Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Young Athlete's Journey


alexis-page
lexis Page practices at Aviator Sports and Recreation in Brooklyn.


From The NYTimes:


Sports of The Times
A Young Gymnast’s Distant Olympic Dream
By GEORGE VECSEY
Published: July 29, 2009


On weekends, the subway and bus trip can take two and a half hours — each way, that is. Alexis Page, 13, is pursuing her sport, her art, from uptown Manhattan to the outer fringes of Brooklyn.

Millions of hopeful American youths ride to practice in team vans or their parents’ cars or perhaps they bicycle to a nearby field or gym. Alexis takes the No. 2 subway and the Q35 bus.

Her discipline is rhythmic gymnastics, twirling a ribbon, dancing with a ball, an Olympic sport that is obscure just about everywhere except the old Soviet bloc.

Alexis cannot afford to think about the Olympics themselves, she says softly. She must live within the moment of the music and the rhythm, and not think how she will pay for all this, or when she will sleep.

Her coaches, with the enduring poise of Soviet athletes, tell her she has it good. They tell stories of all-day training rather than the four-hour sessions she takes. They tell of children removed from their families to join the collective athletic system.

Alexis studies them, the way they walk, the way they talk. She is preparing for life, for college, not only the Olympics. She does not have time for a social life in her neighborhood; her friends are in the gym or on her Facebook page — girls from Russia, girls from Chicago, gymnasts, like herself. One of her friends is an octogenarian European gymnast, now living in New York.

My Final Thoughts on the Gates Fiasco

All Three Men Were At Fault - Gates, Crowley and Obama

The more that I have learned about the Gates case over the past week, the more I’m happy that I didn’t jump on the Gates bandwagon…at least not completely. I did have one foot on the bandwagon though. But my inner voice usually tells me to avoid the knee jerk reaction that often comes from Black folks, especially on issues that have anything to do with race. I listened this time… but I probably didn’t listen enough.

I am making no excuses for Sgt. Crowley. I still believe that he could have walked away from the situation that day. The arrest was most certainly a discretionary decision that Crowley could have and probably should have avoided. And I am not convinced that Crowley would have made the same decision had Gates been White. However, based on what I have seen and the statements made by those involved, I don’t see this as a blatantly racist incident. Believe me… I looked…and looked, and looked again, but I haven’t found any evidence that this was primarily a racial event. I’m sorry…. I have to be The Angry Independent today and not the Angry Black Man. The Angry Black Man is on vacation for a few days anyway. He’ll be back next week. But nope... I did not see racism as the primary issue here. Now that ass_____ from the Boston Police Department is an entirely different story. But i'll leave that case alone.

I have also heard “racial profiling” thrown around. And this case doesn’t fit that definition very well either. It’s a term thrown around by those who don’t understand what it means. On the periphery there may have been profiling here…. On both sides, but this case is not primarily a profiling issue in my opinion. Profiling has to do with Police proactively and arbitrarily stopping people of a certain demographic on the streets. I know exactly what it is…. Living in a neighborhood that is 90-95% White, I have been the target of profiling. But in this case officers did not stop Gates on the street. These officers were responding to a 911 call of a possible burglary in progress. And yes…. This is the kind of call where multiple officers are routinely dispatched. I have been baffled by the comments of those who are wondering why more than 1 or 2 officers showed up. It's routine! On a burglary in progress, especially in a nice upper middle class - wealthy community, expect a minimum of 3 units. Often in a small city...an entire shift will respond (until cancelled)...and entire sectors in big cities. Not unusual at all. The call wasn’t for a Black man standing in his own Kitchen. The call was for a burglary in progress.

Crowley was wrong to allow Gates to push his buttons and provoke him. He should have used better judgment and left the scene once it was clear that there was no burglary. This may have been difficult to do with a belligerent man asking for names and wanting to complain. I have dealt with the Dr. Gates'… elites (of all races) who believe that you are beneath them. I deal with them all the time. They give you grief even when you are just doing your job…. Whether its getting their information for an accident report, or asking them about what happened regarding a dispute with someone else. Just getting them to calm down and speak logically is like pulling teeth. But Crowley should have given Gates all the information that he requested. Although the Police report states that the information was given, I’m not convinced.

Gates is also at fault for what I suspect was belligerence. Clearly he doesn’t understand Police procedure and didn’t appear to understand the situation that day. For the average level-headed person, there would be no need to fly off the handle in any sort of knee jerk fashion. I understand how officers can be cocky and disrespectful…. Walking into a home, not giving a citizen a certain level of respect, not responding when asked questions, etc. And there has been evidence of a disparity in Police service to the public based on the race of those being served. But Gates was wrong to assume that this officer should have known who he was. Gates may have been hanging out with Oprah too long. He thinks he’s a household name outside of academia….and he’s not. While Gates did provide identification, I have a feeling that the officer was subjected to a lot of verbal nonsense in the process. I’m not saying that a citizen can’t or shouldn’t question an officer….but there is a proper way and a proper time to do it.

It seems to me that Gates did much of the racial profiling himself…making assumptions about why the officer was there. When an officer arrives to such a call…. they have to confirm that you are who you say you are…. unless they know you. Gates believes that the officer should have taken his word that he was the rightful occupant of the House. But that’s not how it works. Perhaps the officer didn’t explain very well…why he was there. The saying… “it’s not what you say…but how you say it“…is really true. Maybe the officer had the wrong tone. We don’t know…none of us were actually there, so there is no way to know exactly what led up to the arrest… I can only base my comments on the bits and pieces of information that have been made available.

And the observers, especially most of the Black observers, almost got this story completely wrong. They certainly tried to distort the situation. From what I can tell… Gates was not arrested for being in his own home… nor was he arrested for breaking into his own home (he used his key at the back door). He was arrested for his knee jerk belligerence…causing a disturbance and I suspect for not being very cooperative. “Disorderly Conduct”… for good or bad (mostly for bad) gives officers a lot of latitude. It’s a broad law allowing officers to apply just about any behavior to it. The officer is more guilty of not using good judgment in terms of exercising his arrest powers. But folks immediately wanted to make this a Black/White issue. As I stated, Gates was just as guilty of racial profiling (if we are going to use the term…lets apply it evenly)…because he made assumptions about the officer based on what he saw through his lens.

