Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jump (For My Love)

When I first heard about the failed terror attack upon an international flight from Amsterdam, my first thought wasn't political, "Hell, Bush, couldn't y'all put together a better airline security system?," nor did I panic, forswearing never again to fly. My first thought wasn't: "I want to see the president on television. I want to see him now. I want him to reassure me, and the flying public, that we're going to be secure if we take a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit." That just wasn't my first thought.

My first thought was: "How did this guy manage to get pass security with explosives?" The thought really took flight when I learned that Amsterdam has one of the most probing airline security systems in the world. And then I learned that the terrorist was treated as an "inflight passenger," and was screened with the assumption that he had been searched previously, and didn't warrant a thorough, more exhaustive, one.

Couple that with the reality that airlines are profit-driven, and more cost conscious than security and safety would dictate, this was a sure prescription for a disaster waiting to happen.

Unfortunately, there will be other events. Terrorists are intent on striking us again, possibly with a mortal blow. When they do, Obama can't jump each time the Republicans, by way of their criticism of him, egg him on to do so. He has to use his own judgment. If talking to the American people immediately seems warranted, then speak, otherwise hold your peace. It took Bush six days to speak out about Richard Reid, who was tried, and convicted, in our criminal court system, just as the "underwear bomber" will be, despite calls to try him before a military tribunal. Peter King shouldn't be allowed to set your agenda, nor any other Republican. Republicans get as much mileage from making you jump on cue, as they do from their criticism.

The real story is not that a terrorist attempted to attack us, but that he got as far as he did, using a low-tech method--explosives in his underwear, for crying out loud. First, it was Richard Reid, stashing explosives in his shoes, and you know where that led: The flying public having to remove their shoes to fly. Now with the underwear guy, will that call for the removal of our pants, and a close examination of what might be sewn in the lining of underwear?

Perhaps all airlines should convert to flying nudists only, or those willing to convert to nudism for the extent of a flight. If people don't have clothes on, they can't tuck something away. Well, they could, but it would be harder.

I'm being facetious, of course. One solution would be full-body scans, and I understand only 19 scanners, or so, are now installed, with about 150 more being planned. Now I don't know about you, but I'd rather give up the privacy of having someone peer at my gorgeous body, than run their hands around my private parts.

If we're going to give up some privacy to fly, let's make sure that the sacrifice really works. It has to be extraordinarily hard to get around those full-body scanners, if they're working. I can't see how anyone could hide anything from those scanners, and still be able to walk, let alone talk, and interact with security personnel.

And for goodness sakes, let's start paying security personnel more than minimum wage. It will attract people who might take their job seriously, won't hold a grudge against their employer for working for pennies, and will actually do the job--and won't daydream about what they're going to do after work, but actually focus on the job at hand.

Compared to nonessential jobs, the most important jobs in this country are those that command the lowest pay--our teachers, police officers, and firemen.

If you have the likes of Pat Buchanan saying that its unfortunate that this incident was politicize, then you know somebody went well over the line.

Interestingly, this terrorist incident is not without controversy. Was there an accomplice? We have a well-dressed man intervening for Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab at the Amsterdam airport, and the FBI supposedly arresting someone in addition to Umar, and later denying it.

I don't want to minimize the gravity of the event, because it posed a real threat to the flying public, and to those on the ground, had this plane gone down. No doubt, this event shouldn't have happened. Dots should have been connected.

Yet, I'd like to make this point: Democrats, and the president in particular, can't jump each time Republican critics attempt to use an event to make them look soft on terrorism, dovish on war, and weak on national security. Jumping is not going to make Republicans love you more, nor diminish their attacks. Republicans have a plan: to take back the seats of power by any means necessary. And the method they're using now is to make Democrats and the president look foolish, and ineffective.

It's their aim to convince us that only they can lead us during times of national economic upheavals, and an ongoing war on terror. What they want us to forget is that they had almost eight years to rescue the economy, and to makes gains against terrorism.

Instead, they abandoned the real front on terrorism, Afghanistan, to fight Iraqis, and gave tax breaks to those who didn't need them, the rich. Talk about misplaced priorities!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Grinch Before Christmas

As Christmas draws near, I really wanted to offer a more positive message than the one I'm about to present. Nevertheless, consider this my Christmas offering. Perhaps you've heard about the story below: A woman dies because two EMTs were on break, and didn't wish to be bothered. Or so it seems. Here are more details:

A pregnant Brooklyn woman suffering a fatal seizure in a coffee shop in the shadow of FDNY Headquarters was ignored by two callous city medics who continued to buy their breakfast, eyewitnesses told The Post.

"The EMTs just said we had to call 911. They got their bagels and left," said a disgusted worker.

Frantic employees at the Au Bon Pain at 1 Metrotech Center approached the FDNY medics at 9 a.m. on Dec. 9, shortly after colleague Eutisha Revee Rennix, 25, began to complain of shortness of breath and intense stomach pains. Workers immediately dialed 911.

NO HELP: Witnesses say that as Eutisha Revee Rennix (above) lay dying at a Brooklyn Au Bon Pain 600 feet from FDNY headquarters, two EMTs on break refused to assist her, leaving son Jahleel, 3, motherless.
"People were calling out saying, 'She's turning blue! She's pregnant!' " said the witness.

But the EMTs appeared unfazed.

"I remember them saying they couldn't do anything because they were on their break," another worker said. "We started screaming and cursing at them."
Read more.

We've seen callous people before, individuals refusing to aid others in dire straits because of indifference, but those people haven't been EMTs. We don't expect to see this kind of behavior from medics trained to save lives, and whose lives are devoted to doing just that.

We expect this callousness more from our politicians. You know the ones I'm talking about: Republicans and Blue Dog democrats out to defeat, or substantially modify, a bill designed to save the lives of 30 to 40 millions Americans each year by reforming Health Care in this country. Next to these politicians, the EMTs personify the milk of human kindness, and are elevated to sainthood.

One Democrat, Ben Nelson, didn't sign on to the bill until his state could realize a sizable benefit to the tune of about a hundred million dollars, striking a Medicaid deal for his state. Holding health care reform hostage by seeking special favor for your state is not only callous, but pits one group of Americans against others who feel left out when one state enjoys an advantage that others don't.

Further, allowing other Americans to be forced into bankruptcy who do have health insurance, but have been dropped because of a catastrophic illness, or a pre-existing condition, is equally callous. But that doesn't seem to bother Republicans. The whole lot of them should have packed their bags and moved back to their states and their districts when Barack Obama moved himself and his family into the White House. The amount of real work they've accomplished as senators and district representative is not enough to warrant a paycheck.

During the month of December, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We set aside December 25 as his birthday, although the actual date of his birth is lost to history. During his life, Jesus championed the poor, the defenseless, and the sick. Were we more spiritual than worldly, we'd have no need of Universal Health Care, or a Public Health Care Plan to keep health care costs under control. Further, had the EMTs practiced the Golden Rule that Jesus touted, the mother of the 3-year-old boy may be alive today, and the boy not orphaned.

Jesus charged his disciples thusly: "That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

Republicans and some Democrats are fond of calling us a Christian nation, although there's a constitutional provision calling for the separation of church and state. What an ensample of Christian charity we are as a nation that we show our love, and our Christian discipleship by ignoring the health plight of millions of our fellow citizens. Some conservatives will argue that it's not the role of government to provide health care for its citizenry, but should be the role of charities. And when charities fail, are we not charitably required to use the people's power to address an insufficiency? Is it more charitable to rest on principle, and a conservative ideology, when the needs of many may be addressed effectively by throwing the weight of government behind them?

When should our political ideology replace our conscience, our duty to God, and to our fellowman and woman?

We saw the birth of love upon this plane, although it came forth out of a lowly place, a stable, and was wrapped in swaddling cloth, and placed in a manger. That love, unnurtured, may remain indefinitely in that natal state, or we can, if we choose, remove the swaddling cloth, set it free to grow, and allow it to be elevated to that of King over ourselves and our world. The choice is ours.

