Dr. King Reflecting on the Journey

Dr. King Reflecting on the Journey
"Infamous, this day in Memphis, city of my demise."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Post-Obama Apocalypse

My grandfather died today. He didn’t live to see the end of the play. I’d hoped it would all end in time for him to know that he and all the others who brought this about had been forgiven, their sins expunged, their penitence served. I know I should burn his collection of Obama memorabilia, but it’s all I have left of him. He could never bring himself to get rid of it, even when it was banned and anyone found with possessing such materials could be arrested and imprisoned. Luckily, his cache of buttons, coins, posters, T-shirts, and books were well hidden – not in an attic or basement where they’d be easily found. These things have been buried under a tree for forty years. I dug them up a few days ago at his request. He wanted to tell me the story. I’ve heard it all before, but he wanted me to understand how he and his contemporaries let it happen.

“He was hope,” Grandpa said, looking at a photo of the deposed President on a campaign poster. “He made us proud to be American, to be black, to be men. Every word he said, everything he did was seen as divinely inspired by many of us. We thought God sent him to save our country and our people. Even after all the expansive programs he created started to fail, many of us believed in him. Some still believed in him when he left office in disgrace.” Grandpa paused not wanting to talk about the tawdry scandal that ended the first black presidency and that made Clinton’s dalliance with an intern look tame by comparison. In his former profession as a journalist, Grandpa said he and his colleagues joked that Clinton’s mistake was having sex with a woman. However, in early twenty-first century America where the religious African-American community that voted down same-sex marriages in California, Ohio, and several other states, there was little tolerance for “alternative” lifestyles, regardless of who lived them. Skipping the scandal, Grandpa talked about what happened just before and right after Obama left office.

“We accepted martial law as necessary because of the crime that ensued when police officers were laid off as city after city was decimated by debt and the failed economy, particularly in the President's hometown, Chicato. People had stopped fearing terrorist attacks following the annihilation of Pakistan and Afghanistan by Obama-ordered nuclear attacks. Although those attacks pushed Iran and Korea to arm themselves with nukes and inflamed other Muslim nations, as well as China and Russia, Al Qaeda, radical jihadists, and terrorist cells were disabled.” I remembered reading in my history books that Obama was heralded a hero when Ben Laden’s body was found among the radioactive rubble, causing even uncertain European allies to approve of the destruction of the two countries where the terrorists lived and trained for their attacks against the West. “Everyone was prepared for retaliation from Iran, China, Russia, or North Korea, but it didn’t come for decades," Grandpa said, continuing his historical account.

“Instead, due to budget cuts in cities all over the country, America was overrun by criminals who were often jobless, hungry young people who had no hope and robbed people on the street in broad daylight, using clubs, knives, and illegally purchased guns. Gun bans didn’t help and only disarmed law-abiding citizens. We demanded protection as more and more people were gunned down for a few dollars. We didn’t blink when the cameras were installed to monitor every street and alley or when the curfews were imposed. We felt it was necessary. Even when the military was sent into police the streets after being brought home from Iraq and Afghanistan, we thought it was for our protection. When they started searching our homes to see if we had guns, we still felt secure because most law-abiding citizens had turned theirs in as ordered by law. Then the protests started, at first just on the internet. Later, I found out anyone who sent or received any of the anti-Obama emails was put on a list of ‘subversives’ by the FBI.

"My name was on that list because your great aunt sent an email to my dad who sent it to me. But it was my editorial that disagreed with but supported anti-Obama forces’ right to dissent that moved me up to the top rung of the list. I was just defending free speech, but it wasn’t long before people were being arrested for speaking out. My website was one of the first taken down as freedom of the press was completely eroded. Online newspapers and magazines that even questioned the President’s policies disappeared suddenly and those that openly opposed him, not only disappeared but their creators were tracked down and arrested. Yet as soon as one website was destroyed, another one was created and the online protests continued, despite efforts to either control or even destroy the internet. Years after Obama’s exile, it was revealed that he’d ordered the destruction of the medium used to spread his message of hope during his Presidential campaign. Public protests, meanwhile, were outlawed and all unauthorized assemblies were stopped by the military that arrested those who organized these events, spoke at them, attended them, wrote about them, or even observed them.

"People started disappearing and there were rumors that some were imprisoned and tortured and others executed. All were called ‘enemy combatants.’ The Patriot Act, which many had hoped Obama would repeal, was strengthened so that every constitutional right Americans had vehemently fought for, including the right to vote, was revoked.” Grandpa paused, his face contorted in pain as he remembered the nightmare he’d lived and that was now our nation’s history. “America had turned into a fascist government and Obama was its ruler. Just when he sat posed to pass a law that would make him ‘ruler for life,’ after outlawing elections due to ‘potentially unruly mobs’ gathering at polling places, the scandal was leaked by his most loyal press sycophants who didn’t have the restrictions that had been placed on the ‘less friendly’ media. Despite those restrictions and heavy monitoring of the internet, the story got out, although it was never reported on the broadcast news which continued to spew Gibbs’ propaganda, showing Obama with his children and his dog, despite having leaked the story in the first place.

"Once the scandal broke, black people took to the streets in numbers so large, the protests couldn’t be ignored. Even after the water hosing and tazzing started, others joined these anti-Obama protests. Finally, after months of using military tactics to attack his own citizens and creating anti-American sentiment throughout Europe, Obama was forced to step down by his own military leaders. However, once Biden was sworn in to finish out Obama’s term, the military stepped down as the law enforcers in the country. Obama’s final speech to the nation was so bitter and unremorseful, people booed their TVs.” I recalled having to learn that speech in school as an example of the result of the corruption of power. “His wife had already left him and returned to Chicago with his children. She was given a speedy divorce and by the time he boarded that plan with Oprah Winfrey, he was no longer married to Michelle. No one was surprised when he married Winfrey and her billions, safely in a Swiss bank account, or when he used her power and money to take over the African nation that became their home in exile.

"Most Americans weren’t even surprised when the Obamas joined the anti-American nations once called the axis of evil by George Bush, the President before Obama whose approval rating was the second lowest in history when he left office. We were surprised, however, that the fascism Obama put in place continued after he was gone. We supported the clean sweep of the Obama administration and the indictment of those who helped put him in office. Bided selected Hillary Clinton as his Vice, and they started dismantling the military control of federal government and returning control to the three branches of government. Once the Obama political team was imprisoned, Congress went after the journalists that were in the tank for Obama during and after the election, dismantling the news organizations of all three major networks and CNN. Fox had long been demolished by the Obama and administration following a long feud that began when they refused to air his speech to a joint session of Congress in the summer of 2009. The only broadcast news network allowed to continue was CNBC. Americans demanded the heads of those who’d supported Obama: Matthews, Olberman, and Maddow from MSNBC and Martin, Braziel, Borgia, Cooper, and Blitzer from CNN, in much the same way they went after congress members who voted for the Iraq War they supported.” Grandpa’s voice was a little bitter as he paused reflecting the demise of his chosen profession.

“Journalism and journalists were outlawed with the people’s approval because it was believed that we put Obama in office by convincing people that he was the man they believed him to be. They were right, of course. It was the media that overlooked his faults, never reporting his rants against anyone that criticized or opposed him, even though we all knew about them and sometimes even witnessed him. I saw him at the 2008 Democratic Convention making up to his wife onstage after his acceptance speech and wondered about it, then later found out from a fellow journalist that he lit into her earlier because their youngest daughter had talked over his scripted dialog when he was shown watching Michelle’s speech with a family in another location. Of course no one blamed Michelle for supporting her husband. Many even suggested she suffered from battered wife syndrome and women all over the world applauded her when she left him after finding out about his clandestine double life. When she ran as Hillary’s vice, it was a sure thing. No media hype was needed to elect the two spouses of the Presidents who’d put the country through the biggest two scandals since Nixon and Watergate.

