Marissa Alexander Released Home on House Arrest

Fla. Woman Sentenced to 20 Yrs. for Firing Warning Shot—RELEASED

Marissa Alexander Freed While Awaiting Trial

by Associated Press

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Marissa Alexander before going to prison (left), and during her prison term (right). (Courtesy Photo)

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida woman awaiting a new trial in a controversial “stand your ground” case is free on bond.

First Coast News ( reports that Marissa Alexander was released from jail Wednesday. According to the Duval County Clerk of Court, she must remain under house arrest and electronic monitoring while awaiting trial.

In 2012, Alexander was sentenced to a mandatory 20-year prison sentence for firing what she insisted was a warning shot during a fight with her husband. She tried to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law but the judge threw out her self-defense claim, noting that she could have run out of the house to escape her husband but instead got the gun and went back inside

An appeals court ruled in September that the judge in the case gave improper jury instructions, and a new trial has been set for next year.

Alexander’s supporters, including the NAACP and advocates for victims of domestic violence, have compared the case to the trial of George Zimmerman, who recently was acquitted in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. Both cases have brought into question the state’s “stand your ground” law, which generally allows people to use deadly force if they feel threatened.

Alexander, who had never been arrested before, has said she fired a bullet at a wall in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her. No one was hurt, but the judge in the case said he was bound by state law to sentence her to 20 years in prison after she was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Alexander had rejected a plea deal that would have resulted in a three-year prison sentence and chose to go to trial. A jury deliberated 12 minutes before convicting her.

Alexander was also charged with domestic battery four months after the shooting in another assault on her husband. She pleaded no contest and was sentenced to time served.

State Attorney Angela Corey, who oversaw the prosecution of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, has stood by the handling of Alexander’s case. Corey said she believes that Alexander aimed the gun at the man and his two sons, and that the bullet she fired could have ricocheted and hit any of them.

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“Woman Sentenced to 20 Years for Firing Warning Shot Receives New Trial”

“Blacks Who Stand Their Ground Often Imprisoned”

“Unbelievable: Fla. ‘Stand Your Ground’ Defense Rejected for Mother Only Firing “Warning Shot””

“Stand Your Ground Law Bites Blacks in the Butt”

Woman Sentenced For Firing Alleged ‘Warning Shot’ At Her Husband Gets Released

11/28/13 03:21 PM ET EST AP

woman warning shot released

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville woman awaiting a new trial in a controversial “stand your ground” case is free on bond.

First Coast News ( reports that Marissa Alexander was released from jail Wednesday. According to the Duval County Clerk of Court, she must remain under house arrest while awaiting trial.

In 2012, Alexander was sentenced to a mandatory 20-year prison sentence for firing what she insisted was a warning shot during a fight with her husband. She tried to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law, but the judge threw out her self-defense claim.

An appeals court ruled in September that the judge in the case gave improper jury instructions.

Alexander says she fired a bullet at a wall in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her.


Why I Wouldn’t See 12 Years a Slave With a White Person

Why I Wouldn’t See 12 Years a Slave With a White Person

“I did not want to have to entertain any of the likely responses from someone who could not see themselves in the skin of the enslaved men and women on the screen.”
NOV 27 2013
Fox Searchlight

I’m not a racist. But I do have a race problem. I finally owned up to it as I was anticipating seeing 12 Years a Slave. In the weeks leading up to its opening in my state of North Carolina, I tried to think of whom among my friends I could see this film with. I have a number of racially and ethnically diverse friends and acquaintances who would love to see it, and yet, I knew I could only see this movie alone or with another dark-skinned person.

Though I was born in North America, I was raised in four other countries on three different continents. I speak English and French. I understand my Nigerian Igbo language. My family has married across ethnicities and cultures—I have in-laws of Arabic, Italian, and Indian descent. I always knew I was Nigerian-American, living between cultures and nuanced identities. But I never knew I was just black until I started spending my adult years living in America. Believe me, now I know.

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This is hard to admit. I will hurt the feelings of people I love. But isn’t confession the first step to being reconciled? I have good, healthy friendships with a range of people, but I could not think of one white person where I live with whom I would feel emotionally safe enough to see this particular movie about slavery. I did not want to have to entertain any of the likely responses from anyone who could not see themselves in the skin of the enslaved men and women on the screen. I had no desire to dissect the film politically and theologically, engage in well-meaning social commentary, marvel at the history conveyed through the movie, or grieve over what was done to black people.

I did not want the burden of the social translations that black people so often have to do automatically on so many internal levels while engaging in discourse with whites in this country. There are things we learn to do almost subconsciously in order to keep some whites comfortable enough around our blackness. Things like gauging their actual level of interest or understanding of black culture in order to know how far to take a particular conversation before things get awkward. Things like letting them know you hear them trying to say they do in fact see black people. Things like anticipating their questions and responses when they see you with a new hairstyle or come across some element of black culture in your life. Things like using your voice intonation, your word usage, and your bodily gestures to signify that you can hang with them without it being “obvious” that you are a black person in their white world.

Very often, black people work to make white people at ease by layering away any unease we ourselves may feel. It is hard work to translate yourself daily to someone else who most likely lives life without ever being fully aware of how their very existence has been the basis for determining what is “normal” in America and much of the world. And yet this painful and ongoing work of translation is second nature to those of us who have always had to figure out ways to be seen and understood in a world where the white experience is assumed to be the default.

I wanted to sit in the pain and horror and soul-breaking sadness of a movie like 12 Years A Slave with another person like me—someone who is reminded every single day that we are black in America. It doesn’t matter our descent—first-generation Nigerian-American like me, or someone with family here since the Atlantic trade. Our personal narratives do not matter when we walk into stores that cater to consumers of high socioeconomic status (Barney’s). Our accomplishments do not matter when we’re randomly accosted by police (Henry Louis Gates). Our leadership (Obama), our strengths, our beauty, our innocence (Trayvon), our fears, our needs (Renisha McBride), our humanity all take second seat to our skin, skin that in all its beautiful, nuanced shades is simply seen as “black.”

I did go see 12 Years a Slave, in the middle of a weekday afternoon, alone. I sat in the sparsely occupied theater with seven other people: four white men, two white women, and one black man. And for the duration of the ads and the movie previews I tried to brace myself for the experience. I kept whispering to myself, “It’s a movie. It doesn’t happen anymore. It’s a movie. It doesn’t happen anymore.” I could not remember the last time I felt so physically tense and uncomfortable at the beginning of a film. Scene after scene, my body did not relax once. And when it was over, I was so grateful I had come on my own. Not because of any increased animosity toward white people, or any steaming anger toward a system of injustice; mainly because in the moments after the film I simply could not speak. I needed space to process the images I had seen, the dark silences I had heard, and the slow leaking of my own raw emotion I did not even know I had been holding on to for the previous two and a half hours. I have always been awed by how humans can experience both a deep numbness and extreme pain at the same time.

