop 209 from 15 years ago which was against affirmative action but advertised itself as a Pro- Civil Rights Proposition. This is a deceptive bill. Don’t be fooled   VOTE NO on PROP 32

Proposition 33 Vote No. This is yet another proposition put together by big corporation with a deceptive premise. Its a bill put together by Mercury Car Insurance where they say they wanna add a hefty surcharge to certain drivers supposedly to save you money. That’s some real laughable BS. Here’s the breakdown..

Insurance companies have been pissed off ever since Cali voters put the clamp on them several years back. At every turn they been attempting to find loopholes and new ways to charge folks new fees. This is the latest scam. They wanna be able to raise rates on any driver who hasn’t had car insurance for 90 days in the past 5 years even if they didn’t own a car.. Yep you read that right..Even if you didn’t own a car they wanna charge you.

Over the past 5 years we had a crazy recession which meant in order to pay rent and put food on the table, many California cut back on everything from cable to internet to car repairs and to car insurance. Hella people, in particular students gave up their cars because things got so bad. The insurance companies now wanna go back and look at everyone’s records, see who dropped insurance and then raise their rates, even if they had stellar driving records.. They said they would make exceptions for soldiers and the unemployed. Don’t be fooled. Unemployed is not the same as Under-Employed which is what most Californians are and were over the past 5 years. VOTE NO on Prop 33.

Proposition 34 Vote Yes.. This a proposition designed to repeal the death penalty. On the surface the bill is no brainer for those of us who feel that far too many innocent folks are on death row, its inhumane to kill and unfairly and disproportionately applied to poor people and people of color. The flip side to this is that while it repeals the death penalty and convert folks to life in prison without the possibility of parole, it would also dead much of the appeals process.

The main complaint in some civic circles is that death row has cost tax payers millions and even billions because of the long appeals process each inmate under takes to save his/her life. While Prop 34 would stop folks from going to the death chambers it would also limit the appeals, so in theory you might have an innocent person doing life behind bars with no chance for appeal. This aspect has been cause for concern and divided many on the issue. I know many who have been incarcerated and heard folks who once were on death row speak to both sides of this issue.

I thought long and hard about this and decided to vote for Prop 34. First and foremost I wanna keep people alive especially if they are innocent. We can fight to make sure cases where its clear there are innocent folks locked up and get them free. We can’t bring innocent folks back who are killed by the state. VOTE YES on Prop 34

Proposition 35 Vote No.. Human Trafficking.. One of the worse things going on in this country is human trafficking. Here in Oakland its a major problem that extends well beyond petty criminals and wanna be pimps. There are serious organized rings that make Human Trafficking an international affair and it needs to be stopped with all those involved severely punished.

Prop 35 will increase sentences, but from the folks I spoke to who really study the criminal justice system, the language while well intentioned is also seriously vague which is a red flag.The way its written is that many consensual sex workers and prostitutes will be caught up getting harsh sentences vs the real culprits and pimping types who often remain hidden in the shadows. Its like a war on drugs where street sellers go to jail but king pins don’t.

We don’t wanna see another 3 strikes situation where we still have violence and hundreds of thousands of non-violent offenders locked up.. Many of the human rights and criminal justice advocates from the ACLU to Women’s Prisoners Coalition are not feeling this bill I think this needs to go back to the drawing board with clearer language and perhaps even a collaboration with those who don’t wanna see all sorts of folks unfairly and disproportionately swept up. A vote against this bill should not be the end in terms of folks fighting to end human trafficking. If folks choose to vote yes.. considering how bad this problem is.. I understand. I say VOTE NO on PROP 35

Proposition 36 Vote Yes.. End Mass Incarceration. This is a proposition designed to repeal California’s infamous 3 strikes law. Its return to Prop 66 which was proposed several years ago and was set to win before Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger threw his weight behind opposing it at the 11th hour. The prop lost by less than 5 thousand votes. Sadly there were many at that time who proclaimed voting was a fraud and didn’t mean anything so lots of folks stayed home and sat on their butts while many in their family and the community languished and still languish in Cali jails for non-violent minor offenses under 3 strikes. For example Black folks make up 7% of California’s overall population of 40 million and consist of over 45% of those incarcerated, the overwhelming majority for non violent offenses. This is a chance to get things corrected.

No this is not a bill designed to cuddle violent offenders. This is a bill designed to get folks out who shouldnt be there in the first place. We need to be working toward rehabilitating folks not warehousing them and thus far 3 strikes has done nothing but make money for the prison industrial complex without applying resources, time and attention to root causes of crime.. VOTE YES on PROP 36

Proposition 37 Vote Yes Food Labeling Bill.. We live in a day and time where millions of people are concerned about GMOs (genetically modified organisms and how they are used in foods we routinely consume. The feeling is many are not fully tested and the many do not want to be unwitting guinea pigs. GMOs come out of the pesticide industry and is motivated as a way to not lose crops vs making sure people’s health is improved. Many big agribusiness farms are behind the GMOs as well as big seed patent giant Monsanto.

