American journalist Laura Ling and fellow reporter Euna Lee, held captive in North Korea for illegally entering that country from China, are finally home. Both reporters were working on a story about the trafficking of women in North Korea for former Vice President Al Gore’s San Francisco based Current TV when they were arrested back in March. They were both sentenced to twelve years of hard labor. Their release was the result of a successful unofficial diplomatic foray from former President Bill Clinton with the blessings of the White House. Mr. Clinton’s diplomatic mission comes during a period of heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program. Former Vice President thanked the State Department for its help in winning their release.
Meanwhile, at another location on our globe, Iran confirmed the arrest of three American hikers who crossed into that country from neighboring Iraq and said they have been charged with “illegal entry,” a semi-official news agency reported. Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal were arrested in the western Iranian city of Marivan. Swiss diplomats in Iran and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Iran to provide information on the hikers. These three are supposed to be seasoned hikers who we are supposed to believe just happened to have wandered across an unmarked border with Iran when they were detained.
Now maybe it’s just me, like most humans I have a history of forming an opinion without the need to wait for every single detailed fact to be discovered before forming an opinion, but how the hell do you get on a plane, travel halfway around the world to a country that borders a country once considered an axis of evil, then take some local form of transportation to the fore mentioned border, put on a backpack, and then start wandering around aimlessly without the slightest clue that they might be heading into dangerous territory? Maybe it’s just me, but these two episodes of wandering Americans in supposedly hostile countries sound the fishiest of fishy.
Does anybody really have to wonder what would happen if an undocumented North Korean or an Iranian was found aimlessly wandering around in Phoenix, Arizona or San Antonio, Texas? I wonder if anyone would buy their story that they were simply took a hiking trip during their tourist visit to Juarez, Mexico. More than likely nobody here would share a tear if such a visitor to our country would wind up in high security, protect the country from terrorist, Guantanamo Bay like accommodations. We don’t even want the people in Mexico, a friendly state, coming across our borders, let alone the citizen from a hostile state.
So don’t the goods for the goose apply to the gander? If we want to prosecute people who illegally come into our country, aren’t other countries entitled to prosecute Americans who illegally come into theirs? And if an American is there to do a story on how screwed up other cultures are, all the more reason to stop their shit cold.
But one thing I do know for sure is that within days after their arrest, all of the American infiltrators listed here, Laura Ling, Euna Lee, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal, were given an opportunity to contact their families and get help. Imagine that from an axis of evil! There were stories from Guantanamo Bay that the lawyers assigned to represent some of the accused terrorist had to fight tooth and nail to get access to their clients. And some of those people that were condemned to rot in the detention at Camp X-Ray in downtown Guantanamo had just become teenagers. Imagine what would have happened if Iran or North Korea had sentenced a young American teenager to one of their detention facilities.
A lot of people who work in our government on behalf of the American people look for every loophole not to give people accused of being here illegally the representation they need to have a day in court or to simply go back home. If not already, our national paranoia is becoming legendary. But our national hypocrisy is even greater.
Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee stayed in the news and our government officials and unofficials pulled out all the stops to help bring these two home. Ms. Clinton and the State Department are undoubtedly pulling out similar stops to earn the release of the three hikers being held in Iran. We’ll work to bring these people home and then put them in front of cameras and hail them as American heroes for their foray into enemy territory. I’m sure the people we hold here in America for similar transgressions against our country would appreciate being treated like Americans being held elsewhere. I’m sure the foreigners being held here would like to go home and have the opportunity to see their families again.
One of the solutions being bandied about to counter the healthcare crises impacting America is the single payer solution. When I think of a single payer health plan I am reminded of my experience here with the single provider of electricity. Ameren UE denied me service because my last name matched the last name of somebody who stayed in my apartment previously and stiffed the sole electricity provider in the area. Despite the fact that I presented my out of state identification that should have proven beyond a doubt that I was new to the area and that I didn’t know the previous tenant, the representatives I spoke to, the clerk, supervisor, and the manager, were obstinate that I pay the previous tenant’s outstanding balance. They hung up on me in the middle of me pleading my case. It wasn’t until I called the Governor’s office that I got the situation resolved. I honestly believe that if Ameren had competition in the area their customer service would not have been so shitty.
So now some political candidates want to offer a single payer solution for the healthcare crisis. Maybe my understanding of the whole healthcare issue just isn’t deep enough because I’m still trying to figure out how this is going to help those people who don’t have health insurance. Whether it is a plethora of for profit insurance providers or if it is just one what will be the difference other than the fact that now somebody has a government sanctioned monopoly on making money by minimizing expenses and maximizing income. That still spells a recipe for denying medical service as much as possible in order to boost profits. And when there’s just a single provider making the profit, the customer service is bound to follow the Ameren UE model.
Another solution being talked about for combating the healthcare crisis are tax credits designed to help consumers pay their insurance premiums. I guess the theory here is that if you give people a break on their taxes that money will automatically take care of people’s health insurance expenses. A two thousand dollar tax credit for the year isn’t going to cover the fourteen thousand dollar health insurance expense for coverage on a family of four. However, this solution does nothing to change the conditions of the unemployed or the low income earners enough coverage. And even if I did get a fourteen thousand dollar tax credit the American public will continue to work with a for profit healthcare system bent on maximizing income and minimizing expenses.
These two solutions that are nothing but bandages for a problem that requires extensive surgery mirrors the extent of the medical treatment some people get authorization for from their insurance providers for their life threatening conditions. The root of the problem is that somebody wants to maximize their profit by minimizing the level of care offered. Medical treatments can be expensive and can eat away at profits. Why pay for somebody’s chemo therapy when there are investors in the company looking for profit, executives looking for bonuses, and employees looking for raises? It is cheaper to let people die, let their families that are capable take the company to court, throw a gaggle of lawyers into the ring to fight an immoral legal battle, and then settle for an undisclosed sum of cash and no admission of guilt when the crack legal team can’t make the lawsuit problem go away.
