The Occupy Wall Street protest that is making so much news in the news media is entering its fourth week. It appears to be gaining momentum in both the news and in political attention. The series of images of police officers using their pepper spray against protestor have grabbed our attention like a tsunami grabs the attention of a beach walker. Conservative politicians who once sang high praises to the tea party demonstrations as an example of the democratic process and the strength of the public’s collective will to make their unified voice heard, is now judging the thousands of people protesting America’s gaping wealth disparity as little more than mobs that are inciting some kind of class warfare.
Conservatives participating in presidential debates are cheering the supposition that somebody in need of medical care without medical insurance should be allowed to die. These are the same people who protested the idea of President Barack Obama instituting death panels as part of his universal healthcare programs. Conservatives are telling people that if they don’t have a job or are unable to pay their bills they shouldn’t blame anyone but himself or herself. People are losing their jobs, homes, and shot at a descent future as deep pocket financial institutions and corporations are making record profits month after month and conservatives think that what America needs now is more tax cuts for the wealthy so that they can create jobs, even though we have had tax cuts for more than a decade now and our unemployment numbers are higher than ever. A Congressional Representative can complain that he only has four hundred thousand dollars at the end of the year and complain that half the country, the half of people without jobs or whose income is so low they go without paying federal income tax but pays a higher percentage of their income in other forms of taxes like sales taxes and energy taxes, don’t pay enough in taxes. But it is the people who participate in the Occupy Wall Street protests are the ones who are trying to institute some kind of class warfare.
Some conservative political pundits describe these protestors as a murderous bunch that is ready to pull wealthy people out of their homes and kill them out of jealousy for rich people’s success. The protestors have been described as shiftless and lazy. Some people conservative presidential candidates say that too many of these protestors could get a job anytime they wanted to do so, but just refuse to earn a living out of laziness or some undeserved expectation of a handout. One political pundit used his appearance on a television talk show to describe protestors who urinate in public and who openly use drugs. People want to see only the worse in people who are coming together to express their frustration and their belief that the American dream may no longer be achievable for so many. How unfair can this be?
The police have been accused of using violence against peaceful protestors. The images of the police suddenly pepper spraying peaceful protestors have already been mentioned. The police have been accused of luring the protestors into a gauntlet on the Brooklyn Bridge in order to conduct a more efficient means to arrest participants. The mayor has accused the protestors of trying to drive away business and to destroy the jobs of people who have jobs. A television news show even singled out a protestor and described him as a fugitive who was using the protest as a cover to lay low from the law.
After watching all of this and reading about it, it hit me that the Occupy Wall Street movement looks very much like the black community. A lot of people are upset over the fact that the nation’s unemployment rate is up to nine percent and the disparity gap is growing wider by the minute. The black community’s unemployment rate wouldn’t be as low as nine percent on our best day. The black community’s unemployment rate has hovered around seventeen percent. Maybe these people will have a better appreciation for the unemployment rate for blacks.
People are surprised to see police actually initiating an attack against the citizens they swore to protect. People seem to believe that what happened to Rodney King was an anomaly. Oscar Grant being shot in the back as he laid on the ground on his belly with his hands tied behind his back by a police officer was a fluke. Sean Bell ambushed by New York’s finest was just a misunderstanding. Black people being arrested by police officers and suddenly showing up at the police stations with a series of bruises and cuts because they tripped getting into the police cruiser is always an easy excuse. Maybe a lot of these people will now have a better understanding of what police are really capable of.
People who participate in these protests can see themselves maligned by politicians on national television who argue that the inequality and social injustice that these mobs are so concerned about are nothing more than self inflicted circumstances, the result of people not having a strong enough work ethic to do better for themselves. Without any evidence to support their prejudice, these people want to condemn these people as something to loath, while somebody in the tea party who operate with very similar tactics would get a pass. Although it should be noted that there are some noticeable differences between the two like people in the tea party are much more likely to take their guns to a protest. Who knows? That’s probably why the police are more apt to leave them alone.
I watch the Occupy Wall Street movement and I see a lot of people who should have a better idea of what it means to be part of the black community. These people are upset and feel like they can’t find jobs? With an unemployment rate that’s perpetually higher than any other segment of our collective, that’s a black community staple. Police are roughing these people up when nobody’s looking and protestors are getting arrested for exercising the rights that are theirs according to the Constitution? In a minute, statistics will show that more people in the Occupy Wall Street protest are arrested than the tea party protest and therefore any arrest is probably more than justified per capita. You will get used to it. People in these protests want to demonstrate against inequality in our society but people point to them and accuse them of playing the victim card and trying to split people up in the nation, even though disparity has been splitting people up for a good while now. The black community has been singing that tune since this country’s birth. Been there, done that.
I watch the Occupy Wall Street and I think and hope that some of these people will develop a real sense of what constitutes social injustice. It would be nice to think that this experience will open eyes and make these people more aware of social injustice and more sensitive to what is happening in the black community. After all, despite what may have been going on in these people’s lives to drive them to Occupy Wall Street, the condition of the black community is even worse and has been that way far longer. And if that happens, maybe something good will come out of the social injustice that has become part and parcel of this current social condition.
Hank Williams, Jr. made a very thoughtless, politically incendiary comment about President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden comparing the two to Adolph Hitler. ESPN, Mr. Williams’ most public employer who has used the singer to open up the Monday Night Football broadcast, reacted by immediately pulling Mr. Williams’ opening theme song asking the audience if they were ready for some footbaaaaawl.