Seeing the movie was hard. But the truth is I had developed my own race problem before the film was even released. And when I look back I see that it has largely come from the slow and painfully growing suspicion that I’m primarily a check-mark in the lives of so many well-meaning, educated white people. Black educated friend: check. African conversation partner: check. Black woman of safe but uncommitted romantic exploration: check. Black articulate friend I can introduce to my family: check. Black internationally reared cultural elite I can relate to without leaving my comfort zone: check. Black emotionally safe friend with whom I can make “black jokes” in the name of familiarity: check. The list could go on.

I am saddened at the undeniable reality of my problem. I mourn my seeming inability to fully trust those pink-skinned children of God.

The most unsettling thing about my race problem is that I’m not sorry for it, though. Confession may be the first step, but I have failed to reach the second one: repentance. I know I cannot stay in this place of distrust, of increasing disdain and anger. But I am not ready to dismiss these feelings, either. I am not ready to work toward the unity I believe we are all called to move toward. Because these feelings, difficult and tragic as they are, seem to be teaching me some valuable lessons.

Now more than ever I will engage in cross-racial relationships with an unapologetic and hopefully compassionate commitment to calling out the ways that people fail to see the complexity and reality of being black in America.

Now more than ever I will write and speak in ways that seek to reclaim what is “normal” from whiteness.

Now more than ever, I will struggle in public dialogue with the ongoing repercussions of being a Christian living in a country that since its beginning has woven together religion and race to sanctify human bondage and to help maintain injustice.

Now more than ever I will pour my creative energy into supporting and building safe spaces in which all shades of brown and mahogany boys and girls can live the fullness of life as boys and girls created in the image of God.

I have given myself permission to dwell in this malaise. I do trust that eventually it will be redeemed. I hope my white friends can bear with me however long it takes. Even if it’s something as crazy as a dozen years.

Haitians Genocide In The Dominican Republic

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND News Board •● ☥●• The Third Eye Parenthesis

In the past few days, hundreds of Haitians have been slaughtered in the Dominican Republic. It’s like a genocide; people need to know. Here is the latest one; this happened yesterday. Haitians are bei…

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

Haitians are being slaughtered and humiliated in the Dominican Republic almost on an everyday basis. 95 % of the poor Haitians working in the Dominican Republic are being robbed of their personal belongings and hard earned sweat money continuously. The highly rate of Haitians being killed or massacred while working in the Dominican Republic is as high as 90 %. The Dominican Government has never done or said anything to stop the genocides. People Need To Know !

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The Traumatic Return of Michael Moses Ward

The Traumatic Return of Michael Moses Ward
My wife and I will go see Let the Fire Burn this evening, the only time theaters in or near Ann Arbor are scheduled to show this acclaimed documentary about the disputatious back-to-Nature group, MOVE. Oddly, although I am very interested in seeing the film, directed by George Washington University professor Jason Osder, because it occurred just prior to this film’s limited national release and because the reviewers mention it only parenthetically, I am just as curious about the September 20th death of one of the film’s central figures, Michael Moses Ward, a truck driver and part-time barber who survived of the massive fire of May 13, 1985 that ignited when a bomb was dropped by the Philadelphia police on the roof of MOVE’s row house.  While the autopsy performed on his body has not yet been released, I can’t shake the feeling that the 41 year old man’s death was another tragic result of the 40 year battle between MOVE and my native city.   At the very least, the unhappy irony that Ward, who was taught as a child that modern technology and life were physically and spiritually pernicious, died on vacation aboard the Carnival Dream, a cruise ship that is a floating signifier of lavish modern excess, is indisputable.
Christened “Birdie Africa” as a toddler soon after his mother joined MOVE, Ward was separated from the group permanently when the world he knew was destroyed.  After enduring hours of sustained terror as tear gas, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, a small pond’s quantity of water, bomb blasts, and the threatening pronouncements of a police commissioner claiming to represent America, the dazed, ravenous 13 year old Birdie was burned severely as he escaped the group’s blazing home.  He then nearly drowned in a large puddle of water that had been discharged from fire hoses whose emissions failed to dislodge either the group or its rooftop bunker.  (At dusk, the police and fire commissioners decided against using these hoses to extinguish the fire while it was eminently manageable, hoping it would destroy the bunker that afforded MOVE a tactical advantage over the heavily armed police force.  This horrendous mistake, along with the menacing presence of police whom the home’s residents had every reason to distrust, helped to cause the deaths of eleven MOVE members, including Birdie’s mother, and the destruction of sixty one houses owned by black working class neighbors whose rights the city was endeavoring to protest against MOVE’s escalating acts of verbal and physical harassment.)
After Birdie’s escape – and despite the terror he experienced during the siege as well as the deaths of his mother and other people whom he loved, he insisted he was grateful that the fire had freed him from MOVE’s tyranny – he pursued a mainstream American life as Michael Moses Ward, a life that included bicycles, television, video games, football, marriage, parenthood, divorce, military service, and, in his last days, a family vacation aboard the ornate technological marvel, the Carnival Dream.  Still, his traumatic past intervened with regularity: nightmares of being trapped in a house engulfed by flames; scars imprinted upon his flesh that no surgery could wholly erase; an abiding fear that he would be harmed by or forced to rejoin MOVE; memories of abuse so distressing that he refused to detail its precise nature except to his father, whose earlier efforts to liberate him ended when members of the group threatened to kill Birdie if he persisted; and, judging from widely distributed photographs of his somber visage, painfully uncomfortable interviews with local and national media that sought his input for stories marking major anniversaries of the bombing.