What we had in this situation was a clash of ego’s. Gates saw the presence of this officer as a challenge to his position in life…almost an affront to his status. The fact that the officer apparently didn’t know who he was probably offended Gates. And the fact that the officer didn’t respond to his comments and requests only made Gates more irritated. Gates was probably tired from his long trip and was clearly already irritated with the property management people because his door was jammed. The officer was probably the last person that Gates wanted or needed to see at that moment. And now Gates is playing up race as a way to repair his damaged ego.

The last person at fault would be the President. What the Hell was he doing commenting on this case?
I was at work when I heard the Press Conference. At the end, when he was asked about the case… I assumed he would be smart and take a pass….especially when he didn’t have all the information. But when Obama proceeded to give one of his long answers… I couldn’t believe it. I knew that he was stepping in it…big time. I knew that nothing good could come out of his answer. And of course I was right. The Right wing media jumped on it immediately…and made Obama sound as if he was attacking Police. Obama has a habit of handing these kinds of gifts to his opponents. His response at the news conference was definitely an "Un-Obama-esque" moment, because he's usually much more careful than that.

The only person that I feel sorry for in this case (well…not really sorry…because all of these folks are well off….and none give a damn about me struggling to survive)…is the woman who called 911. She was doing what I hope my neighbors would do if they saw someone messing around with my car or they saw someone who they didn’t recognize entering my place.

Hopefully after this White House meeting, the hardcore Black & hardcore White nationalists will take a break. Hopefully. I'll keep my fingers crossed....but I won't hold my breath. I know that they will continue to find ways to create controversy. That's why both extremes are so annoying.

Update on the RIOT story

Today's update on yesterday's story about the new ' directive' from the Superintendent of Chicago Police

The Chicago Sun Times

Hold your fire
The police blotter . . .
July 30, 2009
BY MICHAEL SNEED Sun-Times Columnist


Walking back the cat: Looks like Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis was forced to backtrack on his deadly force policy amendment -- tipped in Sneed's column Wednesday -- allowing cops to shoot at suspected felons fleeing in motor vehicles.

• • To wit: Sneed hears City Corporation Counsel Mara Georges and Mayor Daley were flummoxed by the order, which they felt could have been a huge liability problem for a city already reeling in debt.

• • The upshot: The deadly force order, which Weis felt would give cops added protection, was issued July 17 to go into effect Aug. 3.

• • The buckshot: No more. It was dispatched to the bye-bye bin Wednesday.


Just so you know...nearly 1 out of every 3 dollars budgeted for the Chicago Police Department is done so to payoff POLICE MISCONDUCT LAWSUITS. Thus, the core of the mistrust of the Black community towards the PO-LEEZ.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fruitcake Michelle Malkin Claims Obama Runs Culture of Corruption - Attacks Michelle Obama Too


On NBC's Today Show she claimed that Michelle Obama made it thanks to racial quotas (in other words... she was never qualified for anything).

My question is... why does the national media give these crazies a platform to spew this poison? Legitimate opinionated Progressives can't get on the airwaves...but Conservative loons are on all day and night...on both TV and Radio. There is no shortage of them. It's amazing.

This is why Progressives need to own their own networks...from top to bottom.

While it's true that Obama has surrounded himself with questionable characters...indeed cronies (I myself have criticized this), I don't think there is any comparison to Republicans when it comes to corruption. As bad as Obama's staff and Cabinet choices are, and as much of a walking contradiction he is on the issue of "insiders", his Administration is light years away from the cronyism and corruption that we witnessed under the Bush-Cheney Administration. It's not even apples and oranges. But Rethugs have to use propaganda to sell books (and the national media always willfully helps to peddle this stuff... it's poisoning the Country).

She also states that Obama is ruining the economy, lol. Uhhhh, earth to Michelle Malkin... the last Republican Administration, with the help of their allies in big business and on Wall Street, already ruined the economy long before Obama became President. I guess she had blinders on during the last few years of the Bush Administration. There is no possible way that she could believe her own nonsense.... instead what she is trying to do is take advantage of the American public's short and fickle memory... to trick folks into believing that the bad economy is Obama's fault. Malkin and her fellow Republican spinsters are of course glossing over the fact that Obama inherited an economy in severe recession and in some respects in a depression. Or the fact that the recession began in December of 2007.

What's scary is that this Right Wing propaganda campaign is actually starting to gain traction. More proof that the nation's education system needs an overhaul (I have been saying this for years). With an American public this clueless and gullible.... this Country is in serious trouble.

On Healthcare Reform It’s Obama Vs. The Right Wing Republican Media

And The Right Wing Republican Media is Winning

It appears that President Obama has turned Healthcare reform into the biggest battle of his Presidency, at least so far. I have already expressed how much I disagree with his timing and tactics on this issue. I think Obama may have miscalculated the power of his opponent & the willingness of the other side to do absolutely anything to obstruct Progressive initiatives. He also miscalculated the level of utter contempt & hatred that his opponents have for him.

In my previous commentary on Healthcare reform I mentioned the importance of controlling the narrative and winning the PR battle. Obama started from a disadvantage and didn’t even realize it. He must have believed (mistakenly) that the office of the Presidency would give him the platform that he needed to get his Healthcare initiatives through the Congress. But I warned that the Republicans, especially their Right wing media, controlled the microphone. They always control the microphone. And he who controls the microphone (megaphone in the case of Republicans) by dominating T.V. and radio, ends up dominating the debate and controlling the narrative. And whoever controls the narrative will carry the day & win the battle. This is how Republicans have been able to convince Americans (at least a sizable number) that they don’t want what they know they actually need - affordable Healthcare where decisions about treatment aren’t made by insurance companies. Americans know this, but the message from radio & the big networks over the last several months, driven by Right wing media, has convinced people once again to go against their own best interests. Add this media war against the American public to the behind the scenes lobbying where members of Congress are being bribed by insurance companies, and you have an almost impossible situation for Obama and Progressives in Congress.