No doubt the defenders of conservative politics and anybody who would attack the President will be quick to say that liberals made the same comments about George Bush, Jr. when he was President so it’s just hypocrisy that everybody wants to jump on Mr. Williams’ back now. ESPN is selectively trying to infringe on Mr. Williams’ freedom of speech. But the big difference is that nobody who worked for ESPN with an opening theme song said anything about Mr. Bush. Mr. Williams did. So the comparison is rather absurd.
It was unclear if the yanking of Mr. Williams’ act was a permanent thing or just a one time shot. The dust of the situation had yet to settle and all people could do is wait. But we have our answer. ESPN announced that it has severed its relationship with Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams counters that he has severed his relationship with ESPN because of the company’s attempt to infringe on his freedom of speech and therefore he’s leaving and has decided to take his theme song with him. I guess Mr. Williams thinks all those Monday Night Football fans were tuning in to see his videotaped, computer graphically enhanced special effects concert and were only hanging around for the game because there was nothing else to do.
It’s been years since I’ve bothered myself to watch a Monday Night Football game. Football just doesn’t hold my interests the way it used to. I think that’s a good thing. But when I did, I was well familiar with the theme song and did my share of sang a longs with Mr. Williams. I didn’t give Mr. Williams’ political views any thought. It wasn’t until he volunteered to put his views out into the public so spectacularly that caused some of us to question his beliefs and his values.
And the idea that Mr. Williams’ right to free speech is being infringed is really off the mark. No one knocked on his door and took him away to a concentration camp for rehabilitation. Nobody took away his property. Mr. Williams is free to say what he feels and how he feels as long as he doesn’t slander anyone or infringes on anyone else’s rights. His rights are still intact. He’s free to take his views and his song, if it does truly belong to him, anywhere he wants. Would anybody be surprised to see Mr. Williams going over to FOX, changing a word or two of his theme song and ask the television audience, Are you ready for O’Rileeeeeeey?
But people forget that the ESPN Corporation is a person too and it has rights as well. It has its own freedom of speech and it has the right to say who can and can’t be affiliated with its public image. For anyone to say that Hank Williams, Jr. has the right to say how he feels and ESPN should be canned for responding to that is actually being hypocritical. Why is it okay for Mr. Williams to say how he feels about shit and then turnaround and say that ESPN doesn’t have the right to say how it feels about his shit? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Mr. Williams can take his theme song elsewhere. ESPN can take its show elsewhere.
And for the record, high profile liberals who criticized Mr. Bush did suffer the consequences. Back in 2003, just before the United States launched its invasion of Iraq, the American country band The Dixie Chicks was performing a concert in London when they said that they were embarrassed that their President, Mr. Bush, was from Texas and was opening a new front in the war on terror. Many of their country music fans were offended and thought the group was unpatriotic. They lost half their audience and they didn’t even call him a Hitler wannabe. I’m assuming it was the conservative half. They were attacked with a massive response of hate mail, death threats, and the public destruction of Dixie Chicks CDs and other paraphernalia. Would anyone say that all of those people protesting the Dixie Chicks were infringing on the band’s freedom of speech? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
The Dixie Chicks had to bounce back. When they lost their more conservative fans, they picked up other fans who weren’t necessarily fans of country music, but wanted to support a group with the courage to speak their convictions. Mr. Williams will do the same. He may have lost a lot of people who saw him as the opening act of the football show. But he’s bound to pique the interests of conservatives who could not care any less about football. Trust me, it’s only a matter of time before we hear something like, Are you ready for Sean Haniteeeee!
And there’s no doubt that ESPN is going to lose a few fans as well. A lot of people are under the perception that an attack on anyone who criticizes Mr. Obama is an attack on conservatism everywhere. People who think that ESPN should be supported for not letting Mr. Williams get away with attacking Mr. Obama with impunity. All of a sudden I have an interest in watching a little Monday Night Football. If anybody ask I do believe I might be ready.
David Letterman has the nerve to say something stupid about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and her family.
When Arizona Senator John McCain picked Ms. Palin as his running mate in his bid for the White House, Mr. McCain opened a Pandora’s Box of all kinds of political repercussions that continue to reverberate on a national scale. Personally, I find it difficult to believe that Mr. McCain thought that Ms. Palin was the most qualified individual to entrust the governance of the nation should something dreadful happened and Mr. McCain was no longer capable of serving as President. One of the things that Mr. Letterman said about the Alaska Governor was that she had to purchase makeup for her slutty stewardess look. Cheap for a laugh or two for sure, but I’m sure it was that slutty stewardess appearance that gave Ms. Palin the edge over far more qualified potential running mates.
For whatever reason, whether you agree with her motives or not, Ms. Palin put her family in front of the world during the Republican National Convention for the entire world to see as a prime example of an average American family. Since then we’ve learned that Bristol Palin was an unwed teen mother and the father to be was a self described redneck with more testosterone than sense. The young couple talked a good game about how they planned to wed. But it was pretty obvious that Bristol and her beau, Levi Johnston, had as much true love for each other as Mr. McCain and Barack Obama during a presidential debate. Personally speaking the teen mother became a reminder of how poorly Ms. Palin’s view, opinion, and policy on issues of pregnancy and women’s reproductive rights manifest in practical applications.