Over the past few months tens of millions of dollars have been spent by corporate farmers and their lobbyists along with Coca Cola to stop Prop 37 which would require many foods to be labeled if they contain GMOs. The campaign to oppose Prop 37 has suggested that food prices would rise if they are required to include GMO labeling. They have also resorted to calling labeling GMOS a ‘deceptive practice’, using the language of activists and community groups. .

Millions of folks including myself say BS.. Outlets like Monsanto and their millions somehow got the  NAACP to oppose Prop 37 which is a damn shame when you consider most civil rights groups and countries all over the world including Russia and China support labeling GMOs found in foods…It shows you the power of money. The rest of us are 100% behind this important initiative.. Right now there are 20 states with Food labeling initiatives.. All eyes are on California and the millions of fear based ads run by agribusiness to defeat the measure we say VOTE YES on Prop 37

Proposition 38 Vote No.. raise Taxes for Everyone.. This proposition basically came about in response to the push to tax the wealthiest Californians who don’t pay their fair share.. In short tax the 1%. This is basically embodied in Prop 30 and directly connected to stopping fee hikes at state colleges etc. Prop 30 is the measure proposed by Gov Jerry Brown..

The 1% folks got together and crafted Prop 38 which would raise taxes for 12 years on most Cali folks thus putting increased burdens on poor and working families. Prop 38 will absolutely do nothing to Stop the 6 billion dollars in deficit trigger cuts to happen later to education if passed. Prop 30 will stop immediate cuts..The concenses is the billionaire behind the measure Molly Hunger did this to confuse voters especially when she uses wording like this money can’t be touched by politicians in Sacramento. All money in Sac is touched.. Don’t be fooled.In the case of Prop 30 vs Prop 38 there is a transparency aspect to it where all can see where and how the money from these extra taxes are being used..  Vote NO on Prop 38

Proposition 39 Vote Yes.. Close Corporate Loopholes.. The best way to describe this bill is that it’s a way to stop instate outsourcing. In this case what we have are scores of big corporations here in Cali who operate in other states but don’t pay their share in Cali taxes. They use all our commons from freeways to police, fire and other infrastructure, but pay taxes elsewhere. They do this fancy financial trickery to avoid paying.. This bill closes those loopholes and is pretty much a no brainer..It would also push for companies to provide more jobs and training..Look if any of us do work out of state we pay taxes on the income earned.Lets make sure the big boys in business do the same.. VOTE YES on Prop 39

Proposition 40 Vote Yes Redistricting.. One of the most contentious process in government is around the issue of redistricting and how boundaries are drawn.. Over night we’ve seen long time incumbents removed from office that’s to the redrawing of district lines every ten years. The folks in charge have long been politicians. In some states it’s the governor. In other states it’s a governor and his appointees. In any cases district lines have been drawn to satisfy the political goals of those in power.

California decided to do something about this and had on the ballot a couple of years ago a proposition that created a council of citizens who got to redraw district lines. Needless to say this didn’t sit well with some Sacramento politicians, in particular Republicans have been the main opposition to this. If it fails redistrict lines will have to be redrawn again.. Call it a case of sour grapes on behalf of the GOP.. We say VOTE YES on PROP 40

Jared Ball and Rosa Clemente Were Right by Shamako Noble

“In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say.”  -W.E.B. Du-Bois

“The Green Party isn’t the alternative. It’s the imperative.” -Rosa Clemente

“For me, it’s simple.  It’s either the Greenhouse or the penitentiary.”-Cheri Honkala

“Four years later and I’m kicking it with the Green Party VP candidate. Again.” -Rahman Jamaal

Sword of the West Shamako Noble

Jared Ball and Rosa Clemente were right. There is something taking place with the relationship between Hip Hop and the Green Party.  Maybe it’s because the Green Party, much like Hip Hop, can be blamed for a mess much larger than itself. Maybe it’s because both of them have spent their whole existence fighting corporate media, corporate influence and getting shut out of the conversation. Maybe it’s because they are stuck in a world where the “mainstream” dictates definition, your perspective, and your contribution.  Maybe it’s because they both imagine a world where education is accessible to all, there are no more evictions and no more foreclosures, where food production, resolving community challenges and culture is localized and more money is spent on education and housing than war and imprisonment.

Or, as 2004 Presidential candidate for the Green Party David Cobb put it, “maybe it is because Hip Hop and the Green Party are both revolutionary calls for such systemic social political and economic change that you just can’t get it until you get it.” Whatever the case may be, it is a relationship that keeps expanding. That expansion was given to us not just by the natural development of our economic and political situation, but also by leaders like Jared Ball and Rosa Clemente. When they took this route, I did not get that. I get it now. And it looks like a lot of other people are getting it, too. Note: No matter who you are, some of this article will and should be unfamiliar to you. And that’s part of the point.

2008: The Green Party Meets Hip Hop, and Hip Hop meets Obama

Dr Jared Ball

In 2008, Hip Hop had it’s first Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate in Jared Ball and Rosa Clemente. This was significant coming off of the National Hip Hop Political Conventions of 2004 and 2006. At this time they were at the forefront of a process that continues to unfold today. At that time Rosa Clemente famously said, “The Green Party is not only the alternative, it’s the imperative.” Jared and Rosa, and artists like Head-Roc out of the DC Statehood Green Party Chapter were on a curve that continues to expand even as this race between “two-parties”continues to tighten.