Certainly there are some legitimate issues about costs, but many of the concerns amongst the public are baseless or have been overblown by the Right wing Republican propaganda which is simply aimed at scuttling Healthcare reform legislation. And the fear tactics seem to be working as usual. The right has even scared Blue Dog Democrats into falling in line…. The Blue Dogs are vulnerable to Republican political campaigning because many of them are from Conservative districts and could theoretically be ousted if targeted by Republican attack ads. So the Blue Dogs have been giving in…. mostly because several have elections coming up in 2010. It’s amazing that a bunch of rich Congressmembers, who have great health insurance, will block any efforts for the rest of us to have reliable healthcare all because they are running for re-election.

I have mentioned a million times that Progressives should build a media infrastructure that can compete on equal footing with Republican media. If Progressives & even independents want to get their message out, they will have to create their own media outlets. I’m afraid that Progressives will need a lot more than NPR and MSNBC. Although these networks do a decent job, they don’t put Progressives on equal ground with Right Wing Republican media. This should have been done years ago. Until a Progressive media infrastructure is created, Dems will start out at a disadvantage for whatever policy initiatives they want to get approved, even when their political party has a majority in Congress. Why? Because they can’t impact public opinion in their favor. They can’t even get their own message out. Not even when their Party controls the White House.

Fortunately, it looks like Obama has gotten the message that he will have to do more to grab the microphone & get control of his message if he wants to gain support for his initiatives. He gave a great speech on Healthcare in Ohio last week that seems to show that he has gotten that memo. It seems clear from the Ohio speech that he understands that he has to go on the offensive. Or does he? These were my thoughts last week…when I first wrote this…. But after observing his actions this week… I’m not so sure that he understands. He has already been conceding to Republicans and Conservatives within his own Party on core issues regarding Healthcare reform. After Conservative Democrats and Republicans made it clear that they would not support a public option, Obama has pretty much abandoned the idea. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated on CNN just today that we should be looking at Co-ops as the public option. In other words, she was admitting that the Public option was dead. Obama and Co. are now spinning Co-ops as the “Public Option” to compete with the private sector. But the truth is…. the basic plan as it is currently written not only leaves the private health insurance industry in charge…. But it will reward them with millions of new customers for their services…. making them even richer. So not only did the insurance lobby (with the Help of right wing media) stop the public option, but they have made themselves even bigger and richer in the process. [I wrote this post last week…before my computer died….warning that the American people and Obama were about to get scammed by this whole thing….and my God… before I could post this… it looks like it has already happened.]

Obama also seems confused about who his opponent really is in this battle. Based on the speech in Ohio, he seems to think that his opponents on Healthcare are primarily politicians in Washington. But once again, he is sadly mistaken. His opponent isn’t Mitch McConnell or John Boehner. They are simply following instructions & doing what they always do - obstructing without offering a cogent & meaningful plan of their own. Nor is his real opponent the “official” RNC leadership. Michael Steele himself admitted recently that he doesn’t do policy and isn’t interested in policymaking. Obama’s real opponent is the Right wing Republican media. This is the driving force behind the Republican Party itself. It is the nerve center for everything the GOP does. It’s no coincidence that there is speculation that Sarah Palin is considering talk radio or has already accepted a deal to do her own show. This would not be far fetched considering her background as a sportscaster. The quicker Obama recognizes what he is actually up against (a propaganda machine) the better for his chances to really get something done on Healthcare and any other big Progressive initiatives. Obama seemed shocked that folks in the GOP have no shame when they tell half truths and mislead (and scare) the American public. But I’m shocked that he’s shocked.

The Healthcare debate is shaping up to be one of the epic battles of Obama’s Presidency & one of the biggest political battles in recent memory. This could be a heavyweight political fight the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite some time. Both contenders are champions - each carrying titles into the ring. One side you have Barack Obama - probably the most unlikely President we’ve had in a Century. No one (including yours truly) believed that he could actually ascend to the highest office in the land. But he (along with his supporters) vanquished 2 very powerful political machines to claim victory…although he received a Hell of a lot of assistance from a thing called the economic crisis. On the other side you have the Republican media apparatus - the most powerful & most organized media network in U.S. history. One of the most powerful media apparatus’s in the World. The way the Right controls information, controls debate, and influences public opinion (through dirty tricks, disinformation efforts, propaganda & just by its sheer size) rivals what the World saw in Soviet Russia and Hitler's Germany. It is also no stranger to big victories. The Right Wing media destroyed efforts by a Republican President to achieve Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

How will we be able to tell who won this battle?

The Right Wing Media will claim victory if they can kill the public option. And on that front… it looks like the Fat Lady is done with rehearsals and is about to begin her performance. Round 1 in this 3 round fight clearly goes to the Right Wing Republican Media, to the Insurance companies and their allies in Congress. But it may be worse than that…. It looks like the Right wing media and its allies are in a good position to win outright.

Obama and Progressives in Congress will claim victory if they can get anything through at this point. They are already spinning a private Co-op plan as a public option….how pathetic can they get. This is far worse than watching Tyson getting knocked out for the first time…and seeing him try to get up for more. Sad. Obama seems to have already accepted some level of defeat.

What’s most likely to happen?

Both sides will claim victory….

The Right will claim victory because they were able to kill the public option. Not only that…. But internally, within Right wing circles, they will be laughing hysterically because they played the American public and Obama in a way that is really embarrassing. Why? because if the current private plan goes through… they would have pulled off one of the biggest hoodwinks in history- not only will we not have Healthcare reform… but in the process of killing real reform, they will make their allies even richer. They will also be able to claim that they played an integral role in reforming Healthcare in America…. The talking points that they plan to use in future elections. So in other words… they will hijack Obama’s initiative and make it their own.

On the other side… Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress will spin any legislation as a victory…simply because they were able to get SOMETHING through Congress. This is what I warned about in my previous post on Healthcare reform - that we will end up with a watered down plan that won’t really deal with the fundamental problems regarding our broken Healthcare system. The plan being considered won't make Healthcare more affordable to the poorest Americans, won't cover everyone, won't include a mandate for employers...and won't do much to deal with rising premiums.

The real winners?

The real victory goes to the right wing Republican media, the health insurance companies and their allies in Congress.