The Republican Party’s effort for the White House became a godsend for comedians every where. But Mr. Letterman made the ridicule of the Republican Party a personal vendetta after Mr. McCain ducked out an appearance on Mr. Letterman’s late night show in order to make an appearance on the CBS Evening News with Katie Coruic. Mr. McCain’s transgression against Mr. Letterman was further aggravated because Mr. McCain claimed he had to cancel at the last minute to run back to Washington, D.C. for urgent national business. The gloves came off that night and that Republican Party has been paying ever since. And while the majority of the so called Republican Party leadership has proven to be feeding Mr. Letterman a great deal of material to work with, hardly anybody has proven to be more reliable for a laugh than Sarah Palin and her family.
The jokes got out of hand the other night when Mr. Letterman made the suggestion that Ms. Palin’s daughter got knocked up during a visit to a baseball game. I don’t remember the joke. I must say it wasn’t nearly as funny as the slutty stewardess reference. In fact, it was down right tasteless. But that’s nothing unusual for one of Mr. Letterman’s monologue. Mr. Letterman says he was making a reference to Ms. Palin’s eighteen year old daughter Bristol. But it was her fourteen year old daughter Willow who attended the baseball game and the Palin’s are now trying to make the suggestion that Mr. Letterman is some kind of borderline pedophile. Truly the Palins should leave comedy to the professionals. But without a doubt, there appears to be a very public brouhaha in the making between Mr. Letterman and the Palin family. And the news media looks more than ready to incite this conflict.
For all her supposed political savvy I really don’t think Ms. Palin and the Palin family is playing this right. Yes Mr. Letterman’s joke may have been offensive. I’m sure if I was a public figure I would take the same, if not more, offense at any tasteless reference to any members of my family. But Mr. Letterman just handed an opportunity for reconciliation with the Republican Party to Ms. Palin on a silver platter. Mr. Letterman invited Ms. Palin onto his show. They could bury the hatchet on national television. Instead, Ms. Palin counters with her own brand of comedy with the suggestion that Willow wouldn’t be safe in Mr. Letterman’s presence. For all of his uncouthness it should be pretty obvious that Mr. Letterman is no danger to anyone let alone somebody’s underage daughter.
However, where Mr. Letterman has the potential to be very dangerous could be to political fortunes. Just ask John McCain. No one would make the suggestion that Mr. McCain lost his presidential aspirations because of what happened between him and Mr. Letterman. But it should be pretty obvious that it didn’t help to be ridiculed so regularly. I’m no politician and I wouldn’t presume that I know enough about politics to advise anyone who has the political smarts to become a Governor of one of only fifty states. However, I can’t help but think that a good politician would work hard to make friends in the highest of places. If I was a politically savvy politician, I would think that driving a wedge in a potential relationship between me and somebody like David Letterman could not be helpful for my future political ambitions.
Israeli war planners had vowed to destroy the infrastructure of terror in Gaza. But most Gazans believe that the military operation was directed against general infrastructure. It certainly demolished much of Gaza’s economy and civil society. All along Gaza’s factory row hardly a single building remains standing.
The Israeli military targeted tunnels, arms caches, police stations and the hideouts of several Hamas military commanders. But Israeli attacks also destroyed more than two hundred factories, nearly fifty schools and two dozen mosques were damaged as well as government buildings, including the Presidential Compound and the Assembly building, which Gazans viewed as the possible foundation for a Palestinian state. Representatives of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) say it chose its targets carefully in order to minimize destruction to surrounding property and human lives. The IDF accuses Hamas of putting ordinary Gazans in harm’s way by firing rockets at Israel from within crowded neighborhoods.
Gaza businessmen insist that no militants were taking refugee inside the factories bombed by Israel. The IDF wants people to believe that militants were firing at them from a building, and when the IDF returned fire and utterly destroyed the building that military tactic worked so well that they ran to the next building and did the same thing again, repeating the process over two hundred times until Gaza’s ability to produce anything as little as a bubble gum wrapper was ruined.
Israeli planes targeted the American International School, an institution that served the sons and daughters of wealthy Palestinians. The school had high walls and very good security so the possibility that it was used as a base of attack is nil. A guard at the school wanted to bring family to stay with him because the school was safer than his neighborhood. The guard was killed when an Israeli aircraft fired several rockets at the facility, regarded as Gaza’s finest school.
Initial estimates by Gaza’s Public Works Ministry point to more than two thousand houses destroyed and another forty five thousand left in need of serious repair. Total reconstruction costs for Gaza as a result of the three-week offensive are estimated by the United Nations to be more than one point five billion dollars. But the delivery of reconstruction aid into the territory is a contentious issue for Israel as long as Hamas, the elected representatives of the Gaza people, remains responsible for the distribution of that aid.
Without a doubt there are people in Gaza who are so angry with Israel that they would happily spend every bit of aid in some kind of retaliation. People lost family and their entire means of earning a living. People’s homes were destroyed under some pretense that militants were using them to launch dangerous counterattacks against the IDF. So the chance that aid would be used nefariously is just too great to help the many others in need of help.
To add insult to the IDF inflicted injury Israel is pressing for a continuation of the eighteen month economic siege imposed on the people of Gaza by Israel, America, and other entities in Europe and the Middle East. Obviously, there are people in Israel who think of nothing but imposing as much punishment as possible on the Palestinian people. These are the kind of people who see a few of some of the most rudimentary rockets falling in their streets as an excuse to unleash all out war. Unfortunately for the people of Gaza, the people who want to punish Palestine at the maximum setting are large and in charge.
So now that the Palestinians have to pick themselves up by their bootstrap without the ability to provide for themselves with the lost of their manufacturing base. And without their manufacturing base and trying to recover from being pummeled with American sourced weaponry, people think the people of Gaza should go back to their existence behind an economic blockade. People who were starving before should go back to starving in their shell shocked hovels.