It would be reasonable to assume that the best way to handle the distribution of healthcare is to remove the profit associated with denying care from the equation. When the decision to provide healthcare is managed by the company that can make more money by offering the least amount of care possible you have a system with a contradictory agenda. The goal of the company is not to give the highest quality of medical care possible to its clients. Anybody who operates in this environment and with a straight face says that they care about your health and want to give you the best healthcare possible is a liar. What the majority of these people want is to get paid fat checks that are only possible if they provide you with the least medical assistance that they can legally get away with. When your claim goes to your provider it doesn’t just go before someone to assure that you are getting the best care. Your claim goes before a series of investigators to find a glimmer of a discrepancy that will give them cause for rejection.
If we want to end the healthcare crisis we must do away with a system that makes it more profitable for any healthcare insurance company to deny coverage, whether it be the broad number of companies in operation today or the single provider. People shouldn’t be able to make money off of other people who have paid their premiums and are in need of help. We see the people who run these insurance companies make salaries and bonuses that would make an oil company executive’s eyes bulge like Erkel. We see the marketing campaign that has been successfully implemented to make us think that socialized medicine is some form of evil filled with government bureaucracy and inefficient management. But how could it get any worse than the bureaucracy and inefficient healthcare management that we suffer now?
We have been bamboozled to believe that universal healthcare will bankrupt the country. Taking the potential for billions of dollars of profit out of the healthcare industry is supposedly going to cost us more in the long run. And people buy this argument simply because it sounds bad when someone on television says it with a sneer. However, until the day somebody can show me how a system where there is no incentive to deny me medical care for the sake of profit is actually worse than a system designed to make it profitable for others to deny me coverage, I’ll hold out for the former. A single payer plan or a tax credit plan will only provide the insurance industry with more money for their potential profits to get even bigger.
I was listening to the Diane Rehm Show on National Public Radio where she was discussing the lack of awareness with respect to current events from the American public with a couple of guests. Even when given accurate information as to what has happened or what is happening, the American public clings to conjecture, superstition, and just plain wrong assumptions. Two examples given on the show were people’s insistence to this day that Saddam Hussein was instrumental in planning the attack on September 11, 2001 that brought down the World Trade Center and the insistence that Barack Obama is really a Muslim practitioner even though he attended Trinity United Christian Church for the past twenty years. To add insult to injury, not only is Mr. Obama a Muslim, he’s a Muslim with a Christian pastor who hates America.
American’s are more likely to pick a presidential candidate because of the political affiliation of their granddaddy than on any political, social, or economic issue facing America today. Once on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, a video clip was shown where Mr. Leno took to the streets and was asking people questions to gauge American’s ability to follow current events. Mr. Leno asked one woman who was the President of the United States. The ditsy brunette laughed, tossed her hair, raised her hands up as if to say whoa, and said that she doesn’t get into politics.
One of the guest suggested the public that voters should be tested to make sure that they understand the issues that the country is facing before being allowed to vote. Instinctively alarm bells started to go off in my head. A voting test? Who would develop, administer, and score the test? Who would decide who gets to vote and who doesn’t? Is there not even a greater danger in such a test being used to manipulate the political landscape against the public’s will?
Besides, like most issues that face the country, the education of the individual voter is made a matter of personal responsibility instead of a matter of social responsibility. Whether or not individual Americans are educated enough to vote is a problem that cannot be resolved by the development of some test. The real test will be the direction we choose as a collective to take our country. When our political candidates dumb down to the level of the lowest political denominator, when they appeal to our vanity and make every promise under the sun to appeal to our greed, it is no wonder that we find ourselves in the current mess we are in.
When we pick the politician that says he or she can balance the budget, give us all tax cuts, increase public services, and win all of our military conflicts, we the people should have the common sense to say that something is afoot and we are being sold a suspect bill of goods. When we allow ourselves to pick our political candidates based on the color of their skin, their gender, or whether or not they wear a lapel pin in the shape of the American flag, then we truly have failed to take note of the real issues that we face. When we the people make the choice to deny our selves access to social services simply because some of us are fortunate enough to have the resources to provide for own healthcare, have jobs where we don’t have to worry about earning a living wage, have resources to provide a quality education for our family, have the ability to save for retirement, or have been fortunate enough to avoid losing their house in the mortgage meltdown, we run the risk of denying ourselves when our fortunes take a turn for the worst and we find ourselves in need or one of our loved ones.
It would be wonderful if our community did enough to provide for everyone so that everyone could afford the things we need to assure a quality, healthy life. But we don’t. One of the main tenets of hyper capitalism is the idea that those who have are entitled to take advantage of those who have not. In America, it is more important that we have a society where it is more important to protect the multibillion dollar profits of the multinational than to protect the health of the individual. It is more important that we give the community tax breaks than provide adequate schooling for our children. It is more important that America has a military force that can destroy all life on the planet in a couple of hours rather than have an energy policy that recognizes global warming as one of the biggest dangers to the planet.
We allow our multinationals to come into our homes via the television, radio, cable, internet, newspaper, and whatever, with all the resources to influence our behavior however they see fit. Our courts now say that the multinational is an entity with the same rights as people. And the only conscience a multinational has is the one that is driven by profits first and social responsibility only when it is absolutely unavoidable. More people now know more about Ronald McDonald or Jack In The Box than they do about their congressional representatives.
With so many of our tax dollars being diverted away from doing anything socially responsible like educating our children it is no surprise that America will continue its gentle slide into intellectual obscurity. When our political leaders reinforce the notion that it isn’t about what we can do to help each as a collective but what we can do to maximize our individual materialism then we don’t deserve to look down our nose at our neighbor when we feel they don’t get it. As long as we don’t take an interest in our neighbor’s welfare we don’t have the right to hold them to some standards.
It was about four on the Monday morning following Senator Hillary Clinton’s withdrawal from campaigning for the presidential race. I was watching one of the network television news programs. It was either ABC or CBS. The story was about how some Democratic Party voters were now going to switch their vote because Ms. Clinton didn’t win. The story included a few responses to the question to Democrats, who would you vote for in November. One respondent claimed that Senator Barack Obama just didn’t have the experience and it would be better for the country if Senator John McCain won the presidency.