The real losers?

The real losers on this issue (if the current legislation is passed and signed) will be you and me.

__________________

Previous Post on Healthcare Reform

Obama initiative headed for defeat

Republicans Citing Insurance Industry Front Group in Their Efforts to Kill Healthcare Reform

Blacks, Hispanics Biggest Losers if Health Care Reform Flops

From Earl Ofari Hutchinson:



Blacks, Hispanics Biggest Losers if Health Care Reform Flops
New America Media, Commentary, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Posted: Jul 22, 2009


Editor’s Note: A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that public support for President Barack Obama’s health care plan is decreasing. If the plan fails, blacks and Hispanics, who make up nearly half of the estimated 50 million Americans without health insurance, will be the most affected, says author and political analyst, Earl Ofari Hutchinson.

If President Barack Obama’s drive for some form of universal health care falters the biggest losers by far will be blacks and Hispanics.

Blacks and Hispanics make up nearly half of the estimated 50 million Americans who have no health care insurance, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund. But the danger signs for reform are real. A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that public support for Obama’s plan is decreasing.

This is no surprise.

The instant Obama announced he would make health care reform his defining issue reform opponents kicked their attack into high gear. The two hit points are that it’s too costly and too intrusive – meaning that it will snatch from Americans the right to choose their own doctors and health plans and dump health care into the alleged slipshod, inefficient hands of government bureaucrats. The real fear of private insurers, pharmaceuticals and major medical practitioners is that they’ll have to treat millions of uninsured, unprofitable, largely unhealthy blacks and Hispanics.

The huge racial disparity in the number of uninsured has been a sticking point for every Democratic president since Harry Truman proposed the first national health care plan in the late 1940s. The number of blacks and Hispanics without a prayer of obtaining health care at any price has always been wildly disproportionate to that of whites – even poor whites. It has steadily gotten worse over the years.

The legions of black and Hispanic uninsured are far more likely than the one in four whites, who are uninsured to experience problems getting treatment at a hospital or clinic. This has devastating health and public policy consequences. A study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that they are far more likely than whites to suffer higher rates of catastrophic illness and disease, and are much less likely to obtain basic drugs, tests, preventive screenings and surgeries. They are more likely to recover slower from illness, and they die much younger.

Studies have found that when blacks and Hispanics do receive treatment, the care they receive is more likely to be substandard than that of whites. Reports indicate that even when blacks and Hispanics are enrolled in high quality health plans, the racial gap in the care and quality of medical treatment still remains low. 
 Private insurers routinely cherry pick the healthiest and most financially secure patients in order to bloat profits and hold down costs. American medical providers spend twice as much per patient than providers in countries with universal health care, and they provide lower quality for the grossly inflated dollars. Patients pay more in higher insurance premiums, co-payments, fees and other hidden health costs. At the same time, government medical insurance programs shell out more than public insurers in other countries with universal health care. 




Rest of article at link above.

GET TO CALLING.

This is a RIOT waiting to happen

Hat tip - RobM

From the Chicago Sun-Times

Cops now allowed to shoot drivers?
Calling all cars!
July 29, 2009
BY MICHAEL SNEED Sun-Times Columnist


Sneed hears Police Supt. Jody Weis has issued a new deadly force police policy, which is scheduled to go into effect this weekend.

• • To wit: Chicago cops will now be permitted to shoot at drivers or passengers in cases of felons fleeing in motor vehicles. (Weis' policy advisers recommended the change.)

• • The upshot: Proponents claim it helps protect cops.

• • The buckshot: Critics claim the new policy is "ridiculous" and the liability to the City of Chicago could be astronomical.

• • Translation: "Officers were allowed to use deadly force to prevent death or great bodily harm to themselves or another person, but it didn't allow them to use force to apprehend a fleeing forcible felon," said a police source. "If confronted by an oncoming vehicle, officers were simply told to get out of the way, unless they were put in great danger," added the police source.


Some child is going to be killed by a police bullet...I can see it now.

This is a riot waiting to happen.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

L'Affaire Henry Louis Gates, Part III

While Officer Crowley was pleased to receive a phone call from President Obama last week, more evidence suggests that the full picture of the incident is just beginning to see the light.

In the 911 call, the witness was not even sure she was seeing a crime and she never she mentioned race in the call. Yet, according to Crowley's police report, the witness indicated she saw "two black men with backpacks." What are the implications of this discrepancy? It appears as if the police officer (and perhaps the 911 dispatcher) injected race into the equation. This casts doubt on the validity of the police report and the assumption that we should automatically take Crowley's version of events as manna from heaven.

Analysis
Of course, the police have a stressful and dangerous job and I applaud those who do it for a living. Still, I strongly disagree with people who immediately sided with Officer Crowley in this incident. As the NY Times reported, when police face heated conversations, their tactics vary. For instance, see this video of a white Oklahoma officer choking a black ambulance driver.

Others surmise that there is much to this than merely race. Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post writes that much of this brouhaha is about class. I mean, how often do police officers run into black professors? Meaning, police officers are unaccustomed to dealing with African Americans from a particular station in society. After all, there aren't that many black professors. (The African American percentage of the total faculty and research staff at all of the nation’s degree-granting institutions of higher education in 2005: 5.9%.) For crying out loud, it was less than two years ago that a black Columbia University professor found a noose outside her office.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Arguing with Shelby Steele on Racial Inequality

Conservative author Shelby Steele in the Washington Post opinion section tackled the ever-controversial topic of affirmative action and persistent racial inequality in the article “Affirmative Action Is Just a Distraction.”

In a nutshell, he argues that persistent racial inequality today between whites and African Americans is primarily a result of black underdevelopment rather than racism.

Today's "black" problem is underdevelopment, not discrimination. Success in modernity will demand profound cultural changes -- changes in child-rearing, a restoration of marriage and family, a focus on academic rigor, a greater appreciation of entrepreneurialism and an embrace of individual development as the best road to group development.


Moreover, Steele asserts that:

“this underdevelopment is primarily a black responsibility. And yet it is -- as historically unfair as it may be, as much as it seems to blame the victim. In human affairs we are responsible not just for our "just" fate, but also for our existential fate.