"They were sympathetic figures, matching the mood and temperament of the nation and they were a shoe-in for election. Each served her eight years gracefully, repealing any of the laws remaining that took away our rights and restoring our democracy. Clinton commuted the sentences of the imprisoned journalists, the very ones who’d brought her down when she ran against Obama. However, neither President was able to restore America’s faith in the media, and journalists are still regarded with disdain and distrust. Anyone and anything associated with Obama is still loathed in this country. I think the Obama memorabilia is outlawed in deference to former President Michelle Robinson. But I want you to keep this so you can remember that it wasn’t a scam. We really believed in him. I know it was wrong of us not to tell the public the truth about him. We knew about his trysts and the rumors about the men who knew about his secret life from Rev. Wright’s church that turned up dead. We just wanted to keep his image pure. We just wanted to believe.”

I listened to my grandfather, trying to hide my own shame of being related to one of the journalists who helped elect Obama. I didn’t succeed because my grandfather looked at me pleading for understanding and absolution. He didn’t get either from me. How can I forgive him? I’ve been drafted to fight in the war against Obama and his allies, a war being waged on American soil. I will be going to boot camp in less than a week, then on to California to try to keep the enemies form advancing. That state is completely occupied by the enemy. Seismologists say the heavy mortar fire has created conditions for a massive earthquake. Luckily, my relatives in Northern California got out before the attacks from China and North Korea. They say they wanted to put America out of the movie business after that movie about the downfall of Obama was released last year and distributed worldwide, making over a quadrillion dollars. That say it’s just propaganda. Obama should know. It was propaganda that elected him and allowed him to almost become a dictator. Now, he and several Muslim nations, along with Russia are said to be preparing to invade the East Coast, which will divide our troops between the two coasts in defense of our nation.

I will bury my grandfather tomorrow and all of his Obama relics with him. Hopefully, some day someone will find those pieces of history and understand what I cannot.

July 4, 2048

Friday, March 27, 2009

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Four cops killed by an African-American parolee in a city where cops have killed several African-Americans in the past several years and some people actually believe that evens the score? Obviously, the people who feel this way live by the "eye for the eye" Old Testament laws and not the "turn the other cheek" New Testament fulfillment of those laws. If people in Oakland, California, knew anything about Old Testament law, they might not be so quick to sanction mass murder! I realize the killing of Oscar Grant by a BART cop, the fourth such killing in Oakland I believe enrages African-American citizens, but are there people there really glorifying murdering police officers in retaliation? How can anyone really believe it's o.k. to kill people to avenge the death of someone else? It may have something to do with the U.S. being one of only a couple of Western nations that have a death penalty. Or it may have something to do with something else. I don't understand. However, there are some people who seem to have this all figured out according to their own beliefs. Read the following takes on the cop murders and the people killed by the BART cops from the right and left:

March 25, 2009
"Blacks in Oakland celebrate racially motivated murder of four white police officers."
Council of Conservative Citizens News Team(CofCC.org)

"San Francisco Area Black Newspaper praises killing of four white police officers. Calls the killer one of the 'heroes in the human rights struggle for Black people in America.'
The slaughter took place in the Bay Area, the same vicinity as the 1973-1974 'Zebra Killings.' The Zebra Killers and Nat Turner’s band who killed 60 white people in 1831, are among the most prolific serial killers in US history.
The Zebra Killings were carried out by a Nation of Islam splinter group, known as the 'Black Angels of Death.' They awarded points to members for the number of whites killed. The exact number of victims is unknown, but many police officials have put the number at 72.
From View from the Right.
A friend in law enforcement in the Bay Area wrote me,
There were massive parties all over Oakland celebrating the shooting that night. During the interviews on TV there were 20 or 30 people in the background screaming 'F*** the police!' and 'They got what they deserved!' It was everything the officers could do to restrain themselves.
Bay View, a radical rag which calls itself a 'National Black Newspaper,' celebrates the mass murder as 'what some in the Black community see as a day of heroic resistance against the police,' under the headline, 'Police 2, Oakland residents 4.'
A columnist for the paper, Jean Damu, writes, 'When the full story is finally told and, though not likely freely admitted by many, deep within the spiritual thinking of numerous African Americans, an emotional candle will be lit in memory of Lovelle Mixon.'
How many within the black community resonate to these views? More than complacent whites would like to believe, I suspect.
The behavior of blacks in Oakland mimics that of blacks in St. Louis when a black spree killer murdered two cops, three Kirkwood City council members, and the mayor. The killer’s family members defended him on the news and many local blacks openly celebrated the murders."

"Oscar Grant Killed in Cold Blood by BART Cop"
International Communist League
"OAKLAND, January 12—Seething anger against rampant, and routine, humiliation and terror at the hands of the racist cops was ignited in Oakland, California, over the coldblooded execution of a 22-year-old black man, Oscar Grant, by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) cop on January 1. The killing of Grant was a shot literally heard round the world in multiple video clips by other passengers in the station which were streamed online.
'We Are All Oscar Grant,' declared signs and chants at a January 7 protest of more than 700 people—including blacks, Latinos, Asians and whites—outside the Fruitvale BART station where Grant was killed. Pointing to the Zionist military onslaught in the Gaza Strip, other signs called to 'End Government Sponsored Murder in the Ghettos of Oakland and Palestine.' Rage and despair in the face of the tired appeals for 'calm' and deadly illusions in 'police reform' peddled by black elected officials and preachers exploded in the streets of downtown Oakland later that night. The Partisan Defense Committee—a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization associated with the Spartacist League—sent a protest letter demanding that all charges be dropped against the more than 100 protesters who were beaten and arrested by an army of riot-equipped cops.
While his cops fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, black Democratic Party Oakland mayor Ron Dellums promised to bring the Oakland Police Department into the “investigation” of Grant’s murder. That will be a gigantic boost to the cover-up machine that BART has already set in motion. In 2002, three cops from the notorious Oakland police gang, the 'Riders,' which was unleashed as part of the racist 'war on drugs,' were completely exonerated of 60 counts of savage beatings and frame-ups. Meanwhile, the Oakland cops continued to gun down young black and Latino men with impunity. In this case, the BART cop who killed Grant has opted to resign while the Feds and California attorney general Jerry Brown are intervening to try to keep a lid on 'tensions.'
At the Oakland protest, placards from the ANSWER coalition, led by the reformist Party for Socialism and Liberation, called to 'Jail Killer Cops!' In your dreams. The capitalist rulers are hardly going to jail their own police guard dogs. And, even if one cop were charged and imprisoned, it wouldn’t stop police brutality and terror. The cops serve, together with the military and the prisons, as the core of a state whose purpose is the repression of the working class and oppressed by any means necessary. From the December 31 shooting of Robbie Tolan, who had been forced to lie down in the driveway of his family’s Houston-area home, to the killing of Adolph Grimes III, who was shot 14 times—12 times in the back—outside his grandmother’s house in New Orleans on New Year’s Day, racist cop terror runs rampant in capitalist America.
For its part, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has responded to the spate of cop killings under Dellums’ 'stop crime' reign with the argument that: 'Rather than spending millions hiring more inexperienced cops, what would make a real difference in tackling crime would be to hit it at its roots—poverty—by rebuilding Oakland’s crumbling schools and providing decent-paying jobs that would give Black, Latino and poor Oakland residents a real opportunity' (Socialist Worker, 14 August 2008).
The ISO’s cringing faith in the capitalist rulers to provide money for jobs, education and health care at the expense of their repressive apparatus serves only to mask the true nature of this system. Those whose rule is based on exploitation shell out to those they exploit and oppress only what they can realize back in profit. And the racist rulers of America have no use for a whole generation of black youth who were once kept on the bench as a 'reserve army of labor.' Now what U.S. capitalism offers them is jail, a slow death from disease, malnutrition and drugs, or a fast one, gunned down on the streets by the cops or killed in the prison execution chambers of America.
The situation cries out for revolutionary leadership, to organize the social power of labor and unite behind it all the oppressed in a struggle for state power that gets rid of the whole racist capitalist system and opens the road for genuine freedom for all. This is the class-struggle perspective put forward by the Bay Area Labor Black League for Social Defense, which is fraternally allied with the Spartacist League/U.S."

