Friday, November 30, 2007

Clinton Stacking Deck at Black/Brown Presidential Forum in Iowa?

Hat Tip: Think On These Things

Rumors and Accusations Cast Shadows on Brown and Black Presidential Forum
by: Chase Martyn
Thursday (11/29)

As Saturday night's Brown and Black Presidential Forum in Des Moines draws near, concerns have emerged about the way it is being organized. The forum, which is the oldest minority-focused presidential debate in the country, is one of the great traditions of the Iowa Caucuses, but local activists and campaigns have been frustrated by this year's planning and execution.

The core group helping to organize the forum has been shrunk from previous years, according to Des Moines Realtor and Latino activist Joe Henry, who was involved with the forum in its early years during the 1980s and became involved again during the 2000 election cycle. Henry, who supports Sen. Barack Obama, was not invited to participate in the planning this year.

"It's pretty evident at this point that both Wayne Ford and Mary Campos -- both old friends of mine -- have undoubtedly aligned themselves with the Clinton campaign," he said, "and the smaller, the better, for that." Campos and Ford, both respected and long-standing activists, founded the forum together in 1984 and continue to operate it as co-chairs. Ford also serves in the Iowa House.

Reached for comment Wednesday afternoon, the two organizers denied any allegations that they were favoring one candidate over others. "I don't think that question needs an answer," Ford said. "I am a little insulted that people would even think that," continued Campos.

Mark Daley, Iowa Communications Director for Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign, denied the accusations as well.

Still, concerns exist because of the uncharacteristic exclusivity of the planning for this year's forum.

Max Cardenas, a Hispanic entrepreneur from Des Moines, was involved in the 2004 Brown and Black Presidential Forum. He told Iowa Independent that he was invited to participate in the planning of that year's forum a month before it began. In the week preceding it, he was asked to organize one of several community-wide meetings focusing on specific issue areas that were of interest to the minority community. The meetings served as part of the build-up to to the Saturday forum, he said, and they helped to maximize the number of people involved in the discussion before questions were formulated and the forum took place. This year, he was not invited to participate, and there was no indication that any such meetings took place. "That's unfortunate," he said.

Although Cardenas admitted he had not seen "concrete evidence" that either Campos or Ford planned to endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton, he noted speculatively that "The guests of Mary Campos [who will be at the Forum with her] are co-chairs of the Clinton campaign.".......................

Aside from the concerns raised by past participants about who was included in the planning of the forum and who was excluded, three knowledgeable sources who asked to remain anonymous expressed frustration over the apparent secrecy with which tickets are being distributed.

Rest of article: HERE.

This bothers me for a couple of major reasons.

1. The Clintons pulled this 3-6-9 at an event in Nevada. But, this time, at least the people know about it beforehand.
2. Iowa is a state with such a small minority demographic, this is probably the lone event that even comes close to attempting to address issues of concerns to Blacks and Hispanics.

When I first heard about this event, I was so excited. So much is focused on Iowa and New Hampshire being two of the Whitest States in America. So, when I found out that there was a forum focused on Blacks and Hispanics, I was psyched. I thought that this might be a way to engage those communities, and also show the rest of the country that Iowa does have some diversity, though small.

Now, I get a sour feeling going into it; that the jig is rigged, and that the organizers would allow this event to be sullied and have a question mark thrown over it by dealing in such tactics, well, a pox on them for their lack of judgement. Because, don't think that folks won't remember this next time; their credibility will be questioned, and they are creating hard feelings when there didn't need to be any. Iowa is unlike many states; folks don't like anything that seems shady or underhanded. They actually frown on it, and when you do it, do expect for people to give the once over before they'll shake your hand.

I'll still follow this event, but I won't be trusting much of anything coming out of it.

I guess the only positive thing about it is that it's obvious how much the Obama Campaign is scaring them in Iowa.

One of My Favorite Resources

One of my favorite resources for tracking elections (or perhaps I should say coronations since we are talking about the U.S.... there are few real democratic contests in this country)...but I digress... it's Dave Leip's election tracking/election map site. See here.

You may want to save that to your favorites list. It may come in handy as we get closer to the Primary coronation in a few weeks and the main coronation ceremony in November 2008.

Dave Leip is my #1 tracking site...providing the most updated info all in one site...and in an easy to follow format. The site collects all of the data from the relevant polling services...and provides info over a long period so that you can better determine trends, leans, strength of support, toss-ups, etc. The site also tracks Senate and Gubernatorial races. RealClear politics offers something similar....but I prefer the more streamlined format from the Dave Leip site. Although I do use some of the other tracking sites as well. There are 2 or 3 others that also provide good info.

Be forewarned though- one thing at Dave Leip that might throw you off is that the traditional color assignment for Rep & Dem is inverted. I don't know if they did that for kicks to mess with their readers or what... but after a while you won't notice it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Where is Latasha Norman?

UPDATE: Latasha Norman's body was found and an arrest has been made. Story HERE.

Hat Tip and Article:African American Political Pundit

Where is Latasha Norman?

Why is it that when a white college student disappear the white media will go across the globe looking for her. When a black college student disappears. The white media shuts it down. Bridget Johnson at Pajama Media notes "For every Chandra Levy, Laci Peterson, Elizabeth Smart or Natalee Holloway, there are dozens more victims whose cases go ignored by the media." She goes on to ask" if some lives - those of the cute, white, female, wealthy and preferably blond - are worth more than others." More HERE

Even the Chief of Police says that her case is ignored because of her race.

Where is Latasha Norman?

This is the case involving Jackson State university (JSU) student Latasha Norman. More HERE.

The Jackson State University Department of Public Safety, Jackson Police Department and Hinds County Sheriff's Department are continuing the search for missing JSU student Latasha Norman.

Latasha, a junior, has been missing since approximately 2:20 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13.

The 20-year-old accounting major from Greenville, Miss., is of medium-brown complexion, stands approximately 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighs between 115 and 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing a white shirt and blue jeans.

To report information regarding Latasha’s whereabouts, call 601-960-1210 0r 601-960-1234

Musharraf: State of emergency will end before elections


Musharraf: State of emergency will end before elections
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced Thursday that he will end a state of emergency on December 16 ahead of upcoming elections -- a key demand by the United States and opposition leaders.

Musharraf made the announcement shortly after taking an oath of office for a third time as president, a day after abandoning his position as military chief.

"At the moment, the dust is settling down and everything is in control," Musharraf said. "The election will take place according to constitution on the eighth of January."

He called on all opposition parties to "follow the rules ... and all the directives of the election commission."

The president had previously insisted that the state of emergency, imposed on November 3, must remain until the January 8 vote was completed, saying it was needed to ward off attacks from Islamic extremists.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Washington welcomed the move. "We look to the candidates and the people of Pakistan to fully participate in these free and fair elections," she said.

Perino urged Pakistan's government to ensure that citizens "be able to voice their opinions, that they be able to assemble, and that they be able to have the freedom of the press that they had before the emergency order was in place."

Earlier, Musharraf declared his new term as a civilian leader "a milestone in the transition of Pakistan to the complete essence of democracy."

"There has been great turbulence. We have never had a dull moment," he said. "We will succeed, and we will come out of this and lead Pakistan on the path that we are already following."

Opposition leaders had threatened a boycott to the upcoming elections to protest Musharraf's emergency order, arguing it has been used by him to consolidate power.

Musharraf's exit from the military as its leader on Wednesday capped a 46-year career in the nation's armed forces and ended eight years of military rule.

He defended his decision to declare emergency rule, calling it "extraordinary," but necessary.

"This derailment of this democratic process ... never on one occasion did I ever waiver from the path that we need to follow for this democratic transition," he said. "I feel this derailment could have led the nation into chaos."

In his acceptance speech, Musharraf praised his chosen successor as military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, who recently stepped down as head of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency.

"Gen. Kiyani ... will lead the army as well if not better than what I did," Musharraf said. "I have full faith and trust in him."