When Jared Ball, professor, media activist, organizer, and a leader in the National Hip Hop community ran for President on the Green Party ticket in 2008, a lot of people (myself included) didn’t know how to process that.  Still, when Jared Ball ran the “Hip Hop For President” campaign he raised a possibility that hadn’t yet been considered in a lot of circles in any serious way– a Hip Hop presidential candidate on an independent party slate bringing up and championing the issues present in the communities where Hip Hop has impact. Hip Hop had already made some very significant strides with the National Hip Hop Political convention and a plethora of activity that took place on the state and national level. There were also a lot of folks from the Green Party who were interested in further developing that kind of a relationship including Anita Rios, former Co-Chair of the USGP National Committee and Dean Meyerson and founder and Executive Director of the Green Institute.

Head-Roc

Jared Ball had a vision. And he teamed up with the DC Artist Head-Roc to execute a creative and artistic strategy for that.  Head-Roc and Jared Ball created a two-man artist/candidate multimedia presentation that would be great indicator of what was to come. His reasoning is simple, “George Jackson remains correct. After the fact of monopoly capital the vote becomes meaningless. Our only hope for electoral politics is to develop viable alternatives to what currently exists. If we are to vote, we must develop a party worthy of that effort and struggle. It is the Green Party that best represents that hope.

In other areas, the large majority of political activity which took place under the moniker “Hip-Hop” did so either in an independent, non-electoral or non-political party way, or in many cases in a way that made the work seem automatically pro-democratic party in nature even when it was not explicitly taking that position. There are many who believe that the Democratic Party machine engagement contributed to the split of the original collective who helped to organize the National Hip Hop Political convention at the time.

Soon President Obama was winning the nomination, and it was all but sure that the Hip Hop vote would lean in his direction. It was a legitimate position at the time, because every rapper and there mom were taking photo ops with the soon to be President. My position on Obama at the time can be found here (http://debugcommunity.blogspot.com/2008/01/barack-obama-is-new-oj.html). But the Green party delivered a one-two punch that would shock the world. Former Democratic Party Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney became the Presidential candidate for the Green Party, and announced as her running mate, Rosa Clemente.

Both Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente had a great deal of support within the Hip Hop community, although that support would struggle to be organized. Jared Ball and Head-Roc would continue their campaign, only re-focused in a manner that was supportive of Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente, setting their own egos aside long enough to get in line with the Green Party program.

Rosa Clemente at the Poor People’s March 2008

And while Cynthia McKinney had developed a particular platform on a national stage, Rosa Clemente was a new and unexpected element. Rosa, who was a founder of the National Hip Hop Political Convention, a member of the Malcom X Grassroots Movement and one of the people who would help define Hip Hop Activism since it’s inception, added something new into presidential politics. She was a candidate who related explicitly as Hip Hop.  Rosa would go on to make appearances at the Hip Hop Congress National Convention in Biloxi, MS and the National Hip Hop Political Convention in Las Vegas, NV. This would be the very same year that, in a moment of movement prophecy, Rosa Clemente would stand with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, marching with National Coordinator of that organization, Cheri Honkala, and thousands more people at the March For Our Lives in St. Paul, MN.

Rosa was also working to get dead prez at the march following a performance taking place at one of the many cultural events during the RNC protests. This march hit many sites in St. Paul including prisons, shelters and significant areas of St. Paul movement history. Halfway through the march Rage against the Machine, who were hosting a concert that was spontaneously canceled, directed their 4,000 attendees to join the March already holding 6,000 attendees being led by Cheri and Rosa. Little did the world know, but that march held both the 2008 and 2012 Vice Presidential candidates of the Green Party. And they were marching for the lives of poor people, Black, Brown, Yellow, Red, White, Women, Men, other gender qualifications, Children, Elders, unborn and ancestors alike. It was a prophetic moment, indeed.

2012: Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.

Cheri Honkala

Fast forward to 2011, and Cheri Honkala is running for Sheriff in Philadelphia.  And get this– Cheri and the Greens were running on an explicit platform of NO EVICTIONS, NO FORECLOSURES.  Imagine for a hot second a sheriff who simply refused to evict poor people from their homes! Now imagine hundreds of them. That’s a good example of what it looks like. Hip Hop culture can get focused about implementing our program, not just envisioning it. On top of that, there are folks in Hip Hop on the ground doing this kind of work locally, nationally and internationally every day.

Fast forward a year later,  Cheri is now the Vice Presidential candidate for Green Party running on a ticket with Massachusetts-bred Dr. Jill Stein, whose Green New Deal slides closely with the platforms and concepts first elaborated on in the platform statement released by the National Hip Hop Political convention some eight years earlier in 2004.  And Cheri Honkala, as PPHRC-founder & organizer, has a long history of working with other organizers and cultural producers like Mic Crenshaw in Portland, OR, Manny Phesto in Minneapolis, MN and Rebel Diaz in Chicago. The Green Party in general, and Cheri Honkala specifically, have often reflected many of the radical positions that have been expressed in Hip Hop movement and activism. While there continues to be critique and refinement around the value of the Green Party, this presidential and vice presidential campaign continues to embody much of that natural connection.