My distress at the news of his passing is heightened, perhaps, by my regret for deciding against discussing Ward in the brief examination of MOVE that appears inPhiladelphia Freedoms, a new book that explores traumatic black American experiences in the post-civil rights era. Curious to consider what I might have written, I reread newspaper articles and books on MOVE, along with digesting from the first time the Special Investigation Commission’s Report on the bombing.  Despite my thorough investigation, I’m still unsure that examining the child survivor would have proven a better choice than discussing, as I did, the still-traumatized city’s first black mayor, W. Wilson Goode, who, on the 25th anniversary of the bombing, assumes responsibility for the highly destructive raid while absolving himself of responsibility in the same breath.
In the Report’s Foreword, its chair, William H. Brown III, insists that “the process of the work of the Commission and its involvement with the public was absolutely necessary if Philadelphians are to work through their collective pain of May 13th.  It is necessary if our community is to heal the scars that remain from the tragedy that occurred on Osage Avenue” (272).  Brown’s concern with communal healing is echoed in an addendum where, in the section entitled “The Blood of Children,” Commission member Charles Bowser argues that “at the heart of this tragedy is the indelible stain made by the blood of innocent children,” a stain that “also marks the lives of every person who accepted a role in their death from the highest office to the Osage asphalt street.”  The city officials whom Bowser criticizes include Goode, its police and fire commissioners, and its head of Health and Human Services (who was a third cousin of mine), all of whom displayed “a wanton and callous disregard for the lives and the safety of the children” affiliated with MOVE.
Taken together, these acts of atonement implore us to recommit ourselves to fulfilling civil responsibilities by attempting to: 1), make sense of the MOVE bombing, an unparalleled example of the sometimes-destructive clash between our ideals and our sometimes-irrepressible human frailties; 2), attend to its traumatic effects on survivors such as Ward and millions of others; and 3), approach local and national tragedies in general in a manner that ultimately enhances our efforts – in the nation’s First City and elsewhere – to achieve the American ideal of e pluribus Unum.   The pain Ward suffered and the obstacles he sought to overcome obligate us to consider the entirety of his life along with the circumstances of his death.
By all accounts, Let the Fire Burn compels its viewers to look closely at the complex causes of the MOVE bombing.  Unfortunately, however, in his published comments about Ward’s death, Osder speaks only about his role as a survivor of the MOVE siege. “In a strange way,” Osder claims, this death “has reminded us of the nature of the event itself: it’s tragic that he died young, but it serves as a reminder of the other five children that didn’t even live to age 41.”  I feel strongly that we owe it to the young man who suffered through outrages not of his own making to assess his life in broader terms than the filmmaker does in assessing the possible meanings of Ward’s death.  But no matter how strong my compunction to do so, the best I can muster is a list of what are, for me, provocative questions for which I have no confirmable answers.
How difficult was it for the former Birdie, while in the midst of working to remake his life, to rehash aspects of his troubled life and to offer psychological progress reports on each occasion reporters deemed important?   Had he fully embraced all aspects of modernity, a condition that John Africa taught his followers was evil and wholly destructive?  How anguished might he have been as he vacationed on the Carnival Dream, knowing that, because of the acclaim earned by Osder’s documentary, upon his return to suburban Philadelphia, he would be asked to undergo yet another round of public scrutiny of the damage that had been done to him and of the current state of his wounds?   Could he have appeared, as his father describes, to have “put the past behind him,” to be “doing well” and “very joyful” as he swam “with the dolphins” during a family vacation on the Carnival Dream, a floating symbol of modern excess, yet remained inescapably within the throes of childhood trauma?  How disconcerting might it have been for him to know that the videotaped testimony of his former self and identity, the 13 year old Birdie Africa who, according to a film reviewer for The Nation, “seems more like a shy 6-year-old in the deposition, answering the gently coaxing interrogator so guilelessly that you adopt his viewpoint as the simple truth,”was used as a crucial narrative device in Let the Fire Burn?  How fearful might he have been if and when he learned that, in this documentary, “the people, places and things on-screen seem uncommonly immediate,” that no significant effort was made by the filmmaker “to distance the images, which come before you with the air of something irreducible, as if they were not representations of the past but solid pieces of it”?
Even as he admits to being baffled about how his “extremely fit” son, a “41-year old man with the body of a 17-year old” who “worked out every day and was very particular about what he put in his body,” had died on the final day of their vacation, Andino Ward expresses profound gratitude for having had the privilege of nurturing the son to whom MOVE had denied him access.  His equally grateful son spent the last 27 years of his life recreating himself as someone whose identity was no longer subsumed by MOVE, efforts which, like all attempts to overcome trauma, seemed daunting, halting, and likely not wholly successful.  (It is impossible to read of the fastidiousness of Ward’s diet and exercise regime without surmising that they were healthy responses to the perverse extremes of MOVE practices.)  As he insisted during the Commission hearings and in newspaper interviews, though he continued to have terrible nightmares about his past victimization and found it difficult to trust people, he was committed, with his father’s help, to overcoming both his life with MOVE and a day of unimaginable terror when Philadelphia used what its mayor acknowledged was “any means necessary” to evict the city’s most disruptive residents.
It takes roughly 6 weeks for toxicology reports to be completed, so we still do not know the general condition of Ward’s internal organs and the precise cause of his death.  However, the other survivor of the Philadelphia fire, the still-active spokesperson, Ramona Africa, is sure that he died because he’d been separated from MOVE and was immersed in the corrupt modern world against which the group’s leader had warned his followers: “if he was still with MOVE and hadn’t been snatched from MOVE, he would not have drowned on no cruise ship. We don’t go on cruise ships. It just shows you how protective MOVE’s belief is. John Africa taught us that it is dangerous to be out in a body of water like that.”
Unlike Ramona Africa, I cannot pretend to know why the young man she knew as Birdie died. (Given what I’ve learned of MOVE’s violent treatment of members who rejected or expressed serious doubts about its teachings, however, I am skeptical of her claim that MOVE would have been “protective” of Ward had he been left alone with its embittered members either as a child “snatched” away by Philadelphia authorities or as a thoroughly modern adult.)  I suspect, however, that on the eve of his return to Philadelphia, his presence on the Carnival Dream felt disharmonious with “MOVE belief” he imbibed until he was on the eve of adolescence that, like the benefits of careful diet and strenuous daily exercise, continued to shape aspects of his being.  Unlike Osder, I feel strongly that, in his death, we must honor his efforts to transcend his MOVE origins and his status as a (perhaps guilt-filled) child survivor.  I want – and, in a not fully rational way, need – Ward’s post-MOVE life, his hard-fought battles for normalcy and psychic peace, his triumphs, large and small, and his painfully inevitable setbacks, to matter.
Saved from drowning by a white policeman who refused to see the malnourished boy as a terroristic combatant, nurtured back to health by a father who encouraged him to rename himself, Ward made choices as an adult – to join the military to defend values that John Africa et al despised; to drive products along the East Coast, perhaps as a curative to a claustrophobic childhood existence; to cut others’ hair to keep it from forming into dreadlocks that MOVE members believed properly symbolized their antagonistically natural lifestyle; and to exalt publicly in the fact, because of the otherwise lethal fire, he “got out” – that fly boldly in the face of the precepts of the group that, long before the siege, he wanted desperately to escape.  I doubt, however, that he ever completely threw off the effects of his childhood existence in that long-incinerated MOVE home in which he had been trapped both by his putative family and, finally, by representatives of the city of Philadelphia.
Our sporadic attempts to revisit moments of collective trauma that might otherwise be misunderstood or unremembered kept pulling Ward figuratively back into a burning house of horrors.  We need newspaper articles, Action News reports, and widescreen spectacles to link our present circumstances to the nightmarish pain that Ward recalled too clearly.  But, unlike the rest of us, Ward desperately needed to block those fiery images, to silence blood-curdling screams we could only imagine – to overcome that fateful day – in order to live a productive life.  The edification, morality, and civil responsibility of the rest of us require that we have access in perpetuity to images of him escaping the Osage Avenue inferno.  No matter what the autopsy concludes, because our collective needs and Ward’s needs diverged so dramatically, I suspect that, aboard the Carnival Dream, his return to Philadelphia, to his starring role as Birdie Africa, might have seemed unbearable.