It was as Pakistan's army chief that Musharraf led the 1999 bloodless coup that overthrew his predecessor, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Sharif returned to Pakistan Sunday, ending seven years of exile in Saudi Arabia and succeeding after a failed attempt in September.

Rest of article here.

Well, with both Sharif and Bhutto back in Pakistan, and Musharraf 'stepping down' from the Army, maybe the elections can go forth. The USA needs to cut him loose, and let him fall. The more we back this thug, the less likely his replacement will be amenable to The United States.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Iraq to Seek Long-Term US Presence

Iraq's government, seeking protection against foreign threats and internal coups, will offer the U.S. a long-term troop presence in Iraq in return for U.S. security guarantees as part of a strategic partnership, two Iraqi officials said Monday.

The proposal, described to The Associated Press by two senior Iraqi officials familiar with the issue, is one of the first indications that the United States and Iraq are beginning to explore what their relationship might look like once the U.S. significantly draws down its troop presence.

In Washington, President Bush's adviser on the Iraqi war, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, confirmed the proposal, calling it "a set of principles from which to begin formal negotiations."

Full article here from the Associated Press

U.S. and Iraq to Negotiate Pact on Long-Term Relations

The White House announced Monday that it had reached a deal with the Iraqi government to negotiate a formal agreement defining long-term relations between the two nations, including the legal status of American military forces remaining in Iraq.

The “Declaration of Principles” signed Monday via video link by President Bush and the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, does not specify the eventual number of American troops nor the length of their deployment. That issue is certain to be central in the 2008 presidential campaign that will be under way as American and Iraqi negotiators work toward a July deadline on a treaty governing relations between the two countries.

But senior administration officials stressed the significance of the agreement signed Monday, saying that it was leading to a far more durable political, economic and security relationship than is possible under the current United Nations resolution, which serves as the foundation under international law for the American-led effort in Iraq.

Full article here from the New York Times

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ is currently circulating a petition campaign to address this issue but you need to be a member to sign up:

Have you seen the headlines? President Bush is quietly negotiating an agreement with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to keep our troops there indefinitely--an agreement that could include permanent bases and a massive military presence for years! Bush is trying to tie the hands of the next administration to keep us in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

This is a pivotal moment—the agreement is still in the planning stages and if we don't act now, we could be stuck in Iraq for decades.

Congress can stop the president from setting up permanent bases in Iraq and block an indefinite occupation—but it's not clear that they will. They need to feel a groundswell of pressure from voters immediately and loudly so they act on this quickly.

Can you sign the petition demanding that Congress act to stop the president from committing to a massive military presence in Iraq for decades?

New Darfur Documentary From PBS

A New Documentary on Darfur is now available from PBS. The 1 hour film, entitled "On Our Watch", can be viewed online. Watch Film.

Also watch the documentary on the 1994 Rwandan genocide, entitled "The Ghosts of Rwanda". I have seen this documentary several times and I have posted it here before. "The Ghosts of Rwanda" is one of the best documentaries that I have ever seen...and I watch a lot of documentaries.

After the Rwandan genocide, the world reiterated its pledge of "Never Again".

Watch the madness that Canadian General Romeo Dallaire had to deal with, both in Rwanda and with the UN.

It is clear that there is a disparity in terms of how the world reacts to genocide in Africa and how the world reacts to genocide everywhere else. In 1999, the Clinton Administration was willing to spark WWIII to stop a relatively modest (although brutal) genocide in Kosovo. I believe the response would be similar for any such event in Europe. Yet the World seems to have a clear double standard when it comes to genocide involving dark and poor people around the Globe, especially Africans.

It is clear that Africans are at the bottom of the World's list when it comes to how they are viewed. It is clear that Africans are considered by much of the World to be of lesser value as human beings. This has been clear for decades, but these recent events have highlighted and cemented these sentiments in such a way that they leave no doubt as to where Africans stand in the World.

And one striking irony in the Darfur documentary was China's efforts to ignore the crisis. Yet when it comes to China's own genocide in the 1930's and 40's at the hands of the Japanese, then all of a sudden China wants the World's sympathy and understanding.

FEMA's Michael Brown Promoted To Chief of Immigration & Customs Enforcement

I'm sorry... did I write "Michael Brown"? I meant Julie Myers. Julie Myers was recently promoted to head ICE, despite being woefully unqualified. She has no law enforcement background, or immigration experience. The 38 year old Myers is yet another crony appointment by Bush & Co. Apparently they didn't learn from the political appointment of Horse industry professional Michael Brown to head one of the most important agencies in the Federal government- FEMA.

And her promotion went through despite the racist Halloween incident where she awarded a White Homeland Security employee for "most original costume" when he showed up at a Halloween Party dressed as a Black prison inmate. So instead of being reprimanded for her actions she was awarded with a promotion to a position that she is not even qualified for. Yet the Homeland Security employee was put on leave.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Happy Holidays? Part 2

I have completed yet another college application in an attempt to make myself a little more competitive- still chasing the so-called American Dream. Thanks to the job market, there is a glut of college graduates looking for a limited number of great jobs.

I'd just be happy with a decent paying job and a respectable career at this point. Without it, I cannot move on with the rest of my life. I have already wasted the last decade in this American Dream chase, going no where in the end. I am starting to have nightmares of being an old, angry, single, broke, Black man, living in poverty somewhere, 30 years from now (if we still have a planet by that time... if the Republicrats don't destroy it first). To add to that, it seems that having brown skin has come with a burden of having to always compensate for it.... It seems I always feel pressure to compensate for SOMETHING, especially when it comes to dealing with Whites. Whether through education, through a job, you name it. I feel like I have to have more and I have to work harder, just to get what Wally Cleaver gets almost by default. Just by virtue of being White and having an undergraduate degree... he's already a step & a half ahead of me. No work experience required either. (The elite often use their connections with decision-makers to get friends and family hired). As a Black man.... I have fewer options when it comes to having someone "put in a good word". No offense intended for any of my White readers. I am just telling it like it is. White privilege can take you a long way.

It seems that no matter how many degrees I get or how hard I work, I am still saddled.... still behind, because of race & socio-economics. That includes being burdened by the actions of the wider (Black) group, or by how I am perceived by Whites because of it, or burdened by the fact that I am locked out of the White socio-economic fraternity...and thus have a bigger challenge in moving up, or the burden of where I started from (from the back of the pack).

As Rikyrah pointed out, a recent report shows that I am not imagining things. Thanks for that link. I am starting to wonder if an American Dream really exists. Or if it exists only for certain Americans. It seems that this country is becoming more like a Caste system, where upward mobility is almost non-existent. If you are lucky enough to be in the upper middle class or in one of the elite classes, you tend to do well. However, if you are among one of the lower socio-economic groups, you are being squeezed more than ever. And on top of that, it is extremely hard to move up.
It's pretty hard to go to school if you can't afford childcare. Or it's pretty hard to go to school if you always have to work in order to keep a roof over your head...and perhaps you have a boss that doesn't like the idea that you are going to school or maybe the job doesn't offer the health coverage that you need.

And if you are lucky enough to go to school, the student loans are such a burden that you begin to doubt (with good reason) the value of the education...whether it was all worth it. It will probably take me 10 years to get out of the red in terms of the debts I accumulated to go to school. $60,000 in debt (with hundreds of dollars in monthly interests) is not a very good American dream.

I am changing my resume and I am confident that I will be in a better position this time next year. This is what I tell myself every year...but I am now taking more specific steps that will put me in a position to accomplish more in the new year.

These are the things that make me shake my head when I see folks almost hurting themselves to spend money for a so-called religious Holiday. There is no other major religious Holiday that is surrounded by so much greed. The Muslim, Jewish and other Holidays are centered around food which is in turn used to bring families together... "Family" is at the center of these cultures... Here in the U.S., it's spend spend spend... who can outspend who. Greed, money itself, the spending of money, ultra-capitalism, and over indulgence have taken the place of religion, family, love, etc... In fact, greed, money & the like, have become the new religion. Couple this with the rise in the mega-church culture, where people are being told to worship money more than the God they supposedly serve...and this is what you get. Crazed Americans (literally) seem to lose all sense for what is important this time of year. They don't seem to have any connection to reality at all. In fact, some suggest that the Holidays are an escape from reality for many Americans.

