Friday, March 28, 2008

She Couldn’t Help Herself

Just when I was almost ready to be proud of Hillary Clinton for not stepping into the mess that has been the Jeremiah Wright story, she goes and shows why she cannot unite this country. Rather than taking the high road and not responding to what is clearly a personal decision concerning one’s faith, she just had to weigh in. Once again self preservation has overruled prudence for Mrs. Clinton. In an effort to flip the script from her lying about Bosnia, she just couldn’t help herself from criticizing Barack Obama’s decision to remain a member of his church. It is precisely this attitude of Senator Clinton that has caused her to alienate and lose the support of blacks that she once commanded. It now seems that her campaign has written off the black vote for the primaries in the hope that they can regain it if she receives the nomination. The Clinton campaign continues to play politics as usual taking the black vote for granted believing come November they will have no place else to go.

"After originally refusing to play politics with this issue, it's disappointing to see Hillary Clinton's campaign sink to this low in a transparent effort to distract attention away from the story she made up about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia. The truth is, Barack Obama has already spoken out against his pastor's offensive comments and addressed the issue of race in America with a deeply personal and uncommonly honest speech. The American people deserve better than tired political games that do nothing to solve the larger challenges facing this country," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

This strategy is dangerous and problematic for a number of reasons, while blacks may not support McCain in November that doesn’t mean they will support Clinton. Despite a record of supporting black causes if the Clinton campaign continues to attack the black community by attacking it’s institutions the Democrats could be in for a rude awakening in November. Rather than having a record turnout, I believe many blacks will remain at home than support a candidate they feel is willing to write them off in March only to come knocking in November. I can only speak from experience, but in my city we had a black Mayoral candidate who had the outgoing Mayor’s machine and supposedly the support of the black community. Support that the candidate took for granted believing that he was a shoo-in for the office, unfortunately he found out the hard way that this support was not forthcoming. He lost to an unknown city auditor because the black support he took for granted stayed home. This candidate with that support would have won in a landslide had he gotten it. If the black community will do it to one of their own make no mistake they will do it to Senator Clinton.

It is time for the Party leaders to grow some balls and step in and muzzle the Clintons. It is not like John McCain is not providing enough ammo to take aim at. But rather than attack McCain’s war stance or his economic policies that will surely lead to ruin, Mrs. Clinton would rather discuss an issue that according to our Constitution should not even be up for public debate. The personal faith of our elected officials short of human sacrifice should and has been a private matter. And according to my crack research staff Reverend Wright has never advocated the use of human sacrifices or the overthrow of the American government.

Senator Clinton’s win at all cost strategy has already begun to cause many Democratic leaders to line up behind Barack Obama, the Bill Richardson endorsement I believe is a direct consequence of this strategy. It would have to take a lot for a former member of the Clinton cabinet and a close friend to come out for Obama. Senator Clinton is surrounded by very politically astute personnel who must know that by attacking Barack Obama’s church they are in effect attacking the black Church as a whole and by transference the black community.

As a Christian it breaks my heart that in America we even have a black Church and a white Church. This arrangement goes against everything Christianity is supposed to stand for, but as a black man I also realize the importance of the black Church. The black Church has been the one constant in black America from slavery through the civil rights movement. Early on in our history in this country most of our leaders were clergymen who had the faith of their convictions to speak out against the injustice they witnessed. When the civil rights marchers needed a break from the dogs, water hoses, and the police beatings they found solace in the black Church. Is the black Church perfect? No, but they have provided support for blacks in a world that said they were not fully human and created for enslavement by their white brethren.

Taking pages from the Karl Rove election handbook may provide short-term victories, but in the long run it will end in a bitter defeat. This attack is eerily similar to the Bill Clinton attack on Sister Souljah, using another black to shore up the white bonafides. Bill Clinton compared Sister Souljah to David Duke and now Senator Clinton is comparing Reverend Wright to Don Imus. Throwing blacks under the bus seems to be a recurring theme with the Clintons.

"You know, I spoke out against Don Imus (who was fired from his radio and television shows after making racially insensitive remarks), saying that hate speech was unacceptable in any setting, and I believe that," Clinton said. "I just think you have to speak out against that. You certainly have to do that, if not explicitly, then implicitly by getting up and moving."


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Thursday, March 27, 2008

McCain: Throw Out Baby With The Bathwater

In an effort to prove his bonafides to the fiscal Conservatives John McCain is willing to tank the economy, allowing millions of American homes to be foreclosed on. In what will be a well orchestrated plan by the Bush/McCain camps, McCain will be campaigning as a free marketer while Bush’s administration will be spending billions bailing out the real culprits who created this mess (Wall Street) while the victims will be left up the creek without a paddle. According to McCain it is not the Government’s job to bailout speculators which includes all of the consumers who are facing foreclosure. Now while there may be some people facing foreclosure who were using the loose mortgage regulations to take out risky loans to speculate on the housing boom, the vast majority did not. The vast majority were sold the panacea of the balloon mortgage with eternal low interest rates by the greedy mortgage bankers. Should they have been more diligent in investigating the fine print of their loans? Of course they should have, but today you have to almost be a Nobel Prize winning economist to understand these contracts.

“Rampant speculation” on both sides is the root cause of the crisis, Mr. McCain said. He placed part of the responsibility for the mortgage mess on lenders, who he said had grown “complacent” in a rising market and as a result acquired a “false sense of security” that caused them to “lower their lending standards.”

But in a departure from Democrats, who have focused on the lending industry’s role in the crisis, Mr. McCain suggested that some homeowners had also engaged in dangerous practices, including borrowing too much in hopes that a rising market would cover their mortgages.

Senator McCain is willing to let the same ones who created the crisis fix it with his hands off approach. He is willing to play craps with the nation’s economy similar to the approach taken by Herbert Hoover. Today however the difference is that he doesn’t seem to have a problem with bailing out the banks and brokers whose reckless practices caused this fiasco. Once again John McCain is showing his age and how out of step with the 21st century he is. According to McCain’s economic plan he believes that the greedy bankers and brokers if left alone will step in an rescue the homes of the millions of Americans facing foreclosure. And he talks about Obama being a merchant of dreams.

Lets face it folks John McCain has changed political positions so often, he makes Mitt Romney look like Teddy Roosevelt. Senator McCain was against the tax-cuts before he was for them, he was against bailing out the banks before he was for them, and he was against regulation before he was for it. The sad part about it is that because the Democrats are so busy cutting each other up McCain is having a free ride to make these ridiculous speeches unchallenged. We all know he will not be called on these statements from the MSM, who have all but coroneted and canonized McCain. Even the Bushies recognize that their “laissez faire” approach to the brokerage houses has had a negative effect and now McCain wants even less government involvement.

Mr. McCain said he favored government intervention only when standing by would produce “catastrophic effects” to the economy. Asked if the Federal Reserve had gone too far last week in moving to prevent the collapse of Bear Stearns, he replied that it was “a close call, but I don’t think so,” because of the impact that the investment bank’s disappearance would have had on Wall Street and throughout the economy.

I’m sorry, did I say less government involvement. I mean less involvement for the average American who is losing their homes due to their reckless speculation, but not less involvement for the bankers and brokers. Mr. McCain doesn’t seem to have a problem with bailing out the bankers and brokers who he obviously believes are in their positions by relying on those less than forthright borrowers. At this rate I would not be surprised if McCain proposes more subsidies for the big oil companies to help them cope with the record oil prices being caused by those greedy consumers. With each passing day Senator McCain exposes his lack of understanding and concern for the poor and the middle-class.

At one point in his career Senator McCain opposed the Bush tax-cuts because he felt they were tilted towards the wealthy and that was unconscionable. It seems now that he is the Republican nominee not only has his views changed but also his conscious. Yes to torture. Yes to tax-cuts for the wealthy. The only thing left is yes to bombing Iran to complete the trifecta. According to McCain, the Bush policies aren’t the problem just how they are being implemented. There was a time when if anyone had run on Bush’s policies they would have been summarily dismissed as a lunatic, here today we not only have McCain running on them but also trying to make them seem mainstream. Is time for the Democrats to focus in on the real enemy and stop their petty sniping. If not we might as well kiss the baby good-bye, because McCain will surely throw it out with the bath water.


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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How Do We Integrate The Poor Into Our Neighborhoods?