But continuing black underdevelopment will flush both races out of their postures and make most discussions of race in America, outside a context of development, irrelevant.”


Let me break down where I think Steele makes a good point—and where he and traditionally, most American conservatives, miss the mark.

Shelby Steele makes a good point:
• I believe Steele is right when he argues that the problem—or rather, the cause of the problem of inequality—is underdevelopment rather than discrimination.

I think Steele might be onto something when he argues that the problem of racial inequality isn’t as simple and reducible to white racism anymore. In my own experience as an Asian-American and an immigrant, much of my own personal setbacks personally, professionally and academically were not a direct result or byproduct of white racism but primarily is a result of being in unfamiliar territory where I did not know the rules of the game and I did not have mentors to help guide me on strategies how to advance.

Being thrown in unfamiliar turf (such as college or the Washington, DC white-collar workforce) where many of the players were white, upper middle class and above, and American-born does put me at a disadvantage. But the fact is, I was able to gain entry into that turf and get a chance to play. I see some validity in Steele’s point that although a minority in the white, white-collar world, white racism did not hold me back from entry into that world. How far I could advance in that turf is a mixture of a function of my own personal drive, ambition, skills and network. And yes, racism may play a key role in determining who gets to break into the upper echelons of management. But right now, I don’t see white racism as a factor in determining how far I can advance in my field as much as I see social class and how well my early education, college and being middle class has prepared me to enter the professional workforce.

Shelby Steele misses the mark:

• I believe Steele misses the mark in his prescription on how best to tackle black (and other racial) underdevelopment. He argues that a change in culture among African Americans is the best road to development. A cultural change that leads to changes in behavior that deal with child-rearing, marriage and family, a focus on academic rigor, a greater appreciation of entrepreneurship, and a focus on individual development as the best road to group development.

This is where Steele’s argument gets a bit hazy. He posits certain factors as all missing from the culture of those who are underdeveloped—the prescription, therefore, is to inject these elements into the underdeveloped culture and watch family, entrepreneurship, and academic achievement grow. And oh yeah, it’s primarily blacks’ (and other marginalized groups) responsibility to change their culture. In one fell swoop, therefore, he absolves white America of having any role or responsibility in the uplift of their fellow Americans of color in the social and economic margins.

The problem I have with Steele’s culturally-based argument is that if you break it down to matters of public policy and how laws are implemented, government programs and resources are allocated, and the role of private citizens in making this happen all of Steele’s prescriptions boils down to a lot of feel good conservative rhetoric that lectures people on their supposed personal shortcomings—and not much else.

Furthermore, his singular focus on group responsibility to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps neglects the fact that persistent inequality is an American problem. In my opinion, Steele is far too eager in absolving white America of wrongdoing or moral culpability in matters of racial inequality and overlooks the idea that in a society we are all in the same boat.

The Persistence of Class

Where Steele and many pundits see racial inequality I actually see class. Historically, there have always been two schools of thought as to how an underclass should best to deal with the problem of inequality in capitalist economies: (1) for those at the bottom to learn how to play the capitalist game, to advance as individuals up the socioeconomic ladder and perhaps lead the way for other members of their group to advance as well; (2) for those at the bottom to challenge elite dominance through political activism, legislation and to transform capitalist society to be more equitable in distributing power, wealth and the rewards of society to the poor and working class.

Personally I do not see an inherent contradiction between these two strategies as methods to advance politically, socially and economically for marginalized groups. By that I mean an individual can be academically-inclined, aspire for professional success, and attain wealth in this society. At the same time, he or she can support political causes and activism whose aim is to advance class-based issues such as improving education for poor and working class students, providing meaningful healthcare to the uninsured, affordable housing, etc.

Steele and most conservative commentators see issues of inequality solely through the lens of individual effort and personal responsibility. They imply through their morally-laced arguments that if you are at the bottom of society and are not a member of the middle to upper class there must be something wrong with you and how you approach the problem of living in the complex, post-industrial America of the 21st century.

The way I see it, class is a natural byproduct of capitalist economies. There is a need for garbagemen, janitors, and service industry workers in this economy as there will be a need for doctors, lawyers, corporate executives and white collar professionals. The basic problem that Steele and other conservative commentators do not address is a question of fairness—is it fundamentally fair that the schools that service industry workers children go to, the housing and neighborhoods available to them, are inherently inferior and sub-standard in quality compared to the schools that the middle and upper classes’ children go to? Is it fair for the those who can afford to have excellent health and dental care while those who cannot afford have to do without? Is it fair for the children of professionals to have natural advantages in the quality of education they receive and preparation for life compared to the children of service industry and blue-collar workers?

Steele’s prescription is for minorities at the bottom to aspire to become middle and upper middle class, to take on the values and trappings of success as it is defined by those at the top. If your life sucks as a working class person, Steele and other conservatives argue that what you need to do is to aspire to be upper middle class where life sucks less.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. What I am doing is to pose the question: why does life, opportunity, and other aspects of modern living have to suck for working class people? Wouldn’t a public policy and strategy that lifts all boats so it sucks less for marginalized groups make a lot more sense?

Where Does this Leave Affirmative Action?

By this time you probably would have guessed that although I come from quite the opposite political perspective from Shelby Steele, I actually agree with his assertion that the affirmative action debate in its current form is increasingly becoming irrelevant.

I am a proponent of injecting the notion of social and economic class and fairness in the equation of asking the question of what do we as a society do about inequality? I would argue that inequality is an American phenomenon – not just a black and white issue. If you actually look at the statistics, most poor and working class people in America are white. Addressing inequality has to do not just with ushering members of the poor and working class up the socioeconomic ladder without questioning the fundamental fairness of a social and economic structure where the fruits of society are only enjoyed by those at the top. I would argue that tackling inequality also has to do with how society allocates the rewards and resources at its disposal for the common good.

Caribou Barbie's Farewell Address

thank you mudflats:


highercalling



What an absolutely beautiful day it is, and it is my honor to speak to all Alaskans, to our Alaskan family this last time as your governor. And it is always great to be in Fairbanks. The rugged rugged hardy people that live up here and some of the most patriotic people whom you will ever know live here, and one thing that you are known for is your steadfast support of our military community up here and I thank you for that and thank you United States military for protecting the greatest nation on Earth. Together we stand.