Just take a look at some of the activity that has taken place over the last two weeks.

George Martinez

We begin with a rally in New York where Global Block Foundation founder, first Hip Hop candidate to win a seat in New York (2002), former Chairman of the Hip Hop Association and current U.S. Ambassador George Martinez. George was also a Congressional candidate from within the Occupy movement. George Martinez performed in support of Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala and is currently advocating a three-point platform which fits directly into the platform of the Green New deal as well as this past year’s monumental occupy movement. That platform is as follows:

GROAmerica (Grass Roots Organizing America) is an integrated community empowerment and civic engagement initiative that represents the evolution of multiple experimental and collaborative, organizing frameworks. GROAmerica operates with a sense of urgency, as inner city communities everywhere are at a crossroads of economic instability, street violence and failing trust in public institutions. It is designed to promote local activism and resource exchange to connect community members that are not otherwise engaged to local resources. It fosters practical, creative and culturally relevant solutions to address long-term community needs. And can be used to address emergency issues and conditions in any community. The end goal is to build a grassroots system between public, private, civil society and community stakeholders to collectively identify and tackle local issues through the convergence of cultural expression, civic engagement, and community resource management/mobilization.

GROAmerica is an open source, do it yourself (DIY) model with a three-pronged approach:

a) public assemblies that combine culturally relevant dialogues, tool driven workshops and creative expression;

b) issue/needs-based direct actions;

c) Community-resource Mapping Network System (ComMNS®): a GIS mapping and mobilization system connecting community resources and needs

That was followed with the Stein campaign’s Associate Campaign Manager, Erika Wolf attending the “Give a sh*@” Happy hour hosted by Chicago Votes, an organization headed and created by Chicago’s National Hip Hop Political Convention 2006 Co-Chair, TJ Crawford. Later on the week, Cheri Honkala came to the Bay Area where she attended a community Q&A hosted by myself at San Jose’s own Silicon Valley De-Bug with the support of the Santa Clara County Green Party. It taking place there is significant as De-Bug as been at the forefront of culture, justice, labor, immigration and youth work in the South bay since its inception in late 90′s. One of it’s founders, Raj Jaydev is well-known in the community for his work with families, organizations and individuals. He welcomed the event into the space with grace, gratitude and vision.  In attendance at the event where some independent Hip Hop notables such as DLabrie, Rahman Jamaal and B-Jada of Hip Hop Congress and RonDavoux Records, Dione Johnson of the Multi-Media Center, Society of Metafizix, Arman Mahoudi of KSJS and Open University and Malcom Lee of The San Jose Zulu Nation Chapter and many others. It was a potent mix of attendee’s who related as Hip Hop, Occupy and the Green Party. She took questions about police brutality, health care, forgiving student debt, the Green New Deal, and how she ended up being the VP candidate.

Presidential debate Roundtable w/ Cheri Honkala

The process continued the next day the following day with a group of 70 plus students at De Anza college in Cupertino, the sixth largest community College in the state of California. That was followed by an event at Youth Uprising hosted by the Hip Hop Chess Federation’s visionary and founder Adisa Banjoko. Honkala couldn’t stay because of traffic concerns with the Giants game, but the movie screening itself, “Brooklyn Castle” portrayed the struggles of public education and programs for our youth. That was followed by a post-presidential debate panel discussion hosted by Hip Hop journalist and historian Davey D, who’s been on top of covering the campaign since the Democratic National Convention. It was there Davey noted that much of the mainstream press wasn’t covering the third party candidates. The Panel included folks like Rob “Biko” Baker of the League of Young Voters, Josh Harley of Youth Together, and Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi

Jacobs-Fantauzzi is a Green Party Candidate for Mayor of Berkeley who is also the founder of Students for Hip Hop at UC Berkeley. Kahlil was also responsible for co-hosting a community event for Cheri Honkala, where they took questions together as local and national representatives. Among many issues they both nailed home from a national and a local perspective, was how both of them were being locked out of the conversation. Cheri elaborated on being locked in a warehouse for over 8 hours with Dr. Jill Stein while nobody knew where they were after trying to participate in the Presidential debates. Kahlil shared how the Democratic Club of Berkeley refused to be democratic when it came to his participation, making efforts to refuse his voice in their public debates. DLabrie performed the powerful cut, “It Ain’t EZ,” while J.R. Valery, noted and respected activist, organizer, journalist and freedom fighter from Oakland dropped science on how candidates can best engage non-profit and public radio stations.

2012 and Beyond-What else is possible?

Dr Jill Stein

Have whatever opinion you’d like, but here are the facts. The movement and the platform of the Green Party along with the people interested in taking leadership and understanding are increasingly young people, people of color who may or may not identify as Hip Hop but are definitely connected to Hip Hop activity and political action. They are also more and more people interested in supporting the Green Party as a place to challenge the Democractic Party paradigm as the electoral vanguard of the movement.