As someone who lives in a neighborhood going through gentrification I am often at odds with my belief that poor people need to be integrated into mixed income neighborhoods and the fact that many poor people trash the neighborhoods they live in. We must develop a method of removing poor people from the isolation of ghetto existence, while at the same time protecting the values of the properties we relocate them to. Unfortunately because of personal decisions, lifestyles, and circumstances many of our poorer citizens have lost either the desire or the ability to respect their environments. Many will say that this is due to our treatment of poor people and I would not disagree with this, but this does not help in creating situations that will allow them to escape the dangers of ghetto life.

Developers in some cities are trying to incorporate the same public housing tenants that once lived in the neighborhoods back into them after development through vouchers, subsidies, and grants. Sometimes when poverty is multi-generational many self defeating habits may be developed, habits which make it difficult to understand the responsibilities of ownership. I recommend that as part of the voucher and subsidy process we require recipients to attend seminars that detail the responsibilities of the members in an ownership society. No one is inherently born knowing how to be responsible, we learn these things from our parents and our environments. The reason many poor people are not more responsible is not because they are inherently lazy or trifling, but because no one has taught them any better.

The redevelopment of the Arthur Capper and Carrollsburg projects, where Ms. Jackson lived, is the first in the country to promise replacement of all low-income units within the same neighborhood, said Michael Kelly, director of the city Housing Authority.

“Mr. Kelly is undertaking a great experiment to see if he can turn around distressed neighborhoods and keep the original residents there to benefit,” said Sue Popkin, a housing expert at the Urban Institute. “It’s a gamble. We don’t know how to take a terrible neighborhood and make it nice while keeping the same people there.”

In Washington DC, they are trying to integrate the former residents back into a neighborhood that has been redeveloped, they are also trying to do similar things in Atlanta. While this is a risky undertaking it is one that I think must be attempted and allowed to succeed. So many other cities provide the former residents with vouchers to leave their old neighborhoods. The problem with this approach is that only certain landlords will accept the vouchers, these are usually slumlords who want to fill up crappy residences. This only relocates the former residents into scattered pockets of poverty throughout the city, once again surrounding them with other poor residents and bad schools. It is a difficult situation trying to incorporate former residents into the newer developments.

I know in my city they have tried to renovate older apartments into more mixed income residences in lower income neighborhoods. The problem is that placing a mansion next to the projects does not improve the projects or the neighborhood. It is hard to get higher income people to move into a neighborhood with drug dealers on the corners and violence in the streets. We have to develop a method of improving the neighborhoods and renovating them while still being able to integrate the former residents. In DC, they have created committees comprising of residents, city officials, and developers in an effort to create ground rules for integrating the former residents back into the neighborhoods. I think it is important to allow the residents an opportunity to take part in the decision making, if given the opportunity I believe they do not want the blight, drug dealing, and violence in their neighborhoods either.

A committee of residents, officials and neighbors decided that any returnees with a serious criminal conviction within three years of the move-in date, and anyone with seriously bad credit, would be excluded. They will keep their current vouchers or public units, officials promise.

Integrating these former residents will not be easy, but it is something as a society we must continue to do. If we do not then we are sentencing many of our fellow citizens to a life of hopelessness and strife. It is a thin line we walk trying to balance the opportunities of incorporating these former residents with the genuine concerns of the new residents for safety, property values, and peace. I know for me this is a challenge that though I struggle with it, it is one that I must undertake. We are all better off in my opinion when we are living, working, and learning in a diverse environment. Not only do we help those who are struggling, but we also help ourselves to be better.


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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Man Who Cried Wolverine

The mayor of Detroit is in the midst of a crisis. A crisis that could eventually cost the mayor not only his job, his political future; a future that was looking very rosy prior to this crisis, but also his freedom. The mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick was elected the youngest mayor in Detroit history in 2001 at 31, promising to reinvigorate the troubled city. The young mayor received criticism from the outset primarily for his extravagant spending habits on the public dime. The current crisis involves the Mayor, his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty and 4 members of the Detroit Police Department. Normally I have become immune to political corruption cases because they have become so prevalent, but this one is important not because of the details of the case but the defense being employed by the defendant.

You see according to the Mayor this case is based on racism. He is being unfairly targeted by “The Man” to silence another up and coming black politician. As a black man I recognize the deep dark tentacles of racism in American society, but I am equally aware of the use of racism by blacks to cover their personal defects of character. I don’t know why but I always feel a deep sense of betrayal by black public officials who are caught in wrongdoing. I guess I want to believe that black politicians won’t succumb to the same temptations of their white counterparts, of course I am regularly disappointed because greed and the hunger for power have no color barriers. There are some sins that are older and stronger than racism, Mr. Mayor; pride, lust, and greed seem to come to mind.

For those who are unfamiliar with the case it is a multifaceted case that involves the Mayor’s sexual relationship with his former chief of staff, the police officers who were terminated for investigating complaints concerning the Mayors involvement in a wild party at the Mayor’s residence, and the possible use of public funds by the Mayor to subsidize his extra-marital trysts. The case began with a member of the Mayor’s security detail reporting an alleged wild party complete with a stripper at the Mayor’s residence. According to reports the stripper was assaulted by the Mayor’s wife and there was a big scene. The party has never been verified by a police investigation or by the State’s Attorney General. However, a few months after the allegations the stripper is killed in a drive-by shooting where the assailant fired multiple shots and according to witness turned around and proceeded to fire more shots. It appears someone wanted Tamara Greene dead.

Since that slaying there have been allegations of infidelity by the Mayor not just with his former chief of staff, but also other women. There have been lawsuits by the fired police officers as well as by the family of the slain stripper. The Mayor has repeatedly denied any wrong-doing and has characterized the investigations as a legal lynching and racially motivated. The Mayor even went so far as to invoke the N-word during his State of the City address. Why is it that whenever a black politician gets caught the first thing they utter is racism? It is cases like these that undermine the true cases of racism and allows those race apologists to announce that racism is dead and that it is now a false claim to cover criminal behavior by black athletes, entertainers, and elected officials.

The problem with deception and deceivers is that it often times appears as truth, it has to, in order to be believable. So, the man who deceives women says the same things that an honest man would say. Thus leaving the victim with not only a loss of dignity but also a loss of truth. So that any man that comes along afterwards has an almost insurmountable obstacle to overcome. Those who falsely use racism as an excuse for being caught at bad behavior cause the same loss of truth and integrity in the fact that racism exists. Often times racism isn’t the cause for their demise but actually pride, lust, and greed on their part. If the Mayor were in fact innocent then no amount of racism could fabricate the charges he is faced with. There is actually a trail of text messages from the Mayor, his chief of staff, and some high ranking police officials detailing the alleged dismissal, infidelities, and cover-up.

The other problem I have with those caught in bad behavior is their almost instant transformation to religious zealots. If those who now confess an epiphany of religious conversion had been more sensitive to those religious tenets like maybe the ones concerning adultery, lying, and stealing they might have prevented them from being in a position to be nabbed. It is these types of believers that have brought much of the condemnation upon the Church. Those who only choose to invoke “The Almighty” when their bacon is about to be cooked bring denunciation upon those who struggle to live according to their faiths. While as a Christian I believe in the power of reconciliation through persecution and tribulation, I also know that this is a process and is not completed in the matter of hours so frequently displayed by these fallen people.

This my friends is not a case of a black leader being brought low by racism and I as a black man am offended that this man would try to insult my intelligence claiming otherwise. This is a case of a black politician who believed that he was above the laws that govern public officials and that he could do as he pleased with no repercussions. From the reports that I have read we have the “hip-hop” Mayor who ran Detroit like Shug Knight ran Deathrow records through intimidation and favors. For the sake of the city and your family Mr. Mayor it is time to close this ugly chapter and let the city get on with its business. It is time to step down for all concerned.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Dropout Epidemic Fueled By NCLB

It appears that what was rumored by many concerning the No Child Left Behind legislation is being proven true. It was believed by many that one of the side effects of this legislation was that many struggling students were being pushed out of school by administrators in an effort to improve their school’s standing. And if they were not actively pushed to drop-out they were at least quietly allowed to disappear by administrators who were fearful of having their schools labeled as failing. The truth of the matter is that this legislation has fueled the leaving behind of millions of students.