Both sides are stoking the fires of hate and neither, at least in the above articles is being objective. Both are pushing their own political agenda, otherwise, the article written by the right would have also talked about the number of lynchings of blacks by whites and the article written by the left would have mentioned the killing of whites by blacks. I did find an observation made by an African-American citizen of Oakland that mirrors my own views on this latest American tragedy:

"The shootings [of the four police officers] are a tragedy of epic proportions, and should never have happened. Someone wrote that the system failed him [Mixon} and that city leaders failed him, and I suggest his family failed him. I’m a single father, was raised in Oakland and am currently raising a teenage daughter in Oakland. It’s all about personal choices. When he had the choice to use a gun and go to prison or go home to his family, he chose to use that gun and go to prison. He chose to miss a date with his parole officer, which showed he was not a good candidate for parole. I mean what’s a parolee that’s trying to straighten up his life doing carrying an automatic pistol and then firing it at two officers because they pulled him over? And then he runs to his sister’s house and gets an assault rifle and shoots three more cops, wow! He had the opportunity to be educated, but didn’t take advantage of it. (I took my Oakland education and went to law school.) There certainly is a time and place to voice grievances over the behavior of some Oakland police officers, but Lavelle Mixon was no Oscar Grant. As such, he cannot be a martyr for the good black men that are killed wrongly by officers under the color of authority. Oakland has a high crime rate, which Mr. Mixon has contributed to on at least two known occasions. Oakland has a high poverty and a high unemployment rate, but Mr. Mixon didn’t appear to be trying to bring himself and his family out of poverty. In sum, here is a man that shunned educating himself, and instead of trying to get into college, and out of the “hood” decided that being a gangster was more cool, and we all know what happens to gangsters" posted by Cave Man 3/27/09 on NEWS ONE for Black America.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


While in Columbus, Ohio, on business (and to sneak in some "family time" with my mother, two brothers, and sister who live there!), I heard Rev. Jeremiah Wright speak at Ascension UCC, Sunday, March 22, 2009, at 8:30 am.

It was a beautiful, sunny spring day with a crisp morning chill and the promise of warmth later on and I was sharing an experience with my sister, D'Ebrar who has followed in my Baptist father's footsteps and become a minister.

Our father died eight years ago and I recall him saying things as provocative and stinging as the statements made by President Obama's former pastor in those much-played video clips.

Actually, when I was in college serving as editor-in-chief of the newspaper at a state-supported black college that Hugh Downs correctly stated was once called "the Uncle Tom College" when he interviewed its President, I wrote things far more revolutionary than anything said by Rev. Wright or my father in the underground newspaper I published in retaliation for not being able to quote The Last Poets in the school paper.

I wanted to hear and see Rev. Wright in person to affirm what I believed and what the media missed: Jeremiah Wright is no less anti-American than those of us who have believed in and fostered dissent since the birth of this nation.

Was Thomas Payne unpatriotic when he wrote "SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher"? (Payne, Common Sense, 1776)

While Wright's language was strong and considered excessive by many in those video-clips, it was not as strong as the language used by Frederick Douglass in his Fourth of July Speech.

"This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, lowering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin!"(Douglass, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?", July 5, 1852).

Now, if that was all of the speech, I doubt that there would be schools named for this great American. However, these words were also spoken that day eleven years before the start of the Civil War: "Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you to celebrate and to hold it in perpetual remembrance. I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation's destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost" (Douglass).

Fortunately, this historical speech was recorded in its entirety and those passages that some might find offensive weren't be taken out of context. My task when I went to see Jeremiah Wright was to put into context what the media effectively sliced and diced to create the biggest sensation.

What I saw was a classic black preacher at his finest. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is noted for his oratorical skill as well as his actvism; however, I heard orators as great as Dr. King every time I walked through the doors of a church growing up, especially when I heard my father.

Rev. Wright, who many will always regard as unpatriotic because of one or two statements made to emphasize the "wickedness" of government that used fear to push an agenda that was not necessarily in the best interests of the people, preached a sermon in Columbus. He didn't deliver a revolutionary manifesto or scream hatred from the pulpit as so many believe he does.

His sermon was brief and effective, demonstrating that he is not only a good orator, but a theologian. His text was Isaiah 43:1-5, and he talked about the warnings given by the prophets before the fall of Babylon.

I really believe that regardless of how he may say it, Rev. Wright is only trying to warn us about the dangers of power and corruption - not because he hates his country; but because he loves it.

I am a strong believer in the dissent that I as an American am allowed to express with my government as a constitutional right. Only when such dissent is expressed can we break with policies like the ones put forth by the last administration, which though once popular, were rejected by the majority of American people eventually when it was revealed they were not in the best interest of the people.

Actually, the most unpatriotic statement I've heard anyone make in recent memory was the one made when told that the majority of Americans did not support the war in Iraq, former Vice-President Dick Chaney said, "So?"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

AIG, AIG, Bonuses all the Way, Oh What Fun It is to Jump On The Bandwagon Today!