Michael Awkward, Gayl A. Jones Professor of Afro-American Literature and Culture at the University of Michigan, is the author, most recently, of Burying Don Imus: Anatomy of a Scapegoat and Soul Covers: Rhythm and Blues Remakes and the Struggle for Artistic Identity. Professor Awkward’s latest book, Philadelphia Freedoms: Black American Trauma, Memory, and Culture after King, was published by Temple University Press in October.

“Should We All Go Back to College-Can Black People Afford Not To”

 The Nationist

“Should We All Go Back to College-Can Black People Afford Not To”

 9-14-13 Curry4By Tommy J. Curry

We are standing at a juncture of history where we cannot deny the failure of the American democractic state to incorporate and care for the labor and social worth of oppressed American classes. Dr. Evelyn Patterson’s “Incarcerating Death: Mortality in U.S. State Correctional Facilities, 1985-1998,” argues that Black men are safer in prison than in American society. Their access to healthcare and distance from violence is one of the primary reasons they live. We are then tasked to ask ourselves, in this world, where living in this society, our society, how we can accept this reality and yet deny the opportunity for those we find in it to escape it.

Despite our resistance to accepting the devolution of America towards decadent ideas of racism, classism, and primitivism, there is a very real political reality that has changed the political tides of this country. The rise of conservativism and reactionary politics against Obama has in many ways solidified a rise of “lost causes,” where states like Texas in its 2012 party platform maintained a staunch opposition to “critical thinking” saying “oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.” Similarly states like Arizona, and Tennessee have sought to constrain rather than expand the pedagogy of students amidst the Browning and Blackening of America choosing an ideological protectionism over and against a democratic propagation of heroes and sheroes of America.  And let’s not pretend this view is isolated to the reactionary politics of state boards of education.

Six years ago Eduardo Bonilla Silva, Carla Goar, and David Embrick wrote an article entitled “When white Flock together: The Social Psychology of white Habitus,” in Critical Sociology arguing that most “whites live a white habitus that creates and conditions their views, cognitions, and even sense of beauty,” thereby creating a “sense of racial solidarity” that “adds to whites’ perceptions that their white lifestyle is the correct and “normal” way of doing things. As a result of this conditioning, whites’ racialized attitudes and prejudice toward blacks are continuously recycled and legitimated.” This racial solidarity however is not without consequence as it is both built on the “whites tremendous levels of racial segregations and isolation while growing up in neighborhoods and schools” as well as an isolation that continues “in colleges and workplaces.” This habitus creates a lack of reflexitvity to questions of racial and economic disparity that rationalizes such realities as normal.

This impulse is seen even more recently in Michael I. Norton and Samuel R. Sommers “whites see Racism as a Zero Sum Game that They are Now Losing,” from the Journal on Perspectives on Psychological Science in 2011, which argues that contrary to previous studies that look at white attitudes on racial progress and white abilities to explain away racial disparities, that now “not only do Whites think more progress has been made toward equality than do Blacks, but Whites also now believe that this progress is linked to a new inequality—at their expense” (217).

What then do we say of education? Should everyone go to college? To this question I would like to restate the proposition: Can anyone who is economically and racially deprived of their ability to compete economically and politically with racism, and poverty afford not to go to college?  The answer is obviously no. What does college education offer many Americans over and above the primary education of high school?

Craig Saddler’s “The Impact of Brown on African American Students:  A Critical Race Theory Perspective,” has argued that Black and brown children are not only being miseducated by public education, but de-educated.  Following the analysis of my 2009 article “Saved by the Bell: Derrick Bell’s racial realism as pedagogy,” it is important to recognize that public education was never meant to develop the capacities of Black, Brown, Indigenous, the poor, and to a lesser extent women.  Education was as William V. Spanos argues in The End of Education: towards Post-Humanism, ”a mechanism of oppression and complacency in in state policies.”

tcurryDr. Tommy J. Curry
Professor Philosophy and Black Studies
Texas A & M Univeristy

This Week’s Program Note

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham ☥ Coming Up

This Week on OUR COMMON GROUND 16 November  2013 In Conversation with Dr. Raymond Winbush: “Racism and Mental Health Therapies and The Movie, “12 Years A Slave” We are pleased to have Dr. Winbush r…

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:


In Conversation with Dr. Raymond A. Winbush

“Racism and Mental Health Therapies and
The Movie, “12 Years A Slave”

We are pleased to have Dr. Winbush return to talk with us on OUR COMMON GROUND. r. Raymond A. Winbush is the Director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University in Baltimore Maryland.


Saturday, November 13, 2013     10 pm ET 

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Update: Marissa Alexander Is Given No Bail Today – New Evidence Comes To Court

WED NOV 13, 2013

Updated: Marissa Alexander Is Given No Bail Today – New Evidence Comes To Court

by Leslie SalzilloFollow

in SOLIDARITY mARISSAMarissa Alexander, the Florida woman who was sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot to ward off her abusive husband, was granted no bail Wednesday afternoon in a Jacksonville courtroom. The mother of three will most likely not get to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with her children, as the ‘deciding judge’ opted to make no decision and set another hearing for January 15, 2012 – pending of course, that he does, or does not, change his mind.In 2010, just days after giving birth, Marissa Alexander fired a warning shot in self-defense to keep her abusive husband, Rico Gray, from attacking her. In his deposition, Gray who has a history of abusing Alexander, admitted it, stated he intended to hurt her had she not fired the warning shot, and said she did the right thing. He also said Alexander did not aim he gun at him. Gray then changed his story once the case went to trial. He walked out a free man – Marissa Alexander, the battered wife, received 20 years. The Florida Stand Your Ground Law did not work for Alexander because she fired a warning shot. Had she shot and killed Rico Gray that day, she would have most likely served no time at all.

My source who was in the courtroom today, reported new evidence has been brought forth – a text message of Rico Gray asking Marissa to come over for sex while there was an order of protection. Rico Gray claims Marissa should not be let out on bond because he is afraid of Marissa; he fears/feared for his life. Does asking her for sex sound like someone who feared for his life?

“I was in a rage. I called her a whore and bitch and . . . I told her, you know, I used to always tell her that, if I can’t have you, nobody going to have you. It was not the first time of ever saying it to her.”~ Rico Gray in his deposition on November 22, 2010.

Again, does this sound like a man fearing for his life?Marissa Alexander’s case has been highly publicized from the start, and the Free Marissa Now campaign has grown throughout social media. The case was catapulted into even more national spotlight, following the George Zimmerman case. In July 2013, Zimmerman was set free after killing teenager, Trayvon Martin, even though Zimmerman was the aggressor. Ironically, the same state attorney that failed to successfully prosecute George Zimmerman, is the same attorney that sent Marissa Alexander to prison. State Attorney Angela Corey ‘twisted the knife’ by refusing to drop Alexander’s case,even after it was overturned in September.