Most troublesome to some experts was the way the No Child law’s mandate to bring students to proficiency on tests, coupled with its lack of a requirement that they graduate, created a perverse incentive to push students to drop out. If low-achieving students leave school early, a school’s performance can rise.

No study has documented that the law has produced such an effect nationwide. Experts say they believe many low-scoring students are prodded to leave school, often by school officials urging them to seek an equivalency certificate known as a General Educational Development diploma.

“They get them out so they don’t have them taking those tests,” said Wanda Holly-Stirewalt, director of a program in Jackson, Miss., that helps dropouts earn a G.E.D. “We’ve heard that a lot. It happens all over the system.”

So rather than encouraging struggling students and providing them with the tools they need to improve, administrators are instead opting to have them removed from their rolls by coercion at worse and neglect at best. So the emphasis is no longer on education, but instead on scores and rankings. The NCLB legislation is just another smoke screen provided by politicians to help to enrich the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle-class. One of the main routes to improvement in our society is through education. Public education should be one of our most important and well-funded endeavors as a society, however for some reason it is the least. How can this be? It can be because the way to ensure that the wealthy stay wealthy and that there is a large pool of unqualified and unskilled workers is by keeping public education poorly funded and poorly administered.

If we as a society truly valued the improvement of all of our citizens we would be investing the billions we are spending daily in Iraq and Afghanistan right here at home in the improvement of our schools for all Americans. The problem with this is that it would create too many well-educated people. Democracy may demand an educated population, but a well-educated population is the bane of the ruling-class. The same people who send their children to private or upper-echelon schools are the same ones who say we are spending too much money on public education. The best insurance for keeping the inadequacies of our society in place is a poorly funded public education system where the majority of students are poorly prepared for continued education. You would think that after billions of dollars and many studies later that we would have developed a system that actually works to educate the masses, but we have not. The reason we have not is because it is not a priority in our society. We talk about the benefits of education and raising the standards of our children, but the truth be told compared to other programs education is one of our least funded.

Even without the wars, education has never received the amount of funding or critical study necessary to produce adequately prepared students for the future. Rather than focusing in on education our system of education has focused in on conformity and assimilation. As Pink Floyd so adequately stated, “Another brick in the wall.” Another compliant worker bee to feed to the machine of commerce and capitalism has been our chief concern. Any child that does not meet the standard must be drugged or isolated and finally removed from the system. We have some pretty good ideas of what is wrong with the system, but we do not have the desire or the will to improve it. Year after year more and more of our greatest resource are allowed to slip and in some cases forced through the cracks.

I hope for our sakes that education will once gain become a priority not just for the wealthy, but for all of America’s children. We can not afford as a society to continue down the path we are on. As more and more of our children become uneducated they will begin to rebel against a system that has left them unprepared for the world and this rebellion will not be expressed in a positive way. We are at a crossroad in America. This election will determine the direction of this country for years to come. I hope instead of war, fear, and death we choose life and the future of our nation, which is our children. And that the words no child left behind will truly mean something.


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Friday, March 21, 2008

Jeremiah Wright Is Not The Problem

Why is it that in America we always look for the easy and the convenient. We always want everything to fit into a nice neat box. That’s right, no contemplative thought, no analyzing, just give it to me in a form that will not require a lot of work or thought on my part. It is a simple task to chalk up the Reverend Jeremiah Wright as some angry black lunatic who is going to single handedly destroy the Obamania tour. It is amazing to me how so many people blogging will write all these prose and essays extolling the virtues of the American electorate and how badly they want policy white papers and how hungry they are for detailed plans. When the truth of the matter, as the fall-out from Reverend Wright has once again displayed, is that the majority of voters could care less about timetables and figures. Not when there is some juicy story floating around about some crazy black man and his relationship to the leading Democratic Presidential contender.

For those who prefer to accept the Cliffs notes version of events I would suggest you not read any further, because that is not what I will provide. What I will provide is a provocative analysis of the real underlying problem as to why we are having this dust up about a relatively small-time pastor. You see the real problem has nothing to do with Jeremiah Wright. The real problem was exposed 40 years ago by Dr. Martin Luther King in an interview he gave at Western Michigan University. In the interview Dr. King stated that the most segregated hour in America is Sunday morning. You see the problem is that because we do not interact not only Monday through Friday, but also on Sunday we have no concept as to what each other are thinking. We, as blacks are given a better glimpse into white society because we are bombarded with its images on a constant basis. Whites on the other hand have little or no conception of what is going on in the black community aside from the caricatures from television and movies.

The Church in America as a whole has done little to reconcile and heal the wounds of the past. The modern Church instead of preaching the Gospel has instead chose to preach the world. Just the fact that we have a black Church and a white Church should be alarming to anyone who professes to be a Christian. Many whites have asked how could Barack Obama have remained a member of his church when the minister was making the statements he was making. Those of you who are not prejudice how could you have remained in families where racial slurs and prejudice where present? I have known countless whites who have confessed that they have parents, brothers, or sisters have often times used racial slurs and had racial biases. Or that they have attended social events and parties where there were no minorities present and the racial jokes and the N-word were being cast around like lures at a bass fishing tournament. My point is that there is enough blame to go around and if we all just look into our own lives honestly we will see it.

The question I have is this. If you are attending a church and you look around and everyone in that church looks like you and acts like you, then why are you there? I present this question to both black and white. Newsflash – If you call yourself a Christian and everyone at your church looks just like you then you are in the wrong church. How can we expect to worship the same God when we can’t even come together and worship him here and now. It is no wonder so many people have such bad opinions of Christians. We preach togetherness and one Church, one Lord, and one God, but where is that unity on Sunday? We each run off to our safe little church communities and talk about all of these virtues and once the sermon is over we climb right back into our cars and go right back to our segregated worlds. The problem is not this one preacher, no my friends the problem is the Church as a whole in America. If we are ever to overcome the many obstacles that divide us we must begin with the One who unites us.

Martin Luther King Jr. said America’s most segregated major institution is the church.

“At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation,”
King said in 1963. “This is tragic. Nobody of honesty can overlook this.”

Only 7 percent of America’s churches are racially mixed. On June 29, Biggers is planning a nationwide Mission Sunday. He hopes to organize 1,000 churches across the United States to visit churches that “look different from one another.”

How can this be? We talk about love, honesty, and fairness yet we don’t have a clue how to worship God together. The problem is hypocrisy in the Church. Jesus had His harshest criticisms against hypocrites[2] because of their damaging effect on the Church. Hypocrites destroy the Church from inside as well as outside. They destroy it from the inside by undermining the faith of others. How can I trust the preacher when he is running around with the deacon’s wife? They destroy it from the outside by preventing those who want to join the Church from doing so. Why should I join the Church when they are doing the exact same things that the world is doing? I beseech anyone who claims to be a disciple of Christ to look back at what He did. He went out into the world, he didn’t just stay in “His” community. Can we not also do the same? I would ask all true Christians and non-Christians alike to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to those who appear different from you. You may be surprised how much they may be like you.

[2] Matthew 23:13-36

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

With A Friend Like Him

As if things in America were not hard enough for blacks, what with Barack Obama having to explain and denounce his relationship with his “angry” black pastor to ease the fears of his white supporters. It is amazing to me how we allow and accept comments from whites without so much as a whimper, but let a black man say them and all hell breaks loose. It is this double standard and hypocrisy that created the “invisible” Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. I call him invisible because unfortunately for him he is too black to be white and too white to be black. He is lost in a false reality that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. He is a black man that hates black people, what a terrible place that must be.

Justice Thurgood Marshall was the first black man appointed to serve on the Supreme Court. Justice Marshall had a distinguished career as a civil rights attorney many times arguing before the Court he would someday join. He brought an appreciation and an understanding of the plight of the black man in the American criminal and social justice systems. He understood that the laws of this land had been skewed in favor of white men and against women and minorities. This was the Justice that Clarence Thomas was nominated to replace. Many wanted and expected the nominee to replace Justice Marshall to bring a similar sensitivity to the Court.

