Thursday, May 10, 2012

"That's Not Who We Are!"

Perhaps you've heard it said, too: "That's not who we 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
Read more on 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.