Tuesday, December 18, 2012


After the senseless carnage in Connecticut that saw the death of 20 first graders and 6 adults, all from the same elementary school, Sandy Hook Elementary, I received this e-mail from Humanity's Team.

The e-mail describes several steps we can take, if we choose, to address the disaster, from volunteering to writing targeted e-mails.


Twenty first graders lost their lives with six adults last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary school. Their loss follows horrific losses in Oregon, Colorado and countless locations before that including Norway, Germany, London and Australia. The responsibility to see that this never happens again now rests squarely with you and me.

Each person that falls to an automatic weapon from here out is our responsibility. If we speak up and courageously share what is true we can stop the slaughter. If we don’t speak up it will continue. We must not sit idle for a moment longer. We must do three things and we must do them now. First we must share we are all connected. Everything is part of One presence. Science is sharing this is true. We are all interconnected, interrelated and interdependent. Not only are we all connected, scripture tells us ‘we are made in the likeness and image of God’. We are connected in God/Divinity/Source. When we hurt another, we hurt our Self and when we hurt our Self we hurt the One presence, God. Very simply, when we drive an airplane into a building and kill others as happened on 9/11 or when we machine gun young first graders and the adults supervising them we are terminating life that is part of our Self and part of God. If we know this to be true we must share it because it is a powerful stop sign to killing and carnage.

Next, we must immediately ban automatic and semi-automatic weapons. They have no use except for mass killing. I met yesterday with Rabbi Zalman Schachter and his wife, Eve. They suggested we challenge the National Rifle Association to come up with a solution that bans automatic and semiautomatic weapons and still protects the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution (the right to bear arms). Let’s do this. Let's write to the National Rifle Association and challenge them to come up with a solution that accomplishes these things now, right now. Let’s tell them this is urgent and we will take this into our own hands if they don’t act fast, right now. Please write to the NRA now: https://nraila.org/secure/contact-us.aspx. Then, let’s keep up the pressure and do everything in our power to see that a ban on automatic and semi-automatic weapons is passed right away.

Finally, please send a quick note to your lawmakers: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml asking them to enact legislation so that the mentally ill can be better identified and helped. Mental illness is also a large component of the onslaught of gun violence. If we are One, then we are One with all our brothers and sisters, and they need our assistance too.

People often ask how it is that about 100,000 people have come together all over the world to be part of Humanity’s Team, an almost all volunteer movement that is awakening the world to Oneness. Very simply, it is our cause. The paradigm of connection, of Oneness will put an end to killing now and forever. Our connection, our Oneness is a timeless truth verified by more and more scientists. When this truth, ultimate reality, is not talked about it encourages crimes against humanity and nature. The reverse is also true. When we talk about our connection, our Oneness, we come into responsibility to each other (connection always creates mutual responsibility).

This is precisely the point at this sober moment in time. We must not allow a single other to fall to automatic or semi-automatic gunfire. It is our responsibility to put an end to it and to do this now. Are you in? Together, let's find our voice and let’s create the course correct that is long overdue. People’s lives depend on it.

Thank you.

In Oneness,

Steve Farrell Worldwide Coordinating Director
Humanity’s Team

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Human Firewalls

Congratulations Mr. President!

Obama did what many pundits said was impossible--get reelected in a down economy, where unemployment remains above 7%.

By the last count--with more possibly coming--the president had garnered 303 electoral votes to seal the deal, proving his critics wrong.

For all the billions that were poured into defeating this president, with Karl Rove's SuperPac leading the way, we learned that money has it's limits--it can get your message out, even with ample amplitude, but it can't necessarily sell your message, despite the repetition, if it's a lie.

When the final count is in, President Obama may have won all the battleground states, but one, North Carolina, although his statistical margin wasn't all that great in many of them.

Much has been said about the president's firewall--battleground states that would protect his path to victory and the White House.

As it turned out, the president's "firewall," and  "path to victory," weren't these states so much as those indefatigable workers that pounded the pavement to spread the word--promoting President Obama's achievements and vision for the future of this country.

It is to these workers, and those voters who stood in line, some as long as eight hours to cast their ballot, that I wish to acknowledge and thank. In the end, it was the voter, by refusing to be frustrated by the process, a process that had been designed to guarantee a win for Mitt Romney, that was the "firewall" (human firewalls) that created the "path" to the White House.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Symbol Of A Nation Lost!

Obama's Birth Certificate--The Symbol Of A Nation Lost

Responding to a blog posting at a blog of a black journalist, I left the following comments regarding the today's presidential election.

But before I do that, let me say this.

We're in the end game. Today, 11/06/2012, marks the culmination of a long election season, and the potential end to the administration of this nation's first black President.

Today, I'm feeling a bit ambivalent, not about giving the president another four years, which he's earned, and more than likely will receive, to finish what he started almost four years ago, but how I now view this nation, and its people, after four turbulent years of a Democrat administration that saw an absolute obstructionism from those on the Right regarding anything this president sought to achieve--all towards the purpose of not giving him a "win" that he might use to advance his reelection, employing a single-mindedness that would be the envy of a Roman emperor, although the empire might suffer as a result, that empire being the United States.

Conflating those hostile years with the voter suppression we're seeing in key battleground states that even now is convulsing the voting process, my ambivalence has reached a new high, forcing me to reconsider how much, going forward, I'm willing to devote of my personal wherewithal--my energies, my time, and my tangible resources--to the continued welfare of this nation.

If that sounds negative and hyper-cynical,  so be it. Perhaps I'll wait for a more fortuitous season, one where the values of democracy are better appreciated and generally prized, as they appear now to have undergone a throwback to a earlier time--a time that's all too familiar for its ruthlessness and racial animus.

Now to the comment I left on the blog, in response to some remarks that were made:

"I've seen so much anger, frustration, and hatred directed at Obama and Mitt Romney."