Justice Thomas was not that person. I can accept that he wants to believe that he lives in a color blind society and that racial prejudice is ancient history. I can accept that he wants to interpret the laws written by imperfect and bias people as if they weren’t. I can even accept the fact that he doesn’t believe that after centuries of prejudice and bias that blacks do not need help in leveling the playing field. I can never understand it, but I can accept it. What I cannot accept is when a black man who doesn’t want to help other blacks does want to intentionally harm other blacks. I can not accept it from the dope dealers that prowl our neighborhoods selling poison to the their brothers and sisters. I can not accept it from the gang bangers who have replaced the Klan as the biggest threat to other black men. I can not accept it from a member of our highest Court concealing it as equal protection under the law.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the conviction and death sentence of a Louisiana man who killed his estranged wife in a jealous rage, finding that the trial judge “committed clear error” in excluding black jurors.

By 7 to 2, the court ruled in favor of Allen Snyder, whose case came before the justices for the second time last December, two years after they had sent it back to the Louisiana Supreme Court and told that tribunal to consider whether the jury selection had been tainted by racial bias.

In the case that the Court overturned the prosecutor had dismissed all the potential black jurors from the jury pool for ridiculous reasons, reasons that were not used to excuse the white jurors. There were two Justices that voted against the majority opinion. Mind you, this is a case involving a black man being tried by an all-white jury and the sole black Justice on the Court did not see a problem with this scenario. Once again Justice Thomas displays why he is despised by many of his fellow black Americans. You are telling me that 7 whites including the Chief Justice who is by no means friendly to black causes finds fault with this case, but Justice Thomas can’t see a problem.

Ok Justice Thomas, you have proven that you don’t want to help your fellow black citizens or represent their causes, but why would you want to harm those same people and causes? As much as I despise the dope dealers and gang bangers, I despise Clarence Thomas more because due to his position on the Court he has the capabilities to do more harm to blacks than either of those two combined. He makes decisions that can affect all black people by a single vote. This is too much power to give any man that suffers from the degree of self-hate that he suffers from. Doctors have to take an oath that they will do no harm, I wish Justice Thomas had taken such an oath.

Why do we appoint women and blacks to the Supreme Court? Many will argue it is because they represent the best jurisprudence irrespective of race or gender. In a perfect world this would probably be true, however as many have tried to point out we do not live in that perfect world. We live in a country that for centuries believed that women and blacks were inherently inferior. We designed laws, public and social policies to enforce those beliefs. As a nation it took us 200 years to place the first black and woman on the Supreme Court. Why do we have diversity in our criminal justice system if justice is blind? Because our history and current experience has shown us that justice is not blind, that because of our racial and gender biases justice has been meted out unfairly. How many murderers of blacks were freed by all white juries? How many murderers of women were freed by all male juries?

We have diversity in our criminal justice system to ensure that everyone gets equal treatment under the law. We believe that by having blacks and women serving as jurors, lawyers, prosecutors, and judges that we open the system up to prevent past injustices from continuing. We also believe that they will bring their unique experiences to these positions to help temper justice with mercy. The whole purpose of being judged by ones peers is to bring this understanding of being in the other person’s shoes into the system. So we now know that it is inherently unfair to have a jury of all whites, or all men, or all blacks to judge anyone. Our court system is based on the belief of fairness and impartiality. Justice Thomas should be a better student of history than he is a student of ideology maybe then he would be more sympathetic to the plight of his brothers and sisters. With a friend like him on the Court, we certainly don’t need any enemies.


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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

George W. Bush is Abraham Lincoln?

I am afraid I owe President Bush an apology. All this time I thought he was Herbert Hoover and now come to find out he is really Abraham Lincoln according to Vice-President Cheney. Here is what I don’t understand, you have Dick Cheney and his ilk making preposterous claims like this unchallenged but when a black man, even a respected minister calls America on its hypocrisy they are lambasted. I am in no way condoning the statements of Pastor Wright, but I have to point out the inconsistency being displayed. The fact that Dick Cheney made this statement should enrage all men of conscious and it dishonors the memory of Abraham Lincoln as well as the men who died in one of our nations darkest hours. President Lincoln must have just rolled over in his grave at this one.

Cheney compared the administration's task now to Abraham Lincoln's during the Civil War. ''He never would have succeeded if he hadn't had a clear objective, a vision for where he wanted to go, and he was willing to withstand the slings and arrows of the political wars in order to get there,'' Cheney said of Lincoln in an interview broadcast Wednesday on ABC's ''Good Morning America.''

Having dispatched my crack research staff to review the comparison in the event I may have overlooked some hidden similarities, they returned with the following results. George Bush and Abraham Lincoln share these two common traits both are white males and Republican Presidents. So following that logic every white male Republican President could be Abraham Lincoln, this is how low the bar is to clear to be compared with who many consider to be one of our greatest Presidents. So Richard Nixon is also Abraham Lincoln. According to Dick Cheney because Lincoln presided over an unpopular war and Bush is also presiding over an unpopular war they are comparable. I personally find the comparison of the Civil War with the Iraq War a travesty. How could anyone in their right mind draw any similarities between the two, unless Mr. Cheney is finally conceding that what we have in Iraq is a civil war. In which case his acknowledgment of this fact would be the closet thing we have had to date of honesty on his behalf.

No Mr. Cheney the are a few distinctions between the war that was thrust upon Lincoln and the war created by you and Bush. Lincoln did not invade a sovereign nation on the pretense of WMD’s or support for 9/11 terrorists. Claims which were later to be proved false. To compare ousting Saddam Hussein with ending slavery is ludicrous and once again displays how far from reality Dick Cheney has gone. So, it is ok for the Vice-President of the US to make these types of statements but we are going to fall apart as a nation because of the comments of a black pastor that before this incident few people even knew? Give me a break. If we as a nation were able to survive the divisiveness of Bush and Cheney, we can certainly survive a little dose of black reality television. Of course in America war and death are easier subjects to broach than race. We don’t mind the carnage and the mortgaging of our futures for a little death and mayhem, but God forbid if we open a discussion about race. Who put the turd in the swimming pool?

''The surge ... has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror,'' the president said. ''We are witnessing the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden, his grim ideology, and his terror network. And the significance of this development cannot be overstated.''

Bush appeared to be referring to recent cooperation by local Iraqis with the U.S. military against the group known as al-Qaida in Iraq, a mostly homegrown, though foreign-led, Sunni-based insurgency. Experts question how closely -- or even whether -- the group is connected to the international al-Qaida network. As for bin Laden, he is rarely heard from and is believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

And finally it is good to know that we are finally defeating an enemy that didn’t exist before we invaded Iraq. Of course what Bush, Cheney, or McCain have failed to mention is that we are having to pay these people not to attack our troops. Is democracy the best? Well, I am glad to see that while we may be unable to export democracy, we sure don’t have a problem exporting capitalism. If you can’t beat ‘em, pay ‘em. Of course this begs the eventual question of what happens when the money runs out? I would be really interested to hear John McCain answer to that question, especially since he could be the next Abraham Lincoln.


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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Cow Is Already Out Of The Barn

It is good to see that our elected officials are once again using their impeccable timing to save us poor working class folks from being ravaged by the wealthy. There is only one small problem the ravaging has already taken place. These same idiots who supported less or no regulation of business and the markets particularly think that now there maybe a problem with letting corporations and lobbyist write their own legislation and regulations? I’m shocked. Ok folks let’s have a quick recap, the reason we have Medicare, Social Security, and child labor laws is because if given a chance the greedy bastards that are the captains of industry will run this ship aground every time for short term profits.

Mr. Paulson said the government was going to demand greater “transparency” from banks and Wall Street firms, stronger risk management and capital management and a better trading system for complex financial derivatives, such as collateralized debt obligations, that managed to transform risky subprime mortgages into securities with Triple-A ratings.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who is a member of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and Finance committees, was both positive and critical about the proposals, saying in a statement: “The administration is finally moving towards where Congress was last year. The good news is, they’re beginning to put their toe in the water when it comes to government involvement to help the economy.

The bad news is, they’re going to have to do a lot more than that to address the problem. We need government action not only to solve the current crisis, but also to prevent a future one.”

So now that all the robberies have taken place the Keystone Cops in the Bush administration want to come in and close the barn door. But like as been stated many times by wiser folks than me, the cow is already out of the barn. The pillaging has been done and not only have they allowed it to happen, they are now in the process of rewarding the same people who drove our economy to the brink. This is similar to the CEO’s of the nations banks and mortgage firms getting raises for orchestrating the biggest economic meltdown according to ex-Fed Chairman Greenspan since WWII. So what is it going to take to wake up the American public to the lies being perpetrated by the wealthy and their political minions.