The idea that Israel was striking only at militants with the surgical precision of smart weapons just doesn’t hold water when entire neighborhoods lay flatten. It’s hard to buy into this supposition when every factory lies in a pile of ruin and every school has been obliterated. Israel practiced the same level of restraint and precision with smart bombs that a tsunami would employ trying to pull a single grain of sand off of a beach. For every Israeli killed a hundred Palestinians were killed. For every Israeli injured thousands of Palestinians were made to suffer. And America protects Israel why? Sounds like a fox needing protection from the hens.
It is an exciting time. In a few hours the world will get its first United States President that is not a white male. Barack Hussein Obama will be the first African American to serve as President of the United States. It is an exciting time indeed. The authorities estimate that as many as two million people will crowd into the small strip of open space known as the National Mall. Some people are paying outrageous sums of good money and jumping through all kinds of flaming hoops so they can experience the event first hand even though more than likely they’d need a telescope with the optics of the Hubble to make out Mr. Obama’s person as he takes the oath on the steps of the United States Capitol Building.
A lot of people are asking the question what would Dr. King think of all this. Truly, what would arguably the greatest symbol of the civil rights movement think? What would the man who worked tirelessly for the black community think about a black politician achieving what for many is considered the highest political office in the land? Not surprisingly, I see it as a simple question to answer.
When Dr. King instituted passive resistance against the raging institutionalized racism of America, there were a number of individual black Americans who were doing surprisingly well at the time. People like Sidney Portier and Diane Carroll were making careers as Hollywood actors. People like Redd Foxx and Bill Cosby were doing very well as comedians. Berry Gordy and Earl Graves were making a name in the corporate world. And a number of other black professionals were doing well as doctors and lawyers and whatever you may have had at the time.
But Dr. King wasn’t fighting for civil rights for a handful of black people. His struggle was for the black community at large. Mr. King never said that we needed a black President or a black corporate executive or the first black whatever. Mr. King was fighting for the black community in general and not for that one black individual who has been able to overcome and reach their goals.
Thinking of Dr. King I am reminded of the story where he made a personal request to Nichelle Nichols who played Lieutenant Uhura on the then brand new science fiction phenomenon Star Trek. For sometime, Ms. Nichols had felt that she was being mistreated by the show’s producers and wanted to quit the franchise. When she had discovered that while other actors were enjoying their notoriety her fan mail was being withheld it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She wanted to quit. But Dr. King appealed to her saying that it would inspire future generations of black people to achieve. Dr. Mae Jamison, the first black woman to go to space, admitted that it was Lieutenant Uhura at the futuristic switchboard of the Enterprise that inspired her to become an astronaut.
I’d like to imagine that Dr. King would be proud of Mr. Obama just as much as he would have been proud of any and every person of African decent who achieves and who wants to maintain their affiliation with the black community without selling their soul to do it. The election of Mr. Obama to the presidency is a great achievement for him. But the election of Mr. Obama is not tantamount to the evaporation of inequality. Mr. Obama’s achievement is not the end all or be all of the black community.
A lot of people like to talk in the most simplistic of terms that Mr. Obama’s election is now an indication that racism is over and that the people in the black community no longer have an excuse for the under achievement that permeates the black community relative to other communities. But then people turn around and see Mr. Obama as the rare exception instead of the general rule of black people. He speaks so well. Black people are indeed inferior. It’s just that every now and then you will find that rare black person that can transcend his or her inherent black inferiorities.
Bottom line is that from Dr. King’s perspective, it wasn’t about the individual. It wasn’t about the achievements of a few black people. It was about the black community. We can celebrate the fact that Mr. Obama is the latest member of an extremely small, elite fraternity. We can support him in his endeavors as he tries to bring something that resembles respectable leadership back to the oval office. The black community should be very proud of this moment.
But on the flipside, this is not a time to rest on laurels. The proportion of education and employment opportunities for young black people falls short. The only area when opportunities for black people excel relative to others is when we have an opportunity to fall under the harsh judgment of the public’s eye such as when we are brought before the judicial system or law enforcement. And we still suffer from a mindset that when something negative is perpetrated by one black person, all black people suffer the consequences. The whole fate of future black Presidents rest on Mr. Obama’s broad shoulders. However, the fate of future white Presidents is hardly impacted by the less than stellar performance of George Bush.
And what does an Obama presidency hold for the black community? Would he be a black President in the vein of Thurgood Marshall, the first black appointment to the Supreme Court? Or is Mr. Obama’s relationship with the black community will be better defined in the vein of Clarence Thomas, Mr. Marshall’s less than illustrious successor? Generally speaking will Mr. Obama be someone welcomed by the vast majority of black people who will judge as a good thing for everyone including the black community or will he be judged as an anathema heavily despised by black people?
Like most black people who have a vision and are more socially oriented, I imagine Dr. King would hope for the best for the entire community. But he would not assume anything. He would be proud, but he would stay vigilant. He would say that this was a great achievement for a black man. Obviously, the fact that a black man is becoming President is a sign that we have made significant progress. But the fight for racial equality is far from over. I believe Dr. King would know that we must continue this long and arduous journey resisting all manners of distractions along the way, even the distractions that would lead us to believe we have arrived when it’s really nothing more than the next logical step in a very long process.