Clearly, I haven't seen all that you've seen, nor heard all that you've heard, but when it comes to the level--and amplitude--of "anger, frustration, and hatred directed at [the two candidates]," Obama wins that distinction hands down, not only during this election season, but for the better part of the four years he's been in office, remindful of ages gone by, where the niggerization of blacks was the national pastime.

"I'm pretty sure I can survive four years of Romney."

I can survive him, but I'm not sure that the nation can. Blacks, it's my belief, are watching this election closely, for the racial bellwether that it's becoming. Couple that with the voter suppression we're seeing in key battleground states, and you have in the making a total black disaffection--a turning of their collective back on this nation--a refusal to participate either in its economic growth, or in its survival as a superpower.

Black purchasing power is huge. In the future, blacks just might be more selective about where they put they money, and what they buy.

Whether Obama win or lose, the relationship between blacks and those in the majority will change appreciably--Republicans sought to steal this election and many whites on the Right stood by and watched it happen (finding justification for it), as well as some Republican blacks, notably Condi Rice, who lent her sizable reputation to Romney's bid for the White House, fully aware of the despicable tactics being used to effect that end.

To his credit, Colin Powell endorsed the president. Condi Rice, with her support of Romney, and thereby Republican policies and tactics, may be trying to land a key position in a RomRy administration, but those aspirations come at a high price--by trampling on her own people and failing to speak out against her party's contemptible treatment of this nation's first black president to realize those aspirations, will cause her, in the years ahead to lose a large chunk of black respect and black support.

Cable news is characterizing Romney's base as "hating" the black man in the White House--identifying the hatred as the key motivator driving them to the polls. What they're neglecting to tell you is just how angry black voters are, and blacks in general, as they watch the long lines at polling stations where early voting is allowed, but oftentimes at a reduction in hours and days, thanks to Republican state houses in swing states.

This suppression attempt--and the anger that ensued--will do more to mobilize black voters and bring them to the polls for President Obama (notwithstanding, standing in long lines for as long as it takes to vote), than it would have, had Republicans just allowed the voting process to go forward without the suppression.

They say that elephants have long memories. It's nothing compared to the memories of black Democratic donkeys that have been forced to eat the hay that the Right has served up liberally during Obama's tenure as president--and fairly recently in their effort to suppress the vote.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

OH, I Get It!

Recently, on another blog, I responded to the following remark, and several others:

"Your little game of 'them bad, us good' is blinding you to the fact that both the Repubs and Obama are working the same game plan."

Here's my preamble to my response:

I'm under no illusion that both the Left and the Right are manipulating policy outcomes--and, before the coming of TeaPublicans, they did so from the sharp point of a bayonet where one side (primarily the Left) proposed to capitulate to the demands of the other to prevent something worse from occurring, or to score a minor (but necessary) victory on a particular front.

The political wrangling over the raising of the debt ceiling fits that category of threat avoidance by capitulation.

What makes this approach so attractive is that each side is allowed to be seen as supporting the values and wishes of their respective bases, when it fact they're abandoning them.

Nevertheless, I don't believe that we can conclude that, in every instance, Democrats and Republicans are following the "same game plan," as the comment above states, and to which I responded thus--and not without a sprinkling of humor and a smattering of irony:

Using your bizarro logic, Democrats are Republicans and Republicans are Democrats--one big happy party--without one shred of difference between the two: "Obama is playing along with the Republicans and dancing to their tune," or they're dancing to his tune.

One never knows does one?

Obama's plan is to leave Afghanistan by 2014, but that's not a Democrat plan, but a Republican one, which means that if Romney is elected and he stays past 2014, as the RomRy team has suggested, then it's not a Republican plan but a Democrat plan.

Oh, I get it!

Obama repealed DADT, which wasn't a Democrat plan, but a Republican plan, although it was Republicans whose whine could be heard "from sea to shining sea."

Oh, I get it!

We don't owe the suppression of votes in key battleground states to Republicans, but to Democrats, as that's what both sides really want, but aren't telling the rest of us.

Oh, I get it!

Ending the enforcement of DOMA wasn't a Democrat plan, but a Republican plan as there's no light between their policies on this issue, they just want us to think so.

Oh, I get it!

So when Republicans say that they'll introduce legislation to outlaw same-sex marriage, or to defund Planned Parenthood, or when Republicans engage in a contentious brouhaha over contraception, or the passage of legislation to force women to undergo transvaginal or transadominal ultrasounds, it's really the Democrats who're supporting this, although it's Republicans who're pushing it.

Oh, I get it!

When Democrats passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act, or the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, it wasn't really Democrats who passed that, but Republicans. Republicans just whined about it to keep us all in the dark about where they really stood, but supported it with all their pachydermic might, from tail to tusk.

Oh, I get it!

So when Republicans said that they wanted to make Obama a "one-term president," and repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, they didn't really mean it, but were just playing a little joke on the nation, pushing, instead, their candidates, Team RomRy, just for the political exercise--push up and sit ups to strengthen the abdominal muscles and biceps of Democrats and Republicans alike.

Oh, I get it!

When Democrats bailed out GM, and passed the stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, it was Republicans who really wanted it passed, as it was their plan, too, but didn't want to crow about it.

Oh, I get it!

"Relative thinking is foolish, ignorant and dangerous in that we elect Republicans...like Obama."

Instead, we should elect a Democrat like Willard Mitt Romney.

Oh, I get it!

"Those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it."

So we should elect a Republican that's a Democrat, or is it a Democrat that's a Republican.

Oh, I get it!

"You don't even understand that it was Obama who first suggested the cuts to Medicare, not the Republican party."

It was, then, Obama the Republican who suggested the cuts in the first place, but not the Republican party that's really the Democratic Party.

Oh, I get it!

"Your pied-piper is pushing Republican policy, again."

What we need, rather, is a Republican that's "pushing Republican policy," or is it Democratic policy. It's hard to tell since, as you say, "both the Repubs and Obama are working the same game plan... and it's certainly not for the public good."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

What's Right of "Right"?