Meanwhile, I have to try to pretend that it's not the Holidays. And in many ways... it's not for me. They are just like any other day as far as i'm concerned. I don't spend much time with my family since they are scattered throughout the country... although there is a sizable number of family members in St. Louis. I hate visiting, because it's like Baghdad-light in certain parts of this city.

I typically end up working during the Holidays... even volunteering for the extra cash.

I have to listen to a lot of Bob Marley to help me through the Holidays... (that's my battle music/war music). A lot of Bob Marley...and slow breathing.... and just trying not to let things bother me.

The Clinton Coronation Ceremony Continues

The coronation of Hillary Clinton continues, despite a recent Zogby Poll that questions her electability. The Poll shows Clinton trailing in a General Election matchup with leading Republicans. I agree that there were flaws in this poll, however, the results should not be totally discounted, especially since the respondents were "likely voters". Furthermore, the sample for the Zogby poll was quite large, nearly 10,000 people- or 10 times the size of the typical poll (in the 700-1200 range). Typical polls tend to gauge the sentiments from the "man on the street"- those who are chosen on a random basis. Often many of these respondents are not actual voters.

Also, see more on Clinton's mud slinging claim.

Cartoonists Opinions on Middle East Peace Efforts & More

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hello Prison Industrial Complex, The Federal Version?

Hat tip: Prometheus Six

From the EbonyJet blog,The Gang Bill

The Gang Bill
Congress has fast-tracked some tricky legislation. now comes the tough part: pegging discrimination.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
By Brian Gilmore

At a sparsely attended Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill recently, Wayne McKenzie, a former prosecutor, and now Director of the Vera Institute’s Prosecution and Racial Justice Program, spelled out an initiative that was almost unheard of just a few years ago. The Prosecution and Racial Justice Program is, for lack of a better description, a new direction at the intersection of criminal justice and race. It helps prosecutors collect data on race and crime within their own offices in the hope that it will stop the discriminatory racial patterns so pervasive these days.

The Vera Institute, a 40-year-old organization that seeks solutions to problems with the criminal justice system, says the initiative “seeks to offer…prosecutors a mechanism for being proactive by monitoring the exercise of discretion” with their offices. In addition, McKenzie’s bold effort of technical management, it is hoped, will promote “fairness” and enhance “consistency” while guarding against “biased decision making” in the criminal justice system. In other words, if there is racism in the criminal justice system, McKenzie’s program will try to help prosecutors, through technical support and information gathering, identify the problem with hard data.

The program is especially welcome now as the Democratic controlled Congress fast tracks a crime bill called “The Gang Prevention, Intervention, and Suppression Act.” The bill, already approved by unanimous consent by the Democratic controlled Senate, is just the kind of potential law that could promote what has been described in McKenzie’s briefing as “mistrust” between prosecutors and Black communities across the nation as they play God with the lives of so many people of color.

“The Gang Prevention, Intervention and Suppression Act,” as the title suggests, aggressively targets gangs, gang activity and crime, but in the process, targets juveniles of color, mainly African-Americans and Latinos. It is simple criminal justice work: many gang associated crimes will be federal crimes now so federal prosecutors with the full weight of Uncle Sam’s deep pockets, can start filling up adult federal prisons with African-American and Latino youth, who comprise a large number of gang members. It is the same formula that has been incredibly successful in filling up state and federal prisons during the failed War on Drugs.
The bill re-defines gangs broadly and vaguely and also makes the penalties for gang crimes and gang activity more severe than they are now. This includes life sentences in prison without parole for some crimes.

Of course, many states already have laws to deal with gang activity, but it is nearing election time, and the Democrats in Congress, who were too cowardly to stop the war in Iraq, and cannot deliver health care for some children living on the edge, have to deliver something to the people. This year’s political sacrifice: thousands of African-American and Latino youth in prison if the bill passes.

For the record, it is mostly those “Blue-Dog Democrats” who want to stick it to the country’s youth under the guise of solving the country’s gang problems, but the opposition so far has been shallow from anyone up there. Everyone on Capitol Hill, as an election approaches, loves a hard nosed crime bill. Congressmen Adam Schiff, Democrat, California, pushed this one upon us.

“[F]or those who do engage in gang violence,” Congressmen Schiff, Democrat, mused when he introduced it, “the bill will give law enforcement an enhanced ability to crack down on gang offenders and increase penalties for those gang members who terrorize our communities.”

Schiff, a well known Blue Dog, also boasted of the bill’s prevention funding in his press release although anyone reading the bill can see quickly: this is really about locking up as many people as possible for long sentences and even life without parole if necessary.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission knows the deal. It reported recently that 75 percent of those incarcerated because of the enactment of the bill into law will be African-American or Latino. This is consistent with most of the available statistics on this issue.

Note, of the more than 2200 individuals in the world sentenced to life in prison without parole as a juvenile, all but 12 of these individuals are in U.S. prisons. No other country in the world thinks this is credible criminal justice policy.

A lot of political heavyweights are against this bill and it is easy.

The American Civil Liberties Union called it “disastrous” for minority youth. The National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Coalition, an association of 80 national groups advocating for children, said the bill is “fundamentally flawed with its misguided emphasis on punishment and incarceration over prevention and early intervention.” Even the right wing Heritage Foundation hates it. They describe it as “overbroad” and add that it “disregards the constitutional framework underlying America's state and federal criminal justice systems.”

The best argument for opposing this bill, however, is contained in a competing bill – “The Youth Promise Act” introduced by Congressmen Bobby Scott of Virginia.

Rep. Scott is not interested in locking up more and more people only to see them released, without skills, direction, or hope, and watch them get arrested over and over for the rest of their lives. He wants to get at the root causes: poverty, alienation, lack of jobs, training, or direction.

“’The Youth Promise Act’ will provide resources to communities to engage in comprehensive prevention and intervention strategies to decrease juvenile delinquency and criminal street gangs,” wrote Rep. Scott when the bill was introduced on October 17, 2007. It is a much different approach as it provides significant funding for prevention programs rather than incarceration efforts.

The act, Scott adds “implements the recommendations of researchers, practitioners, analysts, and law enforcement officials from across the political spectrum…to reduce gang violence and youth crime.”

These findings have been well known for years. Throw young people in adult prisons and you are harvesting career criminals who you will have to incarcerate for decades. Throw them a lifeline and they might just climb out of hell.

Brian Gilmore is an attorney and a writer based in Washington, D.C.

So, just as we MIGHT begin to get a break because of drug sentencing, NOW, they're going to do it FEDERALLY?

Hell no.

Where is the CBC? Have they come out, IN FULL, for Bobby Scott's bill?

NYTimes Does A Piece on the Falsely Imprisoned

There are few things that cut me to the core than the thought of someone being falsely imprisoned. Freedom is one of the fundamentals to me, and having it taken away is one thing. Having it taken away and you are innocent is something so hideous, it's hard to put into words. It is the ultimate perversion of anything you might consider ' Justice'. I'm from a state that freed THIRTEEN MEN from DEATH ROW because they were INNOCENT. NOT on some technicality, but because they were INNOCENT. And, what upsets me most is that these men have to fight to get ANY sort of compensation. It's just not right. The Government falsely imprisons someone for YEARS, and then doesn't have to automatically compensate the victim when the truth is finally revealed? That's just injustice piled upon injustice.

The NYTimes did a couple of pieces about this subject today.

In,Vindicated by DNA, but a Lost Man on the Outside, they follow Jeffrey Deskovic, who was released from prison after 16 years in prison. This is a typical story of former falsely imprisoned people. And, reading these stories, it seems like the injustice just keeps on rolling.

In A Long Road Back After Exoneration, and Justice Is Slow to Make Amends, the Times gives and outline sketch of the group of former inmates that they interviewed. Also attached is an interactive feature with a description of all the inmates that they interviewed. You will alternate between rage and heartache reading the stories of these former inmates who literally had their lives stolen from them.