Merry Christmas, One and All.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Stranger Danger

The words, Stranger Danger, have, in our "developed economies," signalled a new warning. And that warning doesn't refer to the danger facing children at the hands of unscrupulous adults. The danger, as it is currently perceived, may be summed up in the following question: How much should developed nations allow entry to those who don't share their values, in order to offset a shrinking population, and a shrinking workforce?

To be sure, diversity has its problems, and aggravates other social problems, problems associated with sexism, racism, and homophobia. For the record: I never presume to tell anyone how to handle a perceived slight, or respond to a perceived attack against their race (racism), their sex (sexism), or their sexual preference (homophobia).

It's just not my place. I'm not going to call these persons overly-sensitive, conspiratorial, or just plain stupid, as some bloggers have. Here's the reason: racism, sexism, and homophobia (among other "isms" and "phobias") crisscross our national psyche, and social interactions like our nation's power grid, and, unlike our nation's power grid, they're in better condition, all to our national shame.

Were we living in a society where these "isms" were rare, and homosexuality received no more attention than that given to straights, then I could understand the continual bleating against those who would call out devils where none exists.

Recently, an article in the Guardian caught my attention. I know, this is not an American newspapers, but the article, although not specifically about the United States, could very well have had us in mind when it was written. Here, in a nutshell is the article's premise:

"The diversity, individualism and mobility that characterise developed economies - especially in the era of globalisation - mean that more of our lives is spent among strangers. [...] We share public services and parts of our income in the welfare state, we share public spaces in towns and cities where we are squashed together on buses, trains and tubes, and we share in a democratic conversation - filtered by the media - about the collective choices we wish to make. All such acts of sharing are more smoothly and generously negotiated if we can take for granted a limited set of common values and assumptions. But as Britain becomes more diverse that common culture is being eroded.

"And therein lies one of the central dilemmas of political life in developed societies: sharing and solidarity can conflict with diversity. This is an especially acute dilemma for progressives who want plenty of both solidarity (high social cohesion and generous welfare paid out of a progressive tax system) and diversity (equal respect for a wide range of peoples, values and ways of life). The tension between the two values is a reminder that serious politics is about trade-offs. It also suggests that the left's recent love affair with diversity may come at the expense of the values and even the people that it once championed."

As I read this, and the article in general, I was struck by the author's belief that, although people are unwilling to share with strangers, they aren't unwilling, so much, when they share common values, and a sense of "solidarity" with the other. And if they're strangers, this likelihood of shared values, and solidarity, becomes even more remote.

We're seeing some of this reluctance with the congressional health-care reform bill that seeks to install a public option. Much of the ballyhoo has been over the possibility that illegal immigrants may also qualify to participate in the system that the legislature is cobbling together.

The resistance to such a proposal came to a head in the words of Joe Wilson, "You lie," when the president assured listeners, during a recent address to the American people, and a joint session of Congress, that the health-care legislation under consideration wouldn't provide free health-care coverage for illegal immigrants.

Who, then, should be recognized as members of our family, those who were born in this country, those who are of our race, or gender, or those of us who share a common plight?

I believe that we're a stronger country because of our diversity. Diversity, and heterogeneity may bring with them certain problems, but it's unlikely that it will present us with this one:

"Finland is Europe's most homogeneous society, a nation of mostly blond ethnic Finns whose declining birthrate creates the classic 21st-century European dilemma: a fast-growing population of senior citizens whose promised benefits under a generous welfare state will soon be unaffordable. To compensate for fewer Finnish births, the country could encourage foreigners to immigrate, a subject much discussed here. But like most of Europe, "Finland is allergic to immigration," in the words of Manuel Castells, the renowned Spanish-born sociologist who lives in the United States."

As our nation becomes more diverse, perceptions of slights, and attacks are bound to rise. Rather than sweep these accusations under the rug, ridicule them, or even discount them, we'd be better off to meet them head-on with discussion, dialog, and a determination to create an environment that welcomes all, and a resolve to treat the stranger as members of the family, and not outsiders.

Otherwise, we could end up like Finland.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Black Teen With GunA blogger that I frequent spoke eloquently, but painfully, about the constant presence of death in his life, as his work brings him face to face with it often. He bemoaned the violence in the black community, and our seeming inability to curb it, or to defeat it.

I think we can all agree: The answer to violence is a complex one. But if we are to combat it, and combat it successfully, I believe that my response to this blogger outlines some of those elements that will need to be present if we're to succeed. I would be interested in your take: What do you feel is missing, and what must we as a society do to rescue our youth, especially our black ones?

Here's my response:

I hear your frustration. It's mine as well. To be sure: The problem is a difficult one to grapple with.

Had we the power to look ahead, to see how far the infection would spread without intervention, we could have taken steps then.

But we didn't.

As we concentrated our energies and collective resolve to fight and defeat the external forces that sought to destroy us, we neglected the forces from within.

The problem as I see it is this: GIGO.

"GIGO (gī'gō, gē'-)
n. Computer Science
An informal rule holding that the integrity of output is dependent on the integrity of input."

Or to put it more graphically, "Garbage In, Garbage Out."

We are what we value. And values are instilled early in a person's life. He or she that gets there first, gets to shape the eventual outcome of that person.

It works that way most of the time, but, of course, not all the time. There are glaring exceptions. Always, there are glaring exceptions to any rule, solution, or remedy.

Having an intact family is not always the solution. It's the family that models certain values, and pass them on to their offspring.

And we know that generations have rebelled against certain values, but mainly did so because the values that their parents sought to inculcate, the parents, themselves, didn't follow, and the hypocrisy invalidated the values, and brought about a backlash.

As you suggested with the "village," nothing short of restructuring our society, and the family model, will bring the healing we seek.

It's not a black problem or a white problem; the problem of our youth is a national problem.

Until we see it from that perspective, I'm afraid that the problem will persist, and grow exponentially.

We all have to get involved in the rearing of our children. We first have to see them as the national treasure that they are, and put a large part of our energies and resources into spiritually, intellectually, and physically enhancing each successive generation.

We can no longer leave that task to the nuclear family construct. Children need many mommies and daddies from those in society who have lived long enough to gain wisdom, as well as intellectual and spiritual prowess.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

DetestaBible Use!

I was prepared to discuss another topic for my next blog entry, but this one caught my eye. I wanted to address the death of little Shaniya Davis, the little missing girl that was recently found dead along a stretch of road.

I'm thinking of other little black girls, the First Children, Sasha and Malia. It seems that the enterprising minds of American capitalism have found a new way to make a buck and threaten President Obama and his family at the same time. We all know that the threats against the president is at an all time high, and that the Secret Service is overwhelmed by the number. And to make matters worse, I understand the agency is understaffed and underfunded.

Why this is so, is beyond me. The fallout that could occur if this nation's first black president, or the first family is intentionally hurt by an assassin's bullet, or a homegrown terrorist's bomb, could be catastrophic. It could set race relations back a number of years, and create a climate of distrust that could threaten the slight closing of the racial divide that the election of Obama has brought us, and, at worse, descend this nation into the unthinkable--a race war.

And I don't think that I'm overstating my case. It's how I see a probable outcome to such a horrible act. Given the insouciance of some in the media, more inclined to fuel the fire than put it out, each day we're brought closer to what could be our national Armageddon.

I've blogged about this before. It's not my purpose to dwell on the negative, but to raise the consciousness of us all to this potential threat.

Here's the latest. It seems that tee shirts and bumper stickers featuring Bible verse citations, following a request to pray for President Obama, is nothing more than a veiled threat against him and his family. The Christian Science Monitor covered the story and Rachel Maddow on her show highlighted it as well.

There’s a new slogan making its way onto car bumpers and across the Internet. It reads simply: “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8”
A nice sentiment?

Maybe not.