We can recite chapter and verse what's wrong with our democracy, and how that wrong has impacted our economy--including our individual economic well-being.

Standing back, I see two major defects in the body politic--a political system that thrives on special interest money, and a concomitant, pervasive sense of helplessness gripping the electorate, an electorate that has struggled in vain to take back the reins of government.
Nowhere has this been made more evident than in the 99%, Occupy Wall Street movements, which sought to bring attention to the wildfire raging across this nation, only to be beat back, derided, and pepper-sprayed for their trouble.
I'm what you'd call--paradoxically--a Realistic-Idealist. I see things as they are, but hold fast to the vision of how they might be.
For all that the two parties hold in common, there's still sufficient differences in their approach to governance--their political philosophies--to vote for one or the other. We know all too well where the two political parties' lines merge, but we fail to acknowledge where those lines diverge.
For example: Republicans are autocratic in their approach to winning and governing. Around 20 states are contemplating, or have passed, some voter-suppression legislation, or have purged their voters' rolls, in an obvious attempt to reduce the number of voters--and potential votes--for the Democratic party, preying on blacks, students, and the elderly.
I like the fire and water analogies. Yet, a "leaky faucet" for some is a deluge for others, and the acrid smell of smoke is already flaring the nostrils of those closest to the fire.
We all agree that, without a major shift of emphasis in this country's political and economic philosophies, this country's future as a superpower is in grave danger.
For now, my plan is to stay politically active. This activity will continue until such time the unthinkable happens--Republicans regain control of Congress and/or the White House.
With the fire growing ever so close, threatening both the house and its contents, it becomes paramount that we salvage what we can while doing what some have suggested--indemnifying ourselves against inevitable losses, while "mak[ing] preparations to escape the flames."
Despite the proximity of the fire, we can still make a difference. We can still salvage some things before the roaring flames are allowed to fully consume the house, but not with a Republican administration.
For example: With a Democratic administration, and a supportive congress, we can salvage the Affordable Health Care Act, the current, hard-won law that Millard Mitt Romney has prioritized to repeal as his first official act as president. The Act, not perfect by most metrics, is still better than what preceded it, although a growing number of Americans are opposed to it, which brings me back to the article, "The 1 Percent's Problem," which suggests that people are hardwired to seek their own self-interest.
I say: People are more interested in “being right” (pun intended), even if it kills them!
As a people, we're becoming more and more preoccupied with our own well-being, and less with the well-being of our neighbors, be it their physical or economic well-being.
The prevailing attitude, encapsulated this way--"I've got mine, get yours"--has entered the mainstream of American thought, perhaps driven by conservative talk radio, and a depressed economy placing strain on social services, as the cost for life essentials outpaces family incomes.
With a Democratic administration, and a supportive congress, we can continue our troop draw down in Afghanistan, and foil a potential re-engagement by a hawkish Republican administration, believing that the Obama administration has prematurely abandoned what could be--were we to remain indefinitely in Afghanistan--an indisputable victory.
We can continue to use measures short of war to force Iran to discard its nuclear ambitions, rethink its relationship with Hezbollah, and abandon its supposed plans for the destruction of Israel.
With a Democratic administration, and a supportive congress, we can approach our national debt, not with austerity programs only, but with programs that stress economic growth and expansion. We have seen--by taking account of the lack of success of some countries in the Eurozone with austerity--just how ineffective austerity can be in a down economy--plunging these countries once again into the throes of a recession.
With a Democratic administration, and a supportive congress, we can end the War on the Poor, as outlined in the Paul Ryan Budget, salvaging Medicare without privatizing it, and strengthening Social Security for future generations without gutting key provisions--allowing a portion of it to be invested in a volatile stock market. 
With a Democratic administration, and a supportive congress, we can not only wind down the Afghanistan war (which is now this nation's longest), but bring our bloated defense budget more in line with our current threat assessment, and resist the cry (occasionally by Willard Romney and other saber-rattling Republicans) to keep America strong with an even stronger military, accusing President Obama and his administration of "weakening"
America's  military resolve and readiness.
With a Democratic administration, and a supportive congress, we can bring more balance to this nation's Supreme Court, and the entire federal-court system--countering efforts by Republicans to stack the courts with members of their own party and political persuasion.
Realizing that the federal courts are the last recourse for their draconian laws, and their desire to legislate clear political advantages for their party, Republicans have systematically held up court appointments, while packing the courts with members that often support their radical, conservative agenda.
With a Democratic administration, and a supportive congress, we move one step closer to clinching a deal for a massive infrastructure project, one that will build new roads, and replace dilapidated and unsafe bridges, while putting back to work construction workers, and contractors, while boosting related businesses.
Economist, Paul Klugman, in his new book, "End This Depression Now," is urging the hiring and rehiring of our nation's first responders--police officers, and firefighters--as well as teachers and nurses--groups that have seen their numbers slashed over recent years, because of a loss of state and local government tax revenues during the housing crisis, and the job-reductions that ensued.
In my city alone, firefighters are receiving pink slips, and fire stations have closed, one that would have responded to a fire at my resident had the need presented itself, requiring now a longer response time.
It's axiomatic, that the Republican-held House--currently spending more days in recess,  than in actual work--won't pass the president's jobs bill, and neither will they introduce any of their own, for fear that a recovering economy--and a sanguine employment outlook--will help the president's reelection bid.
Just as it's the first responsibility of a bureaucracy to survive, Republicans will pass no laws that will put Americans back to work in substantial numbers, as the survival of their party hangs in the balance, as they pin their hopes on a continued sluggish and struggling economy.
If asked, I'm sure Republicans wouldn't call their actions un-American, just good business sense, coupling their interests with that of the American people--saying essentially, "What's good for the party is good for America."
Strangely, many Americans aren't upset with this tactic, as Republicans have managed to spin our economic situation to their advantage—even as they promise further tax cuts for the 1%, the uber-rich "job creators"--pledging to reduce our national debt by downsizing government,  and reducing food stamps, and other safety-net programs for the poor.
We're learning--to our chagrin--that people don't always vote their self interest, but their perception of that self-interest (an interest usually molded by others), and are more incline to adhere to established principles, to be right regardless of cost, than to acknowledge the failure of those ideologies to which they've given their heart and
With a Democratic administration, and a supportive congress, we might see higher taxes on the rich, the passage of the Buffett Rule, and full funding for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
To be sure, the Act does little to address "too big to fail," and other measures that brought this nation's economy to its proverbial knees. But it's a start and, with a little luck, the law may be strengthen under a Democratic congress.
Frankly, it's time that the 1 % pay their fair share, since many of them, and their children, aren't volunteering to fight the wars waged on their behalf, and on behalf of the military industrial complex, from which some of their wealth is derived, with the military subsidizing the true cost of providing oil to an oil-gluttonous nation, by keeping
shipping lanes open, piracy to a minimum, and masking the true cost of a gallon of gas.
With a Democratic administration, and a supportive congress, the federal government could take the lead in ending the War on Women, and their need for low-cost contraception to keep abortions to a minimum by providing a shield against the assault of sex-crazed men, who feel that condoms reduce the pleasure of sex, and that abortions are the answers in cases where child support may be imposed.
We would see an end to the attacks on Planned Parenthood at the federal level, threats from Willard Romney to bring it down--and hopefully a federal push to squash new Personhood legislation, to honor a woman's right to choose, and to keep Republican control statehouses from prescribing unnecessary medical procedures--transadominal
and transvaginal ultrasounds--and, in the process, coming between doctors and their patients, all in an effort to discourage women considering abortions.
In recent months, the demand for ultrasound technicians has quadruple!
With a Democratic administration and a supportive congress, we would see an end to the incessant wrangling over extending the nation's debt ceiling; we could then put in place sound fiscal policies, and reasonable cuts over time to reduce the debt, restoring the nation's AAA credit rating in the process, while preserving critical programs that would negatively impact the poor and the overall economy were they to be cut.
The Republicans' resistance to raising taxes on the top earners to achieve that end--presumably honoring their pledge to Grover Norquist--places an undue burden on society's most vulnerable members--the poor.  As the economy resists rebounding, the plight of the poor garners less and less empathy from lawmakers, with congressional Republicans squarely blaming the unemployed for their out-of-work status.
With a Democratic administration and a supportive congress, the assault on gays and lesbians will diminish--as will calls for a Constitutional provision outlawing same-sex marriage, threats to reinstate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and promises to enforce DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act.
As Jesse Jackson has famously said, "We have to keep hope alive."
Although not much of a Jackson fan, the sentiment expressed in that aforementioned statement, captures precisely where this nation now stands--our crossroad, so to speak--that may become our cross if we don't choose wisely.
As the ravenous fire approaches, having consumed everything in its path, we--the American people--will have to decide what possessions are worth saving (since we can't salvage everything)--and what can be allowed to perish along with the house, if it comes to that.
 In "The 1 Percent's Problem," the author says this of "rent seeking" and the "rent seekers":
"In a broad sense, "rent seeking" defines many of the ways by which our current political process helps the rich at the expense of everyone else, including transfers and subsidies from the government, laws that make the marketplace less competitive, laws that allow C.E.O.'s to take a disproportionate share of corporate revenue (though Dodd-Frank has made matters better by requiring a non-binding shareholder vote on compensation at least once every three years), and laws that permit corporations to make profits as they degrade the environment."
Although both parties have had a hand in creating the economic conditions that contribute to the income disparities that face this nation, Republicans--almost single-handedly--have become the party almost exclusively devoted  to "rent seekers," convincing a growing number of the electorate that their personal interests lie with those exploiting the system--the "rent seekers."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I thought Eastwood was chair-itable to Mitt. He created a moment that Mitt will chair-ish all his life.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Olympic-Style Politics

