Joe Biden’s History on Race Relations and Civil Rights

by Kelly R. Smith

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(Uncle) Joe Biden describing Barack Obama
(Uncle) Joe Biden describing Barack Obama

Ex-Vice President Joe Biden is the Democrat party’s pick for Presidential nominee, running against President Donald Trump. Two of his main themes he is using to describe himself is being a standard-bearer for race relations and hero of the working class. But are those attributes correct or more Beltway hype? We’ll look at the former theme. We are entitled to our opinions but not our facts.

Biden’s History on His Part in the Civil Rights Movement

Biden talks of of being a prior public defender to point out his civil rights bona fides on the campaign trail. “I came out of the civil rights movement,” Biden said in February and frequently on the campaign trail.

But did he? In an article from The Intercept, we’re told that, “during Biden’s first run for the presidency, in 1987, the then-senator frequently described himself as a teenage civil rights activist, only to withdraw those claims later. More than three decades later, having served under the first black president, Biden seems to have reversed himself again, and now describes himself as a participant in desegregation protests in his youth.” Why all the flip-flops? Is it political expediency, or a truly faulty memory as his current many gaffes would have us believe?

The Intercept goes on to report Biden saying in speeches, “When I marched in the civil rights movement, I did not march with a 12-point program; I marched with tens of thousands of others to change attitudes, and we changed attitudes.”

But alas, not true again. Biden’s aides tried, unsuccessfully, to nudge him back on script, reminding him that he had not, personally, marched. He would acknowledge the “error” each time he was reminded of it and then repeat it on the campaign trail. It was just too good of a sentimental talking-point to give up.

How about this one. The Washingtonpost.com reported Biden’s quote, “This day, 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and entered into discussions about apartheid. I had the great honor of meeting him. I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on Robbens Island.

— Former vice president Joe Biden, in remarks in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 11

“After he [Mandela] got free and became president, he came to Washington and came to my office. He threw his arms around me and said, ‘I want to say thank you.’ I said, ‘What are you thanking me for, Mr. President?’ He said: ‘You tried to see me. You got arrested trying to see me.’”

— Biden, in remarks in Las Vegas on Feb. 16

The problem? None of it ever happened. Pure fiction. It’s a bit too elaborate to be a momentary lapse of reason and too well spoken to be one of his infamous gaffes (with a well-crafted follow-up.

Joe Biden, Integration, and Segregation

Biden seems to be on the flip-flop train on these issues as well. In 1975, he opposed the federally-mandated busing policy that was designed to terminate segregation in public schools. However, in the past few decades, he has maintained he actually wanted desegregation but believed the policy of busing would not achieve it. Last year, he stated he had voted heroically to protect busing, which is contrary to the actual facts.

According to the Washington Examiner, Biden said, “I think the concept of busing … that we are going to integrate people so that they all have the same access and they learn to grow up with one another and all the rest, is a rejection of the whole movement of black pride,” said Biden. Desegregation, he argued, was “a rejection of the entire black awareness concept, where black is beautiful, black culture should be studied; and the cultural awareness of the importance of their own identity, their own individuality.” So at this point Biden is back to the point of wanting to separate the races.

Biden was also a supporter of an anti-busing amendment offered by Sen. Robert Byrd, a senator from West Virginia and a Democrat. Byrd had denounced his racist past, which included being a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan as well as attaining the high title of kleagle and exalted cyclops of his local chapter.

“I have never, ever, ever voted for anything I thought was wrong,” said Biden to three former senior aides in Obama’s White House. “In the middle of the single most extensive busing order in all the United States history, in my state, I voted against an amendment, cast the deciding vote, to allow courts to keep busing as a remedy. Because there are some things that are worth losing over.”

Biden’s VP Choice of Kamala Harris

“There are a number of women of color. There are Latino women. There are Asian. There are — across the board. And we’re just under way now in the hard vet of going into the deep background checks that take anywhere from six to eight weeks to be done,” Biden said during a campaign speech in Wilmington, Delaware.

So, in the end, he picked Kamala Harris. There are several possible reasons both for and against this choice and it is impossible to know for anyone who’s not a fly on the wall in back-door campaign meetings. In other words, we can all look at the facts and speculate as to relevance. Historically, the choice is — what voting block a VP can bring to the table? And, what kind of attack dog is that person? This is a reasonable approach for both parties and does not use the term “dog” in a pejorative sense.

As for Harris, she’s a woman. Check. She can attack furiously. Check; especially since Biden can’t do it effectively while ensconced in his bunker “campaigning” online. Person of color? Hmm. Mom is Indian, dad is Jamaican. That’s definitely color-ish but not “Black” or “African-American.” There are a lot of Black American leaders that have a problem with this.

Furthermore, her heritage includes field-hand slave-owners. Wouldn’t this be something Biden would be wanting to distance himself from? Certainly it worked to Obama’s advantage that Michelle Obama’s ancestors were slaves. But to go from that to one’s heritage actually being slave-owners? Kind of counterproductive on Biden’s part if he wants the Black Lives Matter vote.