They're all piling on - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike. Everyone is beating up on AIG executives for getting those big bonuses. However, Senator Barack Obama received $101,332 from American International Group in the form of political contributions according to Opensecrets-.-org. The two biggest Congressional recipients of bonuses from the A.I.G. were - Senators Chris Dodd and Senator Barack Obama. So, why is the President and the rest of the pitch-fork-armed mob attacking AIG now? It's not as if they didn't know about the contract guaranteeing bonuses when they handed them billions more in another taxpayer-funded bail-out. The Republicans are not without blame either, since the Bush administration had the same knowledge when they gave AIG the first bail-out, using the same fear tactics they used to start the Iraq War to convince us that our economy would cave in if AIG was not bailed out ASAP. President Obama, who has repeated things his campaign criicized his opponents for saying (Hillary Clinton in the primaries and John McCain in the general election) took his turn playing Chicken Little, too, after criticizing Bush's fear mongering. But to quote the Democrats (and John McCain), fundamentally the economy is sound now that they've been criticized for forecasting too much doom and gloom. I say there's plenty of blame to go around and perhaps all those involved should listen to the wisdom of a simple carpenter who said over two thousand years ago, "He (or she, Speaker Pellosi) who is without blame, cast the first stone." That old adage, "Those who live in glass houses, should not throw stones" may become more than just another cliche as more and more of the hypocrisy of those criticizing AIG is exposed. For instance, our President has asked us not to spend money wastefully, but recently served $100 steaks (imported from Japan) at the White House. We listened for days as the media harped about the Big 3 execs coming to D.C. in thos private jets, but over 300 private jets flew in to the capitol for the inauguration. I fear there are many more examples of extravagance at the highest levels and double-speak (we'll live well while telling all of you peasants to tighten your belts) at the highest levels of our government. So, before we tar and feather AIG's execs, we may want to consider that they aren't the only ones getting "perks" in the midst of this economic crisis.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A few years ago, I wrote a series on domestic violence in the African-American community. After the second story in the series was published, a young woman came to the newspaper office and asked my editor, who wasn't thrilled about the subject, if she chould talk to me. She told me a story of being stalked and threatened by her ex-husband and that she feared her life was in danger. Althought she worked in the legal profession, she knew there was little that could protect her, including the restraining order she'd take out against her ex. Well, she became the fourth and final installment in my series. However, her husband convinced my editor to publish his side of the story, which seemed to justify his mistreatment of his ex-wife and give a lot of excuses for his behavior. Unfortunately, that's how the series ended and it received almost no response from readers except for the estranged couples who did the unthinkable and aired their dirty laundry in the pages of a newspaper. Domestic violence has always been one of those subjects people don't want to talk about, but that there's plenty of gossip about; for example, it's well known that a local public official beats his wife and the police are frequently called out to his house by the battered woman, yet there has been no 'expose' in our local daily which has the distinction of uncovering the whole Tome Noe scandal. In the African-American, a now deceased Baptist minister regularly beat his wife and everyone knew it. But, although it was talked about in hushed tones during during church services and gossiped about in beauty shops, nothing was ever done to help the minister's poor wife. Many people believe women who remain in relationships where they're abused "must like it." However, it's very complicated for women who are often dependent on a husband or partner for economic support, especially when they have children. I used to have an office at the local YWCA where there is a battered women's shelter. Women who come to shelters like the one at the Y have to summon up all of their courage to do so. I once witnessed a woman being dragged across a street from my office window and later found out they were both police officers and she'd come to the shelter to get away from her abusive husband. When he found out where she was, he came to get her. This African-American couple is so typical of those who live (and sometimes die, either the husband killing the wife eventually or the wife killing the husband in self-defense) with this horrible secret. I've heard that police officers are often guilty of domestic violence, which may explain the cover up that's going on in my city that prevents anyone form doing anything about the public official who regularly beats his wife. He's not the only one: his predecessor once beat his ex-wife when she came to his office when he headed a local agency and she had to be carried out on a stretcher; the employees at the office were told not to talk about the incident. Why do men beat women and why do women continue to remain in relationships where they are battered? And why do women like Rihanna go back to a man who's abused them? Is there a culture of violence that breeds this kind of abuse and the acceptance of it? In the case of Chris Brown, I believe that he is not only a product of having seen his own mother suffer abuse from a batterer, but also of the hiphop culture that objectifies women and supports the "gangsta" image of young African-American men. I'd hoped that having a black President with a self-assured wife would have a positive effect on African-American couples. But that's like saying "The Cosby Show" should have resulted in more African-Americans getting married and staying married and having happy families. One's peer culture has a much stronger influence on one than does any iconic image, no matter how positive. Now that a celebrity couple are embroiled in domestic violence, perhaps more attention will be paid to this issue and more will be done about trying to find solutions to a problem that often results in the deaths of one or more of the people affected. I sure hope so.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Pity the poor GOP. Left with no leadership, they put an Uncle Tom at the head of the RNC and radio bully Rush Limbaugh becomes their rock star, filling in the vacuum of leadership. Glad I’m not a Republican right now!

I’m not a Democrat any more either since the party that held its convention the week of the anniversary of women getting the right to vote has failed so miserably when it comes to actually supporting a woman for President or even Vice-President. I’m in that gray area called “Independent,” meaning I’m looking for direction.

I don’t expect to find it from either of the major parties and, although I voted for Green Party candidate, Cynthia McKinney, I’m not sure I’m ready to take on another party affiliation just yet. I do like that Cynthia McKinney, though. She is a true liberal. Too bad she didn’t get ANY press during the election unlike Ralph Nader who siphoned votes off from the Democrats in the two previous “selections.”

We couldn’t have that during the 2008 Presidential Election when the media was in the tank for the Dems and didn’t want anyone keeping their “chosen one” from winning and winning big. Want to know why the banks and Wall Street keep getting bail out after bail out? Watch Professor Griff from Public Enemy being interviewed in an Atlanta bookstore on YouTube.

The interview took place before the election and the rapper talks about who financed Barack Obama’s campaign. I already knew that, but I doubt that most Americans black or white were aware of how much of the Obama campaign’s funding came from the very folks who put us in the economic straits we’re in right now. Why else would Wall Street’s own Tim Geithner be selected as Treasury Secretary? And why else do these banks and AIG keep getting billions of dollars?

It’s not really Barack Obama’s doing. He’s just the front man in the same way that George Bush was the front man for the GOP for eight years. However, we at least knew who was pulling Bush’s strings – the oil companies which were represented by Dick Chaney, formerly of Halliburton (wonder how long it’ll take before he’s back on board raking in some of the millions our government gave Halliburton in those no-bid contracts?); our new President’s ‘handlers’ are keeping a low profile, although I suspect Zbigniew Brzezinski is the Svengali in this case.

This time, at least, the front guy is intelligent and articulate and can actually use something other than “good old boy” charm and charisma to convince us that we’re not being led into the river to drown as we merrily follow the pied piper. President Obama’s speech to Congress is an example of not only his oratorical skills but the kind of intelligence and thoughtfulness he brings to the office of President, which even I have to admit that this is a welcome change from President’s bumbling, fumbling speeches and press conferences.

However, not all the black folks that have “sold out” other blacks have been ignoramuses with their hats in their hands, shuffling their feet and saying “Yessuh.” Many have been well-educated, well-spoken, and well-heeled by their handlers. We had a name for black folks who let white folks pull their strings down south: the one I used for Michael Steele at the beginning of this piece.

Imagine, Stepinfetchit is alive and living large in 2009 and now he wears a suit and tie and has an Ivy League education! I wonder if that watermelon field the mayor in California put in front of the White House with the caption “Guess there won’t be an Easter egg hunt this year” was aimed as a racial jab at the First Family may have been an unintentional warning to African-Americans that things aren’t what they seem. I know that wasn’t the intent of the person who created the screen saver who said he didn’t know eating watermelon is a racial stereotype.

Of course he said he didn’t know it’s a racial stereotype! And people are upset with Attorney General Eric Holder for saying we’re a nation of cowards when it comes to race? What else do you call people who wear hoods and go around terrorizing people, make racial remarks then plead ignorance, or in the case of African-Americans, insist racism is over because there’s a black man in the White house?

In all fairness to President Obama and Michael Steele, there are a lot of black folks doing the bidding of “the master” in the media, in sports, and in the news media. I especially see this in rap music where names words like “Lil” and “Boy” take us back to slavery when male slaves were emasculated by giving them childish names, not allowing them to wear belts because “men wore belts,” and female slaves were made to bend over and shake their naked behinds for the slave masters’ pleasure just like we see the video vixens do in those rap videos, which it turns out are viewed more by young white males (who also by most of the rap music being sold).

I learned this from Coach Alfred Powell when he visited Toledo a couple of years ago and shared this information with a group of local youth, warning them not to be manipulated by corporate music moguls into regressing into a slave mentality. Well, I think some older black folks need to take heed to that advice, as well.
What better way to lull us and the so-called “liberal left” into complacency than to put a black man in the White House and give us false sense of racial equality and acceptance that may or may not actually exist in this country yet?

I don’t think we want to see an intelligent black man as a sycophant (unless he’s a Republican like Michael Steele or Clarence Thomas); however, regardless of whether we want to face the facts or not, if black folks of either party are being used to get us to sign on to an agenda that is not in our best interests, they’re no different than George Bush who sold us a war so he could give billions of dollars in defense funds to his handlers.

Is it any different when Barack Obama does the same thing, giving billions to the financial community that backed his campaign? We just have to do as Professor Griff advises in his video and think about what’s being fed to us. I was very impressed by this young man, who like me, voted for Cynthia McKinney, and didn’t buy the party line when the media manipulated most of the country into Obamamania.