If only this was always true. Unfortunately, history has a tendency to be written by the people in charge. For example, I find it rather disgusting that President Abraham Lincoln promoted himself as a racist. Mr. Lincoln was no man with sensitivity for black people and yet black people love him. He freed the slaves! Trust me, if Mr. Lincoln could have met his goals and keep black people as slaves, I’m sure he would’ve died a much happier man. Mr. Lincoln suffers from no stern judgment. And if it can happen for him, why can’t it happen for Mr. Bush?
I was rather appalled to hear the suggestion that the future would be much kinder to President George Bush. This man has wreaked havoc on the United States and the entire world. He will forever be linked to this second war on Iraq under the guise that the United States had the right to initiate preemptive wars against perceived yet totally unsubstantiated threats. We will find the weapons of mass destruction. We will chase Osama bin Laden through the gates of hell and around the flames of perdition until we find him. Mr. Hussein defied United Nation mandates and so the United States had to defy the United Nations in order to prove to the world that no one should be defying the United Nations. The reasons the Bush administration gave for promoting war is as long as the war itself.
Mr. Bush turned a blind eye to the suffering in New Orleans. The other day in his final press conference he held fast to his claim that the federal government moved quickly because the Coast Guard was there plucking people off the roofs of their houses during the storm. Because the local Coast Guard was unhampered by bureaucracy and didn’t get the memo that the lower part of Louisiana did not receive federal disaster area recognition and didn’t wait for approval to come through proper procedure in order to act, Mr. Bush wants to claim the actions of a few helicopters as indicative of a prompt, and it is implied sufficient, response by his administration to cover the lame effort put forth by FEMA. If I recall properly, Mr. Bush said heckuva job Brownie and not heckuva job Coast Guard.
Mr. Bush let oil companies define his energy policy and then looked surprised when those companies started making record profits earning as much as a billion dollars a week while the public suffered with paying four dollars a gallon for gasoline. Mr. Bush put people with sympathy for polluters in charge of the EPA.
Mr. Bush ignored the signs that a financial crisis was looming and instead stuck his head in the sand with claims that the foundation of the economy was strong. Plugging the hole that people were beginning to fall through when it was a relatively small problem never registered on Mr. Bush’s brain. We had to wait until large companies were failing before reacting. Mr. Bush enacted a policy of too big to fail, too small to help. By the time the government began to react, it was too late. A stitch in time would have saved a huge national collective headache. There is the Valerie Plame fiasco which could probably be summed up as No Spy Left Behind. And don’t forget how the Bush administration would manipulate science to deny doing anything about global warming or to fund any science that conducts research with stem cells from embryos.
There is a long list of Mr. Bush’s associates who have sulked away into obscurity, or soon will be. There’s Attorney General Roberto Gonzales, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield, Chief Advisor to the Vice President I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a butt load of White House press secretaries, Julie Myers of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Christine Todd Whitman of the EPA, the former director of FEMA Michael “Brownie” Brown, Thomas White the former Interior Secretary, Elaine Chao the Secretary of Labor, Paul Wolfowitz the former Deputy of Defense Secretary, and the master king pin of all Karl Rove.
Mr. Bush points to his No Child Left Behind policy as one of his few successes. But for the past eight years the government has mandated that schools teach children to take a standardized test in order to compete for their funding instead of teaching children the three R’s. Mr. Bush likes to point to his drug policy for seniors as another success. Let’s see, we’re going to counter a war that has cost millions of lives and destroyed families and robbed our national treasury with the fact that our senior citizens no longer have to go to Canada to afford their prescriptions. Classic Bush.
When I initially heard Mr. Bush say that he will be vindicated by future historians I had to laugh to myself. Ain’t no way in hell people can forget the depth of this administration’s inclination to manipulate facts and distort truths. Nobody’s memory is that short. No history book’s pages fade that quickly. I held on to this notion for about a month or so.
But then I got an epiphany and I realized that there is very good potential that Mr. Bush could be remembered as one of the best Presidents this country ever had. I heard a report that President-elect Barack Obama will be using a Christian bible that once belonged to Abraham Lincoln to take his inaugural oath. Mr. Obama will be delivering his inaugural address within sight of the Lincoln Memorial. For a while now, Mr. Obama admitted that he has been using the presidential policies of Abraham Lincoln as inspiration for his strategy for picking his cabinet by reaching out to his political opponents as well as by reaching across the political divide to the other party. Mr. Lincoln’s influence is all over Mr. Obama’s political image at this particular moment.
On the surface this will sound like a good thing to a lot of people. But Mr. Lincoln was no benevolent agent for the black community. While the black community has been trained to love Mr. Lincoln because he was the great white man that freed the slaves, Mr. Lincoln was also a racist and a bigot who felt no inclination to truly abolish slavery and make the black community whole. Mr. Lincoln admitted that he was never in favor of bringing about social and political equality between the white and black races. Mr. Lincoln said he would never support voting rights for black people. Mr. Lincoln was a good example of racism of his time. Yet, his reputation for racial compassion remains one of the greatest products of propaganda in America. This man’s character has been so thoroughly whitewashed that the majority of black people are more than happy to worship this man’s name. The first black President worships this man as well, a man who said he would rue the day that blacks and whites would be free to marry.
So if such a flip of the original script can happen for Mr. Lincoln, why can’t it happen for Mr. Bush as well? History is written by people who control the present. The history of today will be written by people who control the future. If the people who control the future think favorably of Mr. Bush they’ll put so much spin on the reputation of his presidency that a black hole couldn’t suck up all the lighting used to favorably distort his image. The stench of this presidency will be described as little more than the pleasing fragrance from a thorn free rose. Mr. Bush too can be whitewashed. Depending on who controls the future all it takes is time.