The psalm reads, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

Presidential criticism through witty slogans is nothing new. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, and hats with “1/20/09” commemorated President Bush’s last day in office.

But the verse immediately following the psalm referenced is a bit more ominous: “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

On the Rachel Maddow show in the segment, "While You Were Out," we have this. If you haven't seen this segment, it's rather long, and covers among other things, the furor that President Obama raised by bowing to the Japanese Emperor on his recent trip abroad. Maddow's guest during this segment sums up my feelings, and issues a chilling alarm.

Her guest appeals to those who voted for President Obama to take a stand and speak out, and to right-wing evangelicals to condemn the behavior behind the offensive slogans. I said this before. I think the president's supporters have been overly quiet, and have not rushed to his rescue during the months he has been under siege by the Right.

I find it perplexing. The president has made significant strides toward satisfying his campaign pledges, and has generally behaved as he promised, whether, at times, we find the pace of "change" slower than we'd like, or his efforts towards "bipartisanship" frustrating and overdone.

If you'd like to keep track of President Obama's campaign promises, those that he has kept, and how one site is rating them, consider the following link to When you take into account that this is his first year, I would say that to date his achievements have been impressive, although, for many, disappointing.

President Obama has three more years to tackle and fulfill some of these promises. The sticking point, of course, is a Democrat party with too many Republicans calling themselves Democrats. What better way to sabotage your opponent's party than to enter his races, run, and win, and then vote with the opposing aisle, or frustrate the efforts of your perceived party. I swear, I believe some of this is going on. What think you?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Two "P's" In Search of a Pod

Carrie and Sarah are the darlings of the Republican party faithfuls, because they see them as the epitome of conservative values.

They are the poster children of a party desperate to validate its conservative ideology with a base that has in recent months seen many of its champions fall from grace--the victims of one sex scandal after another.

Carrie and Sarah are the antithesis of the Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton "Simple Life" exploits--sure of themselves, and assured that God is on their side, both wearing their conservatism as though it will never go out of fashion, enjoying the distinction that comes with knowing that the world's finest fashion designers had a hand in the design.

What no one will dare tell the two empress is that they have no clothes, and that their crown is constructed of tin foil.

Prejean has sex tapes in her recent past, and Palin a possible scandal, accused of using her considerable power as governor of Alaska in a failed attempt to effectuate the firing of her brother-in-law. One Walter Monegan, Public Safety Commissioner, claimed that he was fired because "he resisted pressure to fire a state trooper involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle with the governor's sister."

Party faithfuls have either been forgiving, or in denial, so eager are they to find someone, anyone, who can carry a conservative standard high enough to show it off to a world increasingly edging toward liberalism, and progressivism, and away from the conservative precepts upon which this country was built, as they would have us believe.

According to these conservatives, small government and laissez faire capitalism should be the backbone on our economy.

Even George Bush has begun to distance himself from the act that might have kept our economy out of the jaws of a recession when he authorized the first "bail-out," saying it went beyond his nature as a "free-market" advocate, and has established a center in his home state of Texas as a way to repudiate his act, and expiate his sin.

Yet, socialism has crept into our economy, spearheaded by social security and medicare. And what is more socialist than bankruptcy that allows others to potentially shoulder some of your entrepreneurial failure, or your failure as head of a household?

Rush Limbaugh, ever the "true believer" in Sarah Palin's credentials to lead this country, lauds her new book, by saying, "This woman, Governor Palin, clearly is jazzed by policy, particularly environmental policy and energy policy, as well as taxes and so forth."

Most critics of the book agree that Rush's remarks lack substance, and is so much puffery. Not the political stalwart she would have us believe, Palin quit the job of Alaska's governor. Some say because of the heat that was coming her way, enough to defrost Alaska, by overstepping her gubernatorial power, and some say to pursue money beyond the Klondike, just east of Alaska, in the lower 48, while her popularity is still red hot.

Rush's willingness to prop up Palin is little more than an attempt to put a "pretty face" on conservatism. He suggests: Palin success in life and in politics is owning to her adherence to conservative principles. If you wish to have a similar "good life," you owe it to yourself to emulate Palin.

Palin's book is not about a winner but a whiner. She blames every one but herself for the distortion of her image as a vice presidential candidate. It was the fault of McCain's staffers or the news media. She knows that she can go "rogue" as long as she has the unfailing backing of Rush Limbaugh, and his considerable blessing.

Prejean clock, on the other hand, may be losing time, rather than gaining. Her appearance on the venerable, avuncular, Larry King show, which turned sour, may be her undoing. She doesn't seem to have political ambitions, which is a good thing, and is clearly more intellectually shallow than Palin. She has a conservative fan base, but recent revelations about her sex-capades may erode a part of that base, making her a has-been, at least among her conservative fans, but, like Richie, and Hilton, she may find new ones among the progressives she loathe, if the sex tapes are released to the public.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Liberals-Progressives vs. Republicans-Conservatives

Liberal vs. ConservativeI left this post on another blog. I hate to let a post go to waste: It didn't receive that much attention on that blog, so I'm featuring it here. Besides, I'm a little overdue on updating my own blog.

I'm looking forward to Repubs taking back the White House and Congress.

I'm looking forward to giving them the liberal version of birthers, death panels, Town Hall madness, gun-toting, "don't tread on me" idiots, and frustrating every bill the Repubs try to pass by erecting a wall of obstructionism.

I'm looking forward to the liberal protests that will feature Republican elected officials as Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and painting their faces with some joker reference, and decrying the inhumanity of conservatism.

I'm looking forward to invading their conservative, Republican blogs and hurtling red-neck references, racist diatribe, and depicting the then president's kids and his wife in some disgusting, Photoshop pose.

As much as I'd like to see a tit for tat, it's not going to happen.

You know why?

And this is going to anger some of the Repubs that hang out here, and their conservative counterparts, regardless of political leaning, but liberals and progressives aren't closed minded enough, not hateful enough, not mean spirited enough, not cold hearted enough, not inhumane enough to do something that cold and calculating on a massive scale.

They're just not!

Liberals and progressives have evolved a little past their conservative brethren on the spectrum of human compassion, and "good will toward all men."

We're not called "bleeding heart liberals" for nothing. The term is used derisively, but it should be held up as a badge of honor.

Liberals care. Repubs and Conservatives don't. They couldn't give a good damn about their fellow man. And where such compassion seems to appear, it's a cover for advancing a conservative agenda at the expense of compassion. Liberals uphold the human element; Repubs uphold property, greed, and a "every man for himself" mindset.

Whether Repubs and conservatives are self-made, or suffer from some genetic flaw, science may some day determine.

But, for now, they're evolutionarily behind liberals and progressives, and only good for starting wars they don't complete, violating the Constitution they're sworn to uphold, spying on their fellow Americans against conscience and the prevailing law, resorting to torture against the collective wisdom of those who say it's counterproductive, overturning legislation and regulations designed to keep our economy healthy (and not a "dog eat dog" free market feeding frenzy), name calling, and allowing their greed to run amok, as they bring a robust economy to its knees, as they use business practices that reward reckless investing and adventurism, and not prudence, and falling back on "too big to fail" as their excuse to be bailed out of their financial woes, using the little guys' tax dollars.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"What if the woman had been black?"

I'll do my best to honor the restrictions on this story. Here's the caveat: "This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed." Pretty heavy restrictions, no. Now, I don't think you can copyright a headline, so I'm going to lead with it:

Woman Accused Of Spitting On Deputy
44-Year-Old Hurled Death Threats, Racial Slurs, Officials Say

Tantalizing stuff wouldn't you say. Go here to read the entire story, and please return to discuss it with me. I thought long and hard about an appropriate angle from which to present this story. The story is unusual primarily because of the racial angle, and the attempt at power usurpation, using a familiar nemesis of blacks, the dreaded, and feared KKK. At least, those are the emotions the woman hoped the very mentioning of the Ku Klux Klan would evoke for this black officer.