Someone actually said to me recently, “If I was drowning and going down in the water, all it would take to bring me up would be hearing Obama’s voice in the distance.” This was a Christian minister saying this and she said it with the same devotion and eyes-glazed-over look she has when she talks about Jesus!

I don’t agree with those, like Limbaugh, who want President Obama to fail because his failure would be devastating for the nation. I just plan to keep my eyes open and not be fooled into thinking that having a black President means there’s someone in the White House who has my best interests at heart. Wake up, America! Stop drinking fluoridated water and drinking diet pop so your mind can function and wake up!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Researched Response to The New York Post's Controversial Political Cartoon

New York Post Cartoon Based on Long-Held, Hidden Assumptions Historically Associating African-Americans with Apes That Still Persist As Evidenced By Cartoonist

“A woman was mauled by a chimp in Stamford, Connecticut, and a police officer shot the chimp dead. How do you use that image to comment on the controversial Stimulus Bill passed by Obama? Well, if you’re Sean Delonas of The New York Post simply caption the shooting of the chimp in this way: ‘They’ll have to find someone to write that next stimulus bill’” (huffingtonpost.com).

Some folks didn’t get it when most African-Americans reacted negatively to the nooses hung from a tree in Jenna, Louisiana. Some folks thought Don Imus’ “nappy headed ‘ho” remark was just sexist, not racist. However, many folks are taking exception to Attorney General Eric Holder saying during a recent African-American History celebration, “We are a nation of cowards” when it comes to discussing race. I’d understand the outrage had Holder said “white people are cowards” when it comes to discussing race. However, he didn’t say that. He said we are a nation of cowards. That means all of us: black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native Americans, and every other shade, color, and hue.

Believe it or not, there are many African-Americans who don’t want to discuss race either – that is until they become the victim of racism: then they become willing participants and often leaders of that discussion. I used to joke that black folks in Toledo hated Floyd Rose (a minister who lived in Toledo for several decades and was a community/social activist) right up to the moment they went to him when they got passed over for a job/promotion, housing, a business loan, or some act of institutionalized racism that infuriated them.

The reaction to Holder’s statement notwithstanding, most people – except for the ones who work at the New York Post – seem to get that the cartoon in The New York Post is racist. Obviously, since President Obama is the author of the current stimulus plan, the cartoon’s caption evokes thoughts of him. Add to that the shooting down of a primate and you might get the idea that the cartoonist seems to be indicating that the police officers have just shot a black man, specifically our newly elected President, America’ first black President in a nation with a regrettable history of Presidential assassination attempts, three of which were successful.

“At its most benign, the cartoon suggests that the stimulus bill was so bad, monkeys may as well have written it. Others believe it compares the President to a rabid chimp. Either way, the incorporation of violence and (on a darker level) race into politics is bound to be controversial. Perhaps that’s what Delonas wanted” (columnist, Sam Stein). Stein could be right given that the cartoonist, frequently accused of bigotry, was nicknamed “the Picasso of prejudice” due to his frequent attacks on gays, associating them with bestiality. However, the cartoon which does seem to be about President Obama implicitly, like those nooses in Jenna imply violence against blacks, has a much deeper significance in that discussion about race that Attorney General Holder says we – all of us – as a nation are too cowardly to address.

“The furor might have drawn little more than a public yawn and shrug except for two small points. One is the long, sordid and savage history of racist stereotyping of African-Americans. A few grotesque book titles from a century ago, such as The Negro Is a Beast; The Negro, a Menace to American Civilization; and The Clansman depicted blacks as apes, monkeys, bestial, and animal-like. The image stuck in books, magazines, journals, and deeply colored the thinking of many Americans of that day” (Earl Ofari Hutchison, “Mr. Murdock is Obama Really a Chimp?” Friendly Five, the Dailly News Opinion Blog, 2/18/09). While the excerpt does not state Hutchison’s second point, I imagine it is given that U.S. Presidents have been previously assassinated, the cartoon’s could provoke an attempt on our current President’s life.

Regardless of what the second point may be, as stated by Hutchison, there is a historical precedence that accounts for the virulent reaction among most African-Americans to Delonas political cartoon that dates back to the earliest contacts Europeans had with Africans. “The representation of blacks as apes has been on the cultural conscience of westerners since shortly after the first contact of Europeans with West Africa. ‘Early European maritime writings described primitive people who seemed more closely related to apes than white explorers’” (ScienceDave, “Discrimination Against Blacks Linked to Dehumanization,” NowPublic, 2/11/08).

Unfortunately, history that is not examined and discussed, often repeats itself as demonstrated by ScienceDave’s article focusing on the findings of six studies published by Stanford, Penn State, and UC Berkeley psychologists. “Their work aimed to answer, ‘Is it possible to hold an implicit association between apes and blacks if one is unaware that such an association ever existed?’ In other words, do people inherently associate ‘apes’ with black people, even if they have had no experience with any such association” (ScienceDave). Why are blacks still being associated with apes in the 21st century?

Another article about the studies written by Tom Jacobs (2008) offers a possible answer. “In a widely heralded speech, presidential candidate Barack Obama asked Americans to begin a more honest discussion about race, anger, and prejudice. Such a conversation is unlikely to get far, however, if someone’s not even aware of their bigoted assumptions. And a just-published series of six studies suggests one racial stereotype – that blacks are somehow apelike – is lodged in the minds of white Americans, just below the level of consciousness” (Jacobs, “Studies Expose ‘Apelike” Stereotype Among Whites,” Miller-McCune, 3/21/08). Are blacks still being associated with apes in 2009, because of deeply rooted, assumptions that prevent “honest discussion about race, anger, and prejudice”?

The studies in question used white university students as subjects and three test groups who were shown a black person’s face, a white face, or no face followed by degraded images of animal faces that gradually became clear. “Interestingly, it took the test subjects fewer frames to recognize the ape after being primed with a black face than no face and more frames when primed with a white face than the control” (ScienceDave). Also, given the word “ape” as a prime, subjects who simultaneously watched videos of police beatings of blacks were more like to claim the beating was justified for blacks than whites.

Publication of the findings of the study concluded that “‘Despite widespread opposition to racism, bias remains with us,’ Eberhardt [an author on the study] said. ‘African-Americans are still dehumanized; we’re still associated with apes in this country. That association can lead people to endorse the beating of black suspects by police officers, and I think it has lots of other consequences that we have yet to uncover’” (ScienceDave).

Historically, these associations have been considered reasonable and scientifically justified. “In the influential and now infamous 1854 book Types of Mankind, Josiah C. Nott and George Robins Gliddon rank Negroes between Greeks and chimpanzees on the evolutionary ladder. ‘I don’t think it’s intentional, but when people learn about human evolution, they walk away with a notion that people of African descent are closer to apes than people of European descent,’ Eberhardt told the Stanford University press office. ‘When people think of a civilized person, a white man comes to mind’” (Jacob).

The persistence of these associations and their historical origins that seem to explain in some fashion the results of the studies is also stated by lead author Phillip Atiba Goff. “‘The notion of blacks as apelike began with the first European contact with Africans,’ Goff said. ‘There were illustrations of apes descending from the trees having intercourse with African females. It was perhaps the most popular pictorial representation of people of African descent in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries’” (Jacobs). An image from Jan Nederveen Pieterse’s book White on Black: Images of Africa and Blacks in Popular Western Culture published in Amsterdam in 1990, shows a graphic representation of prevailing stereotypes in the 17th, 18th, and 19th century. Slaveholders promoted the notion that female slaves from Africa were sexually insatiable, stating as fact that these women engaged in sexual intercourse with apes.