And getting up here I say it is the best road trip in America soaring through nature’s finest show. Denali, the great one, soaring under the midnight sun. And then the extremes. In the winter time it’s the frozen road that is competing with the view of ice fogged frigid beauty, the cold though, doesn’t it split the Cheechakos from the Sourdoughs? And then in the summertime such extreme summertime about a hundred and fifty degrees hotter than just some months ago, than just some months from now, with fireweed blooming along the frost heaves and merciless rivers that are rushing and carving and reminding us that here, Mother Nature wins. It is as throughout all Alaska that big wild good life teeming along the road that is north to the future. That is what we get to see every day. Now what the rest of America gets to see along with us is in this last frontier there is hope and opportunity and there is country pride.

And it is our men and women in uniform securing it, and we are facing tough challenges in America with some seeming to just be Hell bent maybe on tearing down our nation, perpetuating some pessimism, and suggesting American apologetics, suggesting perhaps that our best days were yesterdays. But as other people have asked, “How can that pessimism be, when proof of our greatness, our pride today is that we produce the great proud volunteers who sacrifice everything for country?” Now this week alone, Sean Parnell and I we’re on the, um, on Ft. Rich the base there, the army chapel, and we heard the last roll call, and the sounding of Taps for three very brave, very young Alaskan soldiers who just gave their all for all of us. Together we do stand with gratitude for our troops who protect all of our cherished freedoms, including our freedom of speech which, par for the course, I’m going to exercise.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Vineyard Bites Black and Other Class Tales

debutantes


Hat tip:The Black Snob
Oak Bluffs Residents Bite Back At Toure's New York Mag Story
Friday, July 24, 2009 at 9:00AM


And they said that wasn't THEIR lives at Martha's Vineyard writer Toure was penning for New York Magazine last month. In the article he talked about black self-segregation and how some residents of Oak Bluffs and Martha's Vineyard wouldn't be interested in the First Family because the Obamas were "off the people" and Michelle Obama was a "ghetto girl." Stay classy, that one.

Well, naturally not everyone in Oak Bluffs was pleased with how Toure portrayed their little hamlet.

More after the jump.


(T)he overwhelming view of a large number of Island residents, seasonal and year-round, black and white, is that the piece, published June 21 under the headline Black and White on Martha’s Vineyard, was desperately unfair and wrong.



Thus Abigail McGrath, of Oak Bluffs, drafted a letter of response to the magazine and circulated it among her Island friends for their signatures.

It was quite a letter.

“My family has lived on the Vineyard for seven generations and I don’t recognize MY Vineyard in the article, Black and White on the Vineyard, written by Mr. TourĂ©,” she began, then went on to condemn its “appalling inaccuracies which misrepresent the Island in a divisive way.”

She went on to bet “a free week in my Oak Bluffs house” that if the author were to interview any of the “heavyweight” blacks mentioned in the piece, “not to mention many whites, residents and visitors, each would question the accuracy of this article.”

And indeed this week when the Gazette contacted some of the people mentioned in the article — and others who were not — they did, in the strongest terms.



Here is the complete article.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What The President ACTUALLY Said

lamh32 10 minutes ago

Rikyrah, I think ya'll should post the transcript of Obama's remarks in totality. It reads much differently than the reports, and the media as usual is completely cutting an pasting to mke more controversy. It's pretty long, but I'm gonna post it in the comments just in case.

President Obama Speaks in Briefing Room about Gates/Crowley (The Article headline is different, but I think it was not quite a "mea culp")

And a promise to bring him and Professor Gates to the White House for a beer. Politically, the beer promise... it's kind of a killer, no? (Killer = political slam dunk.)



THE PRESIDENT: Hey, it's a cameo appearance. Sit down, sit down. I need to help Gibbs out a little bit here.

I wanted to address you guys directly because over the last day and a half obviously there's been all sorts of controversy around the incident that happened in Cambridge with Professor Gates and the police department there.

Media Alert

Hat tip: The Black Snob

valeriejarrett4


Valerie Jarrett is the cover story of The NYTimes Magazinethis Sunday.

OK White People, What is ACCEPTABLE ID?

I had a "discussion" on a message board about this issue.

A poster claimed that obviously the officer needed more proof that Gates was who he said he was.

I asked a simple question: why wasn't Gates' government ID and employment ID, both of which had his address on it, sufficient enough proof of residence? Why did the officer have to search for more proof that Gates belonged in the house?

I was called all sorts of race baiters and racists, to which I replied, "that's nice, but you still haven't answered the question: why wasn't Gates' government issued ID sufficient enough proof of residence?

The poster replied, well OBVIOUSLY the officer felt that wasn't sufficient enough proof and felt more comfortable with Harvard verifying who Gates was.

Again I asked, why wasn't the government ID enough proof? Why did the officer have to call Gates' employer for verification to feel comfortable?

And I was accused of wanting to call the poster a racist. To which I replied, racism is your problem. Why wasn't the government ID enough proof?

I never did get an answer. These people have a meme in their mind that black people are out to get whitey and nothing's going to change that. You can't reason with them, you can't talk sense into them. The local talk show guy said that Obama was being racist Wednesday night; Sean Hannity claimed that Rev. Wright taught Obama and Michelle Obama all about racism blah blah.

These people are having meltdowns because their white America is disintegrating before their eyes. And like I said in another thread, it seems to be one specific white ethnic group leading the charge against Obama. I don't know how important that is but it sure is interesting that most of the leading voices against Obama come from one particular group.


--------------------------------------------

So, White people, just so as all us Negroes will know next time...

WHAT IS ACCEPTABLE ID?


If it's NOT a workplace ID...

If it's NOT a State of MASSACHUSETTS issued Drivers License....

Don't say United States Passport, because:
1. It doesn't have your address on it, and that was SUPPOSED to be what was in question with Dr. Gates
2. Only 27% of Americans have one. I'm willing to bet real money that Dr. Gates is among that 27%..how much are you willing to bet that the officer has one?