There has been a lot of speculation in the media that since Biden’s nomination is a done-deal and he isn’t expected to last four years, health-wise or cognitively, it’s important to have a successor in the wings that is young and radical to take over and represent The Squad and the Far Left. Is this reality or conspiracy theory fodder? I don’t know. You decide.

This has been a glimpse into Joe Biden’s history on race relations and civil rights. It is certainly not an exhaustive account of someone who’s made a career out of sausage-making politics. But it does cast a light on the fact that a penchant for flip-flopping might indeed not bode well for promises made after the votes are counted.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Impeachment in the United States: What is It?

President Bill Clinton Impeached Newspaper Headline
President Bill Clinton Impeached Newspaper Headline

The details of impeachment of government officials varies from country to country. This article will confine itself to how to process proceeds in the United States.

Impeachment, from Dictionary.com:

noun

  • The impeaching of a public official before an appropriate tribunal.
  • (In Congress or a state legislature) the presentation of formal charges against a public official by the lower house, trial to be before the upper house.
  • Demonstration that a witness is less worthy of belief.
  • The act of impeaching.
  • The state of being impeached.

    So, the popular assumption that impeachment means removal from office is simply not true. Rather, it is analogous to an indictment in criminal law, and so it is essentially a statement of charges against the official in question. Impeachment at the federal level is limited to those who may have committed “Treason, Bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors .”

    Article One of the United States Constitution gives the House of Representatives the single power of impeachment. The Senate’s responsibility is to try impeachments of officers of the U.S. federal government. On a state level, state constitutions include like measures which allow the state legislature to impeach the governor or other officials of the state government.

    If an official is impeached, he or she then faces a second legislative vote. This vote determines conviction, or failure to convict, on the charges specified by the impeachment. It is notable that this process does not involve the Supreme Court.

    Presidential Impeachment History in the United States

    As of this writing only two US presidents have been impeached. The first was Andrew Johnson. It began to unfold on February 24, 1868, when the House of Representatives resolved to impeach Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of these United States. Specifically, the allegations were high crimes and misdemeanors which were spelled out in eleven articles of impeachment. The main charge against Johnson was the violation of the Tenure of Office Act. This had been passed by Congress in March 1867 despite his veto. Why? He had removed Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War, from office. The act had been designed to protect Stanton and to replace him with Brevet Major General Lorenzo Thomas.

    The second impeachment was President Bill Clinton. It was initiated on October 8, 1998 when the United States House of Representatives voted to begin the impeachment proceedings against Clinton who was the 42nd president of the United States for high crimes and misdemeanors. Specifically, the charges were lying under oath and obstruction of justice.

    Currently, the United States House of Representatives is holding hearings on the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump.


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    About the author:

    Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


  • The United States of Trump

    How the President Really Sees America: A Book Review

    The United States of Trump book cover
    The United States of Trump book cover

    The United States of Trump is yet another offering from Bill O’Reilly’s stable of historical and insightful books. This book begins with a look at Trump’s childhood and family life, particularly how his father, Fred Trump’s work ethic affected his own personality and work ethic.

    While it is true that The Donald worked with his father and learned his chops there, he wasn’t content with real estate work that was confined mostly to the New York City boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. He wants Manhattan. When Trump wants something, he’s all focus and strategy.

    New York Business vs Washington

    O’Reilly delves into how “business as usual” differ between New York real estate and inside-the-beltway Washington. They are completely different paradigms and Trump has not been eager nor inclined to morph into a “swamp-dweller.” Unlike the career bureaucrats, his vision includes a strong sense of national sovereignty.

    As O’Reilly says, “But Trump did not temper his New York style and swagger when he rolled into Washington. His inauguration was met with wide-spread loathing, and he did little to win over the DC establishment. He simply did not understand the game because he didn’t want to take the time to figure it out. In New York, it’s in your face. In Washington, it’s in your back.”

    President Trump, the Biased Media, and Fake News

    If there is one thing Trump has roiled about both during the campaign and after taking office, it’s the mainstream media’s tendency to produce fake news. He takes it as a personal insult, which in verified examples it is. It is broadly believed that there are two reasons for this. First, rather than being impartial, the mainstream media is left-leaning. Secondly, the press resents losing their voice to Trump’s tweets where he takes his gritty prose directly to the American people.

    The Presidential Election

    Much of the book details the campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Trump as well as the election itself. O’Reilly is in an excellent position to chronicle this period of time as he was behind the scenes and in fact includes many of his interviews with Trump in the book.

    These interviews are perhaps the best view-ports into Trump’s vision for America and how he plans to make it great again. The businessman-oriented approach is a completely different animal than the Washington-entrenched apparatchik paradigm. His view includes an America strengthened by a robust economy, a strong military, and a southern border wall.

    Although the polls and the mainstream media were all in for Clinton, they all underestimated how Trump’s unorthodox style would play in fly-over country. This is evidenced by the fact that Trump did not win the popular vote but took it by way of the electoral college. Although this book does not delve deeply into how the country has changed because of Trump’s ascendancy (those books were be written later), it does offer an insight into how the president really sees America. I’ve got to give The United States of Trump 4.5/5 stars.


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    About the Author:

    Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.