History may have a long range perspective that passes stern judgment on tyrants and vindicates people who fight for equality and the end to oppression. That’s a pretty thoughtful expression and one we’d all like to think holds a lot of water. Vindication sounds good. But another thoughtful expression that holds even more weight is the one that says those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has some hardened steel balls. The man stands before a cheering crowd and invites anyone to tape his conversations because they are so lawful. He’s then caught on tape complaining that somebody expected him to give away the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama without getting anything in return. It’s fucking golden and you can kiss his ass if you think you’re going to get in there without making it worth his while to put you there.
Caught red handed Mr. Blagojevich says that he’s innocent of any wrong doing. Instructed by members of the Democratic Party not to assign anyone to the Senate seat because for all technical purposes nobody he selects will be fully trusted, Mr. Blagojevich settles for former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to fill the position. The word is settled because the first Senate picks were smart enough not to get caught up in this messy affair. Not Mr. Burris!
Mr. Burris, confident that he has the legal authority to take his seat as the junior Senator from Illinois, is more than happy to jump at the chance to become Mr. Blagojevich’s political bitch. Mr. Blagojevich can simply sit back and watch the spectacle of this political drama unfurl from his Governor seat. Now, long before Mr. Burris was selected it was made public that no one Mr. Blagojevich would select would be acceptable. However, Mr. Burris, who became the first black political something or other in the great state of Illinois, thought it clever to play the race card and scream that the only reason he is being denied his rightful place in the Senate that happens to be zero percent African American at this time is the fact that he is black.
The stench from this farce gets even thicker.
Now, Representative Bobby Rush wants to throw his two cents into this cock fight. Mr. Rush, who originally opposed Mr. Obama’s effort to become the junior Senator from Illinois and instead supported Mr. Obama’s white opposition, now says that the seat must be held by someone of African decent. Essentially, it is nothing more than blatant racism on the level of Alabama Governor George Wallace keeping black students from attending Alabama University that keeps the black Mr. Burris from entering the all white United States Senate.
I have to confess that my knowledge of Mr. Rush’s history with the black community is a bit lacking. However, if this racist rant is any indication of Mr. Rush’s thought patterns then it should be obvious that this man has become the very last thing the black community needs. Would it be fair to Mr. Rush if white people were to stand up and say that the other ninety nine Senate seats belong to white people? The fact that Mr. Obama and Mr. Burris share skin color is not a qualifying attribute for his appointment to the Senate and does not deserve a single moment of consideration from anyone.
You would think black people learned our lesson about getting any black person to replace a black politician or political appointment. For example, Thurgood Marshall, the first black appointee to the Supreme Court was replaced with Clarence Thomas, the second black appointee to the high court. Yes Mr. Thomas might have been a black man. But to think this somehow automatically made Mr. Thomas a more appealing justice to black people is simply ludicrous. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here again, I’ll be happy to take Ruth Ginsburg, the little white Jewish lady on the Supreme Court, any day before I’d take uncle tom Mr. Clarence to hear my case. Being black doesn’t mean one should enter a quid pro quo with the black community. It’s this very kind of thinking that got Mr. Blagojevich in trouble in the first place.
It is a travesty of everything the black community has worked for to see these two black relics from days of yore play their race card so hard. They are allowing themselves to be played to do the bidding of a blatantly corrupt Governor. Mr. Burris and Mr. Rush are too caught up in the moment of getting that fucking golden something to know that all that glitters is not gold. And even if it was golden, everything golden isn’t always worth having. King Midas learned that lesson the hard way.
The simple fact of the matter is that the Mr. Blagojevich is about as far from King Midas as one can get. His touch didn’t bring value to the Senate seat. The Senate seat is not something golden that should be coveted. If anything it is a stinking, ticking time bomb just waiting to go off. It is tainted. It is contaminated with an infection of political corruption that needs to be sterilized with nothing less than political fire. The first people Mr. Blagojevich asked to accept a seat at the center of this controversy knew better than to blemish their reputation with such political poison.
But in typical human fashion there is always somebody around who is more than happy to snatch whatever glitters in their eye. In a perfect impersonation of the poor Smeagle / Gollum of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings fame, some people are simply blinded by that which shines believing it will complete them. I can imagine Mr. Burris at his home muttering to himself calling for his precious, ready to chase his golden ring off a cliff into bubbling lava.
The taint is simply too strong in this one. The simple fact that Mr. Burris doesn’t have the good sense to avoid the association with the Illinois Governor is proof that he is unqualified to become a member of the Senate. Mr. Burris would sell his soul to Beelzebub, or Blagojevich, if it would result in his appointment. A for sale sign could be placed around his neck without fear of exaggeration. That’s not what the people of Illinois need at this time. It seems the Governor is intent on making sure the people of Illinois rue the day they ever heard the name Blagojevich and Mr. Burris is just too happy to help.
“If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” – Illinois Senator Barack Obama
With that simple statement President-elect Barack Obama expresses his compassion and sympathy for the government of Israel in their perpetual conflict with the Palestinians. However, I do wonder how Mr. Obama would feel if his two daughters were going to sleep every night hungry because of a blockade that kept him from obtaining food. How would Mr. Obama respond if somebody was preventing his daughters from getting medication they need to control allergies or for other ailments? How would Mr. Obama react if there was somebody who kept his family in the dark refusing access to electricity or fuel? Would these conditions be more acceptable or more tolerable for him and his family?