We should have guessed. We should have calculated who Willard's running mate would be long before Willard announced it.

His was a predictable choice, given all we know about Willard, and how he's positioned himself to be the "man of the hour," the unlikely, likely choice of Republicans to run against President Obama, and fulfill Republicans' most cherished, and most anticipated, hope: limiting Obama to one term, making him a "One-Term President."

We all know the obstacles facing Willard--his religion, his history of flipflopping on the issues, his passage of Romneycare (with the dreaded mandate), for which he doesn't wish to take credit or talk about, and the persistent accusations among party faithfuls that he's not conservative enough to be a real, card-carrying member of the Right.

Hence his running mate, Paul Ryan.

Not only will Ryan pass the conservative "brown bag" test, but Willard is hoping that the love and affection that Tea Party-ites now hold for Ryan will now shine down brightly upon him.

So it's no surprise that when introducing Ryan as his running mate, Romney referred inadvertently (or was it Freudian?) to Ryan as the next president of the United States. Consciously, or unconsciously, Willard's hoping that the most conservative of Republicans, as well as moderates, will now see the team of Romney-Ryan as one, and forget about his supposed conservative deficiencies and turn out in large, enthusiastic numbers to elect Ryan, if not him.

Now that the members of the team, on both sides, are now known, and revealed, holdouts can finally draw sides, size up the competition, and determine which team will be the winning team for Americans, and represent the "golden" aspirations and "silver" standards of a nation, as the U.S. Olympians have in the recent Olympic games, with Gabby Douglas as one of its most golden and gifted standouts.

My choice for who will win Political Gold--and who must settle for last place as an also-ran with a bronzy compensation for competing--has been known for sometime, although I'm not predicting, just yet, who among the two teams on the field will actually win.

Once more I'm crossing my fingers for the Team of Obama-Biden. I won't be leading the cheers, but I'll certainly be in the stands noisily showing my support as they near the finish line, hoping for a Usain Bolt-like sprint that breaks World Records, and Olympic Records.

My reason for selecting Team Obama-Biden isn't a selfish one, it's not even a political one, but a highly practical one, I know the potential pain that Team Romney-Ryan will inflict upon the nation if elected.