So.........
WHAT ACCEPTABLE ID DO YOU WHITE PEOPLE HAVE THAT US NEGROES ARE MISSING?

The Surgeon General Pick ---attacked because of her weight

reginabenjamin1


from crooks and liars
The sickening hate of our new Surgeon General
By John Amato
Friday Jul 24, 2009 7:45am


As soon as Dr Regina Benjamin was named as our new Surgeon General the right wing haters crawled out from under their rocks. Every single move President Obama makes is immediately transformed into some socialistic/Nazi/Witch doctor conspiracy theory which is amping up the crazies and violence is sure to follow in even greater numbers now than it already has. C&L has vigorously objected to several of President Obama's moves on policy, but the freepers even attacked the jeans he wore when he threw out the first pitch at the All Star game.

Now they've expanded their hatred and have unleashed vile attacks on Dr. Benjamin.

The only problem seems to be that some people think the face is too fat.

From her photos, it appears that Dr. Benjamin will need a generous size 18 military uniform. The anti-fat brigade has been arguing in various online comments sections about her BMI and whether or not the term obese applies. These chattering masses wonder if a country plagued by obesity should have an above average-weight woman speaking to public health.

For me the answer is a resounding yes. This country is full of above-average weight women and children struggling for dignity as well as to lose weight. Achieving either of these is not easy. (Never mind that none of these criticisms have mentioned any actual health concerns Benjamin might or might not have, instead presuming "obesity" as a catch-all for bad health.) Having a confident, big-bodied and big-spirited woman as America's family doctor could do more to improve their health than skinny HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius. It's good to know that even doctors struggle with their weight -- and lead full and active lives in spite of adversity.

Amanda Marcotte has an excellent post about this story.

Yet, as Marcotte points out, there is an increasing tendency to see all of this as yet another opportunity to marginalize and shame certain segments of society based upon appearance:

By saying this, I’m not making any health claims about weight. That discussion, while interesting, is beside the point of this post. It’s enough to know that most people strongly associate health and weight. So when disingenuous sexists start to bellyache about the dangers of letting fat women out in public, they get traction, because it’s becoming increasingly acceptable to suggest that not being perfectly healthy is a moral failing that should be punished with social disapproval, shaming, ostracism, and lowered access to society. Of course, we double down on fat people, and triple down on fat women, because of plain old prejudice, but this isn’t happening in a vacuum. Smokers, people who don’t eat right, and other people with poor health habits are also considered morally inadequate, if harder to judge because they’re harder to spot. The fetish for health management is, I suspect, a large reason that the anti-vaccination movement has taken hold. People who want an edge in the moral olympics of prevention are inventing counterintuitive (and anti-intellectual) shit to do in order to win as the bestest, most deserving of good health.

President Obama's Weekly Address

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Police, Gates And Black In America



You've heard of getting pulled over for a DWB? Driving While Black? Well, the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. saga in Cambridge, Mass. gives us arrested Entering Own Home While Black.

The Story
To recount, if you have not heard, eminent Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested after returning home from an overseas trip. A neighbor reported seeing two suspicious black males breaking into a home. As it turns out his door was wedged shut so there was a bit of struggle. Unable to open the front door, Gates went around back and opened the door from the inside. Mind you, Professor Gates uses a cane to walk.

When the police arrived, Gates was asked for ID, which he provided. Still, Gates was arrested. Why? Apparently, Gates was "tumultuous." What the hell?

Analysis
To many African Americans, this is a case of an arrest of an upstanding black male for not being appropriately deferential to the police. It is a long-running (never ending, really) story that defines the fabric of America. Blacks believe, and stories like this validate, the belief held by blacks that it doesn't matter how hard you work, how smart you are, how clean your record is, if you're black, it doesn't matter. If they want to lock you up, they can.

My Computer has Flatlined for Good

I'll be out of action indefinitely.... because my computer has finally died. It was almost 10 years old. I added a few more years to it by upgrading as much as possible...

Unfortunately I have no money for a new PC (yes...i'm broke...and life sucks).

But I hope to be back before too long....hopefully sometime in August or September.

Please delete any Spam or comments that don't fit the comment policy. (I usually have to check for this almost everyday...and have to delete nonsense all the time...even with the blogger filters in place).

Enjoy your Summer...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pet Peeve: Students Asking Me To Change Their Grade


As I've learned from personal experience and have confirmed with countless anecdotal stories from others, students aren't shy about asking professors to reconsider their grade. When this happens, it usually only produces annoyance for me, but no desire to change their grade.

Yes, I'm sure I'll turn some students off, but I'm not the first person to refer to this generation of college students as the Entitlement Generation. It's gotten so bad that researchers study the phenomenon of students expecting better grades simply because they worked hard. They tend to not realize our job is to reward actual performance, not merely effort.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Difference Does Having An Interracial Roommate Make?

Have you ever lived with someone of a different race? Did it change your perspective of what you thought of that person's race? The answer largely depends on the environment in which you were raised. If you grew up in a heterogeneous neighborhood with lots of diversity, living with someone that looks different from you was no big deal. If not, then problems are likely. Research shows that interracial roommates can reduce prejudice among college students...sometimes.

However, interracial roommates were also more likely to break up. Why? Sometimes the differences (i.e. music, friends of friends) are so vast as to be irreconcilable. Of course, roommates of the same race break up often too, so it's hard to say. One thing researchers safely agree on is that it is these instances of living together where efforts at diversifying college campuses really make a difference. In class, whites cluster with whites, blacks with blacks and so on. But, one-on-one in the dorm room? Adapt and acclimate or fight and become embittered.

Media Alert

OBAMA/


Presidential Press Conference, Wednesday, July 22nd at 8 pm EST.

Media Alert

southcarolina2


CNN is back with Black In America 2.
Because, you loved Black in America

SOOOOOOO much.

It's supposed to be


Wednesday, July 22nd, from 8-10 pm EST.
Thursday, July 23rd, from 8-10 pm EST.
There's even going to be 'Countdown to Black in America 2' on Wednesday, from 7-8 pm EST.