Unless something changes, it doesn’t look as though Marissa Alexander and her three children will be having happy holidays, as she awaits a new bail hearing, and then a whole new trial in March 2014. Supposedly the next trial will be different. This time, Florida courts say the burden of proof will be placed upon them rather than Marissa Alexander. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work, Florida?

If you’re in an abusive relationship, or know someone who may be, there is help: Call: 800-799-SAFE/National Domestic Violence Hotline or Call: 800-656-HOPE/RAINN (Rape,Abuse, & Incest National Network) 

TruthWorks Network Announces “Blanche ! “ Hosted by Acclaimed Talker, Blanche Williams

See on Scoop.itTruthWorks Network News – The Black Voice Collaborative

TruthWorks Network Announces “Blanche ! “ Hosted by Acclaimed Talker, Blanche Williams November 11, 2013 at 9:15pm TruthWorks Network announces “Blanche ! ” Hosted by Acclaimed Talker, Blanche Will…

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Hillary’s Nightmare? A Democratic Party That Realizes Its Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren


NOVEMBER 10, 2013


Hillary’s Nightmare? A Democratic Party That Realizes Its Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren

BY NOAM SCHEIBER @noamscheiber

 We’re three years from the next presidential election, and Hillary Clinton is, once again, the inevitable Democratic nominee. Congressional Republicans have spent months investigating her like she already resides in the White House. The New York Times has its own dedicated Clinton correspondent, whose job it is to chronicle everything from Hillary’s summer accommodations (“CLINTONS FIND A NEW PLACE TO VACATION IN THE HAMPTONS”) to her distinct style of buckraking (“IN CLINTON FUNDRAISING, EXPECT A FULL EMBRACE”). There is a feature-length Hillary biopic in the works, and a well-funded super PAC—“Ready for Hillary”—bent on easing her way into the race. And then there is Clinton herself, who sounds increasingly candidential. Since leaving the State Department, Clinton has already delivered meaty, headline-grabbing orations on voting rights and Syria.

Yet for all the astrophysical force of these developments, anyone who lived through 2008 knows that inevitable candidates have a way of becoming distinctly evitable. With the Clintons’ penchant for melodrama and their checkered cast of hangers-on—one shudders to consider the embarrassments that will attend the Terry McAuliffe administration in Virginia—Clinton-era nostalgia is always a news cycle away from curdling into Clinton fatigue. Sometimes, all it takes is a single issue and a fresh face to bring the bad memories flooding back.

The last time Clinton ran, of course, the issue was Iraq and the gleaming new mug was Barack Obama’s. This time the debate will be about the power of America’s wealthiest. And, far more than with foreign policy, which most Democrats agreed on by 2008, this disagreement will cut to the very core of the party: what it stands for and who it represents.

Christopher Gregory/The New York Times/Redux
Elizabeth Warren

On one side is a majority of Democratic voters, who are angrier, more disaffected, and altogether more populist than they’ve been in years. They are more attuned to income inequality than before the Obama presidency and more supportive of Social Security and Medicare.1 They’ve grown fonder of regulation and more skeptical of big business.2 A recent Pew poll showed that voters under 30—who skew overwhelmingly Democratic—view socialism more favorably than capitalism. Above all, Democrats areincreasingly hostile to Wall Street and believe the government should rein it in.

(WATCH: The ten best Elizabeth Warren viral videos out there)

But as central as this debate is to the identity of the party, Democrats won’t openly litigate it until they’re forced to ponder life after Obama. Partly out of deference to the president, partly out of a preoccupation with governing, and partly because there is no immediate political need, parties rarely conduct their internal soul-searching when they control the White House. It’s only when the president finally contemplates retirement that the feuding breaks out with real violence. Think of the Republican Party after George W. Bush. Or, you know, Yugoslavia.

 Judging from recent events, the populists are likely to win. In September, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, running on a platform of taming inequality, routed his Democratic mayoral rival, Christine Quinn, known for her ties to Michael Bloomberg’s finance-friendly administration. The following week, Larry Summers, Obama’s first choice to succeed Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman, withdrew his name from consideration after months in which Senate Democrats signaled their annoyance with his previous support for deregulation. Not 48 hours later, Bill Daley, the former Obama chief of staff and JP Morgan executive, ended his primary campaign for governor of Illinois after internal polls showed him trailing his populist opponent.

All of this is deeply problematic for Hillary Clinton. As a student of public opinion, she clearly understands the direction her party is headed. As the head of an enterprise known as Clinton Inc. that requires vast sums of capital to function, she also realizes there are limits to how much she can alienate the lords of finance. For that matter, it’s not even clear Clinton would want to. “Many of her best friends, her intellectual brain trust [on economics], all come out of that world,” says a longtime Democratic operative who worked on Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign and then for Hillary in the White House. “She doesn’t have a problem on the fighting-for-working-class-folks side”—protecting Medicare and Social Security—“but it will be hard, really wrenching for her to be that populist on [finance] issues.”

Which brings us to the probable face of the insurgency. In addition to being strongly identified with the party’s populist wing, any candidate who challenged Clinton would need several key assets. The candidate would almost certainly have to be a woman, given Democrats’ desire to make history again. She would have to amass huge piles of money with relatively little effort. Above all, she would have to awaken in Democratic voters an almost evangelical passion. As it happens, there is precisely such a person. Her name is Elizabeth Warren.

A Harvard law professor and best-selling author who led the congressional task force overseeing the bank bailout, Warren was already a liberal icon before she set foot in the Senate last January. Her public floggings of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner helped make her a fixture on MSNBC, “The Daily Show,” and The Huffington Post.

(READ: Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, and Female Votes)

As a result, Warren’s 2012 victory in Massachusetts set off a minor cottage industry of speculation about whether she would be a senator in the mold of other celebrities, like Hillary Clinton and Al Franken, who made collegiality and discretion the hallmarks of their early years in office—or whether she would follow the model of the body’s noisier gadflies, like former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and his spiritual successor, Ted Cruz of Texas.

The short answer is: None of the above. Warren has always said she had no interest in holding her tongue and blending into the senatorial wallpaper. But neither has she been a Cruz-like self-promoter, horning in on issues that hold out the greatest chance at media glory. (It’s one reason she’s well liked, which isn’t the case with Cruz.) Warren was understated during the Syria debate. She loyally supported Majority Leader Harry Reid during the recent government shutdown.

Curiously, this posture has had the effect of putting other Democrats in a chronic state of mild unease. From the perspective of a fellow senator, both the Clinton approach and the Cruz approach offer the advantage of predictability. Practitioners of the first will always sublimate their ambitions to the greater good of the caucus. Adherents of the second can be relied on to seize every last target of opportunity. In both cases, the senator’s colleagues can adjust accordingly. With Warren, on the other hand, they never entirely know when she may unload.

University of Texas School of Law
In 1986, Warren was a law professor at the University of Texas focused on bankruptcy issues.