I once read that capitalism is expecting the greediest among us to do the right thing. Well guess what folks, they are not going to do the right thing. What makes it so bad is that the Bushies can orchestrate a “bail-out” for Wall Street overnight, but do you think they have any help in store for Main Street? Not a chance. So reward the very economic excesses that caused this debacle by bailing out the architects of it and leave those victimized by it to fend for themselves. Is this a great country or what? And rather than us taking to the streets to protest the inequality of these economic policies we sit cowering in our homes hoping that the next wave of lay-offs and foreclosures don’t have our name on them. In the mean time the people who not only have created this mess, but also have the most assets to weather this storm are treated to government intervention while this same government is pissing down our legs and saying not to worry we are on top of this.

I feel better already. The same clowns who removed the regulations and regulators now say they have a handle on this thing. I know according to Senator McCain how we end up stepping into crap is not important, but I beg to differ. If I don’t understand how I keep stepping into crap, guess what I ‘d better invest in a pair of hip-waders because I am going to find myself in heaps of it. The problem is simply this, we have been fed a bunch of BS by the robber-barons of today that more regulation will lead to more costs and lay-offs. Newsflash – How many lay-offs do you think are in the works now that the economy has been trashed by these clowns? The problem is not regulation. The problem is greed. It is the Government’s job to protect those who are weaker from those who are stronger. How many “Gilded Ages” do we have to go through to understand this?


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Friday, March 14, 2008

If He Wasn’t Black

For the first time in American history being a black man is now an asset? Ok, for the first time outside of an athletic event being a black man is a plus. I have been black a long time and I have witnessed countless instances when being a black man has been a handicap of epic proportions. I can even attest to the fact that just having a “black sounding” name has been a detriment. Now, I am suppose to believe that being a black man is somehow the reason Barack Obama is leading the nomination for President of America? I wonder if the people who are saying this line even hear themselves. I would like for them to go and tell this to the many young black men that are incarcerated in our nations jails and prisons who won’t even get the opportunity to vote in this historic election or tell it to the many young black men who are unemployed standing around the corners of our inner cities.

I have heard and read that blacks and specifically Obama supporters are too sensitive and are reacting to everything in racial terms. It appears that any criticism of Obama is cast in terms of racist intent. The race card is being played in reverse. Everyone that criticizes Senator Obama is a racist regardless of their previous record or support for civil rights. I agree there is a hypersensitivity on the part of Senator Obama’s campaign, but I do not think that it extends to the candidate himself. One of the main reasons for this I believe is that we are at a place as a nation that we have never been before. And please don’t talk to me about Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, or Al Sharpton. Due to our refusal in the past to honestly confront the issue of race in this country, no one really knows how to proceed in this area. This is especially true for most whites, particularly whites who have previously stood with blacks on civil rights issues. Talk that use to go on behind closed doors in liberal parlors are finally now being aired and I for one am thankful.

The latest “racial attack” was perpetrated by none other than Geraldine Ferraro, the first women ever nominated for the Vice-Presidency by a major Party. Ms. Ferraro basically stated that if it were not for Barack Obama being black he would not be leading in the nomination for the Democrats. Now many took this to be another hidden reference to race being perpetrated by another Clinton supporter. I do not believe that Ms. Ferraro is racist and I would consider anyone who did to be either foolishly carried away by the campaign or deliberately using comments to further their agenda and both have no place in a serious discussion about the comment. So, if you fall into one of those categories you should probably not read any further.

She specifically accused David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, of using race as a tactical weapon and of implying that her remarks were racist.

Mr. Axelrod, responding in an e-mail message Wednesday night, said, “I never suggested that. I’ve known Gerry for a long time, and I don’t believe that. But what she said was plainly wrong and divisive.”

The same, she said, is true of the Obama candidacy. “Why is his candidacy historic? Can you give me another reason why it is an historic campaign? Why are we afraid to say this? I am absolutely stunned by this whole thing. I’m not saying he isn’t qualified, never did I say that. He is very smart. He has experience issues, but if George Bush can learn to run the country, so can this guy.”[1]

I do not believe that Ms. Ferraro is a racist, however I do take issue with her statements. I take issue with them not because of their racial tone, but something more insidious that she probably never considered. As a black man who has broken many social and employment barriers, the one constant has been the “affirmative action” defense used by whites who felt they could not have been bested by a more qualified black person. Their egos will only allow them to believe that it was because of an unfair advantage that a black man could be better in any given area outside of entertainment or sports. The comments by Ms. Ferraro echo those sentiments. Sure Barack Obama is intelligent, gifted, and qualified, but still if he wasn’t black he would just be another also ran.

Her comments are not racist, but they are in fact divisive. They smack of the affirmative action argument and there are only a few issues that are more divisive in America than affirmative action. So, I guess the only way that a black man could be elected President is through affirmative action? So the American electorate is trying to carry out the ultimate in affirmative action hiring by electing Barack Obama. Imagine how this sounds to the many blacks who have gained positions of power and prestige through hard work to be told once again that the only reason is because you are black.

Ms. Ferraro has the right to express this opinion the problem for me though is that to give her statements credibility she should have also said the same thing about Hillary. That the reason Hillary is in this position is because she is a woman, because the truth be told the leading candidate should have been a white man like it has been for 400 years. So it is unfair to say Obama is in this position because of his race, but not also say the reason Hillary is in this position is because she is a woman. By not including what makes Hillary’s candidacy historical Ms. Ferraro’s comments can be construed as those from a sore loser. Why does the issue of gender in Hillary’s case not apply, but the issue of race does apply for Obama? Is it because she feels that Hillary is so supremely qualified that it doesn’t matter or is it that Obama is so under qualified that this is all he has going for him? If he wasn’t black.


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Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Next Bob Dole

You have to admire the loyalty of the Republicans, they will reward the old soldiers who in the past have taken hits for the team. Whenever they are bankrupt of ideas of how to mislead the public they trot out one of their old horses and parade him around like he is something new and improved. Just like the 96 election when the Republicans are facing youth and change they counter with their own youthful change candidate, back then it was 73 year old Bob Dole. This year it will be 71 year old John McCain. As a reward to their old soldiers who have towed the Party line and swallowed previous bitter defeats by lesser candidates the Republicans offer them up as sacrificial lambs. Just as Bob Dole was surgically attached to the politics and ideas of the past so is McCain. Despite their efforts to recreate Senator McCain, he is a Party loyalist and his primary campaign proved that.

Let’s take a look at the “maverick” Senator McCain and his willingness to defy his Party sentiments for principal. Because there has been so much “flip-flopping by the Senator it is hard to know where to begin. The “straight-talk” express hasn’t had any straight talk to date and none seems likely for the foreseeable future. The troops in Iraq have a greater chance of being there for 100 years than for Senator McCain to stick to a political position. It is amazing how the Republicans allowed McCain to batter then candidate Mitt Romney for being a political chameleon while at the same time he was changing colors faster than leaves in the fall. Unfortunately for Romney it was the Mormonism.

Mr. McCain, who derided his onetime Republican competitor Mitt Romney for his political mutability, has himself meandered over the years from position to position on some topics, particularly as he has tried to court the conservatives who have long distrusted him. His most striking turnaround has been on the Bush tax cuts, which he voted against twice but now wants to make permanent. Mr. McCain has also expressed varying positions on immigration, torture, abortion and Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary.

Now this is a politician that does not pander to Party or voters. If this is not pandering I would hate to see someone who really does pander. I think the most troubling of all of his stand reversals for me is the torture issue. This issue goes more to character than any other, especially from a man who supposedly was tortured. If Senator McCain can change stripes on an issue that should resonate to his very core, then what is there left to throw under the bus? Iran invasion? Limited nuclear strike? Venezuela? If a man can not be counted on to stand on the one core issue of his time, then how can we expect him stand up to the lobbyists and the any other winds that blow through the White House? For a man like this, nothing is off the table. All of those so-called Democrats who have been saying and writing that they will vote for McCain if their candidate loses had better come to grips with this simple fact.