Pieterse exposes the intent behind these images. “White on Black is a compelling visual history of the development of European and American stereotypes of black people over the last two hundred years. Its purpose is to show the pervasiveness of prejudice against blacks throughout the western world as expressed in stock-in-trade racist imagery and caricature. Reproducing a wide range of illustrations—from engravings and lithographs to advertisements, candy wrappings, biscuit tins, dolls, posters, and comic strips the book challenges the hidden assumptions of even those who view themselves as unprejudiced….Looking at conventional portrayals of blacks in the nursery, in sexual arenas, and in commerce and advertising, Pieterse analyzes the conceptual roots of the stereotypes about them. The images that he presents have a direct and dramatic impact, and they raise questions about the expression of power within popular culture and the force of caricature, humor, and parody as instruments of oppression” (Yale University Press, 2008).

The question remains, “how is this being transmitted from generation to generation? ‘It’s a fascinating question,’ Goff said. ‘If you look at depictions of Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Barack Obama in editorial cartoons, they are frequently simian-looking representations’” (Jacobs). T-shirts with a monkey labeled “Obama in ‘08” were sold in Arkansas, during the election which, along with a sock puppet monkey dressed in a suit and wearing an Obama campaign button, created quite a bit of controversy. The folks who made the puppet were shocked at the negative response, but were quick to apologize and attempt to explain themselves.

“We at TheSockObama Co. are saddened that some individuals have chosen to misinterpret our plush toy. It is not, nor has it ever been our objective to hurt, dismay or anger anyone. We guess there is an element of naviete on our part, in that we don't think in terms of myths, fables, fairy tales and folklore. We simply made a casual and affectionate observation one night, and a charming association between a candidate and a toy we had when we were little” (“Creators of TheSockObama™: Of Course We Aren't Racist!” posted by Jeff Fecke on Shakesville Blog, 6/13/08).

Some people still don’t get it. Obviously, the folks at TheSockObama Co. didn’t bother to do any historical research or they would have run across books like Types of Mankind and White on Black or some of the caricatures of blacks that were popular a less than a century ago and that can still be seen in Asia and Latin America, as well in some places in Europe. (This writer was dismayed to see such a stuffed toy in a window display in Europe’s then largest shopping mall in Paris, France, in 1990).

I think these images and the underlying beliefs they represent persist because Attorney General Holder is right: we are cowards when it comes to discussions about race because those who hold these beliefs (including some blacks who look down on other blacks – the uneducated and/or poor – believing they are superior to those they consider lower classed) don’t want to admit to those outside their circle that they have them and those about whom these beliefs are held often don’t want to be confronted with such assumptions.

If we were to have that discussion about this issue which has had such a significant role in the history of our country out in the open, bringing out all of the ugliness and stupidity that surrounds race on all sides, everyone would know that things like nooses being hung from trees and African-Americans being depicted as monkeys, chimpanzees, or apes are offensive, traumatic, and unacceptable; and they’d also know why.

Friday, February 6, 2009


You’ve got to respect a man who admits when he’s made a mistake. Not since Jack Kennedy has an American President admitted to making a mistake until Barack Obama made that admission this week when he said, “I screwed up” in regard to the nomination of former Senator Tom Daschle for Secretary of Health and Human Services. But was it the President’s mistake or the mistake of those in charge of vetting potential cabinet members? This same group of people made this mistake not once, not twice, but three times with cabinet nominees who had serious tax problems, including the now approved Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, who’s in charge of the government’s tax-collecting agency, an ironic, if not cynical choice. The President maintains that he does not support one set of rules for the politically elite and another for the average American citizen, but while the two other nominees with tax problems dropped out, Geithner, who was also working on Wall Street when the country went into recession, seems to have dodged the bullet. But back to those responsible for not doing a proper job of vetting these cabinet nominees: didn’t the Democrats raise questions about the Republicans not properly vetting Sarah Palin? Now, what? Will somebody finally realize that the best person to head up Health and Human Services, an obvious choice, is former DNC chair, Dr. Howard Dean? It was Dean who conceived the 50-state strategy and internet blitz that Obama used to win the 2008 election. Sure, Obama refined Dean’s concept and honed it into a well-oiled political machine, but it was Dean’s idea initially. Yet, Dean has been ignored since the election. Word is Dean doesn’t get along with Rahm Emanuel. So? Who cares? They don’t have to be buddies! They don’t have to play golf together, visit each other’s homes, go on golfing dates, or have sleepovers! They need to serve the country and, in my opinion and the opinions of quite a few other folks, Dean has always been the best choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Cenk Uygur stated On The Huffington Post “no one can dispute that Howard Dean was right about the 50 state strategy, and this undoubtedly helped Barack Obama and a lot of Democratic congressmen and senators get elected. He's also been exactly right on the policy issues. Shouldn't the Obama administration reward competence?” Posted November 25, 2008 08:15 PM (EST.) “Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the man regarded by many sharp political operatives as the progenitor of President-elect Barack Obama's successful 2008 campaign, finds himself without an obvious next job as his tenure at the head of the Democratic National Committee comes to an end….And yet, it's hard not see Dean as a lesson in how political hardball is played in Washington. Never liked by establishment party figures -- Dean publicly feuded with incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel when the latter was at the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2006 election cycle -- Dean finds himself on the outside looking in as a new Democratic Administration comes to town….Dean then made a play to be secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama Administration but was quickly shot down in favor of former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, a confidante of the president-elect….” The Fix by Chris Cillizza, washingtonpost.com's Politics Blog The Denouement of Howard Dean. The Dean-Emanuel conflict wouldn’t be the only contentious relationship in the cabinet should Dean get the job of Health and Human Services Secretary. However, I think the likelihood of having innovative and feasible ideas for health care would be worth bearing with any squabbles these two may have. However, there is still some resistance to the notion that President Obama "screwed up" by not giving Dean the job in the first place. Evan Thomas from Newsweek said in a recent television interview when asked about the mistakes made in not properly vetting Daschle and other cabinet nominees who turned out to be in arrears with their taxes, “Would Hillary have done any better?” I like to think that having more experience, Senator Clinton would have had the good sense to nominate Dean for Health and Human Services Secretary; but I can’t complain too much because President Obama had the good sense to nominate her! Meanwhile, in other developments, the economic stimulus package seems to have hit a snag after being hijacked in the House by Nancy Pelosi, still tasting victory and flaunting her powers. Nevertheless, the Senate seems poised to approve some version, probably not the best, of the bill that is this nation’s only hope for some economic relief. Do you get the feeling of being on a sinking ship right about now? There is a plane going down on the Potomac. Flocks of birds have taken out both engines - Blue Jays took out the left engine and Redbirds took out the right engine. The pilot who is flying an Airbus 1600 on his first flight out is intent on making it to the nearest airport. Having promised the 303, 824,640 passengers on U.S. Airways Flight 2009, to safely transport them out of a recession, the novice flyer refuses to accept defeat. “We’re having some trouble,” he reports to Air Traffic Control. “Are you going to continue and land at the nearest airport?” an air traffic controller asks. “If we don’t act now, we’re going to go from crisis to castastrophe,” answers the pilot. “But what are you going to do?” asks the controller again. “Look, I found those birds when I showed up. I found them, doubled, and wrapped in a package with a great big bow!” said the pilot. “What?” asked the confused controller. “I guess they were listening to Rush Limbaugh and he told them to take out our engines,” mumbled the pilot. “Flight 2009, can you land at the nearest airport?” The controller’s voice increased in volume as time ran out for the pilot to make a decision. “Yes we can! All we have is hope and the audacity to believe in change, so we’re going for it!” said the pilot as the passengers cheered in the background. The controller was concerned, knowing that the plane was still minutes away from the airport and not sure how long the plane could stay in the air. “Boy, where is Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger when we need him?” mumbled the concerned controller, fondly remembering “the miracle on the Hudson” as he prayed for a miracle on the Potomac.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Obama B(l)acklash!