And the least of that pain is the possible repeal of what's been referred to, derisively, as Obamacare, or that Ryan's budget plan calls for ending Medicare as we know it, the reduction of medicaid, and cutting back aid for the poor, or that Romney's overhaul of the Tax Code will reward the uber-rich while asking the middle class to take up the slack.

And it's not that Romney has threatened to defund Planned Parenthood, or has threatened to push for a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage, or support legislation that says that Religious institutions that pursue secular interests needn't have their insurers provide female contraception.

What I fear most is the Tea Party agenda--reckless, and singleminded--that will dictate how the nation's deficit will be reduced, pushing for austerity measures over economic growth as the way to manage the nation's growing debt, and to do so by taking out huge chunks all at once, rather than small pieces over time.

As Federal departments fall to the debt-reduction knife, and social programs are slashed, leading to greater unemployment, this nation economy will stumble, as politicians remove vital parts supporting the body politic as they hack away at supposed government excess.

Republicans, by purposely reducing the money supply in the economy by using one device or the other, will see demand begin to dry, consumer confidence falter, panic ensue, and a depression as the inevitable outcome, creating once again soup lines, and the plaintive pleas, "Brother can you spare a dime?"

Our government contributes billions to the gross domestic product (GDP), and is the employer of last resort, but that's changing, as political aspirations supplant the needs of a nation.

I fear, too, the neo-cons and Republican hawks with whom Willard Romney has elected to surround himself, many from the Bush-era administration, with Cheney at the top of the smelly heap. I don't think this nation can long survive a Bush Redux.

If this nation is still reeling economically from having fought two wars that we didn't pay for, but borrowed heavily from China and the Saudis, prepare once again for war profiteers--Cheney's Halliburton at the forefront--to make the case for war, and continue where they left off under Bush.

Sure, a President Obama might embroil us, too, but I believe that if war becomes necessary--say with Iran--it will be a reluctant one, a short-lived one, and follow Colin Powell's rules of engagement.

An Olympic medal, gold, silver, or bronze, doesn't say how athletes acquitted themselves in the fray--during the competition--only that they won. In the game of life, it's more important how you acquitted yourself, than that you managed to win according to your assessment, or another's. 

In the political arena, you might win the gold of victory while using that victory, not to make others of your nation winners--the majority of the people--but a select few.

If the nation must lose in order for politicians to win a political contest, then we all lose. By winning by any means necessary--voter suppression, and the weakening, and elimination of public and private unions--you and your party lose character, and ultimately the confidence of a nation.

A nation loses, too, when a political party win using such dastardly tactics, but our losses, regrettably, will be measured by our sweat, blood, and tears--and our only medal that of shame and regret. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012

Holder-ing A Gun To Their Head

Lost in yesterday's Supreme Court Ruling--one which made Chief Justice Roberts an overnight sensation, and a Democratic Hero, and, for Republicans, the most hated man in America--was the contempt vote that a Republican House brought against Attorney General Eric Holder.

With the scoring threat of the National Rifle Association (NRA) hovering over yesterday's proceedings, it was no surprise that 17 Democrats voted with Republicans to uphold the sanction.

Presumably, had Democrats in swing districts voted against the contempt, they would be placing their own House tenure in jeopardy, as the NRA, with the long memory of elephants, would, during their reelection bid, remind their respective electorate--with one damaging ad after the other--of their unforgivable sin against gun ownership.

Supposedly a non-partisan organization, the group was anything but leading up to the House contempt vote, with the NRA leading the charge on the unsubstantiated claim that the Attorney General was involved in a cover up of misdeeds in the ATF Fast and Furious Operation, insisting that the Obama administration allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexico, so that the ensuing violence would so disgust the American citizenry that they would call for a repeal of the Second Amendment.

An outlandish claim on the surface, but one that Republicans believed--once all the facts surfaced--would vindicate their actions and behavior, if only they could get their hands on the Attorney General's internal memos, e-mails and the like, that he refused to surrender to Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Congress holding Attorney General Holder in contempt has no precedence--and neither is there precedence for how this president has been attacked, and continues to be treated by those on the Right. The only explanation for it--according to many non-black pundits--is that the president is black, and the real reason that this kind of racist and racial treatment, far from being generally denounced, is quietly tolerated.

One of Fortune Magazine's reporters investigated the Fast and Furious conspiratorial claim, as well as other claims, revealing that Republican claims of a cover up, and a conspiracy to repeal the Second Amendment, was, itself, fraught with conspiratorial overtones:

Some call it the "parade of ants"; others the "river of iron." The Mexican government has estimated that 2,000 weapons are smuggled daily from the U.S. into Mexico. The ATF is hobbled in its effort to stop this flow. No federal statute outlaws firearms trafficking, so agents must build cases using a patchwork of often toothless laws. For six years, due to Beltway politics, the bureau has gone without permanent leadership, neutered in its fight for funding and authority. The National Rifle Association has so successfully opposed a comprehensive electronic database of gun sales that the ATF's congressional appropriation explicitly prohibits establishing one.


The agents faced numerous obstacles in what they dubbed the Fast and Furious case. (They named it after the street-racing movie because the suspects drag raced cars together.) Their greatest difficulty by far, however, was convincing prosecutors that they had sufficient grounds to seize guns and arrest straw purchasers. By June 2010 the agents had sent the U.S. Attorney's office a list of 31 suspects they wanted to arrest, with 46 pages outlining their illegal acts. But for the next seven months prosecutors did not indict a single suspect.
On Dec. 14, 2010, a tragic event rewrote the narrative of the investigation. In a remote stretch of Peck Canyon, Ariz., Mexican bandits attacked an elite U.S. Border Patrol unit and killed an agent named Brian Terry. The attackers fled, leaving behind two semiautomatic rifles. A trace of the guns' serial numbers revealed that the weapons had been purchased 11 months earlier at a Phoenix-area gun store by a Fast and Furious suspect.