I saw the same type of responses in a news article in Yahoo! News later in the day titled Racial Attitudes Pose Challenge For Obama. Some of the comments from this article are:
- “I don’t think we’re ready for either one [a female or a black man] yet”,
- “I don’t think our country is ready for a black President”,
- “A black man is never going to win Pennsylvania”,
- “His middle name [Hussein] bothers me a lot”, and
- “He doesn’t wear a flag pin. It seemed like code for, He’s not one of us”.
He’s not one of you alright! To me, that seems like code for, He’s not white.
A lot of people will add the fact that the way they feel has nothing to do with race. As in, “A black man is never going to win Pennsylvania, but it has nothing to do with race.” A lot of people don’t even bother trying to mask their hypocrisy these days.
One woman, with a husband who is currently in the military and stationed in Iraq, lamented the fact that she wants her husband home and safe. More than almost anything else she wants an end to the war. One of the few exceptions that she wants more than an end to the war is the defeat of Mr. Obama. The woman admitted that she could not bear the fact that Mr. Obama would win the oval office. Again, it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s black. He needs more experience.
Experience with what, being white?
Right now, one of the most experienced Americans for the presidency is the President, George W. Bush. With seven years and some change under his belt, the only person alive who has more experience would be former President Bill Clinton. However, since Mr. Clinton doesn’t have any war experience, it could be argued that Mr. Bush’s war experience is more valuable than Mr. Clinton’s peace time experience.
But with Mr. Bush’s approval ratings currently at cesspool levels and continuing to slide towards bottom feeder status, even if he tried, it is a sure bet that Mr. Bush couldn’t win the top slot at the local PTA. The fact is, finally, the American public sees via hindsight enhanced with bionic optics that Mr. Bush does not have the judgment, the god given common sense, and/or the shred of integrity needed to effectively run this country or any other country or the local PTA for that matter. Mr. Bush is capable of running the United States. But running the country into the ground is not a favorable outcome by most American citizen’s standards.
Now, many people say that the only factor that matters is experience. In fact, if the woman mentioned earlier whose husband is now serving in Iraq is any indication, people are willing to vote against their own interest to because they are so worried about Mr. Obama’s lack of experience. Race has nothing to do with it. People are so concerned about Mr. Obama’s middle name that they are willing to vote against their interest. People are so concerned about other people’s willingness to have a black President that they don’t think they should vote for the black President. And many of these people will claim that they didn’t even notice the fact that Mr. Obama was black.
On the other hand, according to the Yahoo! News article, seventy two year old Robert Miller thInks that the United States Constitution should be amended so colored people can’t run for the White House. Seventy one year old Dixie Pebley says the fact that Mr. Obama is black doesn’t bother her. But the fact that he is or was Muslim is unforgivable. She’s not prejudice against African Americans. Ms. Pebley is just prejudice against Muslim Americans.
I’m not a big fan of Mr. Obama, Ms. Clinton, or Mr. McCain by any stretch of the imagination. If I have a problem with any of these presidential candidates it is a problem based on a clash of ideologies that leads me to believe that he or she may not be the best candidate for the job. Regardless of who is chosen, I would like to know that he or she will be the best candidate for all Americans and not just for one particular group. The United States will only be as great as the least of us. Whether or not the candidates have good judgment with this particular concept happens to be my greatest concern.
Last week Senator Barack Obama lost to Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party primary contest in Kentucky. Ms. Clinton won sixty five percent of the vote while Mr. Obama received only a piddling thirty percent. But that’s better than the twenty five percent or so that he was able to gain in West Virginia last week.
An exit poll of the people who voted for Ms. Clinton revealed that more than forty two percent would vote for Senator John McCain if Mr. Obama won the nomination and another twenty three percent would simply stay at home. Interviews with some of these voters were displayed on CNN and you could hear a variety of reasons why these people wouldn’t vote for Barack Obama. People in Kentucky claimed that they didn’t know anything about him or what he stood for. There must be a ton of caves and a lot of rocks keeping people in Kentucky from educating themselves. But then again, the uneducated, white working class is Ms. Clinton’s core constituency. Another interviewee said that he was suspicious of Mr. Obama’s Muslim connections and his affiliation with the Christian Reverend Jeremiah Wright. However, another interviewer was very candid and said that he couldn’t see a black man as President. In my opinion, what the interviewer should have said was that he didn’t want to see a black man as the President.
The last seven years have been a dismal time for the majority of the populace of this country. Economics are seriously screwed. Status in the global community has plummeted. We are embroiled in two wars that have connotations of perpetuity. The American constitution has been trampled by the executive branch of government. Gas prices have tripled since George Bush took office. We can’t even fly across the country without surrendering our rights at the airport. A Republican President with a Republican controlled Congress has rubberstamped every single piece of legislation Mr. Bush wanted. So many of our constitutional rights have been compromised with executive orders marketed to the public as giving government the tools necessary to keep us safe. Our image as the leader of the free world, the entire world, has been seriously tarnished.
Mr. McCain has promised the American people that he will continue the war in Iraq and in Afghanistan. He has promised that he would reduce government oversight of the privately held institutions that have led to the housing crisis. While most economist say that there should have been someone watching what these institutions were doing, Mr. McCain says that he doesn’t want anyone to control the greed of the handful of people who control these high wealth, low morals organizations. There will be no suing for peace under John McCain’s presidency. The key to diplomacy is essentially to unilaterally bomb our adversaries into submission. The judges that Mr. McCain wants to appoint to the bench will be along the lines of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia is the justice that said on a 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl that racial slavery is constitutional simply because our founding fathers exercised this particularly devastating form of slavery when the constitution was written. The subjugation of black people is constitutional in America. This is the justice who says that the constitution does not guarantee protection from a painful state sponsored death. This is the justice that says torture is acceptable as long as it is not in the form of punishment. I find more justices of this ilk seriously scary as an example of what I can expect from Mr. McCain as President.
A lot of people should see the writing on the wall. The nation is going to hell in a hand basket. Compassionate conservatism is seriously kicking our collective ass. But so many people are so racist that they would be willing to vote against their own interest just to keep a black man from obtaining the highest office in our land. And considering the other contenders for the presidency, this black man just might be the best candidate available despite his flaws. It is a fair bet that Mr. Obama would be a refreshing change after all the damage that our Republican executive leadership has done.