NBC to do a 5 -part series on Black women

Hat tip: Prometheus 6

From What About Our Daughters:


New York, N.Y. – November 15, 2007 – Throughout the week of November 26, "NBC News With Brian Williams" will take a look at the issues facing African-American women across our nation in a new series "African-American Women: Where They Stand." The series will cover a wide-range of issues from their role in the '08 Presidential race, to the increased health-risks that they need to be concerned about.

Monday's installment will discuss African-American women's progress in the education field. Nearly two-thirds of African-American undergraduates are women. At black colleges, the ratio of women to men is 7 to 1. And that is leading to a disparity in the number of African-American women who go on to own their own businesses. Rehema Ellis will talk to educators, students and businesswomen about why this disparity exists.

Tuesday, Ellis will look at relationships within the African-American female community. Many agree the gender disparity in education and business among African-Americans is having an effect on relationships that African American women have. Some even say the implications could redefine "Black America's family and social structure." In the past fifty years, the percentage of African-American women between 25-54 who have never been married has doubled from 20% to 40%. (Compared to just 16% of white women who have never been married today). Ellis sits down with the members of a Chicago book club and talk about this difference and how it impacts them.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman will discuss the increases risks for breast cancer for African-American women on Wednesday. Mortality rates for African-American women are higher than any other racial or ethnic group for nearly every major cause of death, including breast cancer. Black women with breast cancer are nearly 30% more likely to die from it than white women. Premenopausal black women are more than twice as likely to get a more aggressive form of the disease. And, not only are African-American women more likely to die from breast cancer, but they're less likely to get life-saving treatments. Dr. Snyderman will profile one of the only oncologists in the world who specializes in the treatment of African-American women with breast cancer.

On Thursday, Ron Allen will take viewers to South Carolina -- the first southern primary state -- and ask the question: Will race trump gender or gender trump race? In South Carolina, black women made up nearly 30 percent of all democratic primary voters in 2004. This year, polls show a significant number are undecided, torn between choosing the first African-American or first female Presidential candidate. Allen talks with the undecided, as well the state directors for the Clinton and Obama campaigns, who happen to be African-American women.

To close the series on Friday, Dr. Snyderman will raise the frightening statistic that African-American women are 85% more likely to get diabetes, a major complication for heart disease. And, like breast cancer, more black women die from heart disease than white women. Dr. Snyderman will profile a leading expert and a unique church-based outreach program in South Carolina that seeks to spread the word about heart disease risks to black women congregants.

Mara Schiavocampo, Digital Correspondent for "Nightly News," will address two hot topics in the African - American community: interracial dating and the impact of hip hop music on black women. Interracial dating is a growing trend in the African - American community. An poll found that 81% of participants approved of black women dating non- black men.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau report in 2000, 95,000 black women were married to white men. In 2005, that number increased to 134,000. Schiavocampo will talk to experts about the trend and discuss how this defines the "Black family" of the future.

Schiavocampo will convene a panel of leading black men and women from the hip-hop industry for an engaging discussion on whether hip hop lyrics and videos positively or negatively affect black women. The roundtable also will address how these portrayals are affecting relationships between black women and black men.

Consumers can go online to join the discussion and share their thoughts on message boards. They can also read and respond to blog entries at .
Alexandra Wallace is the executive producer of "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams." Bob Epstein is the senior broadcast producer, and Rich Latour is the senior producer for this series.

Just thought it would be a good FYI. Let's see if NBC is going to be balanced in their reporting.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Clinton Money Man In Trouble With the Feds

I guess this is the change that Democrats are hoping for with their support of Hillary Clinton. It's just more proof that Hillary represents business as usual... the same corrupt political machine. She is just the other side of the same coin. She's the status quo.... nothing even close to any kind of meaningful change. She is attached at the hip to the Washington D.C. establishment... Hillary Clinton personifies "establishment" or status quo politics more than just about any other candidate.

Hillary's coronation isn't even over yet, and we have already seen one scandal after another in this campaign cycle. First it was Norman Hsu...the fugitive donor... or "Our Friend Norman", as they like to call him.
Then she lies about what she would do regarding Iraq. Then her campaign is caught planting questions at events, and now there is Mr. Vin Gupta, another rich donor.

Her allies in the corporate media have done a good job so far in terms of playing down the stumbles and the skeletons that keep coming to light.

Happy Holidays? Part 1

Another Holiday Season has arrived, and I can't wait until it's over. I hate this time of the year. It's the time of year when the worst of American Culture seems to rise to the surface all at once- gluttony, greed, materialism, ultra-capitalism, religious grand standing, the celebration of Holidays for which many Americans don't seem to fully understand, complete lunacy on the nations roads and in the retail centers..., people fighting over parking spaces and willing to assault one another over Chinese made goods (the irony), you name it. It's a complete circus, and American consumers are the clowns. The Holiday season is like lancing an infected wound so that the fluids can drain out. And it's the same thing every year.

I also hate this time of year because I typically end up with an outlook (esp. on my life) which is opposite of what most people tend to have. While most people are preaching about all of the things that they are thankful for, I end up thinking about all that I DON'T have. I am forced to think about all of the things that I have not attained or achieved... all of the goals that I was not able to accomplish over the last year. I am basically reminded of my lack of accomplishment in general. How my life has been a failure over the last 30 something years to this point. I am reminded of all the things about my life and about myself that I hate.

I hate watching rich folks falling over themselves to spend their money this time of year. It is like an "in your face" type of deal from my perspective. While they throw their money around (on nonsense that they don't need) I am reminded that I live from paycheck to paycheck (yes, i'm broke) and can't take care of my basic needs. And no money almost always = no woman, and crappy everything else, at least for me. The lack of income is the source of most of my dissatisfaction with life. This time of year is everyone's chance to show off their success and financial prowess in a sense...and I can only watch this nonsense as an outside observer (not that I would take part if I could...but I couldn't if I wanted to). In fact, I actually felt like I had more money when I entered the job market 14 years ago...and I probably did have more money to spend then than I do today when you factor in the cost of living. The Holidays are a reminder of my chronic under-employment... and I can't help but to believe that my condition has something to do with where I started- my position in life from the womb. I end up questioning the missteps of my parents...although I know that looking back won't do a damn thing for me now. But being Black, it seems that I was already behind in the rat race by default. Coming from parents, esp. my biological mother...(the term "egg donor" comes to mind) who did not do all they could to prepare their children for this madness, questions of where I could be- "if, had they did this or that"... always come up and never seem to escape my mind.

And I am annoyed by folks constantly telling me "Happy Holidays".... There isn't anything Happy about this time of year for me. But I am usually polite and I give them a head nod and a forced smile to acknowledge their well meaning gesture. Sometimes though I end up frowning or acting like I don't hear them. But this constant reminder of the Holidays is translated in my brain as "You are still broke, Black, and at the same place you were a year ago"... "Congratulations!" I don't hear good tidings... It's never just "Happy Holidays" to me.

Terrible I know.

If that makes me a Grinch, then so be it.

I will try to follow up with a Part 2...

...On being poor and Black during the Holidays...and how I can't seem to do anything to change it, at least the Black part. Also on chasing the American Dream...and how it is becoming harder to attain, even if you work hard.

In the meantime, I get to watch the sickness of America called the Christmas shopping season. The Christmas season encapsulates just about everything that is wrong with this Country.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Why I Don't Support Hillary Clinton

Jack Turner of the Jack & Jill Politics Blog, has done a three-part series outlining why he cannot support Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Nomination. These are well thought out posts.

Here are the links:

Why I Don't Support Clinton - Part 1 - Abandoning Friends and Principles

Why I Don't Support Clinton - Part 2 - No War for Polls

Why I Don't Support Clinton - Part 3 of 3 - Two Clintons Too Many

I make no bones about it that I'm a Barack Obama supporter. But, even if he weren't in the race, I'm also clear that I'm not voting for Hillary Clinton, and believe she's the only way that the GOP can win in 2008.