Conservatives have pummeled the Obama administration, and especially Holder, for more than a year. "Who authorized this program that was so felony stupid that it got people killed?" Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, demanded to know in a hearing in June 2011. He has charged the Justice Department, which oversees the ATF, with having "blood on their hands." Issa and more than 100 other Republican members of Congress have demanded Holder's resignation.

The conflict has escalated dramatically in the past ten days. On June 20, in a day of political brinkmanship, Issa's committee voted along party lines, 23 to 17, to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for allegedly failing to turn over certain subpoenaed documents, which the Justice Department contended could not be released because they related to ongoing criminal investigations. The vote came hours after President Obama asserted executive privilege to block the release of the documents. Holder now faces a vote by the full House of Representatives this week on the contempt motion (though negotiations over the documents continue). Assuming a vote occurs, it will be the first against an attorney general in U.S. history.
As political pressure has mounted, ATF and Justice Department officials have reversed themselves. After initially supporting Group VII agents and denying the allegations, they have since agreed that the ATF purposefully chose not to interdict guns it lawfully could have seized. Holder testified in December that "the use of this misguided tactic is inexcusable, and it must never happen again."
Read the whole story here.

We know this: The NRA, as a chief exponent of gun ownership, makes wide-spread gun distribution possible, by resisting new gun-control laws, and regulations, while threatening reform-minded lawmakers--using a Grover Norquist-like zeal--indirectly (if not directly) supporting gun manufacturers (the volume of guns made), and gun sellers (the volume of guns sold), many of whom have no compunction as to the niceties of the law, nor care who will ultimately end up holding the stock of a rifle, or the grip of a revolver.

Almost from the moment President Obama took the oath of office, word went out that this new president was positioning himself to take away the people's guns and ammunition--and the very fact that he hadn't well into his first term was proof enough that he was lulling the America people to sleep on the issue, only to spring it upon them later during a second term, when he had nothing left to gain by remaining quiescent.  

As nonsensical as this may sound, it did sell guns and ammo by the millions, and provided Republicans with a rallying issue on which to raise money and galvanize their base for the Fall elections--the real reason behind all this. 

One thing Republicans knew, and could count on: Chief Justice Roberts was their man on the Supreme Court (their go-to guy). How could he turn on them by supporting this dreaded law (the Affordable Health Care Act), on which Republicans had placed their political fortunes?

It was their hope that the Supreme Court ruling would become President Obama's political Waterloo, dashing his bid for reelection. 

However, Chief Justice Roberts had other plans. He seemed to know: The Constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act could very well tarnish his Supreme Court legacy--if it was allowed to be decided as had some previous critical rulings, along partisan lines, a 5 - 4 split.

Democrats would be giddy with this Supreme Court opinion--as it seemingly marked a return to sanity and balance on the nation's highest court--were it not for the Court's decision on Citizen's United, and Citizen's United Redux, a Supreme Court decision that I hope to blog about soon.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"That's Not Who We Are!"

Perhaps you've heard it said, too: "That's not who we are...as a nation." I hear this statement often, and usually, after a moment's reflection, I find that, "Yes, that's who we are!"

People who say this are often confusing our constitution with our national character, confusing our stated ideals with what we actually feel about the social issues facing our nation.

As far back as the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson summed up the American ideal by writing, "All people are created equal," later "stylized" by Ben Franklin in the now immortal words of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

And it didn't stop there, but continued: "that they [all men] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."

"In 1776, abolitionist Thomas Day responding to the hypocrisy in the Declaration wrote:
"If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature, it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves.[13]"
From the time that these words were written, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," the "altering" and "abolishing" part has been the one "Right" that has languished, requiring years of protests and appeals for some in our society to partake of the "among these."

It was Government's stated role to "secure these rights," but, all too often, it was Government, itself, that stood in the way, that became "destructive of these ends," that frustrated the efforts of many in our society struggling to secure that elusive "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

"That's not who we are!" they insist. Not so: We deprived millions of "Liberty," institutionalizing slavery in this country, requiring a bloody civil war to uproot it, and then only partially, as Jim Crow quickly replaced the gains that blacks had achieved with Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

In most of the states, we enacted laws to enshrine marriage between a man and a woman, with assurances from presidential-hopeful Willard Romney that he'll seek a Constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriages.

In several states, Republican-led statehouses enacted laws to discourage a woman's legal right to abortions by legislating procedures which have no medical necessity--transadominal and/or transvaginal ultrasounds--invading the doctor-patient prerogative, violating two of the rock-ribbed tenets of Republicanism and conservatism which advocate for "personal freedom," and "small government."

In yet more states, Republican-led statehouses enacted voter identification laws, presumably to thwart voter fraud--which wasn't a problem--but serve merely to suppress voter turnout, and disenfranchise college students and the elderly, two voting demographics for Democrats.

"That's not who we are!" they insist. Not so: We have enacted laws that endanger "Life" rather than support it with the passage of "Castle Laws," and "Stand Your Ground Laws." As a law enforcement student, George Zimmerman knew, when he followed and intimidated Trayvon Martin, that the law was on his side, and that he could take a life with impunity.

The jury is literally out on this one, but the prosecution has a virtual mountain to climb to convict George Zimmerman, as it's his word against the silence of Trayvon Martin, not able to speak now for the lack of a voice.

"That's not who we are!" they insist. Not so: We have enacted laws that define what "Happiness" should be for some in the LGBT community. We have told gays and lesbians that they don't have constitutionally-protected Equal Protection under the law, a clause designed to fulfill the self-evidential statement that "all men are created equal."

"The Equal Protection Clause, part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, provides that 'no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'[1] The Equal Protection Clause can be seen as an attempt to secure the promise of the United States' professed commitment to the proposition that 'all men are created equal'[2]"

To be sure, we can "institute new Government" without bloodshed and a violent overthrow, but it takes men and women of goodwill--men and women not hamstrung by the political exigencies of the times, men and women willing to sacrifice party loyalty, but not their conscience.