I wrote the following letter to the news director of Toledo's CBS affiliate, only to find out after a week-long stay in Columbus that Toledo's only African-America evening news anchor, Shenikwa Stratford was replaced by a white female. More Obama B(l)acklash - negative reaction to the election of America's first black President either due to the assumption that having a black President negates the need for affirmative action or post-election resentment rooted in racism. Either way, this is not acceptable and I won't be watching any local television news in Toledo except on weekend evenings.

Mr. Chirdon,

I'm not sure why Rev. Larry Whatley no longer does the traffic reports on Channel 11's morning news, but do you realize that with his absence there are now no African-Americans on local television news in the mornings? While your new female anchor is very professional and a good addition to your news team, there are several African-American reporters (Mikah Highsmith, for example) who could have been placed in that position when Melissa Voestch moved to a later newscast.

Unlike channels 24 and 13, Channel 11 does not seem interested in giving reporters the opportunity to develop their skills by putting them in morning anchor positions. Evening anchor on Channel 24, Shenikwa Stratford, developed her skills as an anchor this way, as did Efrem Graham and Kristen Brown, the weekend morning and evening anchors on Channel 13, respectively. These are all African-American broadcasters who were given the opportunity to advance.

I watch Channel 24 at 6pm and 11pm to see someone who looks like me reading the news; I also watch Channel 13 news Saturday and Sunday mornings and evenings for the same reason. I used to watch Channel 11 news weekday mornings because of Rev. Whatley. Our relationship goes back to 1990, when he worked for Channel 13, and had me on his show to discuss the debut of my theatre company, Toledo BlackStage, and its debut production, my original musical play, "Juneteenth." I am a loyal fan of his and the other reporters previously mentioned.

I am no more hesitant to admit I am happy to see African-Americans on the news than Italian Americans, Greek Americans, Polish Americans, or any other ethnic groups are happy to see people of their ethnic group in the public eye. However, there seems to be this b(l)acklash to having a black President. There have been some positives and they are welcome. But there also seem to be some unwelcome negatives, such as African-Americans suddenly disappearing from public eye, as in the case of Rev. Whatley.

While you have every right to hire the most qualified professional to fill positions on your news team, as a journalist who never got the opportunity to be a reporter until African-American newspapers hired me, I understand the importance of giving people a chance to develop their talents. As a viewer, I'll be frank: I want to see African-Americans in every news cast I watch. I don't watch any of the evening newscasts of any of the three major networks - CBS, ABC, and NBC- because there are no African-American anchors on any of them.

This may not seem important to anyone else, but in 2009, the year America got its first black President, I don't think it's too much to ask that there is at least one African-American anchor on one of the major networks and on one of the three local morning news programs.

My only reason for watching Channel 11 was because Rev. Whatley was part of your team (I also love meteorologist, Mike Stone), but now that he's not there any more, I tend to turn to MSNBC as soon as I watch the weather report. I usually to wait until 6:00 to turn to "Morning Joe," but now I may just watch Headline news at 5:00, and get my local news and weather from The Blade, which does have African-American reporters.

G. J. Chapman
WTOL- viewer since 1988.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Change We Can Believe In or More of The Same?

Following is a very clever and well-written poem. I contacted the blog link and complimented the poet, adding the hope that he will use his tremendous talent to write something more hopeful and not continue the partisanism that has gotten our nation into the state it's in today. The fact that this is being passed around indicates to me that some of us didn't get President Obama's message January 20, 2009, when he said, "On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things."

It may not be "childish" to 'dis' the opposing party, but it is definitely counter-productive. Obviously, this was not what President Obama had in mind when he sat down with the leading conservative Republicans at George Will's house or when he hosted a bi-partisan party for John McCain or appointed Republicans to his cabinet. He seems to be intent on healing the party rifts that have dominated the last two administrations. However, if the people who elected him and support his administration continue to 'bash' people because of their political affiliations, there won't be any change in the way this country is governed.

I listen to news programs that repeatedly talk about the number of Republicans who are supporting President Obama and are trying to work with him. I'm sure there are some who still aren't, but in respect for those who are, shouldn't Democrats and the Independents who he's asked to help him with the changes he is trying to affect cease and desist with the venom and rancor?

Perhaps I'm too idealistic, but what I saw yesterday on the Washington Mall was not a sea of people, but a sea of hope. Was that hope just for a single day? Now that we have a black President, do we go back to business as usual as if getting a black man elected is the end of the story? President Obama doesn't think so. He made it very clear at the Inauguration Balls he attended last night that this is just the beginning.

So, how do we begin? My hope was that the hope I saw in the eyes of those witnessing the swearing in of a new President yesterday would continue and flourish. My hope was that the American people heard the President's message and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to bring prosperity back to our nation. He's not going to wave a magic wand and end all of our troubles; he's going to roll up his sleeves and we need to be prepared to roll up ours. However, the needed sacrifices aren't just in the area of hard work. We also need to sacrifice our old attitudes.

I had to remind my mother who still retains the attitudes expressed in the following poem that Republicans haven't been alone in practicing 'dirty politics.' Look at the smear campaigns during the Democratic primaries, as well as the concerted efforts to destroy Sarah Palin, going as far as attacking her teenage daughter. Not that the Republicans didn't do the same. But the point is when does it stop?

President Obama is asking Americans to work together? Can we? Before you repeat the mantra, "Yes, we can!" be aware that by saying that you are taking an oath as sacred and as solemn as the one the President took yesterday to rise above this kind of partisan bias and make an effort to do what the President proclaimed yesterday. "On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

The poem below ends with the mantra, "YES, WE CAN!" Can what? Yes, we can do a lot of things, including continuing the bickering on Capitol Hill, the racial prejudice on Main Street, and the financial corruption on Wall Street. We can do all of that and a whole lot more of "the same old" things we've been doing. The issue not what we can do, but what we will do to bring about change.

So, read the poem and laugh if you find it humorous and admire the poetic flair of the poet. Then, if you're a Democrat, find a Republican and do what President and First Lady Obama did to former President and First Lady Laura Bush as they prepared to board a helicopter to make their final departure from the nation's capitol: HUGGED THEM! Let this be the new mantra of those Democrats who pledge to help the President create a "post-partisan" America:


Twas the Night Before Inauguration
By John Cobarruvias
T'was the night before inauguration and what to my dismay
The market was tanking, I lost my 401K!
The stocks were hung, in downfall they stuck
While Bush did nothing, a truly lame duck
The republicans were nestled, their heads in the sand
With visions of defeat of the republican brand.
And Cheney with his gun, his heart a pace
Looking for someone, to shoot in the face.
When out on the house floor, there came such a clatter
I sprang to the internets to find what's the matter.
Away to my screen I ran with a flash
Hoping the market, didn't crash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow
Showed me someone I needed to know.
When what to my eyes, I paused, with a comma
But a vision of hope, It was Barack Obama!
With excitement and conviction in each of his steps
I wondered what he and his elves, would do next.
More rapid than eagles his appointments they came
And he whistled and shouted, and called them by name.
Now Emanuel! Now, Dashle! Now Richardson and Biden!
On, Clinton, On Napolitano, and Gates, no sense in hiding!
To fix the economy, our reputation and more.
And to stop the killing of this unnecessary war.
As Obama stood still, the republicans they trembled
Remembering 8 years of a disaster they had assembled.
They've broken our banks, and doubled our debt.
They scared us to death with weapons of threats.
They squandered a surplus, They started a war.
They shredded our constitution, littered on the floor.
They attack our unions, our immigrants and those who are gay.
They claim to be Christians, yet on the sick they prey.
We may never recover from this hole they dug.
But we will climb to the top with a American tug.
The republican party have destroyed all that matters
They deserve nothing more but to hold the damn ladder.
But his voice did change, along with a smile.
Thinking of the bills that soon would be filed.
Protect those who are old and young alike
Restore our honor and our military might.
Protect our planet, and clean our air.
While creating a surplus we can leave to our heirs
Fix our economy, and health care for all.
And honor those who fought, and those who fall.
Obama sprang to his feet, to his team he gave a shout.
The challenges seem impossible, hard work needed no doubt
But I heard him exclaim ere he talked and ran.
Hey! It's not just a slogan,

Thursday, January 8, 2009


© gjc, 1/08/09


O.K., so he said “no” before he said “yes” ala John Kerry, hitting a decisively sour note; but in the end President-Elect Obama made the right decision about Roland Burris. Regardless of what he may or may not have actually done, Illinois’ governor still has the power (and the right) to appoint someone to take over Obama’s Senate seat.

