Monday, December 14, 2009


“As a black member of the media, I know what I’m expected to do today — shout that Gill’s hiring as Kansas’ new football coach is a bold step for college football mankind, a terrific hire by Lew Perkins and the culmination of Martin Luther King’s dream.” – Jason Whitlock

I just finished reading Jason Whitlock’s column in the Kansas City Star concerning the recent hiring of Turner Gill as the new head football coach at the University of Kansas. Many of you might know Mr. Whitlock as the controversial sports writer who has weighed in on some very controversial topics such as the Jena 6, the Don Imus affair, and the Mark Mangino firing. I wrote a diary concerning Mr. Whitlock’s Jena article and thought that he had reached his lowest point as a journalist. However, his column concerning the hiring of Coach Gill I think has taken him to a new all time low.

Mr. Whitlock is entitled to his opinion as to the qualifications of Coach Gill, but as his quote demonstrates Mr. Whitlock has decided to forego journalistic integrity for the sudden fame he has received as the Morton Downey Jr. of sportswriters. He begins his article looking for controversy and a fight and if one isn’t present he wants to create one. My guess is that Mr. Whitlock has witnessed the rise to fame of another former radio sports personality Rush Limbaugh and has decided that controversy can also be his ticket to fame and fortune. The only problem with controversy is that it is a double-edged sword and certainly in today’s newstainment market controversy does sell and gets you page hits but it also comes with polarization. Mr. Whitlock after beginning his column with the decision that he wants to be controversial goes on to state that Coach Gill has had a lackluster career at the University of Buffalo where he was the head coach. Based on Mr. Whitlock’s analysis one could conclude that Coach Gill’s hiring is another example of affirmative action going haywire.

As a former student at KU when I heard the news of Coach Gill’s hiring I was excited for two reasons. The first is that I think Turner Gill is a rising coaching talent he took a program that hadn’t won in 10 years and made them respectable, even defeating Mr. Whitlock’s vaulted Ball State undefeated squad in 2008. The second reason to be honest was that my school had hired a black coach for a BCS school. For those who are not familiar with the pathetic hiring record of college minority football coaches; there are 121 division I schools and out of those schools only four of them have black coaches. Now black kids make up 50% of kids playing college football and yet only four black men are qualified enough to coach them? For the sake of black folks everywhere I hope this is not true.

The problem I have with Mr. Whitlock and other black men like him is that they show a certain ambivalence towards their own racial identity. They are willing to accept the benefits of being black but are not willing to accept that there are disadvantages for other people who are black. These are the men who take, “you are not like those other black folks” as a complement, not realizing that it is in fact an insult. Mr. Whitlock is fond of mentioning all of his rapper friends and his “street cred” but he has no trouble throwing other black folks under the bus for the sake of his pursuit of controversy. While there is a lot of internal work that black folks need to do to overcome their continuing to undermine the opportunities that we receive, but a crucial component of this work is to have symbols of success that they can look to for inspiration. Whether it is a black president or a black head coach it is something to take pride in and a goal to strive for. God knows we need all the positive role models we can get. One of the major challenges for black folks especially for those living in our crumbling inner cities is the lost of successful role models due to integration and the desire of some to believe that I got mine and the hell with those left behind.

Is Coach Gill going to be the next great coaching phenom? I don’t know, but what I do know is that he deserves a chance. The problem with Mr. Whitlock and blacks like him is when white coaches or white folks fail they don’t question the ability of white folks to continue to have opportunities presented to them. My question is since Coach Weis failed at Notre Dame why is Mr. Whitlock not calling for no more white coaches at Notre Dame? It is hard enough for black coaches to get shots in NCAA football the last thing they need is another black man questioning their abilities to coach.

Ability is of little account without opportunity. - Napoleon

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Republicans & Big Pharma

(By my count, there are still 24 Republicans in the Senate who voted for the drug benefit, including such alleged conservatives as Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Jon Kyl of Arizona.) - Bruce Bartlett

While hypocrisy is not confined to one political party or the other what the Republican senators who are now defending Medicare and fiscal responsibility are doing is beyond the norm even by Washington standards. The Republicans who were standing at the podium with Senator John McCain should have been ashamed. While Senator McCain can stand up and say that he opposed the Medicare Part B plan and voted against it many of his Republican counterparts supported the largest public giveaway in decades. Medicare Part B was George W. and Karl Rove’s attempt to buy the seniors for the 2004 election by providing unfunded prescription drug coverage to seniors.

Not only did they simply attach it to a federal budget that went from a surplus to record deficits they also provided the pharma industry with millions of new customers without requiring any cost reductions or anyway to pay for it. For these same senators to now claim to be fiscal conservatives is laughable. Senator McCain is once again displaying why his “Country First” campaign slogan was empty rhetoric by allowing members of his own party to stand behind him as if they had shared his concerns about the Medicare legislation. If Mr. McCain was the “maverick” he claims to be he would speak out against the hypocrisy being displayed by his fellow senators. It is one thing to be against legislation that is seeking to be budget neutral on philosophical grounds, but not if you voted for the Medicare Part B legislation.