Apparently, it didn't work. She's in jail, with a hefty bail around her neck, and monetary leg irons in the amount of thousands of dollars restricting her movements. In short, she's not going anywhere, anytime, soon, unless her KKK father is one of those big bonus-receiving CEO's on Wall Street.

Okay, let's get the preliminaries out the way. The woman may be suffering from a mental illness, and missed her mandatory meds that's keeping her mentally balanced. Mental illness is not a subject I treat lightly. I've known several people over the years who have struggled with schizophrenia, and, without regular medical intervention, or treatment, could spend days, even weeks doing some rather bizarre things.

And her father could be an Imperial Wizard of the KKK. That would go a long way toward understanding the outrage she felt when ticketed by the black officer, and ultimately arrested by him. I suspect that it's the former, though, but one can never be sure. More information will have to come to light in the days ahead, before we can fully know the reason for her bizarre behavior.

But give this some thought: What if this caught on? The use of intimidation to stop blacks from acting, whether as officers of the law, or as potential candidates for local, state, or federal office.

How many blacks are now eager to run for the presidency witnessing the threats against President Obama and his family? Could this be one of the Republican's schemes: To discourage another black from seeking this nation's highest office again, unless he's Republican? Or to discourage President Obama from seeking a second term?

Colin Powell was this nation's first star-quality black to be considered a shoe-in for president. If not a sure bet, at least a candidate with a real chance: Both blacks and whites had mad respect for Powell (at least for a time). Black democrats would have embraced him, unlike many black Republicans, who attack President Obama with as much gusto, or more so, as any white Republican. Of course, they trumpet their reasons: He's for abortion; He's an empty suit (whatever than mean); He's the wrong black at the wrong time (He'll fail so miserably at the job, that a really qualified black, in the future, won't even be considered.) This call for a black presidential candidate to have the qualifications of God before he or she can run for this nation's highest office, is a little perplexing to me.

But it is part and parcel of the black American experience, and part of the pathology that says we've got to be better in every category to be taken seriously by whites, and, if we fail, we give them more ammunition to level against us, if and when we try again.

One writer sees it this way:

"It should be remembered that thirty years ago the mere suggestion of a black candidate running for the presidency would have made liberals wistful, moderates edgy, and conservatives heatedly indignant. Besides, the probability of a black president living out his term of office was as remote a possibility as a man walking from the earth to Pluto. It seems pragmatic to think that, under such glaring political and media scrutiny, every decision Powell made would be called into question. The president would spend more time defending old positions than creating new ones, as the sad case of former New York City Mayor David Dinkins immediately brings to mind. Perhaps Powell wanted to avoid such a fate, and who could blame him?"

This writer's assessment would be more true for President Obama, than for a President Powell. I don't believe that Powell would have met a similar fate: No Birthers, Tea Baggers (I understand Republicans find the term offensive, hence, the use), or health care reform, or verbally explosive Town Hall meetings, or gun-toting loonies, Hitler references, or "I want my country back" sad cases. And if Powell had been controversial in some way, Democrats wouldn't have attacked him with the same vitriol with which President Obama has been attacked, nor would his life be threatened to the same extent. Sure there would be some white supremacists who might attempt something, but that wouldn't be because of his politics, so much as for his race and his color.

Julie Hubbard, if a Republican, might have accepted Powell as president, but I'm thinking not. She was too quick to threaten the black officer with the vengeance of the KKK. And let's not forget all of the other things she did: cursed him, spat on him, and urinated in his squad car. This does not sound like a woman who would accept any black man as president, whether Republican or Democrat.

This is America, after all, and I'm always reversing these incidents. Many blacks do it. I'm no exception. I think I may blog about this one day, to examine why we do it. We're often called out for it. But that's too bad. We didn't create the propensity. It was foisted on us by too many white on black situations that left us scratching our collective heads: "What if the woman had been black, and she cursed a white officer, threatened him, used racial epithets, spat on him, and urinated in his squad car?"

I wonder if the parrot found in the back seat of Hubbard's car can be called as a witness? And if called, would he spill the beans, or should I say, the bird seeds?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

HoneST: One in a Million

Two Points For Honesty
Honesty is dead. Well, maybe not dead, just on life support. Truth is debatable, but you'd think we'd get honesty right. Some people are as honest as their financial situation will allow. And if their income is in jeopardy, honesty suffers accordingly. That's one of the reasons, I proffer, why there's so much fanfare, and ballyhoo when honesty finally shows up (because of its rarity), but honesty is not all always welcomed or sought--especially where life and limb is at stake in a no-snitch environment.

In a world where compromise is expected, and a shaving of the facts becomes not only acceptable, but anticipated, and one's moral compass is adjusted to fit the situation, we hold up those few stalwarts who take a stand for the facts, and are willing to put honesty above the screeches of special interest. But not all of us are that frontline courageous, or that devoted to honesty, and the facts, to put these things ahead of money, fame, influence, power, or what have you.

I'm thinking of Olympia Snowe. I'm thinking of Jane Hall, now with CNN after more than a decade with Fox News, and who is one those featured in the video clip below. I'm thinking of the GOP. I'm thinking of Joe Lieberman. And I'm thinking of many, many, others.

Olympia Snowe has to date resisted supporting any Public Option proposal, even one that might feature a trigger.

Snowe gives the impression that she's for insurance reform, when in fact she's more likely to vote to give health insurers more money, and more members, than expand health care for Americans, or force the current health insurance system to be more responsive to the needs of its member. This is dishonest. It serves her interest more than it does the American people. Where there's no competition, free market forces can't drive costs down, and improve the health coverage people are currently receiving from their health insurers. Insurers have for years enjoyed anti-trust exemptions, an exclusion that's now under fire as congress seeks other ways to expand competition in the industry.

This, too, is the purpose of a public option, to provide competition where very little now exists.

In the video, Jane Hall admits that she left Fox News because of some of its excesses, but still supports the controversial news media. Now I wonder why?

Other news networks are rushing to Fox News' defense. Now, I wonder why? Rachel Maddow on MSNBC gives a cogent explanation as to how Fox News blurs the line between being an actual news outlet who supports a point of view and one that promotes a point of view:

She admits that it's probably not illegal to use the public airwaves to promote a political ideology under the guise of a news organization, but news media that do so mustn't be shocked when they're treated as propagandist and provocateurs. The next video, if you haven't seen it, is a must see. It goes a long way toward understanding why I'm angry with Fox News, and why the president's security detail (the secret service) is working twice as hard to keep him safe.

It's this kind of claptrap that probably led to the death of Dr. Tiller at the hands of a crazed killer. No matter how you feel about abortion, killing abortion doctors is not the way to end the practice, provided you think it should be stopped. Yet, Bill O'Reilly occasionally attacked this doctor, and he didn't do it in a fair and balanced way to say the least. Do they ever live up to their motto over there at Fox News? The motto is dishonest, and misleading. I'm not surprised that Dr. Tiller is now dead, when you take into account our current climate of dishonesty, and the media's part in all of this.

For some at Fox News, I'm pretty sure that they're creating this climate of dishonesty, and potential danger for the president, Senator Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, strictly for the money, and not because of conviction. Were it not for greed, who, in their right mind, outside neo-Nazi's and the KKK, and similar groups would create and sponsor a climate that might rip the social fabric of this country. It's dishonesty that colors media discourse, and drives the various attacks against public officials. And as long as this climate is maintained and permitted, it's imperative that Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and those of his ilk are called out for it. People's lives hang in the balance.

The lives of our president and his family hang in the balance. Responsible people on the Left and the Right need to speak out against this assault upon the will of the American people. The last I checked, we're a nation of laws, not an oligarchy, nor ruled by one party, and one party only. We're a democracy. And that should say a lot. Where democracy is truly practiced, it's almost synonymous with freedom.