Dubois - A Man Way Ahead Of His Time

A Must Read

Dubois seemed to be half a Century ahead of his time when he wrote the following 1956 commentary about the state of politics in this Country. Dubois, an outspoken Independent, wrote about the lack of political choice and problems of corruption. Many of his comments could apply to what is going on today... we largely have the same problems. The concerns & frustrations that he expressed back then are some of the same concerns & frustrations that I often mention here. Like me, Dubois saw the problems with foreign policy, and also understood that foreign policy was connected with domestic policy.

I found this commentary only recently, but was intrigued by how relevant it was and how much I was in agreement, although it was written over 51 years ago. The commentary, Published in the Nation Magazine, was titled "I Won't Vote". It's almost as if he could have written this in 2007.


Preface from The

In the October 20, 1956, issue, W. E. B. Du Bois delivers this eloquent indictment of US politics while explaining to Nation readers why he won't vote in the upcoming Presidential election. Du Bois condemns both Democrats and Republicans for their indifferent positions on the influence of corporate wealth, racial inequality, arms proliferation (war) and unaffordable health care.

I Won't Vote

Since I was twenty-one in 1889, I have in theory followed the voting plan strongly advocated by Sidney Lens in The Nation of August 4, i.e., voting for a third party even when its chances were hopeless, if the main parties were unsatisfactory; or, in absence of a third choice, voting for the lesser of two evils. My action, however, had to be limited by the candidates' attitude toward Negroes. Of my adult life, I have spent twenty-three years living and teaching in the South, where my voting choice was not asked. I was disfranchised by law or administration. In the North I lived in all thirty-two years, covering eight Presidential elections. In 1912 I wanted to support Theodore Roosevelt, but his Bull Moose convention dodged the Negro problem and I tried to help elect Wilson as a liberal Southerner. Under Wilson came the worst attempt at Jim Crow legislation and discrimination in civil service that we had experienced since the Civil War. In 1916 I took Hughes as the lesser of two evils. He promised Negroes nothing and kept his word. In 1920, I supported Harding because of his promise to liberate Haiti. In 1924, I voted for La Follette, although I knew he could not be elected. In 1928, Negroes faced absolute dilemma. Neither Hoover nor Smith wanted the Negro vote and both publicly insulted us. I voted for Norman Thomas and the Socialists, although the Socialists had attempted to Jim Crow Negro members in the South. In 1932 I voted for Franklin Roosevelt, since Hoover was unthinkable and Roosevelt's attitude toward workers most realistic. I was again in the South from 1934 until 1944. Technically I could vote, but the election in which I could vote was a farce. The real election was the White Primary.

Retired "for age" in 1944, I returned to the North and found a party to my liking. In 1948, I voted the Progressive ticket for Henry Wallace and in 1952 for Vincent Hallinan.

In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no "two evils" exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party. On the Presidential ballot in a few states (seventeen in 1952), a "Socialist" Party will appear. Few will hear its appeal because it will have almost no opportunity to take part in the campaign and explain its platform. If a voter organizes or advocates a real third-party movement, he may be accused of seeking to overthrow this government by "force and violence." Anything he advocates by way of significant reform will be called "Communist" and will of necessity be Communist in the sense that it must advocate such things as government ownership of the means of production; government in business; the limitation of private profit; social medicine, government housing and federal aid to education; the total abolition of race bias; and the welfare state. These things are on every Communist program; these things are the aim of socialism. Any American who advocates them today, no matter how sincerely, stands in danger of losing his job, surrendering his social status and perhaps landing in jail. The witnesses against him may be liars or insane or criminals. These witnesses need give no proof for their charges and may not even be known or appear in person. They may be in the pay of the United States Government. A.D.A.'s and "Liberals" are not third parties; they seek to act as tails to kites. But since the kites are self-propelled and radar-controlled, tails are quite superfluous and rather silly.

The present Administration is carrying on the greatest preparation for war in the history of mankind. Stevenson promises to maintain or increase this effort. The weight of our taxation is unbearable and rests mainly and deliberately on the poor. This Administration is dominated and directed by wealth and for the accumulation of wealth. It runs smoothly like a well-organized industry and should do so because industry runs it for the benefit of industry. Corporate wealth profits as never before in history. We turn over the national resources to private profit and have few funds left for education, health or housing. Our crime, especially juvenile crime, is increasing. Its increase is perfectly logical; for a generation we have been teaching our youth to kill, destroy, steal and rape in war; what can we expect in peace? We let men take wealth which is not theirs; if the seizure is "legal" we call it high profits and the profiteers help decide what is legal. If the theft is "illegal" the thief can fight it out in court, with excellent chances to win if he receives the accolade of the right newspapers. Gambling in home, church and on the stock market is increasing and all prices are rising. It costs three times his salary to elect a Senator and many millions to elect a President. This money comes from the very corporations which today are the government. This in a real democracy would be enough to turn the party responsible out of power. Yet this we cannot do.

The "other" party has surrendered all party differences in foreign affairs, and foreign affairs are our most important affairs today and take most of our taxes. Even in domestic affairs how does Stevenson differ from Eisenhower? He uses better English than Dulles, thank God! He has a sly humor, where Eisenhower has none. Beyond this Stevenson stands on the race question in the South not far from where his godfather Adlai stood sixty-three years ago, which reconciles him to the South. He has no clear policy on war or preparation for war; on water and flood control; on reduction of taxation; on the welfare state. He wavers on civil rights and his party blocked civil rights in the Senate until Douglas of Illinois admitted that the Democratic Senate would and could stop even the right of Senators to vote. Douglas had a right to complain. Three million voters sent him to the Senate to speak for them. His voice was drowned and his vote nullified by Eastland, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who was elected by 151,000 voters. This is the democracy in the United States which we peddle abroad.

Negroes hope to muster 400,000 votes in 1956. Where will they cast them? What have the Republicans done to enforce the education decision of the Supreme Court? What they advertised as fair employment was exactly nothing, and Nixon was just the man to explain it. What has the Administration done to rescue Negro workers, the most impoverished group in the nation, half of whom receive less than half the median wage of the nation, while the nation sends billions abroad to protect oil investments and help employ slave labor in the Union of South Africa and the Rhodesias? Very well, and will the party of Talmadge, Eastland and Ellender do better than the Republicans if the Negroes return them to office?

I have no advice for others in this election. Are you voting Democratic? Well and good; all I ask is why? Are you voting for Eisenhower and his smooth team of bright ghost writers? Again, why? Will your helpless vote either way support or restore democracy to America?

Is the refusal to vote in this phony election a counsel of despair? No, it is dogged hope. It is hope that if twenty-five million voters refrain from voting in 1956 because of their own accord and not because of a sly wink from Khrushchev, this might make the American people ask how much longer this dumb farce can proceed without even a whimper of protest. Yet if we protest, off the nation goes to Russia and China. Fifty-five American ministers and philanthropists are asking the Soviet Union "to face manfully the doubts and promptings of their conscience." Can not these do-gooders face their own consciences? Can they not see that American culture is rotting away: our honesty, our human sympathy; our literature, save what we import from abroad? Our only "review" of literature has wisely dropped "literature" from its name. Our manners are gone and the one thing we want is to be rich--to show off. Success is measured by income. University education is for income, not culture, and is partially supported by private industry. We are not training poets or musicians, but atomic engineers. Business is built on successful lying called advertising. We want money in vast amount, no matter how we get it. So we have it, and what then?

Is the answer the election of 1956? We can make a sick man President and set him to a job which would strain a man in robust health. So he dies, and what do we get to lead us? With Stevenson and Nixon, with Eisenhower and Eastland, we remain in the same mess. I will be no party to it and that will make little difference. You will take large part and bravely march to the polls, and that also will make no difference. Stop running Russia and giving Chinese advice when we cannot rule ourselves decently. Stop yelling about a democracy we do not have. Democracy is dead in the United States. Yet there is still nothing to replace real democracy. Drop the chains, then, that bind our brains. Drive the money-changers from the seats of the Cabinet and the halls of Congress. Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln,and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let's vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wounded soldiers asked to return signing bonuses

Sometimes, you read stories, and you can literally feel your bloodpressure rising.