Somewhere in a cave between Louisiana and Mississippi some Republican strategist came up with the strategy that the way you prevent spending on social and domestic issues is by bankrupting the federal coffers through tax-cuts, fighting two wars, and drug giveaways. The thing we have to remember is that by starving social programs there are groups who benefit. If you can reduce the number of middle and low income kids going on to college then your kids have a better opportunity to attend a prestigious college and in turn you reduce the number of graduates that your kids will have to compete against for jobs. The same can be demonstrated for healthcare, jobs, and many other social programs that could benefit the masses. It plays out in the healthcare debate by rationing care to those who are unable to afford the high cost of health insurance thus insuring better healthcare for those who can.

Once again the Republicans are demonstrating their utter lack of regard for average Americans by attempting to block legislation that would begin to free Americans from the yoke that the insurance companies have placed around our national necks. To turn what is clearly a moral issue into a financial issue after you have given away the whole barn would be farcical if it wasn’t so criminal. The way you balance the budget is by spending all of the money? I guess it’s like the joke we had in college for balancing our checkbooks, “You’re not out of money until you run out of checks.” The Republicans have not only run out of money and checks but have also run out credibility.

How are these hypocrites being allowed to stand before the American people without the media presenting the complete story is unconscionable? The American people deserve a media that is willing to call out the hypocrites publicly especially on issues of this magnitude instead of this false objectivity that all voices are equal and all seek what’s best for the majority when in fact this is not true. It is one thing to be against legislation on principal, but you can’t selectively apply these principles when you are in or out of power. If when you were in power not only did you not hold your party to these principles, but you violated those principles you now hold up as sacrosanct then how sacred can these principles be? A famous Republican once stated that the definition of hypocrisy is the man who murders both parents and then ask the court for leniency because he is an orphan. This appears to be the strategy of the current Republican party they were against Medicare before they were for Medicare before they were against it and then for it, etc. etc. How ironic it is to see Republican lawmakers claiming that they are the defenders of a program they have for decades sought to eliminate.

Hypocrite: the man who murdered both his parents... pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan. - Abraham Lincoln

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Commander in Chief

This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan. – excerpt from President Obama’s speech

From the “be careful what you wish for” department we have the previous statement from the first US President to invoke the “Powell Doctrine.” Ever since the Vietnam War we have been inundated with the oft repeated chorus of “don’t send in troops without an exit strategy”. From Reagan to Bush II it has been the same refrain and to a man none of them heeded the warning. Each one of them to a man committed American troops without consideration of how they will be extracted. The closest to come to observing this doctrine was the elder Bush with the Gulf War when he went against conventional wisdom and did not allow US troops to enter Baghdad.

How anyone could be surprised by the president’s decision is beyond me. Even as a candidate Senator Obama stated that he wasn’t against all wars, just dumb wars and that he felt the trouble with Afghanistan was a lack of resources. So he decides to provide the resources for a limited amount of time and see if this will provide the impetus needed to reverse the momentum loss caused by the previous administration’s lack of focus. We must remember that there were no good options. The thing that troubles me about many of the critics of the President’s policy is their seeming naiveté concerning what those options were. They provide the false dichotomy of only two options: escalation or retreat. This President would be damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. If he had chosen to remove our presence from Afghanistan and there would be another terrorist attack on American soil as so many of the wing-nuts is hoping for, he would receive a mortal wound and not just him but the Democrats as a whole.

Right, wrong or indifferent we invaded Afghanistan and as a result of that invasion we owe it to those folks to give them our best effort and after that effort if we fail then at least we tried. To say that we are packing up and leaving at this stage was a viable option was not only disingenuous but also foolish. No rational person would advocate limitless war as many on the right seem to be doing, but at the same time we have an obligation to make an effort to meet our goals. The problem previously has been that there were no goals, at least now we have goals and a strategy. No one knows if they will succeed, thus the need for an exit strategy.

A legitimate concern is that this escalation could lead to a more protracted conflict; after all we have been there for almost eight years. In this instance we have to trust the man elected to be commander in chief to stand by his word. The question then becomes do we have reason not to trust this president? This is a question every American has to answer for themselves. I for one have not received enough evidence to the contrary not to at least give him the benefit of the doubt. Undoubtedly there will be those who would argue the opposite and they are entitled to their opinion, but where are the facts?

The bottom line remains the same as it is in Iraq and that is if the Afghanis are not willing to support our efforts and themselves then no amount of troop increase or expenditure of wealth will make this effort a success. The key to this or any military action comes down to the folks who will be left behind when we finally leave and make no mistake we will leave. Too often our past foreign policy decisions have been based in the false premise that all nations want our form of government and our capitalistic society. The truth is that there are many nations who are not willing to accept our excesses as their own, who have historical cultures that predate our own that are not conducive to democracy. Does that make them wrong? Maybe, but that is not an issue for us to decide but for the citizens of that country. Our goal should be to provide them with the opportunity to choose for themselves and the wherewithal to defend those choices.

I for one applaud the President’s decision making process and his willingness to take the political hits to be thoughtful and deliberate. I applaud the fact that he did not make this decision in the heat of the political winds and that he realized the gravity of this decision. I may not agree with the exact decision, but I respect how he arrived at it enough to give him the benefit of the doubt and I think the men and women in our military feel the same way. Part of the greatness of America despite the fear mongering of the wing-nuts is our ability to have debate without fear of reprisals, such as being called traitors or un-American. Thank God those days are over, so even if you disagree with me and the president I promise I want dismiss you as being unpatriotic.

“The first quality for a commander-in-chief is a cool head to receive a correct impression of things. He should not allow himself to be confused by either good or bad news.” - Napoleon

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