Taking a look at the Green New Deal, and the work of Dr. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, and leaders like Rosa Clemente and Jared Ball, it becomes an unavoidable question. Or even better, an answer to a question that was asked of us four years ago when Jared and Rosa first ran. Was getting Hip Hop involved with Green Party worth the effort?  Well, in many ways, it looks more and more like an inevitability with the mere question becoming what role, if any, will you play. Even Bakari Kitwana, Co-Founder of the National Hip Hop Political Convention, and author of the the upcoming book, “Hip Hop Activism in the Obama Age” acknowledges that a functional and healthy relationship between Hip Hop and the Green Party could help resolve some of the Green Party’s challenges with expanding it’s base, reach and community grounding  while the Green Party offers a political infrastructure that Hip Hop has yet to develop, and that is still young enough to be open to creativity and leadership.

If you want to vote for Obama, cool with me. Honestly, as a Black  man, and a father who wants his children to see that and know that they can have that ambition, I feel that. As a son who was happy that his parents got to live to see that, I can understand that. I can relate to that and respect that decision. As Tina Bell Wright, noted Hip Hop Professor and writer of the “Rise Up, Hip Hop Nation” series said, “in 2008, a vote for Obama was a vote for history.” But we have still got some key questions that need rapid answers.

Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi

If you are in a state that is already going to Romney, or already going to Obama, and you agree with the Green Party platform, why wouldn’t you vote in it’s favor? Why not support candidates like Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala and Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi. If five percent of the electorate voting for the Green Party candidates means 20 million dollars in the next four years to develop the party, what position will you take in that? If you don’t believe in the Democratic Party anymore and you’re only voting for the lesser of two evils, when do we start building something different? What are our plans for making these ideas real in the next two weeks and the next four years? Do the tactics and strategies of electoral organizing and community organizing have to also remain as an either/or or can we begin to use them as a tandem strategy of both/and?

Will there be a space to discuss internalized classism, corporate influence and poverty in US politics or will that be pushed further and further into the margins to be filled with conversations about race, gender and sexuality that, while true, don’t addresses the whole of our challenges as a planet or community right now? When we know that the lesser of two evils aren’t bringing up the education-to-prison pipeline, or ecological disaster, how long will we wait to address them on our own or through other means? What are the daily, weekly and monthly actions that happen on a consistent basis that will build the relationships and credibility for that? What else is possible?

David Cobb

David Cobb is one Green leader excited about the possibilities.  “We need each other,” he says.  “The Green Party needs the youthful energy, the cultural component, and the multi-racial juice Hip Hop brings and represents.  And frankly, we need Hip Hop to push and challenge us on important issues like white supremacy, the school-to-prison pipeline, and a host of subjects.  We don’t know what we don’t know in the Green Party, and we need to be schooled by Hip Hop.”

Cobb also reminds us the need goes both ways.

“Hip Hop also needs the Green Party,” he continued. “Hip Hop needs the institutional capacity we have developed, the fully developed political program that incorporates peace, justice, ecology and democracy.  And frankly Hip Hop needs the focus that a serious, radical electoral campaign can provide.”

written by Shamako Noble of Hip Hop Congress

 

Election 2012: In the Final Days.. Go Hard or Go Home & Blame Yourself if You Lose

After more than two years of non-stop campaigning, scores of debates and billions of dollars spent we are coming down to final 10 days of Election 2012. The lay of the land is such that in the Presidential race two of the primary out of the overall 25 contenders Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are at virtual tie..

On the Senatorial tip, races that will determine whether or not the chambers are controlled by Republicans or still be in the hands of the Democrats, are still up in the air.

Unless there’s some real sea changes at work, congress is most likely going to remain in control by an extremist, obstructionist Tea Party mob.  Democrats have a good chance to gain 8-10 seats. 25 seats are needed to take control of the house which seems like a small numbers considering we have over 500 congress people, but during the 2010 mid-term elections those who won local and state-wide elections got to redraw Congressional district lines, resulting in a virtual lock for certain seats to a particular party for the next 10 years.

With all that being said, the question being raised is what will you do over the next 10 days? Many have been fond of talking passionately about how our ancestors shed blood and sacrificed greatly for us to have the right to vote..And that is true.. My question is;  Over the next 10 days is more sacrifice needed? Is it enough to simply show up to voting booth on November 6th 2012, and pat yourself on the back thinking your job is done? I say ‘No’.

More sacrifice is needed at a day and time, when voter suppression efforts are in full swing. At a day and time when we have  racist, extremist types pulling out all the stops to make sure a growing population of Black, Brown and under 30 folks are disenfranchised it is not enough for you to simply vote? Steps will have to be taken to make sure everyone who wants to vote can do so, and each vote cast is counted. Here’s a small sampling of whats going on..