People don’t trust the black candidate. He says he is not a Muslim. But if you don’t trust a man who you condemn for his affiliation with a Christian pastor that has caused him political headaches to say that he is a Christian and not a Muslim then it becomes pretty obvious you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If people in this country don’t want to see a black man as President so strongly that they don’t protect their interests, if they are so willing to cutoff their nose to spite their face, then we truly deserve whatever may come of our national collective shortsightedness.
In typical double standard fashion many people point to Barack Obama and ask why he didn’t or couldn’t win over people so racist that they would prefer to go broke and do without than give a black man a chance to be President. Knowing Mr. Obama is facing people’s ingrained, hostile racial prejudice against black people, some people point and ask the question why he can’t win these people over. I would offer a guess because he is black.
Instead of asking the question how we as a nation combat the problem of racial discrimination, a problem way too many of us continue to tolerate and allow to flourish, we perceive it to be a personal problem of Mr. Obama’s character. We expect Mr. Obama to bend over backwards and convince people who would be more likely to string him up from the nearest tree than to vote for this man to be their President. It reinforces the presumption that racism is a personal problem instead of a social problem. It reinforces the notion that all he has to do is work harder to convince these people that even though he is black he will do his best to be the best President these people ever had. And no matter how hard he works, for some people, white as well as black, he just can’t bend back far enough.
Rumor has it that a rather large percentage of supposedly Democratic Party voters will be so turned off if their favorite Democratic candidate doesn’t make it to the general presidential election that they would be willing to vote for the Republican nominee. There is the Hillary Clinton supporter who says that he or she wouldn’t vote for Barack Obama if he wins. There is the Barack Obama supporter who promises not to vote for Hillary Clinton if she wins. Some of these people swear that they will jump parties and vote for John McCain. This so called news is truly difficult to swallow.
John McCain has made several promises as to what he would do if he wins the presidency. He promises to continue the war in Iraq until the United States is assured victory. If it takes a hundred years John McCain is willing to commit the country to every last one of them. It doesn’t matter to Mr. McCain that the war is costing the people of the United States ten billion dollars and upwards of sixty five American soldiers’ lives on a monthly basis. Do the math. It doesn’t matter that this war could cost something like fifteen trillion dollars and another hundred thousand lives at the current rate of attrition. One day Mr. McCain will say that conditions in Iraq are going well enough to keep the soldiers there. The next day Mr. McCain will say conditions in Iraq have degenerated and are too grim to pull the soldiers out. Either way the soldiers will have to stay.
Mr. McCain confessed some time ago that he doesn’t know much about the economy. And the economy of the United States is issue number one not for just the American public but for people around the globe. Mr. McCain’s response to the current economic doldrums is that the government should do nothing. In fact, Mr. McCain would like to deregulate the investment banking business even further. Large banks can’t respond fast enough when there are rules for their operation. Throw the rules out and these institutions will be conscientious enough to operate like responsible business who would never take advantage of the public. The nation’s experience with Michael Milken and the junk bonds scandal or Charles Keating and the savings and loans crisis were just flukes. Come to think of it, John McCain was one of the politicians implicated as part of the Keating Five accused of corruption when the Federal Home Loan Bank Board investigated Mr. Keating and his failed Lincoln Savings and Loan Association.
Mr. McCain will push to continue the tax cuts that benefit the wealthy. He promises to continue many of the policies of President George Bush. Mr. McCain gives credence to suspicions that he would continue Mr. Bush’s third term as President driving the United States even further into the debacle that is costing so many people their homes, their savings, their peace of mind, their health, their future, and the future of their children.
Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton are publicly promising to do almost the exact opposite on so many different levels. Both of these Democratic hopefuls have plans to implement some kind of universal healthcare coverage. Although their proposals are rather tepid and keep the insurance company’s incentive to deny treatment when profits are missing their targets, it is a small step in the right direction. Both Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama want to pull the troops out of the Iraq war. Both want to put a stop to the nonsense that is draining the national treasury, killing thousands of Americans, killing hundred of thousands of Iraqis and other nationals, and has done nothing to improve and much to erode America’s security.
But rumor has it that many members of the Democratic Party would rather have four more years of a Republican led executive branch rather than suffer the indignity of having their preferred candidate not make it to the general election. The airwaves have played a number of sound bites of people saying things like they just can’t see a woman being a President or something like they’re not racist but there’s something about that Obama fellow that isn’t honest. Whatever the reason, the suggestion that somebody of a Democratic persuasion would find John McCain a more favorable candidate than either Ms. Clinton or Mr. Obama truly blows my mind. There is no excuse for a person giving up on their values simply because a woman or a black man is the best hopeful for an end to the small minded conservative policies that grip our country.
It is a given that people run the gamut and you can find someone, anyone, to support even the most asinine concepts, but the theory is that these fringe elements that exist outside the scope of rational thought should be relatively small. The idea that there will be a mass exodus of the Democratic faithful and independents to the fold of the Republicans is nothing that sounds credible. The nightly network news is reporting that something in the neighborhood of twenty percent of Democratic supporters plan to go to Mr. McCain if their candidate does not win the primary. But that number does not sound real considering the real trouble this country is in after two terms of Bush junior. Either the American public is truly more racist or more misogynistic to exercise common sense or the manipulators of public thought are trying to condition us to accept the idea that so many Democratic voters were so upset by the primary results that they actually helped John McCain slipped in for what is in all practical purposes a third Bush term.
Regardless of who eventually wins the Democratic primary either candidate represents a significant improvement over Mr. McCain. With Mr. Bush’s approval ratings tanking as low as the American dollar anybody who gets his endorsement can’t be good for the public’s welfare. If anyone remembers the last two general elections for the presidency funny things happen when votes get counted. The principles of fuzzy math and string theory combined can’t explain away how the results from exit polling failed to make the accurate prediction of who won the election. They never failed before. But suddenly these processes are unreliable at forecasting the winner of elections when Bush junior is a candidate.