Joe Lieberman, after taking a million dollars from insurance companies over the years, threatens to give Republicans the filibuster margin they need to kill the public option provision in the health care reform bill. Using a series of ploys over the years, Lieberman continues to serve in congress as a senator, and his electorate continues to support his dishonesty. I'm hoping, this time, he's outfoxed himself by half.

So what is Fox News' crime? In its obsession to hike television ratings (think money and greed), and keep them high, they are endangering elected officials, providing fodder for fringe groups who would like nothing better than to return this country to the good ole days of Jim Crow, and worse, manufacturing news, not satisfied with just reporting it, and establishing and maintaining a climate which pits Americans against Americans, and thriving on the chaos that ensues.

I can assure you of one thing: Many black Americans will never forget how the first black president was treated by the Republican party and some in the media. It's reminiscent of the collective pain felt during the Civil Rights moment, and prior. If the GOP's new web site is an attempt to attract blacks to its party, it failed. More than a snazzy Web site is needed to bring blacks back under the tent. It's going to take honesty, the kind that Matthew Hoh recently exhibited. We'll settle for nothing less.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are We Dreaming Or Is It Real? An American Report Card

More than two-thirds of African-Americans believe Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision for race relations has been fulfilled, a CNN poll found -- a figure up sharply from a survey in early 2008.

The CNN-Opinion Research Corp. survey was released Monday, a federal holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader and a day before Barack Obama is to be sworn in as the first black U.S. president.

The poll found 69 percent of blacks said King's vision has been fulfilled in the more than 45 years since his 1963 "I have a dream" speech -- roughly double the 34 percent who agreed with that assessment in a similar poll taken last March.

But whites remain less optimistic, the survey found.

"Whites don't feel the same way -- a majority of them say that the country has not yet fulfilled King's vision," CNN polling director Keating Holland said. However, the number of whites saying the dream has been fulfilled has also gone up since March, from 35 percent to 46 percent.

In the 1963 speech, delivered to a civil rights rally on the Mall in Washington, King said: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

"Has that dream been fulfilled? With the election of Barack Obama, two thirds of African-Americans believe it has," CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider said."

In light of this poll, I thought I would investigate the dream myself to see how close we've come to making it a general reality. I thought I would take it one dream at a time and do a kind of metric to see just who has it right, white or black, whether we've seen with Obama's ascension to the presidency, a realization of Dr. King's dream.

I won't be using any hard data, but will be relying on my own observations to reach whatever conclusion seems appropriate.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

This is still a mix bag. Some places have extended equal protection under the law to the lesbian-gay community (permitting marriage), while some states have sought to thwart and suppress those efforts.

Although segregation exists in places, we still see too much de facto segregation to truly say that all men, including women are created equal, when women are still trying to get equal pay for equal work. All in all, I would give America a 'C' in it's efforts to realize this dream.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

Given what little I could find on this subject, it appears that some hopeful signs are occurring on the horizon. Although many would concur that some progress has been made regrading this dream, I believe that I can safely assume that this part of Dr. King's dream hasn't been fully realized, so I would give Georgia a 'C+', fully aware that Georgia was a kind of barometer for racial progress during Dr. King's life.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

Well, I don't have to research this dream, because if the state of Mississippi had been "transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice," it would have made the evening news, and we surely would be in the end-times, and, I might add respectfully, with the second coming right around the corner.

Is that cynical enough!

No, Dr. King's dream has not been fully realized in the state of Mississippi, and I give that state an 'F' in terms of realizing Dr. King's dream. Barack Obama did win Mississippi's Primary thanks to the black vote there, but he lost rather sizably in the presidential race, 56.4% for McCain to 42.8% for Obama. Now if anyone has evidence to support a higher grade, meet me after school, and we'll discuss in in my office.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I'll have to go with my gut here, and say that we're beginning to make some progress in realizing Dr. King's dream. The election of Barack Obama as this nation's first sitting president gives me some hope. I think that by and large this is a reality, but I'm only given the nation a 'B-' here, because we haven't seen a full-court press to up this grade beyond the election of President Obama. I want to see a little more progress before I'm willing to say this is a dream realized.

[I wrote this blog entry some months ago, prior to the Town Hall meetings, gun-toting demonstrators, Birthers, and Deathers, and those folks clamoring for a return to the past. You know who they are--the "I want my country back" crowd. Originally I gave this category a "B-" but with recent developments, I can barely manage a "C," but I'm still hopeful.]

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is a dream not only for our nation, but for the world, and although I'm certain that we can give this nation and the world an 'F-' in this dream category, I'm still hopeful that someday--perhaps sooner, that later--we will rejoice at the realization of this dream for this nation and for all mankind.

So I would say that the whites overall have it right. Dr. King's dreams haven't been fully realized. There's still work to do. But I can also understand black folk's euphoria over the election of Barack Obama as this nation's first African American president, and see his election, if not the culmination of Dr. King's dreams, at least the beginning of them, and that's a good thing.

I would welcome your opinions as to whether Dr. King's 'Dream' has been realized, whether you think we're making progress, or believe that we still got a 'long row to hoe,' and a lot of 'water to carry' before we can say in the words of Dr. King:

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And Dr. King saw progress by the metric of freedom, for he knew where freedom was allowed to thrive, progress would follow. Where freedom was allowed to flourish, our differences wouldn't be as pronounced as those things that bound us together. He saw freedom as the grand leveler, the grand uniter, which this country had to embrace, if it wished to remain great and become even greater.

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Sick Puppies"

Sick PuppiesIt's often been noted how much whites love their pets, dogs in particular. I love dogs, but, like kids, I love them from a distance. I don't care for the daily walks so that they may relieve themselves while I walk behind with pooper-scooper in the ready, nor the daily grind of rearing kids that would challenge a Supernanny.

Just because whites love their dogs, doesn't mean that all uses of the word "dog" is flattering. There are some phrases that make you wonder just how much people love their dogs:

"Shoot him dead in the street like the dirty, low-down, dog he is," from a possible Western movie, to "She's a dog," when you wish to speak derogatorily of a woman's lack of feminine pulchritude.

So when you hear that Bush 41 refers to Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann as "sick puppies," as he responds to a question about media civility, or lack thereof, you've got to wonder if he got his cable channels straight, and really had Fox News in mind. Compared to Fox News' Glenn Beck, and Hannity, Countdown with Keith Olbermann and the Rachel Maddow Show are pussy cats, not puppies, next to the big dogs, the dobermans of Fox News.

At no time have their shows come close to spewing the vituperative venom against his son that spews from Fox's best when it comes to the denigration of liberals, and the besmirching of the president. Nothing the two MSNBC commentators have said over the years remotely justifies his attack, but we know President Obama has been called a "racist" by Beck, and is daily the object of Fox's derision and scorn.

Both Olbermann and Maddow responded to the ex-president. They did it with humor, a measure of stupefaction, and sincerity. Watch....

It all started out well, with an invitation to President Obama from Bush senior to the Bush Library and Texas A&M. In an open letter to the Aggie Family, Bush senior wrote the following:

To My Fellow Members of the Texas A&M Family:

Howdy! As you have probably heard, I have invited the 44th President of the United States of America to come visit the Bush Library and Texas A&M, and President Obama has graciously accepted.

Along with the administration, faculty, and so many of you, I am honored that The President, our President, is taking the time and making the effort to come to College Station on October 16th to talk about an issue that unites all Americans — namely, community service and its vast importance to our continued well-being as a Nation. Our country still faces many tough challenges, and the message that will come out of our Presidential Forum on Service, I hope, is that every American regardless of age has an important part to play in helping us overcome the obstacles to our common progress.

This is not about politics. This is about the importance of service to our communities and our country."
Read more here.

What prompted the letter was how Barack Obama was received on a previous visit by some in the student body. The letter asked for civility. So it was strange that Bush 41 chose to use the occasion to be uncivil to Olbermann and Maddow.