I find the comparisons between John McCain and Bob Dole to be striking. They both were vilified by the social conservatives and had to pander. They both have short fuses and have been known to fly off the handle. They both had extensive careers in the Senate carrying the water for lesser men in the White House. They both are war veterans who received extensive injuries. They both were nominated in the twilight of their lives and their careers by a Party looking for a “Hail Mary” moment in history. The list goes on but I think you get my drift. The biggest difference is that McCain is liked by the media and Bob Dole was not. This will allow McCain to remain close in the race due to the media not going after him on the many issues I have already named.

The idea of a Bob Dole presidency united the Democrats and kept a lot of social conservatives at home. This will not be the case today if one of two things happen. First, if the Democrats continue this win at all cost strategy and second if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination. I would never say nor do I believe that McCain would be a better choice than Hillary, but there are many Independents and Republicans that would rally behind Osama bin Laden before supporting Hillary. Her nomination would turn what should be a landslide into a very close election. This of course is no reason not to nominate her, but this would be the landscape going forward. Bill Clinton defeated Bob Dole on the strength of a booming economy and peace at home, currently we have an economy on the verge of a meltdown and an unpopular war. The pieces are in place for not only retaking the White House, but also restoring a majority in both Houses.

Just like Bob Dole represented the policies of the past, so does John McCain who continues to voice support for the same unpopular policies of a President currently hovering at a 19% approval rating. It will be up to us to ensure that John McCain receives the same fate as Bob Dole and retired by a resounding defeat. Bob Dole was wrong for America in 1996 and John McCain is wrong for America in 2008. While the Democrats are fielding two historical candidacies simultaneously the Republicans are recycling another old white man, once again displaying their lack of ideas and a plan for the future of this country.


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bush And The Gas Bubble

Why is the price of gas so high? Why is crude oil trading at all-time highs? It seems like everyday we set a new record price for crude oil. Has there been an outbreak of another war in the Middle-East that I have missed? What I have learned is that the price of gas and the record crude oil prices have nothing to do with reality. The truth is that all those rich speculators and hedge fund managers that caused the mortgage crisis have now when that bubble has burst moved their money from the stock markets to commodities. That’s right with the market taking a beating from the credit mess the “smart money” has moved to oil speculation.

According to the statement from OPEC, the global market is "well-supplied, with current commercial oil stocks standing above their five-year average." Today's prices don't reflect market fundamentals, OPEC said, but the weakness of the dollar, rising inflation and the "significant flow of funds into the commodities market."[1]

So if there is not a shortage of oil why am I paying through the nose for gas? The problem is two fold. First there is greater consumption in the world, so what was enough five years ago is not enough today. With the addition of China and India wanting to fuel their industrial revolutions the reserves are not going as far as they use to. Of course you also have the US marketing and buying SUV’s and “crossovers” like there is no tomorrow. I’m sorry I need some help on this one, we have been aware of the problems of dependency on oil and other non-renewable fuels since the 70’s and yet here it is in 2008 and instead of having vehicles that use less fuel we have the biggest vehicles in our history. Newsflash – Crossover vehicles are not smaller fuel efficient SUV’s, they are giant station wagons.

Not exactly. None of this price run-up could be possible without the unbridled consumption of oil in the United States, by far the largest oil user, and the soaring consumption of rising economies such as China and India. Increasing political tensions make shortages a possibility, and markets factor in that risk, which drives prices higher.

"I think the biggest problem is pure fear. Right now there is no supply problem," said David Wyss, chief economist for the New York rating agency Standard & Poor's. "What happens if Venezuela goes to war in Colombia? What happens if various crises in Nigeria get loose? Iran is always making noises."

Fearing the potential for shortages, investors are willing to pay a premium.

"They're not buying oil, they're buying insurance," Wyss said.[2]

Now we are forced to go hat in hand to the Saudis and other oil producers to beg for an increase in production in the hope that this will reduce prices. The second problem is that it isn’t just about production, it is about our oil policy. It is about an oil policy that rewards the big oil companies with tax incentives to continue to buy foreign oil while we spend nothing on research for renewable sources and reduction in consumption. Our energy policy eerily resembles our drug policy, instead of trying to stem consumption we spend billions of dollars to eradicate the problem in the countries where it isn’t a problem. The Saudis do not have an energy problem, we do. So while President Bush wants to continue giving his big oil friends and family tax breaks our economy rapidly approaches meltdown. And all the while we hasten the process by purchasing vehicles that don’t meet our needs but instead meet our egos.

There is no oil shortage. What there is a shortage of is common sense and willpower. I recently saw a commercial from one of the big oil companies promoting how they are now part of the solution to our energy needs. Whenever corporate profits exceed any justifiable limit they immediately roll-out these PR ads stating how they are using all of these ungodly profits not to benefit the corporate elite, but average Joes like you and me. I sleep better already just knowing that big oil is working to create renewable energy sources that will conceivably put them out of business. Remember, ignore the man behind the curtain and focus on the great Oz. The greedy see an opportunity to enrich themselves again with commodities so don’t be surprised if the price of oil is not the only thing that rises. All of which will continue to put inflationary pressure on our economy and push us closer to the brink.

Instead of having regulatory agencies that protect the consumers from this type of speculation we have “free market” forces that for some strange reason are only good when they favor the wealthy. Why aren’t free markets good for all products? Why are we subsidizing commodities like produce, oil, and sugar? The truth is that we continue to subsidize these markets because our politicians have been bought and sold like so many bushels of corn and will continue to allow industries to write their own legislation and regulate themselves and in the end we will all suffer. We will continue to have to choose between gas and food or gas and medicine. Isn’t free enterprise wonderful? This bubble will eventually burst just like the previous ones, but in the process many families are going to be hurting and that will be the real tragedy.

[2] Ibid

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Another One Bites The Dust

In what has to be the biggest political shocker not only in New York, but the rest of the country it seems the Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer or better known as client 9 to his call-girl friends has been involved in a high class prostitution ring. Mr. Spitzer was suppose to be an up and coming star in the Democratic Party despite recent setbacks in New York in his first term as Governor. How can this be I ask myself? How often have we been treated to the tawdry details of these sexual misconduct cases from politicians? You would think that the word would have gotten out about these types of activities from the many other similar cases that have come to light. I have come to the conclusion that for these people it is not about sex whether it is Eliot Spitzer or Larry Craig, no my friends it is about the adrenalin rush of getting away with something. Sex for these people is just the means to an end, to get that rush is the endgame.

How else can you explain how despite the many careers that have been ruined and images tarnished by these cases they continue to happen. Are we to assume that politicians don’t read the papers or watch the news and see their contemporaries doing the perp-walk? Are we to assume that they are so sex-starved that they can’t control themselves. No this isn’t about sex, it is about something deeper and more hideous. It is not like I am some kind of prude, but I do take marriage as a sacred bond and so it bothers me to see it violated. That to me is not the scariest part, what scares me the most is how these men who must know all that is at stake by them committing these acts continue to do so. Not only does it show a lack of judgment on the part of the person, but also a total disregard for those same things they proclaim to be valuable.

Mr. Spitzer was elected in a landslide in 2006, capitalizing on his popularity he won as the “Sheriff of Wall Street” during eight years as attorney general. With a reputation for personal probity and independence, he pledged to bring higher ethical standards to the statehouse.

Mr. Spitzer campaigned on personal integrity and high ethical standards. While many may decry his lack of moral fortitude, I am more concerned with something else. Governor Spitzer’s decision to commit adultery with prostitutes is in my opinion between him, his God, and his wife, I am not here to judge him on that count. What is of more concern to me is when your personal proclivities prevent you from doing your job. It’s like with Mayor Berry it wasn’t the fact that he smoked crack that bothered me, it was the fact that it prevented him from doing his job.

We all have our own moral compasses that we use to guide our lives and while the national pastime in America is convicting others for things we ourselves do, this only further acerbates the problem. The problem is that we have corruption at the highest levels of government and business. Everyday there are new stories of political and business leaders that have succumbed to their desires for power, wealth, and greed. The stories are as old as man himself and yet I can’t help but notice their intensity and their frequency today. There appears to be an epidemic of moral deficiency even among those who are widely viewed as “good people”. While it is not popular on the web to discuss spiritual matters, I can’t help but believe that the wide spread corruption is more than just a few men falling prey to their baser natures.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

We are not struggling against men and women who have been corrupted by power, no our struggle is against the evil forces that turn men into slaves. Slaves to their passions and to their desires and despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary they continue to risk all that they have in the belief that they will succeed where others have failed. They falsely believe that they will get to live that elusive double-life where on the one hand you can champion “American values” and on the other hand engage in a little footsies in the men’s room.