In an obvious attempt to even the playing field, to deprive President Obama of a political advantage, Fox News is now casting Obama as a "flip-flopper," arrogating to him a Romney failing. To his credit, Shepard Smith, Fox News anchor, sided with the president, stating that the president is on the "right side of history."

Mysteriously, Fox's attack on the president, that he's waging a "war on marriage," was abandoned abruptly and replaced with a steady beat of Obama as "flip-flopper." However, someone should tell Fox that notorious flip-floppers such as Willard Mitt Romney, flop in order to receive votes, and not as President Obama, whose stance on marriage equality may cost him some votes, and possibly another term as president.

Every day Fox News becomes the butt of the joke, and not fit to call itself a cable news outlet.

On Wednesday, President Obama, seemingly allowing Vice President Biden, and others to pave the way, drove on the left side of the road, rather than in the center, which has long been his custom, on marriage equality, admitting in an interview on Wednesday that same-sex marriage should be legal.

As described by several aides, that quick decision and his subsequent announcement in a hastily scheduled network television interview were thrust on the White House by 48 hours of frenzied will-he-or-won’t-he speculation after Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. all but forced the president’s hand by embracing the idea of same-sex unions in a Sunday talk show interview.

Advisers say now that Mr. Obama had intended since early this year to define his position sometime before Democrats nominate him for re-election in September. Yet many of the president’s allies believed he would not do so, trusting instead in his strong support from gay voters for having ended a ban on openly gay people in the military and disavowing a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Such caution was understandable, the allies said, given the unpredictable fallout the president would face by taking a clear stand on one of the most contentious and politically charged social issues of the day, before what is likely to be a close election. Mr. Obama’s closest advisers say only the timing was in question. Mr. Biden’s unexpected remarks undoubtedly accelerated the timetable.
His was a courageous political move by all metrics, a move that Willard will never make as he's too busy lying his way to the presidency. "That's not who we are." Judge for yourself. Some of the many faces of America photographically captured.

With some Catholic Bishops attacking Obama for his extreme secularism (forgetting Jesus' admonition to "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's") [1], and the GOP's autocratic disregard for the U.S. Constitution, and the Rights outlined there--wishing to change some of its provisions, while ignoring others--backed by a Supreme Court who's poised, I believe, to support key provisions of Arizona's "papers please" law, and strike down the mandate in the Patients Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, It's my civic duty to vote for any party other than the Republican party.

The national character isn't too pretty. It's a character that I, as a black man, have had a long acquaintance. If the national character had a face, it would be pox-marked, with hairy moles upon its nose--spewing words that would make my not-so-virginal ears blush.

Despite its current appearance, our national character is still a work in progress, and it's my hope that one day, it will take a long, hard look at its ideals, ideals written upon so many of our nation's prized, and venerated documents, and strive to live up to them, transforming this nation from that of an ugly, "venomous toad," into a story-book prince, where we can truly say when confronted with our shame, "That's not who we are!"

[1] Angrily condemning President Obama for his “radical pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda,” an Illinois bishop likened his leadership to Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin last weekend and urged Catholics to vote against him.

“This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries—only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down,” said Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria at a gathering of Catholic men on Saturday, according to LifeSiteNews.com
Read more on Newsmax.com: Bishop Compares Obama Policies to Hitler, Stalin.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Connecting the Dots: Al-Qaeda

From time to time, I will connect dots--using an analytical and intuitive process--to understand current events.

Here's my first blog entry with that goal in mind, which is not to say that I haven't used this process before. For example, I wrote sometime ago:

"A population shift is now taking place in this country, with a rise of Latinos, and a decline of whites.

"The Latino demographic will, in a decade or two, wield most of the political power in this country, with whites falling precipitously to the back of the electoral bus.

"What's needed to offset this shift is a new power dynamic assuring that whites will continue to assert their will over the political and social landscape. [...] 

"How do they preserve their once monopolistic power in the midst of this population shift? Simple. Transfer it to corporations. And this what we're now seeing take place, unabashedly, by the Roberts Supreme Court.

"Corporations, recently raised to the importance, and stature of the individual, can now use their collective power to influence the outcome of elections and the passage of legislation."

From the Rachel Maddow show we find some support for my conclusion, as it's becoming more and more evident that the demographic shift will impact a distribution of power in this country--political and otherwise.

Recently, President Obama signed a compact with Harmid Karzai: "[D]uring an unannounced visit to sign a strategic partnership agreement with President Hamid Karzai that sets the terms for relations after the departure of American troops in 2014. [...]

"But Mr. Obama also spoke of an “enduring partnership” with Afghanistan, invoking the agreement, which pledges American help for a decade in developing the Afghan economy and public institutions, though it makes no concrete financial commitments, which Congress would have to authorize each year."

Some have placed the financial commitment somewhere around $2 billion dollars a year, and that's probably a conservative estimate, and doesn't take into account further payouts to the Pakistanis.

Here's where the dots come together: As long as the US is willing to pump billions of dollars into Afghanistan and Pakistan for the purpose of defeating Al-Qaeda, or tamping Taliban insurgency, these two countries will never address our goals. 

Where's the incentive to  further them, when, to do so, would damage their goal, which is to keep American dollars flooding the two countries?

I can hear someone high up in the Pakistan military remonstrate this way:

"Damn those American's are stupid! Do they really think we're going to kill the golden goose? We need Al-Qaeda! We need a Taliban insurgency! That's why we gave Osama bin Laden sanctuary. That's why we did as little as possible to kill him and to stop the Taliban." 

It appears that President Obama has heard their remonstrations, as well--one of the reasons he upped the number of drone attacks within Pakistan, and  sent Seal Team 6 on a daring mission to examine a compound they believed might house the Chief Terrorist.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Choose You This day Whom Ye Will Serve...."

Because I had little to add to the dialog, I didn't wade into the Trayvon Martin controversy, as many pundits have already weighed in with their unique and not-so-unique perspectives.