In Arizona the home to harsh xenophobic anti-immigrant laws like SB1070, where ethnic studies in schools is forbidden and books extolling the virtues of Mexican-Americans are banned, Latino voters were sent out official pamphlets and ballots that put the wrong date for voting.. You can read about that HERE

In Florida which is considered a crucial swing state, thousands of fraudulent letters were sent out to voters in 28 counties stating they were no longer citizens and were being removed from the voter rolls. This was a very sophisticated, intimidating tactic that has now led to the FBI investigating.. You can read about that HERE

Voters in Black neighborhoods all over key swing states woke up 3 weeks ago to large Voter Suppression billboards put up by Clear Channel radio which is owned by Bain Capital, the investment banking company started by Mitt Romney.The billboards warned that anyone committing voter fraud would be fined and go to jail.

Now on the surface , that doesn’t sound too bad, except accompanying these billboards was a sinister ‘misinformation campaign‘ stating that someone trying to vote who had not paid their child support, had outstanding parking tickets or had not paid their cable or cell phone bill were in violation of the law and could be imprisoned for committing voter fraud. Needless to say the local Clear Channel stations in the area did very little to set the record straight.

Barbara Arwine

For folks who think what I’m saying is far-fetched and a gross exaggeration, I urge you to take some time and listen to this in-depth run down by Barbara R Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. You can peep it by clicking the link below to hear her presentation at a packed voter suppression town hall in Charlotte, NC

Earlier this week Clear Channel removed the billboards rather than reveal the name of the anonymous folks who sponsored them when they came under fire. Keep in mind, this is the same Clear Channel, which is home to many Hip Hop and R&B, urban formatted stations that didn’t bother to do any sort of voter registration drive, but saw fit to intimidate voters with these billboards. My question to those who talk about the sacrifices made by our ancestors, why are you still listening to Clear Channel knowing what they did? Here’s a list of Clear Channel /Bain Capital owned radio stations. Perhaps you’ll make sacrifices like our ancestors and boycott them.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Joining the ranks of those employing voter suppression tactics are the billionaire ultra-conservative Koch Brothers along with Tea Party financiers  Americans for Prosperity who formed a company called True to Vote. Their stated goal was to get one million Tea Party folks to become poll watchers and head on out to Black and Brown communities all over the country especially in battleground states and challenge people at the polls. So over the top is True the Votes operation that congressman Elijah Cummings launched an investigation. You can read about that HERE

The list of Voter Suppression tactics being deployed in the 2012 election is a long one. Many think that the game plan is to prevent Barack Obama from being re-elected. Yes and No..While its true that racists types don’t wanna see Obama back in office, the real goal of voter suppression folks is to flip over hundreds of local elections which far too many have not been paying attention to.

For example in California, we have on the ballot Proposition 37 which would require food companies to label all their foods. The main point it to make sure we aren’t unknowing consuming GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) It’s being vigorously opposed by mega food giants like Monsanto.

We have another bill, Proposition 32 which is backed by Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers and is being marketed as an Election Campaign Finance Reform bill, states that corporations and unions can’t give to political campaigns.. When you read the proverbial fine print, you discover that exceptions are made for corporate executives and large corporations like Big Oil and  Big Banks who can continue to give unlimited amounts of money as they’ve always done.If this bill passes, the only ones who will be restricted will be unions who these corporate interest oppose.

From the elimination of the death penalty to the requirement that the 1% pay more in taxes to penalties levied on companies that outsource jobs, all sorts of local bills are in play and will likely be won or lost by small margins.  Its around those races where Voter suppression tactics come into play and will have major impact. Deciding some of these razor-thin senate races is where voter suppression tactics will make hay.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott

The voter suppression efforts have gotten out of hand that the UN is sending in election monitors, much like what we do in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and every other place we say needs to be transparent with their ‘democracy’.  The US has moved in the realm of being one of those countries that now needs to be watched to make sure elections are carried out and not stolen.. As the world watches, one would think we would welcome the monitors, if for any reason to show  ‘how things should be properly done’. Instead, what we have is stark resistance.

Two days ago, Greg Abbott the Attorney General of Texas which is a state long known for Voter Suppression and ground zero for the True the Vote outfit, threatened to arrest UN election monitors.. You can read about that HERE

All this is being mentioned as we come down to the final 10 days of this contentious election season to ask what role will each of you play to bring about a desired outcome? As I noted earlier, it should be more than obvious, it’s gonna take more than you simply showing up at the polls. It’s gonna take more than arguing on line with fathom bots that have now sprouted up all over twitter and Facebook. It’s gonna take some good ole fashion leg work and phone banking.

The lay of the land is two-fold. One, is getting folks who are registered to actually show up and cast ballot. Hopefully those folks are informed. You can help aid in those efforts by making your own voter guide or share the ones already made by people you know and politically trust.. Take a look at www.theBallot.org 

second, is opposing voter suppression tactics.. You can help by raising awareness and making  sure yourself and all your friends have this Election Protection phone number 1-866-OUR-VOTE

For those who feel there’s a lot at stake around the election of the next president, because of possible Supreme Court Justice appointments, the war on women and proposed harsh austerity measures etc, the action is in so-called swing states.

If you live in states that are pretty much gonna be red or blue, you best head on over to a phone banking place and start making calls to those battleground areas encouraging folks to get out. Don’t talk about how blood was shed for us to vote and how Martin Luther King marched, but you’re not willing to put in minimal amount of work when there is so much at stake.