While Mr. Obama wears his compassion for Israel proudly on his sleeves, his compassion and empathy for the people of Palestine and in the Gaza strip competes with the chirping of crickets for silence. The idea that the Palestinians are the only ones responsible for triggering this conflict is about as unfair as the racially generic but predominantly white community of America’s claim that the black community is more prone to criminal behavior based solely on one sided statistics and per capita numbers instead of an all encompassing understanding of cause and affect.
For the past six months there was a cease fire in this part of the world. There were no rockets falling in the northern part of Israel. There were no bombs falling in Gaza. But while people enjoyed life free from falling bombs and suicide bombers, Israel maintained its blockade on the Palestinian people unhappy with the fact that these people exercised their democratic rights and voted for Hamas to run its government. The people of Israel see Hamas as little more than a terrorist organization and decided to put the thumbscrews to the Palestinian people in order to influence them to select a different form of government.
It is true that Israel withdrew from Gaza. But it’s also true that Israel refuses to let the Palestinian people control their own destiny or to exist as equals. If Gaza does not comply it is subject to a punishing embargo designed to make the people regret their collective choice. Israel may feign surprise and innocence to the rocket attacks, which is meant as a retaliatory action for a people who have to see their children doing without the basics other people take for granted with no end in sight. The cease fire was honored, and yet no progress made on the blockade front. Who is the real aggressor in this conflict? Is Israel as innocent as they would like the world to believe?
It is a rather ridiculous notion that the Palestinian people want to erase Israel off the face of the planet is going to do it with the rather low technology rockets that would have difficulty hitting the ground if it weren’t for gravity compared to the United States military contractor sourced smart bomb technology of Israel’s arsenal. While a constant rocket attack is nothing to be tolerated, neither is the systemic starvation and subjugation of an entire community of people.
At last count, well over three hundred fifty Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s four day bombing of Gaza and three times that many have been injured compared to five Israelis. Dozens of Palestinian civilians have been killed in the past four days from Israel’s massive retaliation and the Israeli government has made no signal that the escalation of violence will be halted any time soon. The message is that if anyone thought the people of Gaza was living in hell before, they ain’t seen nothing yet. Those people can deal with their affliction and feel the wrath of the Israeli military at the same time now. They will be bombed back into submission.
And if all that doesn’t work, judging by the public support of Israel by the American President and the President to be, a low yield nuclear device would probably be acceptable. We can’t have other people in the Middle East thinking that they are entitled to the same existence as the people of Israel. The Israeli people have a right to expect to be able to go to bed at night without rockets coming into their home. Whether or not the people of Gaza can have the same expectations, as well as the expectation to food, medication, utilities and the other essentials to meet a civilized standard of life is a matter of opinion.
In the news this morning I saw a member of the Israeli legislature discussing Israel’s options as well as the potential for the American response. Recognizing the fact that the United States is about to go through a presidential transition, one official dismissed the idea of angering the coming Obama administration. The legislator quoted Mr. Obama’s statement at the beginning of this article. Why would Israel worry about Mr. Obama when Mr. Obama made it clear that the United States is fully behind Israel?
The President-elect has never uttered a single word criticizing Israel’s actions against its neighbors in the Middle East. Mr. Obama has never uttered a single word supporting Gaza. Unfortunately, before he can even assume the presidency, Mr. Obama has again demonstrated his bias against any changes in the status quo. All the slogans about a time for change are quickly evaporating into a political vapor of the same old same old. People who continue to hope for a genuine peace in the Middle East brokered by an impartial Untied States government led be Mr. Obama are better off hoping Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny will visit their homes.
So the children of Israel can sleep well at night knowing Mr. Obama looks at them and sees them as he sees his own two daughters. Such empathy and compassion sends a strong message of support. Too bad the other children in the Middle East don’t have an American President who is willing to vocalize a similar compassion and a similar support. What world leader stands ready to empathize with the children of the Gaza strip?
The other night, right after work, my cable station participated in the test to determine whose television is not high definition signal ready. As the minutes wound down to test time, I sat cool and confident knowing that I had absolutely nothing to worry about. And right on schedule, in big letters across the screen, my television displayed a message that my television was not digital signal ready. I was pissed. I wasn’t upset over the fact that my television wasn’t ready. I was upset over the fact that I had to spend five minutes watching a message that my television was digital signal ready instead of my news program. I had to miss five minutes of my television show to learn something that I already knew.
I bought my television about seven years ago. It is a big, cathode ray tube, design that weighs a ton. It was state of the non-projecting television art when I bought it. But that was way before digital television was going to become a standard, and only, broadcast. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or even a five minute interruption of the News Hour With Jim Lehrer.
But my television is hooked up to one of the digital satellite providers and so I really have nothing to worry about. The cable company will continue to transmit in whatever signal the cable box needs and the cable box will continue to transmit whatever signal my television needs. The last thing I need right now is to worry about going out and buying a digital signal ready television.
I have to admit that I have noticed that now is a really good time to buy a television if one truly needs or really wants one. I was looking through a Best Buy advertisement where I saw a 32 inch flat panel name brand television going for less than four hundred dollars. Now that’s a deal if I ever saw a deal on a television. But nevertheless, four hundred dollars is a lot of money these days when people are facing the real possibility of being unemployed or losing a home or both or worse or both and worse. The expense of a new television just doesn’t see prudent right now.
And yet, the five minute broadcast condemning mine and so many other people’s television to obsolesce troubled me. The program was designed to make people as afraid of their television sets as they were after that one movie where the dead girl popped out of the television to kill people who watched her video seven days earlier. People have never looked at their television with so much suspicion knowing that it might betray television watchers everywhere at the least opportune time two months from now in mid February.