Now I have to give George H.W. Bush his props. He did attack the GOP for attacking President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor:

"Former President George H.W. Bush stood up for his former judicial nominee Sonia Sotomayor Friday, telling CNN Anchor Robin Meade that GOP critics who called President Obama's Supreme Court pick a racist were off-base, and unfair.

'I don't know her that well but I think she's had a distinguished record on the bench and she should be entitled to fair hearings. Not - [it's] like the senator John Cornyn said it,' he told CNN. 'He may vote for it, he may not. But he's been backing away from these...backing off from those radical statements to describe her, to attribute things to her that may or may not be true.'"
Read more here.

And he had some pretty nice things to say about President Obama:

"Former President George H.W. Bush told CBS News that President Obama 'is entitled to civil treatment and intellectual honesty when it comes to critics.'"

Now some of this may be to soften President Obama's willingness to bring his son up on war crimes, and hold him judicially responsible for other possible unconstitutional acts, and to give others in his son's administration, such as Vice-President Cheney, a pass, and not prosecute for crimes he may have committed as he pursued a shadow government, and a proxy presidency.

It is written: "An attack is a cry for help." This unwarranted attack against two of MSNBC premier commentators can be described as such. I understand that Bush the elder wishes to protect his son, and his legacy, from adverse criticism, but I've never observed these two MSNBC pundits trading in lies and deceit. They pretty much document their positions, and often correct the so-called factual positions of their rivals, and are quick to own up, if they get it wrong.

Clearly Bush the elder wishes more for his son than his son's record warrants, and would that all people in the media accept his son's presidential policy decisions as unimpeachable. That's what fathers hope for, but that's unrealistic: his son did some God awful things while president, attacking a country that didn't attack us first, and waging a war against al-Qaeda in Iraq, when they were miles away in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

No, George H.W. Bush, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann aren't the "sick puppies," your son, George Bush, and the people he surrounded himself with, are the "sick puppies."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Man of Steel(e) v. (O)bambi

Man of Steel(e) v. (O)bambi)In a street brawl, I'd give Michael Steele a slight edge over Obama. In the arena of ideas and style, not so much. We all know the cynicism that went into the selection of Michael Steele as head of the RNC.

Republicans needed an attack dog that was of the same color and ethnicity of their closest Nemesis, Barack Obama.

At the time of Steele's selection, Republicans believed that Steele could deflect criticism of racism when our beloved president was attacked. And, as an added bonus, he might be able to enlarge the party with one of its most elusive prospects--black voters.

But with a change of strategy--attack Obama, attack him often, and attack him on everything--Michael Steele's value to the party took a hit. The party no longer needed a hitman. Everyone was elevated to that status.

He went from Michael Steele, "You be the man," to Michael, "We no longer feel you." The Man of Steele is now beginning to feel the heat and that heat is threatening to smelt his short career as head of the RNC, and possibly dash his political hopes altogether.

We have all seen the posts that decry President Obama's supposed weakness. He's soft on terrorists. He's nothing more than an "empty suit" (and this from certain blacks). He's doesn't fight back. He's a push over. He's weak domestically and internationally. He's not respected by world leaders, his own generals, and the opposition party. They delight in tearing him down, and reveling in his failures.

MSNBC is showing a video of gleeful Americans for Prosperity folks cheering and high-fiving each other after learning that Chicago failed in its Olympic bid to host the 2014 Olympics in the first round. What we saw were Americans rooting against America, and seeing no contradiction. It's becoming fashionable to oppose the president, root for his failure and cheer when he loses. If you didn't see this lunacy, it's a must see:

His loss is America's loss, not just Chicago's loss. After this blatant exhibition of anti-Americanism, how can these Americans for Prosperity folks face their family, their neighbors, or consent to being captured on film in such an uncompromising position. They're like drunks pissing in public, figuring the relief was worth the exposure.

And we've all seen Steele's toughness, and he, too, doesn't mind exposing it for all the world to see. The following video is from a Town Hall meeting at Howard University where the topic of health care reform came up.

In this video we get to see just how tough and ruthless Steele can be. We see his lack of empathy. He relished the opportunity to use his verbal prowess to smack down one of the attendees in response to a question she asked.

Watch a young man ushered out by a hefty security guard during Martin Luther King, Jr., National Convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, Chicago, March 25, 1966, for simply interrupting Steele.

Did Steele signal the young man's ejection, or was it prearranged? Either way, Steele could have spoken up and permitted the young man to stay to hear the remainder of his self-serving answer.

In contrast to Steele, we have the more presidential Barack Obama. Weathering the criticism of the liberal public during the presidential race that he should hit back, return fire for fire when McCain-Palin, and their surrogates mounted all-out attacks against him in a no holds barred fistfest, he chose to remain on course, and, for that, earned the nickname "No-Drama Obama."

His opponents dubbed him "Obami" to ridicule his lack of fire in the belly when it came to defusing controversy, and standing up to his critics and enemies. We should note: Obama beat out the team of McCain-Palin rather handily, despite his style, and unwillingness to fight as they fought--down and dirty.

And if I were to choose styles, Steele's rough and ready, shoot from the hip, or shoot and ask questions later, approach, or President Obama's steady, unflappable, but well-thought-out approach, I'd choose Obama's without regret, whether he manages to see his political agenda fully realized, or all his campaign promises fulfilled.

Recently, Steele has been muzzled, forbidden to make policy for the party. He had turned rogue, taking a page from Sarah Palin's book, but he's no Sarah Palin, whose newly written book (with the help of a ghost writer [Strike while the iron's hot!]) has risen to bestseller status long before being published. Until Steel can command that kind of star quality, it's best he leaves "going rogue" to her.

It's not always what we achieve but how we achieve it (cheat on a test or study for it). It's what we don't lose in the process (our eternal soul), but what we gain (self respect, and the ability to sleep nights). Some things are too priceless to lose. Other things come with too high a price.

Each day we're defining who we are. We do this with the decisions we make, and what we choose when faced with dilemmas. And many times--other than our own conscience--no one stands between us and our choices and decisions. There's no angel on one shoulder, and a devil on the other, competing for our attention. And although we might seek the help of others, we are, when all is said and done, responsible for our own choices and our own decisions, as we are the primary beneficiary of them.

This business of choosing and deciding is so critical to our growth and development as souls on this plane, that it behooves us to make up our mind in advance, so that we won't be tempted in the moment, by the moment, to decide and choose in a manner that's not in our best interest and the interest of others.

Choose and decide, then, ahead of time, and you'll never face another quandary, nor be stymied by another dilemma.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Nobellicose Prize

Congratulations! You just won the Nobel Prize. Congratulations! You just lost the Nobel Prize.
"No prophet is accepted in his own country." This statement is applicable to prophets and black presidents. In the case of a certain black president, Barack Obama, not all countrymen, but enough to raise eyebrows, and curl lips.

We saw the truth of the statement within days of the president taking office. A certain radio personality put him, black folks, and the rest of world on notice with these words: "I hope he fails."

We're now so hardened that we're no longer shocked when ugly people say ugly things about the president. So when the Nobel Prize Committee gave its most prestigious award, the Nobel Peace Prize to a sitting U.S. president after ninety years, Woodrow Wilson being the last for his support of the League of Nations and his work on the Treaty of Versailles, we waited for the other shoe to fall, knowing that criticism from the Right wasn't far behind.

What caught us off guard was the harsh words on the Left.

We knew Republicans would line up to denounce the Nobel Prize committee for their choice. But we didn't expect liberals to slam the committee in language as harsh as their conservative counterparts: "Don't they see what's going on in the U.S.--high unemployment, an economy stumbling like some drunk searching for his next bottle." You'd think that, as long as our nation is seen as struggling, the president can't be singled out for any award except the "Golden Raspberry Award."

This blog has a few awards of its own to hand out--the Nobellicose Prize--for those Republicans who spoke out the loudest, with malice aforethought, because President Obama was favored this year by the Nobel Prize Committee.