During her Senate orientation in January, Warren, who serves on the banking committee, paid a courtesy call to the committee’s moderate chairman, Tim Johnson of South Dakota. “She was incredibly respectful, deferential,” says a committee aide who was in the room. “She really demonstrated to a lot of us that she would follow the model of . . . people like Franken, Barack Obama, Hillary.”

The following month, during her very first banking committee hearing, Warren again waited patiently for her turn to speak—then promptly set off a national furor. “Tell me a little bit about the last few times you’ve taken the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to a trial,” she asked a table full of bank regulators. The question, though eminently reasonable, violated an unstated rule of committee protocol, in which members of Congress are allowed to rant and rave at length but generally abstain from humiliating appointees, especially from their own party.

 An awkward pause ensued, at which point Warren flared her eyes and thrust her head forward, as if to say, “Yes, this is really happening.” Until that instant, the regulators believed the world worked one way; suddenly, it was working another. One winced hemorrhoidally as he searched for a place to fix his gaze. The head of an agency called the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) appeared to whimper before allowing that the threat of trial was unnecessary for keeping the banks in check—about as counterfactual a notion as the industry has ever produced. A third regulator chimed in affirmatively. For a few minutes, Warren looked like the only sane person in a mental ward. A video of the exchange has been viewed online more than a million times.

Alas, Warren’s colleagues have not always welcomed these clarifying moments. “The chairman is more of an introspective kind of guy, it’s not his style personally,” says the banking committee staffer, who stresses that he didn’t discuss it with Johnson. “It felt more like a Chuck Schumer move,” he continued, referencing the voluble New York senator. Warren’s fellow liberals on the committee might be more philosophically inclined toward such tactics, but even they seem to find them irksome. A handful of aides to these senators were willing to comment on their own bosses’ work, but ducked my follow-ups about Warren. “To the degree that [Sherrod] Brown and [Jeff] Merkley had this space to themselves, she’s taken a chunk of that,” says a former banking committee staffer, who notes that Brown may well become chairman if Democrats retain their majority next year. “They’re in agreement on a lot of stuff,” adds the former staffer. “But if he does become chair . . . I’m not sure how that dynamic is going to work. Is she going to be looking like she’s upstaging him?”

For its part, the Obama administration appears to regard Warren with its own special wariness. Take the successful campaign to block the would-be nomination of Larry Summers to be Federal Reserve chairman. Brown and Merkley played critical roles in halting Summers’s momentum and rounding up “no” votes among fellow Democrats. But Warren’s contribution is hard to overstate. “Elizabeth did something only she could do,” says a source close to the Fed chairman selection process, “which was engage with the administration on the subject and make clear that, if they insisted on moving ahead, the whole weight of her capacity could be brought to bear.” This “was a different order of magnitude,” says the source, alluding to Warren’s outsized fund-raising heft— $42 million raised for her Senate race, half of it online—and her media magnetism. A Warren aide doesn’t dispute this, saying only that “she passed along her concerns to the White House.”

Warren isn’t just better at picking her spots than Cruz, she is disciplined about following through. After the February hearing, Warren asked the OCC in writing whether it had analyzed the cost of settling complaints against banks without ever requiring admissions of guilt (which would expose banks to investor lawsuits). When the OCC said it had not, she wrote the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of Justice, and the Federal Reserve asking the same question. A few weeks later, Mary Jo White, the newly installed SEC chairwoman, sent Warren a letter saying she was “actively reviewing” the issue. A week after that, White announced that she was making a change: Some companies would now have to fess up as a condition for settling. In September, the SEC forced JP Morgan to admit that it violated securities laws as a condition for a $200 million settlement. Though Warren is far from the only Wall Street critic to have highlighted this issue, the line from her questioning to the change is exceedingly direct.

(VIDEO: Elizabeth Warren calling out Wall Street from the Senate )

Even at her most Cruz-like, it’s almost always possible to discern Warren’s goals. This summer, Senate Democrats negotiated a compromise with their Republican counterparts to lower student interest rates, which had recently doubled. Warren thought the deal was shameful: She objects in principle to making money from student loans, and in any case the bill holds down rates for only a few years. She denounced the “so-called ‘compromise’ ” in e-mails to her extensive list of supporters and channeled her outrage during closed-door Senate meetings—“more loudly than anyone else,” recalls Chris Murphy, her colleague from Connecticut. “We can’t go out and tell ourselves we’ve done good if we haven’t,” Warren told me later, during a brief interview in her office.

The cause was always a bit hopeless, and the bill passed overwhelmingly. But a Warren staffer says the aim was to draw attention to the outrage of profiting from students and to impose a political cost on those who went along with this practice so as to tilt future debates. When the Senate revisits the issue in a few years, as is likely, it’s hard to believe the calculus will not have changed. A Democratic aide whose boss supported the compromise told me the Warren team’s logic was “one hundred percent” right.

The gripe that Warren is maniacally image-obsessed has dogged her for almost as long as she’s been in Washington. During her days running oversight on the bank bailout, Treasury aides became convinced that Warren’s questions served little purpose other than to raise her profile, and that they had the effect of inciting a populist mob against policies that were unavoidable. They observed that a voice mail message for Warren instructed callers to press one if they were calling about a media appearance and press 2 for other messages. In 2010, Obama appointed Warren to be a special Treasury adviser in charge of setting up the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Warren was particular about the title she received, wanting it to reflect her work on behalf of the middle class. Treasury officials joked that if she were “Ambassador to the Middle Class,” it would make them “Ambassadors to the Plutocrats.”

There is no doubt that Warren takes a special interest in her public profile. According to a former aide, one of Warren’s greatest frustrations after arriving at the consumer agency was that the White House insisted on vetting all her media appearances. During her Senate campaign, Warren traveled with at least three staffers: Her body man and press secretary, as is the case for most candidates, but also a digital director, whose job it was to capture Warren’s choicest words on video, then upload the clips to YouTube and circulate them via social media. “She’s engaged in videos, e-mails, everything,” says an aide. “She plays an integral role in the content we send out.”

Still, the story of Warren’s rise to prominence is much more complicated than one of unbridled narcissism. Warren has been preoccupied with the plight of the middle class since her childhood, when her father suffered a heart attack and her mother took a job in the catalog department of Sears to keep four kids clothed and fed. “I watched Obama get completely obsessed by health care reform . . . and realized it was all about his mother on her death bed,” says a longtime Warren friend. “For her, it was her father.” As a law professor in the 1980s, Warren conducted research demonstrating that most of the people who filed for bankruptcy weren’t deadbeats, contrary to the popular perception, but hardworking, often middle-class households who’d endured staggering economic hardship.