If John McCain wasn’t old enough to make Ronald Regan look like the political equivalent of Doogie Howser his ascension to the presidency might be somewhat more believable. If Mr. McCain was up on his game and didn’t stammer through speeches saying Iran is training al Queda insurgents in Iraq it would be more believable. If Mr. McCain didn’t go on record saying that he didn’t care what the American people thought about the war it was his job to do what he felt what was best for the public’s interest, his ascension would be understandable. If Mr. McCain distanced himself from the lunacy that currently inhabits the White House, his being elected would be plausible. But no such conditions exist. We are being duped into thinking that through a series of unfortunate incidents John McCain will become the chosen candidate of the people. And nothing will be further from the truth.
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?’ Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25:41-46
Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s sermon where he damns America for its intolerance against the black community has been the source of a lot of conversation about race relations. Mr. Wright claims that Hillary Clinton has never been called a nigger. Ms. Clinton did not deny this charge so chances are extremely high that this is true. Mr. Wright said that Ms. Clinton didn’t know what it was like to be a struggling black person here in America. Ms. Clinton is as much a Caucasoid as they come so this is probably true as well. In fact, a lot of what Mr. Wright said was accurate and factual.
America has been built on the backs and with the blood of the children of Africa. Generally speaking, while black people toiled in fields of agriculture with no pay, no benefits, no rights, no education, no citizenship, and no acknowledgement of the fact that they were human, white people enjoyed the fruits of black people’s enslavement. While not all white people owned slaves, they benefited from the low price of many goods and services because the investment in labor cost was so minimal. While not all white people owned slaves, white people benefited from the fact that blacks remained uneducated and were less likely to compete in the job market for many positions that required an education, talents, or learned skills.
In this environment, some black people were able to overcome these conditions so overwhelmingly stacked against their success. The dominant community allowed some black people to go free if their owners gave them permission. Some black people were able to accumulate wealth as long as they were careful to stay within the strict confines that constituted acceptable black behavior. But black people could never forget that their success and their status were subject to tolerance from the dominant community. This may help to explain why many well to do blacks, who used to be aware of the inequity between the black community and the white community but now have accumulated their own materialism and wealth, do well to say nothing against the status quo of white privilege and black subjugation.
Any white person could jeopardize a black person’s position in the dominant community controlled so greatly by the members of the white community. For example, a white woman can accuse a black man of rape and unleash a mob of white retaliation on the entire black community regardless of the merits of the claim. And after the violence against the black community is done, white people are free to go back to their lives without any fear of justice for their transgressions against black people. This type of behavior was rampant in the days of slavery and continues today with such intolerance for black people who think they have the right to defend themselves from white people. John White made this error when he tried to defend his family and property from the drunken mob of white youths led by Daniel Cicciaro. The Jena Six made this mistake when they had the audacity to fight back against white students who instigated racial conflicts when they hanged nooses from trees and initiated fights with their pranks of racial intolerance.
Black people are constantly overlooked by the dominant community. The dominant community will pull out a series of excuses and reasons why it was impossible to help black people caught in the catastrophic flood of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. People in the black community are constantly told to exercise personal responsibility and to show some initiative to lift themselves out of the perpetual condition of black subjugation. It is okay to let black people lose their houses to predatory lending practices that force black people with good credit into sub prime loans that make borrowing more expensive. But, when the ripple effect of so many black people losing their homes suddenly affects the banks and investment firms on Wall Street the government is quick to do what it can to save them.
A nationally syndicated radio talk show host calls black women nappy headed ho’s and the dominant community says its black people’s fault because black rappers who get paid by the corporate music industry controlled primarily by white people makes the subject so confusing. The main character from a nationally syndicated show about bounty hunters call his son’s black girlfriend a nigger and the dominant community says this is okay because it happened behind closed doors. A white comedian gets on stage and espouses the lynching of black hecklers repeatedly calling black people niggers and asking somebody to get him a rope and the dominant community gives him a break because he’s under so much stress. A former Secretary of Education makes the suggestion that crime can be reduced by aborting all black babies and people defend his words by saying that people are trying to take his words out of context. And through all this, people who bring attention to the disparity that has become the standard operating procedure in America are the problem.
With all this racial disparity under America’s collective belt, the dominant community expects black people to simply go along with the status quo of white privilege and black subjugation without complaint. For the most part, the broader community doesn’t care about what happens to the black community. We would prefer to sweep all of this racial discord under the proverbial rug and pretend that everything is okay when racial relations are anything but okay. The black community is constantly under distress from this racial status quo. And when black people have the audacity to say that there is something wrong here these black people are ridiculed and minimized as wanting a pity party or having a victim mentality or wanting a handout or whatever standard knee jerk reaction that minimizes this disparity.
Is Mr. Wright out of line? Did he say anything that wasn’t true? No. He says that while others may sing god bless America there are plenty of people who can say god damn America. That should be no surprise. I’m sure when the people were standing outside the Superdome in those days after Katrina a lot of them were saying god damn America. When black people were being hanged from trees and being dragged behind cars with nooses around their neck I’m pretty sure that were saying god damn America. When black men are trying to defend their home from drunken white mobs I’m sure they were thinking god damn America. When black people were losing their homes in the sub prime mortgage meltdown while the government handed various American corporations billions of dollars on a silver platter I’m sure these people were saying god damn America. When qualified black people are rejected as a candidate for a job or for a learning opportunity or as President because someone says they don’t know why they don’t trust them, then god damn America.
America celebrates the fact that black children are murdered in boot camps for taking their grandmother’s car without permission. Police punch teenaged black girls in the face for breaking curfew and America is horrified that black people complain. America defends the fact that black teenaged boys are getting ten year prison sentences for having sex with teenaged girls. Black teenagers are being tried for second degree attempted murder for getting in fights with white teenagers and the dominant American community feigns confusion when black people rally to come to their aid. A black celebrity stands in front of white people and rips the black community a new one while he absolves the dominant community of its culpability in the condition of the black community. Black celebrities distance themselves from the black community and elevate themselves above their racial identity into the racially generic ether that is overwhelmingly dominated by members of the white community or who are very sensitive to white standards of thoughts are hailed as an example of black opinion that is acceptable, and manageable, by the dominant community.