What better time to instill a sense of mistrust and a sense of panic about the impending television crises on par up there with the overblown Y2K disaster than the week before Christmas when retailers are hurting the most and people are on the fence about major gift giving purchases. The warning that your television is not digital signal ready might be intended to push those fence sitters on the dark side of instant gratification and avoidable debt or at least diminished savings.
Even if the television isn’t digital signal ready what’s the worst can happen? Somebody misses a show? I missed five minutes of mine and I survived. I don’t think it’ll be that big of a deal. How long will it take to go out and get another television or a converter box or a cable box if your signal fails? About as much time as it takes to go out and buy one of those devices today. And worst comes to worst you just might find yourself with some extra time and under less influence from some marketing company.
If I had my druthers I wouldn’t even have a television signal in my house. The idea of paying good money out of my pocket for the blatant propaganda that comes through the various television shows and commercials and news broadcasts is more than enough reason to give me pause. Most of the shows I like to watch are available off the internet in whatever signal my computer needs. It’s nothing to hook a line from one of the computers to my old television. If my television goes out in mid February it could be a blessing in disguise. But the rest of the family may not be ready for a television broadcast free existence.
But in the meantime, I’ll continue to suffer the messages telling me that my television is evil and could possibly fail me come mid February. I will watch the propaganda telling me that my non digital television is not a digital television and will turn against me. If anything I should respond with a preemptive strike and cut the analog signal off as well as its digital counterpart before they cut me off from the money I pay on a monthly basis to be influenced by the most pervasive propaganda delivery system in the world. I could use all that money I will save from not paying for monthly broadcast propaganda and buy a new digital flat screen television. Who knows, I could use it to watch one of those videos where the girl comes out seven days later.
Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church claims that he is not a homophobic because he has had dinner with gay people. He is not homophobic because he has a church full of people who care for gays who are dying of AIDS. However, Mr. Warren believes that homosexuality is a sin and people who are gay are going to burn in hell. Mr. Warren explained that homosexuality is not the natural way of nature explaining quite simply that certain body parts are meant to fit together. But obviously not Mr. Warren’s brain and mouth.
Mr. Warren said that he thinks allowing a gay couple to marry is similar to allowing a brother and sister to be together and call that marriage or an older man marrying a child and calling that a marriage. It seems Mr. Warren feels that gay people marrying is akin to incest and child rape. It should be noted that this is the kind of argument that people once used to prevent interracial marriages. It doesn’t take much to imagine some racial bigot making the argument that if you allow black people to marry white people it is just a matter of time before people (by people we have to assume white people) start marrying their horse, cow, dogs, or whatever. Interracial marriages will lead to gay marriages! There will be marriage anarchy!
And this is the man President-elect Barack Obama has chosen to give the invocation during Mr. Obama’s inauguration. Not only should gays and lesbians be angry that Mr. Obama so honored Mr. Warren with such a high profile connection to the Obama presidency. Anyone who takes offense at such blatant and thoughtless narrow mindedness should be outraged. In one fell swoop Mr. Obama has confirmed himself as a man who is tolerant of certain bigotries and prejudices.
Mr. Obama defended his choice of Mr. Warren saying that Americans need to come together even when we disagree on social issues. That dialogue is part of what his campaign was all about. Beautiful words for sure. Any minute now we can expect Mr. Obama to give a voice to the member of the klan who hates black people or to the chauvinist who thinks women should stay at home barefoot and pregnant. We may disagree on those social issues as well but that’s no excuse to keep these people from having a public voice. I wonder when we can expect Mr. Obama to give the anti-Semite his or her time in front of the public’s attention. Would the person who advocates prejudice against the Jewish community and Israel be just as welcome in the White House during the Obama presidency?
The question is totally rhetorical. Mr. Obama is an apt politician who dodges most controversial issues by deftly aligning himself with the orthodox view designed to gratify the majority of people. In Mr. Obama’s calculation, the gay and lesbian community is nothing to worry about. The political power that may be associated with the gay community pales in comparison to the strength of the conservative intolerants. And a sympathetic gesture to conservatives now can work wonders later on. You never know when you will need a favor. Or maybe Mr. Warren’s selection is payback for a favor already given. You may never know. But the point is that right now, the offense of the gays and lesbians is nothing that warrants Mr. Obama’s attention now. Besides, there’s plenty of time to appease these people later on.
By all means the American people need to come together on the social issues. Going forward to face the many crises on our horizon, the country needs the cooperation of all socially conscious communities without exception. Any support of people who are intolerant and stand ready to impose their views supporting inequality and separate conditions for others is inappropriate and rather shortsighted. In an America where we talk about unity for all, to unite with a bigot is counterproductive.
Mr. Obama is willing to gamble his relationship with the homosexual community for the greater good. It is a classic political move. The good of the many or the politically strong takes precedence over the good of the politically weak. We’ve seen Mr. Obama exercise such judgment when he stands before the Jewish community and states in indisputable terms that the United States will not let Israel fail. We’ve also seen the other end of the spectrum when Mr. Obama stands in front of the black community to reinforce racial stereotypes by charging black fathers to quit being fools and support their black children.
For sure the gay community, like many communities tired of the past recent years where an ultra conservative political agenda was in firm control of our politics, wanted to see a new change of direction and firmly supported Mr. Obama. And to thank the people for their support Mr. Obama makes a high profile deal with the Dick Chaney of the homosexual community.