The lesson of this and all of the other similar scandals is that the enemy is not some shadowy figure lurking in the dark waiting to pounce on us. The enemy is within each one of us and that everyday it is a constant struggle to subdue those desires that will cause us pain and ruin. Everyday we all face opportunities to surrender to those desires that seek to destroy us and our fellow men, but also everyday we are presented with opportunities to overcome our selfish desires and lift ourselves and our fellows beyond where we are today. The choice belongs to each of us and it doesn’t matter what your income, position, or religion is; we still have to choose. I pray that we all may choose wisely.

[2] Ephesians 6:12 (New King James Version)

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Friday, March 7, 2008

You Can Get With This Or You Can Get With That

Editorial columnist Bob Herbert of the New York Times wrote an interesting piece discussing the true cost of the Iraq War. According to a Nobel prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz and the vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International, Robert Hormats the Iraq War will cost at least 3 trillion dollars. This figure includes cost which are never reported by the media or discussed by politicians. The truth is that the cost of a war is more than the money spent on men and material, as if it were some business venture that can be tallied with a nice spreadsheet and budget. In today’s world, war is packaged like a corporate enterprise complete with sanitized videos and reporting to make it more palatable to the disinterested masses.

Said Mr. Stiglitz: “Because the administration actually cut taxes as we went to war, when we were already running huge deficits, this war has, effectively, been entirely financed by deficits. The national debt has increased by some $2.5 trillion since the beginning of the war, and of this, almost $1 trillion is due directly to the war itself ... By 2017, we estimate that the national debt will have increased, just because of the war, by some $2 trillion.”

There should be a Constitutional Amendment that states, “no President can declare war without instituting a draft”. The problem today is that so many of us are unaffecting by the war in any personal and meaningful way. Oh sure we know people are dying, but they are strangers for the most part. Many of them who have received the least from this society are being asked to sacrifice the most. Yes, they are volunteers, but make no mistake about it for many in our society the choices are so limited that it is no longer a choice. For many of them it is a roll of the dice for maybe a better future and some better choices. Because they are brought home in secret we are never confronted by their deaths. I have never understood why we honor “our bravest” by secretly sneaking them back into the country following their greatest sacrifice. Is this how we honor our fallen heroes? This amendment would at least force the politicians who are tough on security to consider the fact that their children would be subject to the same opportunity to be heroes as those they so flagrantly send into harm’s way. It would also force us as a nation to debate the merits of any action being contemplated in our name, knowing that these decisions would affect all of us in a very personal way.

Instead of pouring 2 trillion dollars down the black hole that is Iraq, here are a few things we could have done right here in the good ole USA. We could have put an end to the partisan debacle that is Social Security for 50 years or more. And based on the Senate committee’s own spending calculations we could have enrolled 58,000 more kids into Head Start for a year with just what we are spending on one day of the war. We could also have enrolled an additional 160,000 low income students into college through Pell Grant funding for a year. Not in the calculations is how many of our fellow citizens we could have provided with healthcare insurance using this money.

Here is what I don’t understand we fight and we argue over providing support for those among us who are less fortunate and yet we spend this ungodly amount of money without batting an eye. What does it say about a country that spends trillions of dollars to kill people, but won’t spend any money to insure the healing of its own people. And to make matters worse one of the nominees for the next President considers the money well spent and wants to spend more. I don’t even blame Bush, McCain, or any of the other warmongers they are only doing what they do. I blame the American public for putting up with this crap. We have an economy that is in recession because we have allowed Bush to fight a war by mortgaging the future of our kids. We have allowed the politics of fear and false patriotism to trump democracy. In modern America war is good. Universal healthcare is bad. Free education is bad. Laying the groundwork for the neediest Americans with pre-school funding, tax credits and college grants, or employment training all bad.

Why is war good? It is good because it fuels the transfer of wealth from the middle-class to the wealthiest. It fuels the military-industrial complex and the war profiteers who in turn feed the lobbyists, who in turn purchase the politicians. You can’t spend all that money on war material and preparation and not use it. We must begin to cut our defense budget. We have spent all of this money on defense and it could not nor can it prevent 9/11 or any other terrorist type of attack regardless of the lies being spread to the contrary. This isn’t about look at all the wrong that America has done, it is about look at all the good America could do with a change in focus.

Of course there is also the toll that war takes on people’s lives through absences, injuries, and deaths. How can one calculate those costs? The loss of a parent, a brother, or son does not fit tidily into a balance sheet. The loss of a limb, a mind, or the trust in one’s government cannot be found in the defense budgetary process. How long will we continue to justify these types and sizes of expenditures for death and ignore the suffering going on right next door with our neighbors. You can get with the war or you can get with life, the choice belongs to all of us.


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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Pickup Games, Black Guys, and Progressives

Anyone who has ever played pickup basketball games with some black guys will immediately understand this essay, for those who haven’t I will try to explain. There is a common belief that in pickup games black guys would rather look good and lose than win ugly. They would rather do a 360 slam dunk, than do the dirty work that insures victory like setting screens and blocking out on the boards. In other words it is not about the team or playing the game, it is about the individual looking good. I have come to the conclusion that there are many in the progressive and net-roots community who have this same mentality. They would rather lose holding on to some false sense of integrity, than win and accept piecemeal gains.

In their infinite wisdom the founders of this country created a system of government that relies on compromise. The problem with compromise is that it causes change to come very slowly. We have a system that short of an all out revolution takes years to change. Now there are many that will argue the merits or the disadvantages of such a system, but none the less it is the system we have inherited. In the last twenty to thirty years we have seen the system slowly being pushed to the right, so that now even the center is to the right. This of course has many on the left up in arms and desiring a full scale shift back to the left right now. This of course will be extremely difficult because as the center bar has been pushed to the right, so has the country. Any sudden shift will be seen and presented as radicalism to the general public. Such radicalism will be easily defeated through coercion from the media, the right, and the powers that be.

One of the difficulties of interacting with the net-roots and blogosphere is that there are many pseudo-revolutionaries. They preach all-out anarchy from behind their screens, but do nothing to actually bring about the change they seek. Not only do they not become active, they criticize anyone who is active but not an extremist. If you do not agree or support their agenda 100% then you are labeled as a sell-out and open to all manner of personal attack and criticism. As if wishing change will make it so. In their fantasy world of genies and wizards change comes at the waving of a wand. Unfortunately, in the real world of politics in America it doesn’t quite work this way. There will be no radical change to either the left or the right under the political system we have.

The problem is that we on the left have allowed the right to create these false narratives for the American public without disputing their validity. We have watched while our concerns and issues have been slowly recast as out of touch with “real” American values when the truth is the exact opposite. The truth is that the majority of Americans do believe in providing for those less fortunate, they do believe in privacy of the individual, they believe in diplomacy, and they believe in fairness, justice, and tolerance for all. Maybe the problem with those pseudo revolutionaries is that they are feeling the pangs of guilt for having given away the farm during the “Reagan Revolution” or the “War on Terror”.

If we are to swing the body politic back to a more progressive agenda it is not going to happen overnight. It is not enough to be right, we do not live in a world where good always triumphs evil. We must begin the process of reversing the current trend gradually through the election and promotion of those who may not agree with every point in our agenda but whom we can find commonness of purpose on the larger issues. We are pass the point of moral victories, it is the accepting of those moral victories that have placed us in the situation we are in. For too long we have allowed others to do the heavy lifting and then become angry when they have gone for themselves and abandoned our issues. The time has come for us to become active in not only crafting the agenda, but insuring it’s being instituted.

Rather you agree with Barack Obama or not you cannot deny that his message is resonating with millions of people, many of whom are first timers and this presents an opportunity. This opportunity is only as useful as we make it through direct participation. We must be willing to hold not only his feet to the fire, but also those who would obstruct and deny the will of the people. The reason that George Bush and the right can ignore the will of the people is because they are allowed to by the people. It is no longer enough to vote and participate only during elections, we must remain engaged and ready to mobilize against anyone who would try to impede the will of the people.