Regardless of what a lot of people think the established political and corporate leadership does not have the welfare of the black community at heart. People may go into the black community and give some noble sounding speeches full of racial equality rhetoric with suggestions of finally giving some desperately needed fairness to the black community. But when these people get elected the black community will suffer even larger pattern of disparity while the status quo remains safe and even more reinforced.
A politician will promise to rid drugs from the black community. More police will patrol drug infested areas. More arrests are made of individuals who indulge in illegal drugs. People found with fifty grams of crack cocaine, an illegal drug found mostly in the black community, will receive the same sentence as people who carry five kilos of powdered cocaine, an illegal drug more associated with the white community. But the arrest of more people in the black neighborhood who use and sell drugs is nothing more than a simple placebo designed to placate the fears of people. Why are there so many black people using drugs? Where are the drugs in the black community coming from? How are the drugs getting into the black community? Some black people may applaud this heavy handed approach to the drug problem, but the strategy of locking up the drug seller or the drug user does not get to the roots of the problem which is the despair in the black community and the lack of opportunity for improvement in our lives. The long term solution is not in the incarceration of more sellers and users. God damn America!
America likes to tell black people to lift ourselves out of our predicament. Essentially the American government says that the conditions in the black community are not a concern for the dominant culture. This country would rather spend a trillion dollars and four thousand American lives in Iraq on a war to liberate that country from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein who never threatened a single American life. This country would rather go halfway around the world and stick our national nose in another country’s affairs and create a Pandora’s box like the world has never seen than do anything to help alleviate the despair of the black community. God damn America!
There is a great deal of despondency and depression in the black community. There is an overwhelming sense of disconnect from the major community. Instead of trying to build bridges and trying to build communities we are content to let the despair fester like an open wound. A country that is so willing to let such a large part of its population suffer such disparity is nothing that calls for god’s blessing. Such a country should be cursed. It should be damned to the deepest pit of hell. In a nation of such wealth and prosperity we tolerate so much disparity along racial lines. In Matthew 25:41-56, Jesus said that we will be judged by how well we take care of the least of us and not by how well we tell others to get their own bootstrap. As Mr. Wright said, it is in the bible. The bible indicates this happened just two days before the Passover.
America is willing to spend as much time as it takes to understand what drives a white man to strap a fake bomb to their person and hold an entire office of presidential campaign workers hostage. The city will waste no resource in order to find a peaceful solution that will allow the troubled man to get some help for his mental condition that drives his lack of judgment. But let it be a black man who has a history of mental problems and threatening the community with a hairbrush. After five minutes of trying nothing the police will have no choice but to open fire in order to keep the black man from brushing somebody’s hair. God damn America!
But in all honesty we have damned ourselves. The drug problem that is festering in America got its foothold in the black community because people were willing to ignore the plight of the black people who indulged in drugs. The people who are willing to let the education of the black community lapse will pay with higher cost of a social welfare burden that will be a drain on local, state, and federal treasures. The lack of adequate medical care that permeates the black community will drive up medical cost for everyone without being an effective help to anyone. And as a country, we are more than willing to sit back and allow corporate America to rape black people with higher costs for credit, insurance, and housing until we get to a point where those chickens have come home to roost and we find ourselves facing a global financial crisis of epidemic proportions that has the dollar falling against currencies around the world. Our inability to provide a share in the prosperity of America to everyone will come back to damn us all.
Yesterday I cringed at the announcement that Ralph Nader is going to run for President as a third party candidate. Here we go again was my first thought. Whenever Mr. Nader runs for the presidency he steals votes from the Democratic candidate. Without any chance of actually winning the presidency Mr. Nader stole enough votes in Florida to keep Al Gore from taking that state in the 2000 presidential race. Had Mr. Nader stayed out of the political fray we all could be in an alternate reality where there is no war, the economy isn’t on the rocks, people aren’t losing their houses, Exxon/Mobile isn’t making a billion dollars a week, the national debt is still on a decline instead of getting ready to top nine trillion dollars, the dollar isn’t plummeting to a point where it has global worth equal to the peso, we wouldn’t have a Supreme Court that tells people the best way to fight racism is to pretend it doesn’t exist, people would have rebuilt their houses a long time ago in New Orleans and elsewhere on the gulf coast, global warming would get the attention it deserves, the Kyoto Accords would be honored by all the countries of the world, and the Untied States would not exist as some pariah of the civilized world. Thank you Mr. Nader!
I just got through listening to Ralph Nader on Talk of the Nation Monday afternoon. I had tuned into the show with preconceived notions filling my head of Mr. Nader being a spoiler and working to undermine the efforts of the Democratic Party in order to hand the presidency to the Republican nominee. The program just ended and those predetermined ideas of Mr. Nader are history. I have to admit that compared to any Democratic or Republican candidate that I have ever heard in my life Mr. Nader’s opinions and thinking most closely match my own.
I wished I had recorded the conversation and the calls the answers to all the calls that were coming in. Unfortunately, the conversation was over before I realized it. Mr. Nader is not running as a spoiler. Mr. Nader is running as a man who is truly concerned about the direction this country is going and the cozy, self serving relationship that powerful corporate interest have with the status quo political machine.
For example, Mr. Nader understands that expanding the Medicaid program that covers many senior citizens so that it covers everybody is the most efficient way to provide universal healthcare to the entire population. One caller called in asking why we would be interested in universal healthcare when people in Canada, which has universal healthcare, have to wait for months for medical services. People go to Canada for medicine and not for medical services. The caller went on to say that the United States has the best medical technology of any country in the world. Mr. Nader explained that nobody in Canada does from a lack of medical care. The medical technology that we enjoy isn’t available to everyone but just the people who are fortunate enough to afford, or to work for entities that can afford the best healthcare that money can buy. People in Canada wait for elective surgeries. People in Canada wait to get nose jobs and liposuction. Nobody waits until they’re dead to be approved for a cancer treatment.