This weekend I have several friends who are bypassing Halloween festivities and headed over to neighboring Nevada to walk precincts in what is considered an important swing state where its burgeoning Latino population are being targeted with voter suppression tactics.

I have folks in New York who are making the trip to Ohio and Florida to put in work. Others are staying close to home and bringing attention to key propositions and ballot measures. All next week on our HKR Radio show we will be going through the local and statewide propositions.

I have one friend who took vacation time and flew out from DC to California to do work around Prop 37. Her fear is that the GMO bill will have nationwide implications if it doesn’t pass.

I’ve also seen folks drive up to Cali from Texas and Alabama to do work around Prop 34 which will end the death penalty in California. A win here will give them momentum to fashion similar bills in their respective states.

Some folks are having fun and showing up to large football games and here in the Bay Area or the World series to do canvassing and GOTV work while wearing their favorite teams jerseys or colors sporting the names of the candidates they wanna see win.. Will you consider doing the same? Will you go to some of these large collegiate and professional sports outing which bring up to 80k people and make your political desires known? I think you get the point.

If this is the ‘most important election of our lives’ as many have claimed, then over the next 10 days you cannot simply sit at home talking smack while others put in work. It’s clear that those who wish to undo every single civil right hard fought for by people of color, women, LGBTs and others who have long been marginalized, are going all out to smash down.. To them their way of life where they could act with impunity and not have to share seats at the table is at stake so their not messing around. What’s the response to the efforts of these angry xenophobic types who are literally clinging to shotguns and perverted oppressive notions of religion? Whats the response to the increased corporatization of  the election process?

As we come to the final 10 days of the 2012 election either you go hard or go home and blame yourself for a less than desired outcome.

Davey D

Election 2012: 3rd Party Candidates Are Not Spoilers-Every Vote Must Be Earned

I just finished peeping an interesting article on 3rd Party candidates that appeared HERE in the UK Guardian. Some like to think a 3rd party candidate can spoil the election for Barack Obama… That’s totally stupid on a number of levels.. A vote with held from a 3rd Party candidate doesn’t automatically default to President Barack Obama..

I know lots of people still like to blame the 2000 election fiasco on Ralph Nader, but that’s just a weak excuse to cover up the fact that there were 250k eligible voters who never voted.. That means the out reach wasn’t there and rather than own up to shortcoming, it was easier to blame Nader who was a legitimate candidate who paid his dues as a long time political activist and consumer advocate.

Nowadays, when some one suggests that 3rd party candidate spoil elections, they really mean that a politically left leaning candidate would vote for Barack Obama if that 3rd Party candidate wasn’t on the ballot.. That’s simply not true.. First of all there are 25 candidates running for President and they span the political gauntlet. Someone please explain how someone attracted to the Libertarian or Constitution Party train of thought, which tend to be pretty conservative, are gonna hurt Barack Obama? If anything it might help Obama if in theory votes were being ‘diverted’ from Mitt Romney.

In fact this is what was said to be the reason Bill Clinton won his election in 1992 against George Bush Sr.. Ross Perot ran and supposedly split the conservative vote. Were folks on the left complaining about 3rd parties then? If I recall many Democrats welcomed Perot. Some even publicly thanked him. My point is this, why would someone who likes the platform of the Peace and Freedom or Green Party toss in their chips and get behind the platform of the Democrats when key issues are either not addressed or severely compromised?

The bottom line is every single vote, no matter what the party affiliation needs to be earned. No vote should be taken for granted.. Sadly, the Democrats and Republicans come to the table with considerable financial advantages. They’ve also done everything in their power to exclude 3rd party candidates from appearing on the ballots in many states by passing restrictive laws in many states preventing 3rd parties from getting on the ballot. The Democrats have been relentless in trying to block the Green Party from showing up on ballots. .

If that’s not enough, the two big parties have teamed formed an organization called the Commission on Presidential Debates, which ran roughshod over the League of Women Voters and took control over the debates. The end game was to keep the main debates between members of the Democrats and Republicans. A leaked contract between the two main political parties show that they negotiate what topics to talks about, format, moderator etc. You can read about that HERE. So before one goes crying about a 3rd Parties ask yourself, why are u cool with excluding people?

Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala
Green Party Candidates

As a result of all this exclusion Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein is suing the CPD. The suit was filed after Stein and Green Party candidate Cheri Honkala were arrested outside the second Presidential debate where they protested. Both women were shackled to chairs for over 8 hours.. The suit claims they were deprived of constitutional rights, due process, equal protection, and free speech, as well as her statutorily protected civil rights. This is ironic considering how both Romney and Obama have repeatedly talked about the importance of democratizing the world and making sure everyone has a fair shot. I guess that only applies if you go through one of the two parties.

It’s amazing some of the people who complain about 3rd parties are the same ones who haven’t done any phone banking or precinct walking-ever. It’s amazing they’ll complain about 3rd parties while ignoring the millions of people who are eligible to vote but still not registered. .Whats being done to win them over?