But, maybe, it's just me.

Wounded Soldier: Military Wants Part Of Bonus Back
Reporting Marty Griffin

The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.

To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.

Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back.

One of them is Jordan Fox, a young soldier from the South Hills.

He finds solace in the hundreds of boxes he loads onto a truck in Carnegie. In each box is a care package that will be sent to a man or woman serving in Iraq. It was in his name Operation Pittsburgh Pride was started.

Fox was seriously injured when a roadside bomb blew up his vehicle. He was knocked unconscious. His back was injured and lost all vision in his right eye.

A few months later Fox was sent home. His injuries prohibited him from fulfilling three months of his commitment. A few days ago, he received a letter from the military demanding nearly $3,000 of his signing bonus back.

"I tried to do my best and serve my country. I was unfortunately hurt in the process. Now they're telling me they want their money back," he explained.

It's a slap for Fox's mother, Susan Wardezak, who met with President Bush in Pittsburgh last May. He thanked her for starting Operation Pittsburgh Pride which has sent approximately 4,000 care packages.

He then sent her a letter expressing his concern over her son's injuries, so she cannot understand the U.S. Government's apparent lack of concern over injuries to countless U.S. Soldiers and demands that they return their bonuses.

While he's unsure of his future, Fox says he's unwavering in his commitment to his country.

"I'd do it all over again... because I'm proud of the discipline that I learned. I'm proud to have done something for my country," he said.

But Fox feels like he's already given enough. He'll never be able to pursue his dream of being a police officer because of his wounds and he can't believe he's being asked to return part of his $10,000 signing bonus.

KDKA contacted Congressman Jason Altmire on his behalf. He says he has proposed a bill that would guarantee soldiers receive full benefit of bonuses.

Article is found here.

Disgust can't begin to express what I'm feeling.

UPDATE: Watched Keith Olbermann tonight, and he said that the Military is saying that this was ' a mistake', and of course, they're not taking the bonus, and that they're doing to look in their files to see if this ' mistake' has been done to any other soldier.

Bush & Cheney Were Behind The CIA Leak

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClennon drops a bombshell in his forthcoming book- He admits that Bush and Cheney were in fact involved in the leaking of Classified information for political purposes. In the process, they not only ruined the career of a CIA officer, but they put her safety at risk, as well as the safety of her foreign contacts. They also damaged national security, since the ability of the CIA to continue using the sources that Mrs. Plame developed had been destroyed by her outing.

Both Scooter Libby & the White House have already admitted that there was involvement at higher levels of government. But Bush & Co. would never respond to detailed questioning. McClennon's statement provides further confirmation and the first good look at what was happening from the perspective of someone who was on the inside. He admits that they used him to spin the Plame story in order to take the heat off. He now says that his claims of no White House involvement were all lies.

Congress should have pursued this matter much more aggressively. Instead, it has been swept under the so many other crimes by Bush & Co.

These are in fact impeachable offenses, even though a President can declassify just about whatever he wants. However, political leaders cannot use sensitive information in such a malicious, threatening, bullying and irresponsible way, for political purposes.

I am disappointed with Patrick Fitzgerald for not being more aggressive. I guess he just didn't have the courage. But this highlights another problem. The fact that Federal Prosecutors are political appointees, is one of the fundamental problems with Washington D.C. The same goes for the Attorney General being chosen by politicians. The Federal justice system is not independent, and can never be independent, until this is changed (which will never happen). Because of this fundamental flaw in the U.S. system, Washington D.C. has been allowed to become a cesspool, full of corruption.

I have mentioned before that the Attorney General should be an elected position, protected from the influence of the White House, or Congress. Anyone running for the position must be independent.... not affiliated with any political party. In fact, political affiliation of a candidate should be disqualifying. Attorney Generals should be elected every 4-6 years in a national election (just like the election for President). U.S. Attorneys should be appointed by the elected Attorney General.

The Attorney General and Justice Department should be overseen by a special panel of Federal Judges, by the Supreme Court, and by the U.S. Congress. It should be an independent organization, rather than the inherently political one that it is today.

This political conflict of interest likely made Fitzgerald back down, although he knew he had a huge conspiracy case against the White House (in fact he hinted at that several times). In the end, he knew that he could only take it so far due to political considerations.

This should also help to vindicate Valerie Plame, who was branded a liar, traitor, unpatriotic and all sorts of other nonsense by the Right Wing Republican commentators.

Related Posts

Valerie Plame Comes Out Swinging With New Book

Dick Cheney Implicated in CIA Leak

Libby points to Bush & Cheney

Libby sentenced to 30 months in Prison

Plame makes first official comments since the outing

New Documentary - Cheney's Law

Monday, November 19, 2007

Brazil, the New Oil Superpower

Hat tip:


Brazil, the New Oil Superpower
State-run Petrobras' "monstrous" new oil find has wide-ranging implications for the South American country, the oil majors, oil services providers, and beyond
by Joshua Schneyer

In a recent radio broadcast, Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said he's convinced a "higher power" has taken a shining to Brazil. That, he said, might explain the providence of state-run oil company Petrobras (PBR), whose colossal new oil discovery could transform Brazil from a barely self-sufficient producer into a major crude exporter.

Petrobras announced Nov. 8 it has found between 5 billion and 8 billion barrels of light oil and gas at the Tupi field, 155 miles offshore southern Brazil in an area it shares with Britain's BG Group and Portugal's Galp Energy. Tupi is the world's biggest oil find since a 12 billion-barrel Kazakh field was discovered in 2000, and the largest ever in deep waters. Perhaps more important, Petrobras believes Tupi may be Brazil's first of several new "elephants," an industry term for outsize fields of more than 1 billion barrels.

Initially, Tupi will produce about 100,000 barrels a day but may ramp up to as much as 1 million before 2020—more than the biggest U.S. field in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, says Hugo Repsold, Petrobras' exploration and production strategy manager. "It's monstrous," says Matthew Shaw, a Latin America energy analyst at consultant Wood Mackenzie in London.

Blocking Private Companies
Given the discovery's magnitude, Tupi already is changing how Brazilians think about their oil riches. It even tempts the kind of oil nationalism that has prompted Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to expropriate oil reserves and production infrastructure in Venezuela from oil majors ExxonMobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX).

Indeed, a day after Petrobras announced the Tupi discovery, Brazil said it would remove 41 oil exploration blocks, located near Tupi, from an upcoming auction of potential oil fields open to private oil companies. Brazil still plans to offer 271 blocks for bidding, however, the government said it's reanalyzing whether, and how, to share Brazil's new oil riches with private companies, after a decade of relatively open concessions.

Brazilian oil regulator ANP says it's drafting a new oil bill to present to congress that would change energy laws, perhaps limiting the role of private companies in Brazil's subsalt. Additionally, Lula says Brazil should join OPEC once Petrobras begins oil output from Tupi, around 2011.

"This looks to have triggered a major debate about the role of state vs. private oil companies here," says Sophie Aldebert, a director at Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "But Brazil is going to want to continue working with private companies."

Rest of article is here.

This has plenty of ramifications. First of all, this is yet another country in this hemisphere with oil, but not tied to the United States.It's not as hostile as Venezuela, but it's far from being a lackey of the USA. Second, this could be a true financial boom to Brazil, who weaned itself off of depending upon foreign oil awhile ago. I bet most folks don't know that Brazil fuels its cars mostly with SUGAR. So, the oil that they produce doesn't have to be consumed by its people - they can sell it to others, making more money for Brazil. Brazil's economy is already diversified, so it's not dependent upon oil being a one trick pony economy.

Hillary Clinton: Big In Name, Little In Substance

Why Is Hillary Afraid of A Real Debate On The Issues? Just Who Is Really Slinging the Mud? [2]

As I watch the campaign season continue to unfold I get the feeling that I am witnessing a giant coronation ceremony. It’s a feeling that I generally get every 4 years. This election year is no exception. This time the media’s chosen candidate is Hillary Clinton.