I can’t stand the bow tied bamboozler Tucker Carlson. But Mr. Nader was on his show talking about the power needs of America and the need to take the nuclear option off the table because power producers want guarantees from the government on liabilities in the case of an accident. If these utilities were so serious about safety then why do they need guarantees? In typical American corporation fashion these companies will do the minimum necessary to meet safety standards in order to maximize profits. If my family and I were going to take a taxi ride but the taxi driver wanted guarantees that if he had a collision we wouldn’t hold him liable, chances are very good we’d look for another taxi. In an era of people advocating people taking personal responsibilities utility corporations want guarantees that no one would hold them personally responsible.
Corporations have deep pockets to buy politicians twenty five hours a day for three hundred sixty seven days out of the year. Running for office has become so expensive that people cannot do it without the help of corporate investments. At one point in American history, if you wanted to run for office, all you had to do was ask to have your name printed on the ballot. Now, with primaries and caucuses and federal campaigning laws and the like this animal has grown unwieldy and inflexible as the two party system has pretty much eliminated any outside competition. Mr. Nader is not running as a spoiler for anyone. In fact, Mr. Nader claims that the Democrats and the Republicans have spoiled the system in order to exclude anyone who doesn’t play by their rules from running for the presidency. No matter how many Green Party candidates or other independent parties make a stab at the presidency, more than likely it will be a Democrat or a Republican and regardless of which one you chose it pretty much is business as usual.
Mr. Nader expressed his disappointment with Mr. Gore for not fighting harder for the presidency that was rightfully his. Mr. Nader was disappointed that Mr. Gore didn’t do a better job of exposing George Bush’s history as the chief executive of Texas. People in Texas are much too rigid and inflexible to see the problems Mr. Bush left in his wake as Governor of that state. Houston became the most polluted city in America under Mr. Bush’s watch. Under Mr. Bush’s watch the Texas justice system developed into a machine that puts more people to death than in any other time in the state’s history. The man is reckless. And it is not Mr. Nader’s fault for Mr. Bush being in office.
I have to confess to a newfound appreciation for Ralph Nader. While I seriously doubt that if he could actually get the presidential nomination I have to confess that I wish Mr. Nader luck. No matter what candidate you pick he appears to have a genuine interest in helping people. He understands that poverty is best countered by providing jobs and educational opportunities for everyone. Corporate entities don’t make for good public citizens. Corporations are only looking out for their investors and their upper management. Unfortunately, the Republicans and the Democrats share that selfish characteristic. The American people be damned.
“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position.” – Geraldine Ferraro, Daily Breeze, March 7, 2008.
One thing that I must say about the Republican Party is that their collective contempt for the black community is worn on their sleeve. Relatively speaking this contempt is held in the open for all to see. In the eyes of the typical Republican Party member the black community is not entitled to any special treatment from its government. A Republican President would rather spend a half trillion dollars and four thousand American lives in a battle of ideology to help the people in a country on the other side of the world than spend a dime building schools specifically for the black community. A Republican in the White House would rather give a corporate entity like Blackwater or Halliburton special treatment in the form of “no bid” federal contracts worth tens of billions of dollars and handsomely uplifting the profits of these companies during a time of war before they would help people in the black community during times of peace. A Republican controlled American government would rather give tax cuts worth more than four trillion dollars to billionaires and millionaires before they would give a black family the opportunity to apply for health insurance for their children. The Republican Party makes no attempt to appear to be a friend of the black community.
On the other hand the Democratic Party heavily depends on the black community for its political support. As far as I’ve been alive the Democratic Party has always made the appeal for black votes a priority in their political strategy. Ever since President John Fitzgerald Kennedy made the phone call to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he was jailed for the peaceful protest of separate but equal facilities for the members of the black community, the Democratic Party has given the black people an impression that it is sympathetic to the needs of the black community. Most assumed leaders of the black community affiliate themselves with the Democratic Party. Most black people will call themselves Democrats. It is a given. But although it is a given that Democrats are more likely to support institutions and policies that are more beneficial to the average Joe in the black community, this by no means should be interpreted to mean Democratic leaders see black people as equal social contemporaries.
Ask a white Democratic United States Senator what positive impression does he have of his black counterpart and one is likely to hear one line compliments that he is clean or articulate. Ask the same question about a white counterpart and you will be more likely to hear a much more in depth analysis of their character, ideas, values, beliefs, and policies. The implication is that the black politician has nothing to offer but their personality and their ability to pronounce words unlike the typical black person. Ask a former President of the United States about a black politician that is well on his way to becoming the Democratic nominee for President of the United States and the former President wants to dismiss the black man’s success as the prelude to the failure of the typical black candidate. Yes Jessie Jackson may have failed in his attempt to be President twenty years ago. But Barack Obama is no Jessie Jackson and vice versa.
The latest example of evidence for this much more subtle form of black community contempt can be found in the comment from Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. Like a lot of people, Ms. Ferraro contends that the only reason the public is infatuated with Barack Obama is because of the color of his skin. She explicitly says that if Mr. Obama was not black he would not be the leading contender in the Democratic nomination primaries. Her implication is that Mr. Obama is bereft of new ideas and unqualified to be considered the best person in the race to lead this country. Ms. Ferraro is actually trying to imply that the only reason Mr. Obama is in the position he is in, kicking Senator Clinton’s ass in the delegate race, is because of some public form of political affirmative action. Interestingly, Ms. Ferraro does not make the assumption that the only reason Ms. Clinton is in her position is that she is a woman. It is only the racial factor that catches her attention.
There is little doubt that Ms. Ferraro finds no pleasure in all the claims that she was Walter “Fritz” Mondale’s Vice Presidential running mate only because she was a female. Mr. Mondale needed a gender counter to the fact that President Ronald Reagan scored political points with women when he had appointed Sandra Day O’Connor as the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court. So there is plenty of circumstantial evidence to support this hypothesis. Ms. Ferraro probably bristled at every reference to the Mondale-Ferraro political ticket as “Fritz and Tits”. But now this leader of the Democratic Party wants to disparage the black candidate as nothing more than an unqualified black man taking advantage of his skin color. Actually, Ms. Ferraro has it backwards. Black people have not been the President of the United States because of the color of our skin. It is not an advantage. However, like a lot of white people when they see a black person as the best candidate for the job, Ms. Ferraro dismisses the black candidate’s accomplishments as nothing more than happenstance based on some popular myth that black people have it easier than white people. If it was so easy for black people to become President then Jessie Jackson, Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, and Alan Keyes would have done so a long time ago.