The Nobellicose Prize, then, goes to three honorees: Michael Steele, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, for their continued non-support of President Barack Obama. There are runner-ups, to be sure, but they're too numerous to mention here, but you know who they are. This time, I only wish to honor (strike that, dishonor) three of Obama's biggest admirers (strike that, haters).

Michael Steele earned his award with these cutting words, stating first that President Obama should for the sake of his own integrity refuse the award:

“The real question Americans are asking is, ‘What has President Obama actually accomplished?’ It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights. One thing is certain – President Obama won’t be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action.”

And these gems, courtesy of Rush Limbaugh, making himself one of the three finalists for the coveted Nobellicose Prize:

"And the two girls came in, "Hey, Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize. It's really cool. It's a three-day weekend, Daddy. Let's get up and let's go."

"And Obama said, "Yeah, it's great to have kids to help you keep things in perspective." I'm on the verge of retching right there. Then Obama gets to the meat of the matter says he doesn't deserve the award. So Obama... (laughing) I mean, he's agreeing with the Taliban and us, because we don't think he deserves the award, neither does the Taliban! The Iranians are upset. (laughing) Al-Qaeda hadn't weighed in yet, Osama bin Laden, but there should be a tape before the weekend is out."

But that's not all, our last honoree, Glenn Beck, spoke these words to earn the Nobellicose Prize:

"The Nobel peace prize should be turned down by Barack Obama and should be given to the tea party goers and the 9/12 project....Because of the tea party goers and the 912 project people that stood in his way and stopped him from accomplishing from the things that he thought, 'Please I'm the messiah, I'll be able to accomplish that.'"

For Republicans clearly this president is not their president, and this country, under this president, is not their country. "We want our country back," they cry.

And when it comes to peace: The Republicans want us to fight our way to peace, not talk our way to peace--blind to the contradiction that this poses.

After listening to, or watching these wingnuts, I know now why it was necessary to fight a civil war in this country, and why Jim Crow lasted so long. There's a certain number of whites who will resist black progress, and, in the process, resist white progress towards filling in the racial divide. These whites gain more by resisting, than by cooperating; by holding back, than moving ahead; by increasing racial tension, than by relaxing it.

The Nobel Peace Prize could be seen as a finger in the eye of Republicans in this country who spend their days tarring and feathering President Obama.

I've read several articles justifying the Nobel Committee's decision to select President Obama as this year's recipient of The Nobel Peace Prize. Their reasons compel a reassessment of his achievements, but perhaps not as well as the following video segment from Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC:

Achievements take on many colors and aren't always seen in our existential world of actions versus ideas, construction versus idealism, and material efforts versus a change of heart, humane aspirations, and noble pursuits.

And it belies the oft-repeated grumbling that people abroad see our president as some kind of lamb, one that's afraid of his own shadow. It's not about timidity in international policy, but the use of "smart power" which I've discussed before in one of my blog entries by that name.

The world's people don't want a bellicose America, one that lead international diplomacy with a heavy hand, and a fighting stance, but one that's willing to talk with enemies and seek common ground where possible.

Some days, the callous, racialistic events in this country transport me back to the forties and fifties and a "Colored Only" existence, justifying the anger and, yes, rage, I occasionally feel toward this country.

Isn't it ironic: the country that gave us a black president is working just as hard to take him away. It's this dichotomy, this white schizophrenia with which blacks must live that impacts our own sanity.

How do we keep our head, so to speak, while all those around us are losing theirs. And yet, I know how the story will end. We wrote the ending first ... before the story began. It's done that way sometime, when you wish to be certain of the outcome, because, if you don't, a story can get away from you, and create its own ending.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


ConservaZombiesFor years, zombie movies have been a staple of Hollywood. They're popping up now like mushrooms on the bottom of cave floors.

They're rightly classified as horror flicks, but "some cross over into other genres, such as comedy, science fiction, thriller, or romance, even animated films. There have even been developments in zombie-specific sub-genres, such as the "zombie comedy" or the "zombie apocalypse".

What are zombies? "Zombies are mythical creatures usually portrayed as either a reanimated corpse or a mindless human being."

My interest in them here is simple: What if Republicans had the power to turn us all into Conservative Zombies (mindless adherents to conservative principles and ideology), using some heretofore unknown transformational powder (a mixture of chemicals kept more secret than Colonel Sanders' secret blend of herbs and spices) while we're still living, rather than waiting for us to die.

Would they do it? My guess is yes. For one, it would make the world safe for conservatism, and Republican idealism.

Republicans wouldn't have to contend with a black man ever again becoming the president of the United States, and, if he did, he would be liberal-proof, one hundred percent conservative.

They wouldn't have to spend hours at Town Hall meetings shouting down liberal speakers from that accursed Democratic Party with their insane goals of reforming health care.

They wouldn't have to stock up on extra guns, and create a bullet shortage, because there would be no fear that guns would be regulated or taken away. Just think of it: A shortage of bullets.

They wouldn't have to march on Washington with idiotic signs, similar to others we've seen calling the president a socialist, a Marxist, and a racist.

They wouldn't have to be always against things. For a change, they could be for things. They wouldn't be known ever again as the Do-Nothing Party. They still may do nothing, but no one would speak of it. ConservaZombies don't speak all that much: they mostly grunt assent.

And, as an added bonus, Republicans could do away with all those liberal or quasi-liberal cable news channels such as MSNBC and CNN. ConservaZombies wouldn't watch them anyway, not with Fox News around. Fox News would become the official news channel of ConservaZombies.

Republicans could do away with liberal talk shows, since Rush Limbaugh and Hannity would monopolize the airwaves. ConservaZombies need only one word in their already limited vocabulary, "ditto".

And Republicans could do away with liberal magazines, because the Weekly Standard, the National Review, and other conservative magazines would rub shoulder to shoulder at newsstands. But not for long, ConservaZombies are known to fight over them, and it's hard to distinguish the chaos from a white sale.

And who would need an American Flag, when a Conservative Flag, menacing, uncompromising, and dripping with historical hubris, would do the trick.

Or a flag to say allegiance to when you have Gene, the Flag Man. And the new conservative pledge of allegiance might look a little like this one. ConservaZombies like nothing more than wearing or draping themselves in the flag.

ConservaMania would infiltrate the church. Liberal religious institutions would be defunct, as well as liberal ministers. Already, this new brand of conservative ministers is cropping up.

And a new Conservative Bible would be commissioned. Already the groundwork is in place:

" The Conservative Bible Project is the brainchild of attorney and teacher Andy Schlafly, a son of conservative standard-bearer Phyllis Schlafly. His Bible-related Wiki, which allows contributors to post information, comment on others' and suggest tweaks or fixes, went up this summer.

"The project quickly drew fire.

"'These right-wing ideologues know better than the early church councils that canonized Scripture?" So asked Rod Dreher, a conservative blogger for Beliefnet. "They really think it's wise to force the word of God to conform to a 21st-century American idea of what constitutes conservatism?'

"Schlafly said he aims to counteract modern translations, not edit the Bible.
'I think liberal bias was less of a problem in older translations,' he said. 'It's refreshing to read anything that is free of liberal bias, and the Bible is the most well-read book in the world, so that should be the first thing to clean up.'"

My advice to liberals and progressives: Don't drink Budweiser. And stay away from Chili, and Shrimp and grits. And surely avoid the Italian Fiesta Pizzeria in Chicago. And arugula is definitely out of the question. That restaurant and those foods I've identified are particularly targeted by Conservatives. They would like nothing more than to sprinkle your food with vast amounts of Zombie Powder.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Sometimes I feel like I'll never catch up. When I think I'm making progress, I'm presented with yet another challenge. This time it's "fusion." No it's not a Ford by the same name, nor the musical genre as in Jazz fusion, nor Glenn Beck's magazine (although aptly named) "Fusion," it's something called "fusion centers."