After watching last weeks Democratic Debate in Las Vegas, I was left with a feeling of dread for the future of Democracy in this Country, particularly as it relates to Presidential Elections. What we have today certainly doesn’t fit the definition of true Democracy. Few Countries seem to make a mockery of Democracy the way that the United States does. In fact, the U.S. ranked 17th in the index of the World's Democracies (a list of the most Democratic nations). Video

After the Debate in Las Vegas, I watched all of the annoying commentators talk about how great Hillary was, and how she really came out swinging. She restored her rightful place as the “front-runner”. I particularly recall sitting through a few segments of Hardball with Chris Matthews. Matthews talked about Hillary Clinton as if she had already won the Democratic nomination, when the voting process has not begun. He made the comment “How is Rudy (Giuliani) going to beat Hillary in the General Election. It was as if the half dozen other Democratic candidates did not even exist. It seems as though most of the polls that I see are Clinton Vs. Giuliani Polls. There is this assumption that Hillary has already won, before the voters have weighed in.

This is part of a clear pattern on the part of the media to coronate a winner before the Primary process has even started. There is an attempt to tell voters who to support in the Iowa Caucus and in the Primary States.

I was also annoyed by Hillary’s comments at the Vegas debate. She labeled opposition from other candidates as Mudslinging. I have not seen any evidence that backs up her statement. And of course the mainstream media pundits (those who have coronated her as the Democratic Nominee) never challenged her on her mudslinging comment. Since when does one candidate challenging another on principles, policy positions, behavior, voting record, work history, etc equate to mudslinging? Her claim was nonsense. Most of the criticism that I have seen regarding Clinton has been based on her policy positions and voting record. The criticisms have been based on facts. Her mudslinging claim seemed to be more of an attempt to distract voters from the real issues and the policy differences between the candidates, for which John Edwards has been attempting to highlight.

1. She voted for the war in Iraq. This is a fact.

2. She voted to provide the Bush Administration with backdoor authorization to start a war with Iran. This is a fact. She is a pro-war Democrat who has indicated that she would launch a war with Iran.

3. She does not represent change…she represents the Status quo in Washington D.C., where corporate lobbyists have enormous influence on our government. She has taken more lobbying money than any other candidate (from either party)… This is a fact.

4. As Michael Moore pointed out in Sicko, Clinton pretended to be in favor of healthcare reform, but allowed herself to be bought by the same drug and insurance lobby that she was supposed to be fighting against, eventually becoming one of the biggest recipients of their money. Meanwhile, her healthcare proposals went nowhere. This is a fact. But she walks around as if she really accomplished something regarding healthcare. This is one of the biggest myths in the whole campaign.

5. The fact that she flip flops on issues, such as the issue of ID cards for illegal immigrants. First she came out in favor of the idea, but she turned right around less than 2 weeks later and decided to oppose it, after a public outcry. This is a fact.

6. She has stated publicly (early on) that she would end the war in Iraq and bring the troops home, but was heard stating off the record that she would keep troops in Iraq through her second term- This is a fact.

7. Her campaign has planted questions at rallies, reminiscent of Bush Administration tactics, in an attempt to stage her events- then she tried to lie about it. This is a fact.

This isn’t mudslinging, this is an effort by opponents to distinguish themselves from Clinton so that voters will have clearer choices.

Another myth is her claim that she is the most experienced candidate and can get the ball rolling from day one. Again, the mainstream corporate media refuses to challenge Clinton on these outrageous claims and comments. She has only been an office holder for 6 full years. And she has no experience running a major office or running a government. People (especially in the media) try to give her too much credit for her time as first lady, etc. Although much of that time was spent traveling and going to the typical events that first ladies attend. If she were going for a job as the CEO of a PR firm…her experience as first lady would be great. But it doesn’t count much for the most important job in the nation.

The only major project that she took on as first lady was Healthcare and, as I mentioned, that ended with her being bought by the Insurance industry. Healthcare reform failed miserably. I wish the media would stop the nonsense about her extensive experience for the job. She has not run a major government office, and has only been an elected official for one term.

She also mentioned during the Las Vegas debate that her opponents were not attacking her because she is a woman… but because she is ahead. But who put her ahead? It’s the media that put her ahead. She isn’t ahead because her policy positions are better than the other candidates. Not because her plans are better. Not because she is principled. Not because she is going to stand up for working people. She is ahead because the media chose her as the favorite early on…and she has received a disproportionate amount of airtime. We have hardly heard from the other candidates. And the few times when they do allow us to see the other candidates, it’s often part of some kind of political attack against them… such as John Edwards’s hair. And to see just one example of what I am telling you, take a look at a debate clock courtesy of the Dodd campaign. Dodd’s folks have been keeping up with talk time at the various debates. Hillary typically ends up at or very near the top. Some of the other candidates hardly get to speak, and when they do speak, they are often cut off by rude moderators like Wolf Blitzer.

Unfortunately, the American public often doesn’t vote for the most experienced candidate. Nor do they vote on the issues. They are some of the most disengaged and least informed voters of any major so called “Democracy”. The truth is, Americans tend to vote for the familiar… for people whom they feel comfortable with. And after 8 years of Bush-Cheney, people are willing to go back to the Clinton brand. Never mind the fact that doing so would not represent the change that so many people want. Clinton is certainly not the change candidate. But she is familiar to the American voter. Many of these voters probably believe that they are voting for Bill Clinton. This is how we ended up with George W. Bush… people were voting for a name. They thought that they were voting for George H.W. Bush…. someone familiar. With few exceptions, the average American typically votes the way they are told to vote, either by the media, their political party leaders, or by their religious leaders. If they do decide for themselves, they often make the choice based on who looks best in a Cowboy hat, who they feel “comfortable” with, who can give the best soundbite answer, or based on some other trivial matter. Americans are once again repeating the same pattern of not paying attention to what is going on. I just heard about a new Poll in my State of Missouri that indicated that Hillary Clinton would do better than Rudy Giuliani in the State in a General Election (once again, there was the assumption in the Poll that Hillary would be the nominee before anyone has voted). But another part of that poll indicated that the people of my State wanted a change candidate. This is where the disconnect is evident. They don’t seem to understand that Clinton would be business as usual.

Let’s be honest… if Hillary were not a former first lady of a popular President…if her name was not Clinton… would she be a serious candidate? No she wouldn’t. If she were running as Hillary Rodham and if she were not the wife of Bill Clinton, but had similar work experience, no one would be paying her any attention. She would be near the bottom of the pack, and that’s if she could have garnered enough financial support to begin with.

I am just hoping that the people of Iowa are more attentive to what is going on this time around and vote for plans, policies, issues and principles instead of just a name. Iowans typically are a little more astute than voters nationwide, because of the States unique position. I am hoping that they are not falling for the Hillary fluff. As Dr. Cornel West would say, I am hopeful, but not optimistic. Polls are showing pretty strong support for Hillary in Iowa, despite strong polling early on by Edwards. I think this could be attributed to the fact that there was a media blitz over the Summer in favor of Clinton, at the expense of the other candidates.

A Review of the Past Weeks Events

I meant to post this over the weekend, but never got around to it.

Hear a discussion of the past weeks events.

The guests spent most of the segment talking about the Democratic Debate in Las Vegas.
They hit the nail right on the head regarding Hillary Clinton.


· Steve Chapman, columnist and editorial page writer for the Chicago Tribune
· Rick Perlstein, senior fellow at Campaign for America's Future, where he writes the blog "The Big Con," and author of "Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus."
· Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly

Listen Here

The Race For Iowa

Obama has (briefly) taken the lead in Iowa. [2]. The races in Iowa and New Hampshire seem to be tightening, as voters are starting to pay attention. Unfortunately it might be too late, at least on the Democratic side, because the media has already programmed the minds of so many Americans to vote for Hillary.