Ms. Ferraro’s comment should do nothing to diminish Mr. Obama’s accomplishments. It was a racist remark filled with racial resentment from a racist woman who is now out of the racist closet. The comment did nothing to help Senator Clinton in her campaign for the White House. The comment does nothing for the Democratic Party in its bid to look like a unified body in its bid for a return to the White House. The comment does nothing for anybody else for that matter. The only possible exception of people who would benefit from this comment would be the other racist people who gain credence and support in their effort to minimize the successes of Mr. Obama because of the color of his skin. The comment is just the latest reminder of the contempt some influential Democratic Party leaders have of their black supporters. Another white person who is not only playing the race card but a racial royal flush.
I have given Barack Obama a lot of static this presidential primary season. As a black man I have to confess that if all things were equal I would vote for a black candidate if given the option. But most importantly, all things must be equal or at least in the black candidates favor. However, Senator Obama has not impressed me as a presidential candidate. Although many people in the black community readily embrace him, and many others in the black community are ready to dismiss him for whatever odd reason, he’s not black enough, his mother was white so he’s not fully black, he needs more experience, he’s too skinny, or whatever, I have stayed rather lukewarm over the entire presidential race.
I also have to admit to some dismay that the presidential race has dwindled down to a choice between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The most important issue to me these days is the national disenfranchisement of the black community. John Edwards actually gave me the impression that he understood this fact more than Mr. Obama or Ms. Clinton did. The most glaring example of this fact is the way both of these candidates approach the issue of universal healthcare. Neither one is thinking to change the system so that the incentive the insurers have to deny care for the public is no longer an issue. Both of these candidates want to make so called affordable insurance of healthcare the crux of the issue. But as long as somebody is able to make a profit the system it will be too expensive and there will always be an incentive to turn people down in order to make money. No one wants to venture the idea of expanding Medicaid to cover the population. That would be too socially responsible for this nation that spends a trillion dollars a year on socialized defense.
Ever since the Bush administration took over the chores at the White House the black community has come out on the shitty end of the stick. There may be little difference between what the Republican Party does when it’s in control of this government compared to the Democratic Party. But what little difference there is appears to be enough to make the vast majority of the black community shiver in fear to see another four years of Republican policy. Senator John McCain is promising to keep the fight going in Iraq does nothing but send chills up and down my spine. The commercials referring to Mr. McCain as McSame are more appropriate than the creators of this advertising slogan may ever realize. So it really has come down to a choice between Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton in my book. In all honesty Mitt Romney, Mike Hucklebee, Fred “Confederate Flag Lover” Thompson, and Rudy Giuliani were never a more palatable Republican option.
Things began to change in recent weeks. When Ms. Clinton was the front runner she pretty much dismissed Mr. Obama as a serious threat. And because he wasn’t seen as a threat he was able to actually build a coalition of the voting in the virtual political shadows. Mr. Obama actually caught up to Ms. Clinton in the delegate count and then surpassed her. His campaign never passed on an opportunity to fight for delegates in any state. It would have been nice if Mr. Obama took the same approach to taking every opportunity to fight for black votes with as much vigor. Hillary Clinton actually found the time to appear on the State of the Black Union. It would have helped me felt better about him if he also made an appearance. But Mr. Obama felt he was needed elsewhere. Too bad. My disconnect from Mr. Obama grew even wider, black man to black man.
But then after a string of eleven Obama victories, Ms. Clinton and her gang began to dig down dirty in the fight for Democratic delegates. There is no politician with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter that can say without a doubt that they do not have skeletons in their closet. So stooping to dirt slinging is a fine example of hypocrisy. Digging for things that don’t matter in an attempt to call into question the character of her Democratic rival is pretty low and will turn off many voters. Mr. Obama dressed like a Muslim with he visited a Muslim country. Truly petty. Mr. Obama bought a house from Tony Rezko. This from the people who complained about the scrutiny into their Whitewater real estate deal from Kenneth Starr. Mr. Obama doesn’t have the executive experience Ms. Clinton gained while she was married to the President. If that’s the case then Monica Lewinsky should probably be Ms. Clinton’s most qualified running mate.
But instead, Ms. Clinton says that if the people vote for her she would be willing to ask Mr. Obama to be her running mate. That’s rather arrogant. Mr. Obama has won more delegates, has won more states, has won more populace votes, has raised more money, and has inspired more people. Yet, Hillary Clinton feels gracious enough to offer Mr. Obama, who for all practical purposes is in first place, second place if he would just concede. More evidence of white supremacy with a white person thinking that a black person needs to take a step back and the white person’s coattails in order to look more acceptable to the public.
The combination of her getting dirty was a big downer for me. It is not tough. It is the typical political tactic when things are looking dark. And the sad thing is it works. People say they don’t like it when a candidate uses dirty methods to win. But it works each and every time. Ms. Clinton told people that she is more qualified to answer that phone in the White House at three in the morning while Mr. Obama is too green to know what to do even though he was experienced enough not to approve of the Iraqi war campaign. And if it was just a matter of experience then Senator John McSame would be the ideal candidate. And I pray to god that this country is spared another four more years of failed Republican policies.
I still cannot say whether or not Barack Obama would make the ideal President for my needs or those of the black community and therefore the country. But I am very sure that Ms. Clinton is not the person that I want to answer that phone at three in the morning, three in the afternoon, on the weekend, or on any holiday. She has proven that she would do anything to get the job. She would even compromise her principles and turn her back on a fellow Democrat in the race to the White House. If she wins the Democratic nomination she would then have to turn back around and ask Mr. Obama for his support in facing the Republicans. She would have to ask for my support. And I’m sorry but between these two candidates, I don’t think she’s the best person to represent me or my needs. She would be more apt to turn around and bite the hands that vote for her. Such behavior would be typical of monsters.