One should ask themselves how are there still millions of people unregistered after two years of presidential campaigning and BILLIONS of dollars spent in ads? Why get angry at someone who in spite of all the daily exposure went and politically educated themselves and decided they wanna vote Libertarian, Peace and Freedom or Green? Haven’t we demanded that people become more politically active??

If folks were smart they’d do like most countries..instead of having a winner take all system, they would have proportional representation..That means the percentage of people from particular parties sitting in congress or the senate reflects the percentage of votes received. Also folks should also keep in mind 3rd party candidates are running for every office not just president..but then again the average person voting for President is hard pressed to tell you about local races..Go figure..

Here’s an excerpt from the UK Guardian article which you can read by clicking the link below

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20019651

While Americans suffer a daily bombardment of opinion polls as election day looms, they are invariably asked to select from just two candidates – the rest are rarely included.

But Public Policy Polling (PPP) has surveyed the potential impact of the other candidates in key battleground states.

In Virginia, in a straight two-horse race, Obama is up three percentage points, says PPP’s Dustin Ingalls. But add the third-party candidates Johnson, Goode and Stein, who are all on the ballot there, and Obama’s lead increases to four percentage points.

Here is a recent debate between the 3rd parties moderated by Larry King

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoNPO4h2quk

Obama & Romney Spar Over Libya Both Fail to Mention Acts of Terror Against Blacks

During last night’s debate President Barack Obama delivered what many considered a death-blow when he and Mitt Romney exchanged barbs about Libya. Romney called into question Obama’s judgement or lacktherof around the securing of the Embassy which came under attack on September 11th resulting in the death of 4 Americans including ambassador Christopher Stevens.

In the back and forth, Romney attempted to chastise the President for not calling the attacks on the Embassy an ‘Act of Terror‘. Obama retorted that he had. He demanded that Romney ‘look at the transcript’. The nail in the coffin came when CNN moderator Candy Crowley backed up Obama’s claim and publicly corrected Romney. He had indeed referenced the attacks in Benghazi, as acts of terror.

It was also during this exchange that President Obama looking sternly at Mitt Romney and said he was taking full responsibility for what occurred in Libya. He said this in spite of the fact Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton had already fallen on the proverbial sword. Obama made it clear that Hillary worked for him and the buck stopped with him.. The president was widely praised for his forthright remarks, even as pundits on both sides of the political aisle debated what the president ‘really meant’ when he uttered the phrase ‘acts of terror’ the day after the attacks.

Sadly what President Obama didn’t take responsibility nor ever reference was the ongoing ‘acts of terror’ and torture that have befallen Black Libyans since the US and NATO armed and aided the NTC militias. This is the dirty little secret known all over the world where the UN, Amnesty International along with former congress woman and Green Party Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney after returning from Libya on a fact-finding trek, have all weighed in and reported.

When conflict in Libya first emerged there were mainstream stories here in the US asserting that leader Moammar Gaddafi was hiring black mercenary soldiers. So for the few journalist who got wind of torture of Black Libyans, they dismissed it and said it was mercenaries working for Gaddafi being slaughtered. Such assertions have long been disproven. The folks being ethnically cleansed were Black Libyans and innocent Black migrant workers many of them coming from other countries like Ethiopia. The torture they’ve been subjected to have been horrific ranging from public hangings, whippings, entire families shot and burned out of their homes, while others Black Libyans have been put in zoo cages and forced to eat the new Libyan flag. All of this has been well documented but ignored by our President. Even Al Jazzera which is owned and financed by the monarchs of Qatar have even reported on the wholesale slaughter of Black Libyans and they have long been stark opponents of former Libyan leader Gaddafi.

Here in the US many in the mainstream media have blocked it out and so when mentioning it, its taken as something that’s unbelievable. Many will quickly ask where are the ‘reputable’ sources to this torture after all its something that journalist like award-winning Candy Crowley didn’t bother to mention in any of her questions. Many who are press from other countries had they been moderating would’ve definitely followed up with a question to President Obama about his thoughts and whether or not he would take responsibility for the widespread torture that militia’s he backed were committing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmzGJoQlw08

In all likelihood President Obama will be re-elected. Folks will see him being in the White House as something far better then the madness we see going within the GOP. With that being said, Obama being put into power comes with a responsibility ALL of us have. We can start with making sure he does something to end this Ethnic cleansing of Black folks in Libya and in other parts of Africa. We must strive to always keep a sense of our humanity and recognize the humanity in others, especially those who are being severely oppressed.

So yes, what took place on September 11th in Libya was an act of terror when 4 Americans who we will presume were innocent, were killed. But the hundreds and thousands of Black folks being tortured, killed and abused in Libya is also an act of terror. To ignore it is to be complicit. e could take it there and take about all the drone strikes taking place in countries like Somalia and Pakistan where scores of innocent people are being killed. There is no doubt those on the receiving end of US drone strikes see what we’re doing as an act of terror. To put someone into power who then sets policies in motion to carry out these horrific policies which are considered war crimes in many countries, in our collective names is terror. Hold this President accountable.

Below are just a few links to just a few of the hundreds of stories talking about this…