I am so tired of this crap about how we are too busy today to remained engaged beyond our daily grind. Ok, so you may not be able to attend rallies or marches, but we can all take the time to write a letter or make a phone call. This thing will not get better because we elected the right person, this thing will only get better because we held those elected accountable. The reason the center was pushed to the right is because they were united, we on the other hand are so busy looking at our sacred cow or only one tree that we have forgotten we are in a forest. So, if you want to do the 360 go right ahead, but don’t come crying to me when you lose.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

She Can’t Win For Losing

There have been times in this election when I have truly felt sorry for Hillary Clinton. While the truth is that she has not been well served by this campaign or her advisors, this only highlights a bigger issue that has plagued her. Regardless of how this election turns out for her she can never win. The reason she can never win is because she can never be herself or she can never have her own voice. It is this lack of a true consistent voice that continues to plague her and her campaign. Regardless of what you may think of her competitors they have been afforded the luxury of being who they are, Hillary on the other hand has not.

She began this campaign with a man’s voice, that she could be just as tough as the boys on security, defense, and the terrorists. But was this what the voters wanted from her? The problem with being a man that looks like a woman is that most voters if given the chance will choose a man. Why have half the package when you can have the whole thing? Conventional wisdom had it that she had to present this tough as nails image to win over white males. Did the voters want a woman that spoke to the issues with the voice of a man? Would the voters support a woman that spoke to the issues as a woman? The problem is that we will never know, because Hillary was never given the opportunity to try. I find it interesting that in the few opportunities that Hillary allowed that female voice to come through she did surprisingly well in those elections. Was it a statistical glitch or was this what the electorate wanted from her?

What do we want from our female candidates? Do we want them to speak to issues as women, bringing those characteristics that separate women from men. It seems that in America we have gotten confused, we have come to the conclusion that equality means sameness. In order for women to be equal to men they must be the same as men, they must be as tough, as masculine, and as treacherous. Rather than accept that we can be different and yet still be equal, we have the mistaken belief that in order to be equal we must be the same. It is this thought process that causes us to absorb other cultures and want everyone to be the same. Those who refuse to accept the Western civilization model and values are deemed inferior and uncivilized. Rather than celebrate and promote our differences we want to integrate and merge them into this one ideal.

While many other societies and cultures value differences in race and gender, we tend to fear them. Given the climate in this country today what would the odds be of an American-born Muslim being elected to any office? Those that are not like us we fear, so we want to make everyone like us even if we have to kill them in the process. Hillary is a victim of this mentality on another level. Instead of being able to bring her femininity to her campaign she is forced to campaign like “one of the guys”. Because rather than her being a choice for change to a more feminine position, she has to mimic the men. So she is a woman that is not allowed to be a woman. Barack Obama has a similar problem in that he is the black man that cannot be black.

For Hillary being a woman should have been an asset in this election and in this country. You would think the electorate would have gotten tired of four hundred years of white men leading this country and would want to try some new leadership. It was fear that the country was unwilling to elect a true woman’s voice that caused her to become this hybrid that appears as a woman but speaks as a man. Unfortunately for Hillary this has caused her to lose support among women who had been hoping that she would speak with a feminine voice. Instead of hearing reconciliation and nurturing they have heard talk of 3 am phone calls to deliver bombs on sleepy villages and a willingness to go nuclear if the boys do it. While this talk may appeal to the hardcore feminist who needs to prove that she is as tough as any man, the majority of women do not share this desire. Many women enjoy and appreciate their tenderness and yes their softness. These are the women that Hillary was not able to speak to or for. These are the women who never got a voice in this election.

Hillary wanted the best of both worlds, she wanted to be able to use being a woman when it was convenient and yet be like a man when it was needed. She never was able to find her own voice, the voice of a woman being a woman. In the end this lack of a true voice will cost Hillary either the primaries or the general election. I am not sure if Hillary would have done better being a woman, but I am sorry she didn’t try. I do know that that campaign would have advanced the cause of women a lot farther than this one has. As it stands now we are still presenting women candidates that must speak like men to be taken seriously. I just hope the next woman who runs won’t be afraid to use her female voice and be who she is. The real question I guess is, will we let her?

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Who Are You Gonna Believe Me or Your Lying Bank Accounts?

Well, its finally official, we are not heading for a recession according to President Bush. In a news conference, the President stated that despite those naysayers and dooms-dayers in the economic community our economy is strong. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Bush majored in economics or finance during his stellar college career, as a matter of fact I believe he majored in history so now we are suppose to take his economic predictions seriously? Based on his accomplishments so far in the White House he obviously doesn’t remember many lessons from his history classes. So, it comes down to this. What are you going to believe George Bush or your lying bank account?

President Bush said Thursday that the country is not headed into a recession and, despite expressing concern about slowing economic growth, rejected for now any additional stimulus efforts...Bush's view of the economy was decidely rosier than that of many economists, who say the country is nearing recession territory or may already be there.

In the interest of fairness let’s examine the economic evidence. I mean I could be wrong and maybe President Bush knows better than I what the state of the economy is. Maybe he knows better than the leading economic minds in this country. Let’s take a look at some of the leading economic indicators and see if they tell a different story.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Billionaire Warren Buffett said Monday that the U.S. economy is essentially in a recession even if it hasn't met the technical definition of one yet. Buffett said in an interview with cable network CNBC the reports he gets from the retail businesses his holding company owns show a significant slowdown in purchases...Gross domestic product measures the value of all goods and services produced in the United States and is the best barometer of the country's economic health. A survey released last week by the National Association for Business Economics showed that 45 percent of economists are predicting a recession in 2008...

The implosion of the subprime mortgage market has been rampantly spreading throughout the economy, slamming consumers, banks, investors, even state and local governments to a degree unforeseen by most pundits and analysts and yes, U.S. Federal Reserve officials...And it ain't over: it could last another 12 months, sucking the life out of lending, driving layoffs, and spurring company bankruptcies and bank failures. Some argue a recession has already begun and it could last for some time.

The depth of the crisis hasn't been hit yet if a new study by several prominent economists is correct concluding that unless financial markets can quickly recapitalize, banks are likely to cut back their lending to consumers and businesses by nearly $1 trillion. That will slash economic growth by more than a percentage point over the next 12 months, said the study by David Greenlaw of Morgan Stanley, Jan Hatzius of Goldman Sachs, Anil Kashyap of the University of Chicago, and Hyun Song Shin of Princeton University, released Friday.

So as usual the rest of the world is wrong and George Bush is right, I guess it all depends on your perspective. How will George Bush be affected by a recession? Will he have to make the tough choices of food or gas or medicine? Maybe he will have to put off those badly needed purchases for the ranch in Crawford? Once again President Bush demonstrates his lack of understanding or empathy for average American people or for their intelligence. He obviously believes that if you say it isn’t so then it isn’t so, wasn’t this the same tactic used during the sectarian violence in Iraq?

The problem is that all of those unregulated ploys to prop up the US economy to make George Bush look good are now beginning to pay dividends. I guess you can’t cut the taxes of the wealthy, fund two wars, and spend money like a drunken sailor indefinitely. The incoming President will have so many problems, I find it hard to believe that anyone would want the job. So let’s just ignore the fact that most economists and that one of our titans of business are predicting a recession. Forget the fact that the American consumer has maxed out their spending limits or that the values of their homes are dropping faster than temperatures in Minnesota in December. We must also ignore the fact that the price of oil is at $100 a barrel and that gas prices are predicted to hit and stay at the $4 a gallon mark for most of the summer.

I am not sure what constitutes a recession in the mind of this President but with each and every passing day he is resembling the infamous Herbert Hoover. Depression? What Depression? Of course with the many safeguards in place today we could never repeat that fiasco, but that doesn’t mean that many people aren’t still hurting. To those who are suffering the numbers mean little and the definitions mean even less. In the Never, Neverland of George Bush things are never what they appear to be. Mission accomplished didn’t mean what it looked like it meant, torture wasn’t what it looked like, and domestic spying and immunity definitely a case of your lying eyes. I know I don’t need a bunch of pinheads to tell me when I am doing bad and it looks like neither do the majority of Americans. A rose is a rose no matter what you call it and bad-times are bad-times no matter what you call them.


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