What are fusion centers? Fusion centers had their birth shortly after the largest terrorist attack on American soil took place on 9/11/2001. They were designed as a way to share information, to connect dots crucial to our national security, and to address one of the weaknesses that the attack brought to light: the lack of multi-agency sharing of critical intelligence.

There's been some out cry on the right and on the left regarding these centers, and the only reason wingnuts on the right haven't used fusion centers with which to attack President Obama is that they mostly agree with their mission.

Although they have an innocuous sounding mission, some believe that the government is exceeding the purpose for which these centers were founded. According to Wikipedia:

"A Fusion Center is a terrorism prevention and response center that was started as a joint project between the Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs between 2003 and 2007.

"The fusion centers gather information not only from government sources, but also from their partners in the private sector.[1][2]

"They are designed to promote information sharing at the federal level between agencies such as the CIA, FBI, Department of Justice, US Military and state and local level government. As of July 2009, the Department of Homeland Security recognizes at least seventy-two fusion centers.[3] Fusion centers may also be affiliated with an Emergency Operations Center that responds in the event of a disaster."

Think of it: 72 centers and climbing. I'm beginning to worry that our country is starting to look a great deal like Saddam Hussein's Iraq, where close tabs were kept on dissidents and regular folks.

Already excesses are being identified, where information is being gathered on folks simply because they oppose government policies in some fashion, and have no subversive ambitions.

"Though they [fusion centers] developed independently and remain quite different from one another, for many the scope of their mission has quickly expanded--with the support and encouragement of the federal government--to cover 'all crimes and all hazards.' The types of information they seek for analysis has also broadened over time to include not just criminal intelligence, but public and private sector data, and participation in these centers has grown to include not just law enforcement, but other government entities, the military and even select members of the private sector."

I and another blogger have had similar experiences: what appeared to be snapshots of our computer screen. To be sure there's software to conduct these kind of surveillance. Here's a couple: Find one here, and another here. Designed for companies that wish to track the online behavior of employees, and for parents who wish to track their kids' Internet activities, the government may be using them to collect data on ordinary citizens--for one nefarious reason or another.

What's to prevent the government from using similar, and more sophisticated software to spy on those Americans they suspect, whether they have anti-government sentiments, or not?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Planned GOPsolescence

The year is 1875 and you're a horsewhip maker, and you're hearing rumors that something is being developed that could put you out of business, or impact it greatly if you didn't adapt. That rumor, if you believed it, could throw you into panic, couldn't it?

Now move ahead several decades, and turn the corner into the twenty-first century, and you have a similar situation, but it's not horsewhip makers panicking, but a political party. It's the year 2004 and you're hearing about this scrawny senator from Chicago, with a funny name, who may have presidential ambitions, and who, as keynote speaker at that year's Democratic National convention, has brought the crowd to its feet admist thunderous applause, and if you're Republican and a presidential hopeful, or just a Republican hoping to replace Bush with another Republican, your heart may flutter a bit.

And then you learn that the speaker is also black. If you're a Republican you may not panic right away, but you sure as hell want to keep a close eye on what could possibly be a dark horse: You may have thought to search for that outdated buggy whip you've been holding onto for such an occasion.

And if you heard any part of that black man's speech that night to the Democratic National Convention, you still may not panic, but a tinge of worry would certainly leave foot prints across the surface of your mind, as he spoke the following:

"Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us--the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of "anything goes." Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America-- there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America--there’s the United States of America."

And you may not have panicked when Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee claimed huge wins in Iowa, with Obama edging out Hillary Clinton, garnering 38 percent of voters. You may not have panicked, but worry lines would be seen forming across your weary brow, as Huckabee took in a respectable 34 percent of the voters, but was still four percentage points below the Democratic front runner. And you'd note: The press saw Obama's victory as a win for change over experience. And still you'd see no cause to panic.

If you didn't panic when Obama won Iowa, worry lines would certainly began to deepen when he defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton in a heated contest to represent the Democrat Party against rival John McCain, who made a surprise, come-from-behind showing to become the Republican Party nominee.

If you managed to keep your composure up to now, you noticed that GOPers were beginning to show the first signs of panic at McCain-Palin rallies, when cries of "terrorist," and "kill him," in reference to then Democrat candidate Barack Obama punctuated rally speeches. You would also notice: The signs of panic became full-blown terror when posters of Obama flanked by Osama bin Laden, Curious George dolls, and boxes of "Obama Waffles" for sale, and racist e-mails began to surface.

You think: If this scrawny black guy with the funny name (which GOPers abundantly made fun of) actually do the unthinkable, win the presidency, with his laundry list of social programs, then the GOPers had more to worry about than a black man in the White House.

Their very existence was at stake.

If Obama succeeds, then conservatism fails. People would come to see the benefits and advantages of liberalism, especially if that dreaded healthcare reform law, with that "public option" is allowed to pass. If Obama does what he promises, then liberalism will be preferred to conservatism--and where would that leave Republicans. Liberalism had to be stopped at all cost. Its success would spell the death of the Republican party, and conservatism will have met its Waterloo.

Republicans would have to bring out the big guns, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and concerted Republican resistance to any and all things Obama attempts. They all had a stake in destroying Obama, and the party he represented. With liberalism on top, succeeding where conservatism failed, then the Republican Party would be obsolete.

Then you'd know the awful truth: Obama must be stopped. Must be stopped at all cost. And you'd tell fellow GOPers why he must be stopped:

For one, Obama would usher in a post-racial age, narrowing the racial divide. No longer could race be exploited, and white voters be counted on to vote for the white guy in local and national elections. Something had to be done. GOPers's strategy: keep reminding all voters, Democrats as well as Republicans, of Obama's race, of his African-Americaness. Draw him into a debate on race, thinking that would surely alienate white voters. Tell whites that his health-care plan was little more than a black give away, a reparation for blacks. And when everything else failed, attach his blackness to his policies.

Call blacks racists, including the president, himself. Talk secession. Talk "taking the country back." Talk civil war and arming militias.

For two, Obama would usher in liberalism-socialism. Take Obama's message of "change," and distort it. Tell Americans that he's moving to fast, seeking wholesale change, where incremental change is all that's needed. Tell them that he's a socialist, and that socialism is bad, and that capitalism and the free market made America strong (although greed, and a lack of regulatory restraints on financial institutions had plunged the nation into a recession that threatened to become a depression).

For three, an Obama presidency would end the careers of talk show hosts, Rush Limbaugh and a number of other Republican and conservative pundits that make a pretty damn good living exploiting every thing from race to religion, from pitting one party against the other to putting loud, and disruptive plants at town hall meetings, to replacing actual turf (grassroots movements) with "AstroTurf" movements paid for by affected corporations and institutions.

For four, it would spell the death of Fox News. Fox has "made its bones" on holding liberals at bay, supporting George Bush's policies, his war in Iraq, attacking Cindy Sheehan on every occasion, and Dr. Tiller, "the baby killer." If liberalism succeeds, if the people are actually shown to benefit, then Fox News would have no natural adversaries, no cause, nothing, and no one to fight, no standard to bear, nothing to do but fold up its tent and steal away into the night, as ratings drop, in a desperate effort to reformat programs, and restructure how it delivers news-propaganda.

You'd remind them: If the GOP becomes obsolete, those who depend on it for their own survival, will also become obselete: Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and a host of conservative poltical strategists and pundits. Their livilihood and fortune depended on Obama failing. They know this, and early on, they announced their intentions to destroy him politically.

You'd remind them: Medicare has been such a success, that any government run program that emulates it, and expands it, must be attacked. The GOP can't give the Democratics this poltical edge, and neither can Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and those of his ilk.

You'd remind them: Survival at all cost. There's still some use for whips, but not as much as before the twentieth century. If President Obama and liberals succeed in reforming health care, actually finding ways to increase competition, and dramatically cutting the cost of healthcare for Americans, the GOP may not be, in this century, as useful as whips.