But after reading a prominent black Republican's perspective, I felt that I owed it to my readers to have my say. On his Facebook page, Allen West denounces the actions of law enforcement authorities in Sanford, and takes a cheap shot at those protesting:

I have sat back and allowed myself time to assess the current episode revealing itself in Sanford, Florida involving the shooting of 17-year-old Treyvon Martin. First of all, if all that has been reported is accurate, the Sanford Police Chief should be relieved of his duties due to what appears to be a mishandling of this shooting in its early stages. The US Navy SEALS identified Osama Bin Laden within hours, while this young man laid on a morgue slab for three days. The shooter, Mr Zimmerman, should have been held in custody and certainly should not be walking free, still having a concealed weapons carry permit. From my reading, it seems this young man was pursued and there was no probable cause to engage him, certainly not pursue and shoot him….against the direction of the 911 responder. Let’s all be appalled at this instance not because of race, but because a young American man has lost his life, seemingly, for no reason. I have signed a letter supporting a DOJ investigation. I am not heading to Sanford to shout and scream, because we need the responsible entities and agencies to handle this situation from this point without media bias or undue political influences. This is an outrage.

It is an outrage--and why can't we say it loud; why can't we "shout" it in overwhelming numbers, and "scream," if we must, above the silly din of a Republican primary that's hogging the airwaves?

What West doesn't seem to appreciate is that the Trayvon Martin case would have been swept under the proverbial blue carpet were it not for the shouting and screaming that took place online, in the streets of Sanford, Florida, and other places--student's showing their solidarity by walking out of class, New Yorkers showing their support with a
Million Hoodie March, and LeBron Raymone James posing with hoodie-wearing teammates. Were it not for bloggers, and other protesters, MSNBC in all likelihood would have allowed Nancy Grace to run exclusively with the story.

West, as is customary among black Republicans, dismisses the race nexus, reducing it to a footnote in the whole affair, when it's clear from the 9-1-1 call, and the allegations of a police coverup to protect Zimmerman, that race, and racial profiling, played a prominent role, and can't be separated from the incident, as one would egg white from the yoke. Some even insist that the words,"fucking coon," can be heard, at about 1:52 in, on an enhanced version of the tape.

Before I offer my opinions, let me discuss briefly a book that I read many years ago, titled, Contingency Management.

Contingency management says, substantially, all the various styles of management--autocratic, democratic, and participatory, to name a few--are valid, and useful, the effectiveness of each dependent on the situation, and one's ability to choose the right managerial strategy at any given time.

There are those who will swear that one management style is superior to all others, but what I found over the years is that a contingency approach to employee management was not only practical, but an indispensable approach to the art and science of effective management. It was preferable to focusing on just one style to the exclusion of all others, becoming, in time, an integral part of my overall managerial approach.

Similarly, there are those--white and black--who insist tirelessly that we must react to racism, and racial insensitivity, in one way, and one way only.

To that I say poppycock. Respond any way you choose!

Once upon a time in America, blacks chose to meet the horrors of racism with the threat of violence against violence (They called themselves the Black Panthers.), while others believed that a peaceful, non-violent approach would serve our interests best (as advocated by Martin Luther King, Jr.)

During the civil right's struggle, Ebony Magazine ran an article discussing the several "ways" blacks were responding to white racism, asking the question, "Which Way Black America--Separation? Integration? Liberation?"

Although I'm a proponent of change without violence, and civil disobedience, I would never tell blacks how they should respond to racism--individually or collectively.

If you choose to march, and voice your dissent, and your grievance, I say march on. If you choose to express your outrage in a blog entry, I say blog on. If you choose to call nothing racism, and openly oppose black protests--a community's vocal outrage against acts leveled at blacks--I say right on. If you choose to refrain from participating in a society dominated by whites and their ideals, I say resist on. If you choose to attend Harvard, become a lawyer, and the president of the United States, I say carry on.

The insistence of some black Republicans that blacks should downplay race, and never use the term "racism," even when it's blatantly obvious that racism is at the heart of certain behaviors, is to subject themselves to a mental contortion for which there's no recovery, but that's their choice.

And I honor that, just as I honor those who resort to actions that are out of the mainstream, and may run counter to the law, for the purpose of making statements that bring certain conditions into starker relief.

Nevertheless, I do condemn those who appear to use race issues as a way to further their own financial interests, such as the New Black Panthers, an organization who has borrowed the old Panthers' reputation of fierce resistance to racism, as a way to add street cred where it hasn't been earned. The old Panthers have denounced the new Panthers, as the new group seeks to reap where it hasn't sown.

When whites need a black boogieman to thrust a wedge deep into black and white cooperation, to polarize the races for the purpose of frustrating racial unity, the New Black Panthers are at the ready, seemingly prepared to deliver an image in keeping with white stereotypes of the angry, violent, black man, to fuel already feared black stereotypes.

Contingency management embraces all acceptable and responsible managerial styles, denouncing none, or elevating one style over another, or dictating when any style should be used, but yields to circumstances in play, and the manager's judgment to choose a managerial style as the need dictates.

Similarly, blacks have a virtual cornucopia of options from which to choose when deciding how to respond to their perception of racism, to do as Allen West did, sign "a letter supporting a DOJ investigation," downplay the "race" angle, and refrain from shouting and screaming (very dignified and low-key), with the hope that the system will respond appropriately, and justice will prevail, or take a hands-on approach, as it were, march, protest, "shout and scream," blog about it, take photos to highlight it--any action, or speech, or behavior that we feel addresses the grievous circumstances at hand.

Clearly, no responsible response is superior to another. All blacks who take up the cause of redress, and seek to address perceived threats to their life, and to their general well-being, as well as the life and general well-being of other blacks in a nation where racism once flourished, and still persists, have a duty to resist in ways of their choosing.

"Choose you this day whom ye will serve," and which response among many will serve the needs of those in black communities across this land, as we traverse the path that takes us from injustice to justice.

But let it be of your choosing, and not Alan West's choosing, or Bill Cosby's choosing, or....