On the Republican side, it looks like we may not have to worry about Giuliani for much longer (keeping my fingers crossed). The media has been trying to convince us that Giuliani is the man to beat among Republicans, but over the past several weeks, the front-runner in the early Republican contests has been Mitt Romney.... NOT Giuliani. Romney has good leads in Iowa and New Hampshire. In fact, Giuliani has been polling in 3rd place in Iowa behind Huckabee.

Meanwhile, the New Hampshire Attorney General is investigating underhanded campaign practices that are targeted against Mitt Romney.

Amy Goodman Discusses The Gutting of U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Amy Goodman reports on continued Bush Administration efforts to gut the Commission on Civil Rights. We know that Bush & Co. decided to gut the organization years ago, but new information shows how they did it. Ironically, many of these events took place in 2004, right around the time of the phony Republican campaign to reach out to Black voters. Alberto "Gone-zales" (former Attorney General & the perhaps soon to be indicted Bush crony) was apparently in on the effort to stack the Commission.

Watch/Listen Here

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Will Chavez Pull The Trigger?

Hat tip: Los Angeles Times.

Will Chavez pull the trigger?
Venezuelans may give their president the power to restrict oil production -- and cause a global recession.
By Michael Rowan and Douglas Schoen
November 13, 2007

On Dec. 2, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez can tip the world into a recession.

On that day, if Venezuelan citizens pass the dozens of constitutional amendments on the ballot, Chavez will essentially be granted dictatorial powers -- an elected strongman reminiscent of Spain's Franco, Italy's Mussolini and Orwell's Big Brother. The day could easily deteriorate into one of violence, martial law and suspension of oil production, the latter calculated to inflict maximum damage on the U.S. economy.

With the price of oil hovering near $100 a barrel and markets skittish because of the sub-prime housing crisis (not to mention the stability of U.S. banks, the U.S. trade deficit, the weak dollar and deteriorating domestic consumer confidence), such a move on Chavez's part would go a long way in triggering a recession. An oil crisis during the Christmas season -- with its 40% share of annual retail sales -- would be especially detrimental in the U.S.

Rising oil prices have caused global recessions in the past. The Saudis and other oil-producing countries have tried to increase output to offset rising costs. But working against stability and for high oil prices are Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who are in a strategic alliance to push up the price of oil.

Oil economists calculate that on a supply-and-demand basis alone, the price of oil would be about $50; the remaining $45 in the current price is a political premium caused by uncertainty in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran's suspected nuclear plans, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and social unrest in Pakistan, Nigeria and Venezuela. But where the world sees a threat, Ahmadinejad and Chavez see opportunity: Civil discord lines their pockets.

In Chavez's eyes, a world economic crisis would prove that capitalism is a failure and the U.S.' "evil empire" is historically over. Chavez's Bolivarian socialist economic order would supposedly move to the forefront. For his part, Ahmadinejad can use world chaos to gain hegemonic strength in the Middle East. The two, working in cahoots, could then reach out to partners in Syria and elsewhere in the region.

Chavez is a brilliant military strategist who has reportedly spent or committed $110 billion since 2004 (an amount equivalent in today's dollars to what the U.S. spent in the Marshall Plan after World War II) in political investments in the Americas and elsewhere. His plan is to spread the revolution against capitalism and the United States. So far, he has a string of victories to show for it. Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua are already in his camp; Argentina owes him $5 billion, and his candidates came within 1% of winning elections in Mexico and Costa Rica in 2006.

Alarmingly, Chavez is also building support in the U.S. He subsidizes winter oil available for up to 2 million American families in 17 states and promotes his revolution through photo-ops with celebrities such as Sean Penn and Naomi Campbell and dealings with politicians such as Jimmy Carter and Joseph P. Kennedy II. He has retained consulting firms connected to such politicians as Jack Kemp and Rudy Giuliani.

Chavez has succeeded because he was grossly underestimated by his opponents. It's happening even now. The Bush administration has ignored Chavez in the hope that he would go away or that his neighbors would isolate him. But he has done just the opposite and isolated the U.S. within the Americas.

Rest of article is here.

This article interested me for several reasons.

1. I've been watching Chavez work his ' magic' in Latin America, with respect. He really is the modern day incarnation of Fidel Castro - but, with OIL,which makes all the difference.

2. The way that Chavez has opened his doors to the President of Iran. For one of our ' enemies - over there' to have such a good friend ' over here', in this hemisphere, can't be too good for us.

3. I'm wondering when the rumblings will begin about military action in Venezuela - you know it's coming, people.

4. Our dependence upon oil is truly beginning to bite us seriously, and the proposition that Chavez could manipulate things on such a scale as this, well, shows the present vulnerability of the United States.

5. Is he a dictator if the people give him the power? Hmmmm.....

December 2nd could be a very interesting day indeed.

Whither Third Party?

Independents are a rapidly growing block of voters--nearly one-third of today's electorate identify themselves as independents--yet of the 535 voting members of Congress, just two--Connecticut's Joe Lieberman and Vermont's Bernie Sanders--are independents. No third party candidate has won the presidency since Abraham Lincoln in 1860--the party had only recently formed following the collapse of the Whigs. No third party candidate has won a single electoral vote since George Wallace in 1968. Ross Perot was a polling leader for parts of the 1992 campaign and though he finished with nearly 19% of the vote--more votes than any independent candidate in US history--he failed to garner a single electoral vote. In recent elections, third party candidates have been reduced to a spoiler's role without any serious chance of victory. So why haven't independent candidates been more successful and what obstacles do they face in 2008? Let's find out.

More than ever before, the 2008 cycle is about money and record amounts of it. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have combined to raise $170 million for their campaigns already. Most estimate that the eventual nominees from both major parties will raise and spend in excess of $100 million during this cycle. National parties will also contribute millions more to their election efforts, making this the most expensive election in history. Independent candidates don't have the fundraising machines of established candidates like Hillary Clinton and it would be nearly impossible for them to keep pace financially.

Candidates from outside the two dominant parties also find it increasingly difficult to get on the ballot in states across the country. Independent candidates would be forced to spend valuable time and resources just to appear on the ballots--tasks that the major parties often handle for their nominees. In fact, limiting ballot access has been one of the few things that Republicans and Democrats have been able to work together to achieve.

The Electoral College holds an inherent bias against third party candidates. Its winner-take-all allotment of electoral votes means that a candidate who wins 10%, 15%, or even 20% of the popular vote may come up empty in the Electoral College, as happened to Perot in 1992. Despite a strong presence across the country, Perot did not have enough concentrated votes to carry any individual state.

Voters who may find themselves ideologically in line with independent candidates often concede to voting for the "lesser of two evils" candidate from one of the dominant parties. Why? These voters are willing to compromise their principles, because voting their conscience has been equated with throwing their vote away. Just as bad, most voters instantly disregard third party candidates, because the idea that any candidate could succeed without a "D" or "R" behind their name has been made to seem impossible. The media also largely ignores these candidates, further reinforcing the two-party mindset.

For an independent candidate to have any chance at victory the right circumstances must present themselves. In 1992, an economic recession and an outrage at partisanship in Washington led many to consider Ross Perot. In 1968, divisions within the Democratic Party following the death of Robert Kennedy and the debate about Vietnam, George Wallace was able to carry several Southern states giving Richard Nixon an easy electoral win despite a close popular vote. In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt was able to garner 27% of the vote, thanks largely to his charisma and dissatisfaction with his handpicked successor, William Howard Taft. In 2008, a similar opportunity may present itself. To many, Hillary Clinton represents Washington partisanship, which could turn off many independent voters. Rudy Giuliani's liberal social views could lead many Republicans to defect or not vote and speculation about a third party pro-life candidate has already begun. Voter dissatisfaction is also at higher rates than ever before, manifested in record low approval for President Bush and Congress.

An independent with the ability to bring new voters to the process and appeal to the disaffected voters from each party could stand a legitimate chance in 2008. Whether New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent, or any other candidate has the capability to take advantage of the opportunity (if it even presents itself) remains to be seen. One thing is clear, however, independents are a rising force in US politics and both major parties would be wise to appeal to them or they risk becoming an afterthought.

Cross-posted at Political Realm.