Ever since, Warren’s mindset has been utterly brass tacks. When I asked about her views toward Geithner, one progressive activist who has worked closely with Warren told me it can be tempting to try to understand how people in power might be acting in good faith, even if they’re wrong. “Elizabeth is neither sentimental nor vindictive,” the activist said. “She’s not that interested in why people carry water for Wall Street or what they think of her.” She spends her time trying to beat her adversaries, the activist explained, or at least hold them accountable. As Warren told The Huffington Postduring the fight over financial reform: “My first choice is a strong consumer agency. My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.”

The proper interpretation of Warren’s prodigious p.r. efforts, then, isn’t that she’s especially taken with the idea of media stardom. It’s that she is relentlessly, perhaps ruthlessly, maybe even a bit messianically, focused on advancing her policy agenda. Everything else is merely instrumental.

Christopher Gregory/The New York Times/Redux
Warren and Clinton haven’t always been as chummy as this picture suggests.

This is what the banking industry and its Republican allies (as well as internal opponents like Geithner) didn’t fully appreciate when they effectively killed Warren’s hopes of permanently heading the consumer agency in 2011. Anyone who knows Warren will tell you she had no particular ambition to be a senator. She decided that the Senate would suffice as a way to agitate for her issues only when Obama stiffed her for the CFPB job—an enormous disappointment after she spent months lining up support among banks. “It’s poetic justice. At end of the day, if the banking community hadn’t been so apoplectic, everyone could have decided it’s this little tiny agency, who really cares?” says Anita Dunn, Obama’s White House communications director in 2009. “Instead, she ends up as a senior senator from Massachusetts on the banking committee, blocking Larry at the Fed.”

It’s hard to look at the Democratic Party these days and not feel as if all the energy is behind Warren. Before she was even elected, her fund-raising e-mails would net the party more cash than any Democrat’s besides Obama or Hillary Clinton. According to the Times, Warren’s recent speech at the annual League of Conservation Voters banquet drew the largest crowd in 15 years. Or consider a website called Upworthy, which packages online videos with clever headlines and encourages users to share them. Obama barely registers on the site; Warren’s videos go viral. An appearance on cable this summer—“CNBC HOST DECIDES TO TEACH SENATOR WARREN HOW REGULATION WORKS. PROBABLY SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT”—was viewed more than a million times. A Warren floor speech during the recent stalemate in Congress—“A SENATOR BLUNTLY SAYS WHAT WE’RE ALL THINKING ABOUT THE OBNOXIOUS GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN”—tallied more than two million views.

The poll numbers also suggest the Democratic Party is becoming Elizabeth Warren’s party. Gallup finds that the percentage of Democrats with “very negative” views of the banking industry increased more than fivefold since 2007, while the percentage who have positive views fell from 51 to 31. Between 2001 and 2011, the percentage of Democrats who were dissatisfied with the “size and influence of major corporations” rose from 51 to a remarkable 79.3

Of course, any prediction of a populist revolt against the party’s top brass must grapple with the tendency of such predictions to be wrong. From the Howard Dean campaign in 2004 to the Occupy Movement in 2011, the last decade in Democratic politics has been rife with heady declarations of grassroots rebellion, only to see the insiders assert control each time. Even the one insurgency that did succeed, the Obama campaign, was quickly absorbed into the party establishment, from which Obama was never so far removed in the first place.

But three developments suggest this time really could be different. The first is that, even at the elite level, the party has changed far more over the last few years than is widely understood. Chris Murphy, the Connecticut senator, estimates that not too long ago, congressional Democrats were split roughly evenly between Wall Street supporters and Wall Street skeptics. Today, he puts the skeptics’ strength at more like two-thirds. Warren told me she attributes this to the disillusionment surrounding Dodd-Frank, which ushered in a range of new regulations but left the details to regulators, who promptly caved.

There is also the fact that, unlike other liberal challenges, this one has broad national reach. The pollster Celinda Lake has found that support for “tougher rules” for Wall Street obliterates party lines, increasing in the last two years from more than 70 percent to more than 80. In South Dakota, a state Mitt Romney carried by 18 points, arecent poll showed Democrat Rick Weiland, an obscure ex-aide to Tom Daschle, a mere six points behind the state’s former Republican governor for a soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat. The animating principle of Weiland’s campaign is that government per se isn’t the problem; the problem is a government taken over by “big-money interests.” The same poll showed voters agreeing with this statement by a 68-to-26 margin.

And then there’s the way Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses so perfectly align with the passions of the moment. “There’s very much a wait-and-see approach to Hillary among progressives,” says Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “I think it’s mutually exclusive to be a real hero for reform and accountability and to have a [fund-raising] strategy that relies on Wall Street.” A financial reform activist is more blunt: “Unless there is some major public break by Hillary Clinton with this disreputable crowd, then everybody will have to think long and hard before they support her as president. We do not need yet another administration packed full of Wall Street–friendly politicians.”

When I recently asked a top Clinton campaign operative from 2008 if there’s any Democrat who Hillary should fear in 2016, he immediately named the Massachusetts senator. The typical Democratic insurgent, he explained, captivates the latte-liberal demographic but has trouble making additional gains. This is where Howard Dean ran aground in 2004 and where Bill Bradley stumbled in 2000. “I don’t think there’s anyone out there who can break out of just that left coalition like Warren could,” says the operative, who hopes to work for Hillary again. “She’s got a real message tailored to the middle-class and working-class people.”

Warren would also benefit from the resentments of party elders. Because the Clintons have always placed a premium on loyalty, there is a generation of donors, fund-raisers, and activists who supported other candidates in 1992, or who were simply late to support the Clintons, and were largely frozen out as a result. “If you weren’t on the Clinton train after ’92, then from ’92 almost to 2004, you weren’t on the team,” recalls one prominent Democratic donor. “You never quite made it to the major leagues.” Many of these exiles banded together to support John Kerry in 2004. And the Kerry fund-raising team, in turn, formed the nucleus of Obama’s operation four years later. “People have enormous admiration for what Hillary did as secretary of state, enormous gratitude for the important role she played,” says the donor, who was a major Obama backer. “But in Obamaworld, there is not deep loyalty to Hillary Clinton.”

Increasingly, Democratic donors are looking for more than just a person to support; they’re looking for a candidate who represents something larger than their own ambition. With Obama, it was all about hope and change. With Warren, it would be about a distinct worldview. But as different as their sources of appeal are, both allow donors to feel as if they’re part of a larger crusade. By contrast, the long-standing knock on the Clintons in these circles (unfair in many ways) is that they primarily represent the cause of themselves. “Warren has core convictions that would allow her to answer the question, ‘Why are you running?’ and not spend a lot of money on focus groups,” says Dunn.

On top of everything else, Warren would have some real mechanical advantages. New Hampshire, the first primary state, is fertile ground for a Warren-esque message—not many rich people, not many poor—and 80 percent of its residents live in the Boston media market. As much as any Massachusetts voter, they have watched her ads and heard her sound bites. And it’s hardly their only connection to Massachusetts politics. One traditional way Democrats have organized New Hampshire is to send in party hands from its southern neighbor. Officials from the North Shore of Massachusetts focus on the seacoast of New Hampshire; Worcester goes to Concord; greater Boston goes to Manchester. In 2004, this is how Kerry cased out New Hampshire en route to his primary victory there. In 2008, Hillary hired his deputy state director from Massachusetts, Roger Lau, to execute the same winning strategy. Lau, as it happens, is currently Warren’s state director.