In a shrewd move, Rod Blagojevich appointed someone capable, qualified, and black to the seat vacated by our President-Elect after his election. Majority Leader Harry Reid looked pretty ineffectual trying to keep out the only African-American in the Senate, then having to capitulate after Burris got the nod from Obama.

Senator Reid may not work for Obama, but he apparently follows his soon-to-be President’s lead, and he should in this case. Same thing with the stimulus package. The President-Elect is right to want the passage of his stimulus package to be swift and big enough to actually make a difference.

Few people want the trillion dollar debt that Obama is predicting that he says we’ll have well into the future; but even fewer want to be unemployed and homeless. The stimulus package is absolutely necessary, just as were the bail-outs, however distasteful and mismanaged they may have been.

Obama’s cabinet picks, although they included only a handful of women and minorities, were wise ones. I totally support the selection of Leon Panetta as head of the CIA. Panetta has a long and distinguished public service career and is not a product of the Bush-Cheney intelligence gathering fiasco that was used to justify the Iraq War.

Going into his Inauguration Week, our future President looks pretty good. He’s made smart, thought-driven decisions on a number of issues and refused to get involved in foreign policy- making before he has the power to follow-through on those decisions. He’ll have plenty of time to deal with the Middle East once he’s sworn in next week, and I’m sure he will use more diplomacy than the present administration; I sure hope he does.

Our President Elect has also shown his ability to inspire Americans and give the nation back its passion for democracy. That’s why I sent my speech on sacrifice to his transition website, hoping he’ll include parts of it in some future speech. (I’ve included it at the end of this column.)

I look forward to watching the inauguration of our first black President and hope that all goes well next Tuesday and throughout Obama’s term, whether it is a four-year or eight-year term. The hope he has inspired in the American people is very much needed right now given the state of our economy and the economic hardships being suffered by so many American people.

God willing, that hope will turn into tangible results and our economy, international reputation, and trust in our leaders will be restored.

Godspeed, President Obama!

Someone Should Make This Speech and Inspire the Nation to Rally to the Cause of Saving Our Economy the Only Way We Can: Through Sacrifice, Patience, and Unity

“America has withstood many attacks in the past, external and internal. We fought two wars on this continent. The first was for our independence and the second war was for our union. Both times, America was victorious. We have survived a Great Depression that swept through our nation and impoverished our coffers, but not our spirits because Americans know how to fight. We fought to bring this nation into existence and to preserve its unity. We have fought to bring our nation back from the brink of economic ruin into an age of prosperity. How did we do it? We did it by making sacrifices. We sacrificed our sons and daughters in wars here and abroad fighting for the only thing worth fighting for – our freedom. We sacrificed our comfort and our physical health to do the back-breaking labor needed to bring us out of one depression. No one has asked us to make any sacrifices for some time now. However, now with our economy in such dire straits, sacrifices will have to be made. Some estimate it may take as many as ten years for us to recoup from the losses on Wall Street. What sacrifices are we willing to make to bring back the prosperity we once enjoyed? Without sacrificing our tax dollars, we will lose even more than has already been lost. Greater minds than mine can detail those losses for you and explain why we need to sacrifice so much of our resources to right this wrong to our capitalistic system. Many of you are angry because when you make bad decisions, no one bails you out and when those of you who own small businesses watch those businesses fail, no one covers those losses. You are right to be angry. Those who caused this crisis are responsible. However, they are responsible for more than just individual failures or the loss of one business. They are responsible for bringing our economy to its knees. Are we willing to make the sacrifice needed to bring it up on its feet again? A great President once said that we should not ask what our country can do for us, but what we can do for America. I’m asking you what are you willing to sacrifice for America? Is America worth a trillion dollars to you? Is our economy worth the sacrifice of your tax dollars to ensure the future of capitalism? Are you willing to pay, not to just bail-out Wall Street and the Big Three Auto Companies, but to re-build Main Street? I ask, you America, is our nation worth the sacrifice? And if your answer is ‘yes,’ will you join me in making that sacrifice and giving whatever resources we need to give and demanding the reforms and regulations necessary to make sure that our economy regains its strength? Join the millions of Americans throughout the history of this nation who’ve marched through the ages, soldiers in the freedom army, fighters for the cause of liberty, warriors for peace and prosperity. Join me, America. Join me in this effort and make whatever sacrifice we have to make for America. She’s worth it!”

Friday, January 2, 2009

Joe of "Morning Joe" Embarassed by "Stunningly Superficial" Views on Foreign Policy

Bush-apologist Joe Scarborough finally got his come-uppance from foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski, on his show "Morning Joe," which I confess to watching every day - not because of Joe, but because of the variety and quality of the guests who provide a much more balanced "sound byte" view of current political events the rest of MSNBC's "news" programming. Like Blago, Joe is a poster child for narcissistic personality disorder, taking every disagreement (let alone, criticism!) as a personal attack and denouncing Jimmy Carter while extolling the dubious accomplishments of the most unpopular President in recent history.

I read with glee The Huffington Post. "posters" who skewered "Joe Blowhard" and posited informed and insightful opinions about the situation between Israel and Hamas. I agree with almost all comments made, especially that ZB's comment was that Joe's views are "stunningly superficial," not the host himself; Mika Brzezinski is highly underrated (you should have seen her stand up to Joe and Tucker Carlson when they ganged up on her!), that ZB should be on more 'serious' news shows like "Meet the Press "; and that shows like "'Morning Joe" tend to "oversimplify exceedingly complex issues," as stated by Philosopher.

The problem is that shows that try to deal with the complex issues that constitute politics generally and foreign policy specifically do not get high ratings usually. One of my favorites is PBS' "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer" and the entire PBS Friday lineup that is probably the best "news" on television. But who's watching it beside those of us who want more than quick "sound bytes" that are easily digested?

Also noted by ThePhilosopher, shows like "Morning Joe" often present two opposing sides shouting above each other in so-called discussions about important issues. To use another metaphor, the American public wants their news presented like "Monday Night Football" with two teams with opposite views that they root for based on where they're from (party affiliation) and the color of their uniforms (classification as "liberal" or "conservative").

However, I will still watch "Morning Joe" every day because it wakes me up and I get to hear some of my favorite pundits who include in addition to ZB, #1: Jonathan Capehart; Pat Buchanan(yes, I did say PAT BUCHANAN because he's honest and doesn't usually take himself too seriously, unlike "Joe"); Mike Barnicle; Carlos Watson; Dylan Ratigan; Harold Ford, Jr.; Tina Brown; Eugene Robinson ; Rev. Eugene Rivers; Jessie Jackson, Jr.; and the occasional lucid and engaging politician and/or celebrity.

They all provide a nice counterpoint to Joe's huffing and puffing and spouting conservative rhetoric trying to sound scholarly when he only reads books with one point of view.The show is my wake-up call and a reminder that Friday night is coming and I'll get to watch 'Bill Moyers Journal'!