 If Warren were to challenge Clinton, the contours of the campaign would be fairly obvious. Outside New Hampshire, Warren would thrive in caucus states, where Obama organized his way to victory in 2008. Clinton, on the other hand, would probably embrace a two-pronged strategy. First, she would move left on as many issues as possible. Since leaving the State Department, she has already staked out liberal ground on gay rights and voting rights, and she recently used the word “progressive” so many times in a single speech it was tempting to describe her condition as “severe.”

Gary Cameron/Reuters
Some pre-hearing chatter with Federal Reserve Board Governor Daniel Tarullo.

Phase two would be to attack ruthlessly, casting Warren as an untested novice with little expertise outside financial issues. Unlike Obama, who at least had Iraq and a tour on the Foreign Relations Committee to neutralize charges of naïveté, Warren would be exceedingly vulnerable. One Democratic donor who is active on Israel policy and considers himself a liberal Zionist had long admired Warren when he finally spoke with her in 2011. He came away from the conversation thinking “she would have to be careful on her Middle East politics.” The donor doesn’t recall Warren saying anything he would disagree with substantively, but the phrasing seemed inartful. “You don’t want people to have an excuse to go after you,” says the donor. Clinton’s infamous “3 a.m.” ads would write themselves.

And those are only the aboveground assaults. As in 2008, Greater Hillaryland, if not the Clinton campaign itself, would quietly work to disqualify Warren as a crazed, countercultural liberal. A former Obama campaign aide recalls Clintonites planting stories in foreign newspapers, then watching them enter the domestic bloodstream through outlets like The Drudge Report. This appears to be how Obama’s dubious connection to former Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers first gained widespread attention. “They were the kings of bank-shot press attention,” says the aide. “They were pitching stories domestic outlets would not cover . . . because the information they were peddling was so toxic.”

A Clinton-Warren matchup would have all sorts of consequences, none of them especially heartwarming. The most immediate is that Warren would probably lose. Though Warren has been boning up on a variety of policy areas in periodic dinners with experts—she told me there are several issues beyond Wall Street “we need to have frank conversations” about without naming specifics—she remains a work in progress as a politician. She is still pedestrian in front of a crowd despite her strengths as a questioner and debater, and her Senate campaign last year was bumpier than it should have been. At this stage in their careers, Clinton is simply easier to visualize as president. “Does Elizabeth Warren . . . cross some kind of experience threshold, a presidential threshold? I don’t think she crosses it yet,” says Joe Trippi, Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign manager. Then again, Trippi adds, “Neither did Obama till the campaign.” Sometimes you can’t overthink it.

The first time Elizabeth Warren met Hillary Clinton was in 1998, when the then–first lady requested a briefing on an industry-backed bankruptcy bill. Warren was impressed by Clinton’s smarts and steel, and credited her when Bill Clinton vetoed the bill in 2000. But the following year Hillary Clinton was a senator and she reversed her position. Warren’s reaction was scathing. “Her husband was a lame duck at the time he vetoed the bill; he could afford to forgo future campaign contributions,” Warren wrote in The Two-Income Trap. “As New York’s newest senator, however, it seems that Hillary Clinton could not afford such a principled position.” Warren never forgot the betrayal, invoking it as recently as her 2012 campaign.

Most of the pundits, operatives, and donors who populate the presidential-campaign industry assume Warren will not run for president in 2016 if Clinton does. They believe taking her on would be a suicide mission at best—harmless to Clinton but career-ending for the challenger. When I asked Swanee Hunt, an influential donor to both Warren and Clinton, about the possibility of Warren running, she told me: “I know three other women [besides Hillary] who would be very credible primary candidates. But none of them is going to challenge Hillary. . . . These women are not stupid.” If Clinton took a pass, on the other hand, many believe Warren would be difficult to beat, and the pressure to run could be irresistible.

This type of analysis is almost always correct: It assumes that a politician will maximize her chances of getting elected president. But it fundamentally misunderstands Warren. While her ambitions are considerable, they have always been focused on advancing her economic agenda. Everything from her public denunciations of Clinton to her lobbying to lead the CFBP to her eventual Senate run was motivated by a zealous attachment to the cause that has preoccupied her since childhood, not necessarily an interest in holding office. In October of 2010, Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor, was launching a show on CNN and was thrilled to land Warren as his inaugural guest. But Spitzer planned to open the broadcast calling for Geithner’s head and worried that his monologue might violate some delicate protocol. Geithner was officially Warren’s boss at Treasury, after all. He held a key vote over whether she would run the consumer agency. But when Spitzer offered to skip the diatribe, Warren didn’t even pause to mull it over. “No, it’s fine with me,” she told him flatly.

All of which is to say, if Hillary Clinton runs and retains her ties to Wall Street, Warren will be more likely to join the race, not less. Warren is shrewd enough to understand that the future of the Democratic Party is at stake in 2016. At 64, she knows that if Hillary wins and populates yet another administration with heirs to Robert Rubin, it will be at least eight years before there’s another chance to reclaim the party. “She has an immense—I can’t put it in words—a sense of destiny,” says a former aide. “If Hillary or the man on the moon is not representing her stuff, and her people don’t have a seat at table, she’ll do what she can to make sure it’s represented.”

Warren refused to tell me what would happen if the likely 2016 nominee is wrong on her issues. “You’ve asked me about the politics. All I can do is take you back to the principle part of this,” she said. “I know what I am in Washington to do: I’m here to fight for hardworking families.”4

These words may be soothingly diplomatic, but her methods usually are not—and that should be terrifying for Hillary. An opponent who doesn’t heed political incentives is like a militant who doesn’t fear death. “Yeah, Hillary is running. And she’ll probably win,” says the former aide. “But Elizabeth doesn’t care about winning. She doesn’t care whose turn it is.”

Noam Scheiber is a senior editor at The New Republic.

This WeekDisconnected From Our History

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This Week on OUR COMMON GROUND 09  November  2013 Disconnected From Our History; The Residuals of Mis-Education, Media and Denial” A Conversation we need to have and learn to have in our community….

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A Conversation we need to have and learn to have in our community.

OPEN MIC Saturday Night

“History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations. And it is with great pain and terror that one begins to assess the history that has placed one where one is, and formed one’s point of view. In great pain and terror, because, thereafter, one enters into a battle with that historical creation, Oneself, and attempts to recreate oneself according to a principle more humane and more liberating: one begins to attempt to achieve a level of personal maturity and freedom which robs history of its tyrannical power, and also changes history.”

– “White Guilt’ essay, James Baldwin

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