2009 or 1952?: This Week In Blackness (TWIB)

Lee Fields - My World

Lee Fields - My World (from new album of the same name. Can't find a website with the lyrics)


Bonus: Mayer Hawthorne - When I Said Goodbye

Microlending Makes its Mark in the U.S.

Tavis Smiley covered the subject of microlending over the past week on his radio program. This form of borrowing, usually more common in the developing World, has now found its way into the U.S. through the organization Kiva.org. Kiva allows lenders to seek out borrowers who want to start businesses that are promising and that lenders want to support.

Could this be used as a way to lift people out of poverty in this Country? Could it be used to help abandoned urban communities? I don't see why it couldn't.

Hear three segments on how microlending works, who it helps and why it is successful.

Segment One

Kiva President Premal Shah
KIVA.org's Premal Shah talks about his group's new push to bring microlending to credit-starved US entrepreneurs.

Listen


Segment Two (discussion with a borrower)

Borrower Amanda Keppert
Kiva.org has been making a difference for years for borrowers in the developing world, by using the internet to hook them up with small scale lenders around the globe. The service is now available to US borrowers, and producer Mia Lobel has this profile of new Kiva borrower Amanda Keppert.

Listen


Segment Three (discussion with a lender)

Lender Roland Allen
Roland Allen sits down with Tavis to talk about how he became a Kiva lender, and what spurred him to lend to Amanda.

Listen

To learn more about Kiva and Microlending, go to Kiva.org

Right Wing Conservative Loonies and Their Conspiracy Theories

"Birther Movement" follower hijacks Town Hall Meeting held by Congressman Mike Castle (R-DE).


Chris Matthews takes on Birther Movement Congressman John Campbell


Is there anyone still not convinced that we are dealing with lunatics?

The "Birthers" can't seem to leave the Obama Birth Certificate Conspiracy Theory alone. In fact, thanks to Talk Radio and Faux News, the Birth Certificate nonsense has only grown over the last few months. Republican mouthpiece Jerome Corsi is now taking this propaganda to other Countries. He was recently in Israel for radio interviews...undermining President Obama, and painting a false picture of him for the people of Israel and for listeners throughout the Middle East. It's almost Treason.

To make matters worse, this nonsense has been given more legitimacy in recent weeks, with members of Congress getting behind the "Birthers" (and securing votes from the wacky conservatives who make up their political base back home). Republican Congressmen John Campbell and Bill Posey are pushing a Bill that would require Presidential candidates to provide proof of Citizenship (a step in the vetting process that already exists....so this is all BS political theater for Campbell and Posey. They are using this as a way to manipulate voters in their Conservative districts).

But what is this really all about? This isn't really about a birth certificate. Nor is it a genuine question of citizenship. These are excuses and distractions being used to hide the real issue. Those of us who are Black Americans know exactly what this is about. Let's just get to the real heart of the matter. President Obama's birth certificate is only an issue because he's Black (or biracial as some see him... including myself...but for the purpose of this discussion... we'll say he's Black)....and he has a Mideastern Middle name (and to some degree because his father was a Muslim). But race and American bigotry and xenophobia are really the heart of this issue.

If he happened to be a White man with a funny name....and especially if he were White and Republican, his birth certificate would not be much of a problem. The whole "Birther movement" is what America looks like when it wants to dodge the real issue.... in this case... the issue being dodged is race. I would rather have these gullible White Republican racists just come out and say what's really bothering them... what really scares them.

What this issue also highlights is the power of Right Wing Republican Talk Radio (where the so-called "Birther movement" got its start). Mainstream Republican talk show hosts helped to create and feed this beast.... and now the beast is threatening to consume those who created it. It's the same way that we ended up with Jim Adkisson, Scott Roeder, Hal Turner, and James Von Brunn....and it's the reason why Right Wing Republican media is so dangerous.

But I have to admit...I have gotten a chuckle or two in (you have to laugh to keep from crying). Watching these wackos as they are exposed...and embarrassed in the national media has been amusing. The youtube political vlog, The Young Turks, has been having a field day with this craziness, and so has CNN's Rick Sanchez.

But even when faced with reality...the loonies won't stop crawling out of the woodwork with this nonsense. The hits just keep on coming.

Republican Party Spokesman Calls for the Death of Captured American Soldier

On Faux News over the weekend, Right Wing mouthpiece Ralph Peters called for the Taliban to execute captured Army Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl. I have seen a lot of nonsense by the Right...but this made my heart skip a few beats (not for any good reasons either). I thought I was imagining things... that maybe Rachel Maddow (who pointed this out on her program) was somehow playing tricks on me... but I went online and retrieved the video and replayed it just to make sure that I didn't lose my mind.



Peters has jumped to a lot of conclusions....mainly assuming that Pfc. Bergdahl abandoned his post. The latest reports that I have read have suggested that this soldier may have been drinking and may have wandered off too far.

Here is what was reported by the Taliban on one of its own websites, from July 6th:

"Five days ago, a drunken American soldier who had come out of his garrison named Malakh was captured by mujahedeen. ... He is still with mujahedeen," said the report. The short Web message did not elaborate on his whereabouts....

Either way.... Ralph Peters is out of line.

1. No matter what the circumstances are... this is an American. Period. The U.S. should do all it can to find him and bring him home alive.

2. This young man is/was the responsibility of his senior enlisted comrades (NCO's) and his commanders...regardless of the circumstances. It was their job to take care of him....especially if he was under the influence or for some other reason was not making good decisions for himself. He's a Pfc. for crying out loud! Even if he did something worthy of disciplinary action... he's still the responsibility of his NCO's and commanders. It is their job to make sure he gets home to his family. The same is true for any soldier. Even if they are under the supervision of MP's... They should still be brought home to their families.....and to face disciplinary action if appropriate.

3. It is way out of line for a pundit, a reporter, and especially a Right wing mouthpiece to call for the death of an American soldier being held captive. Especially when the family is panicked about their loved one. Isn't Ralph Peters, with the help of Faux News, collaborating with enemies of the United States by asking them to kill an American soldier? What Lt. Col. Peters did is sickening. His retirement status should be reviewed IMO.

U.S. Continues to Meddle in the Former Soviet Union

Vice President Joe Biden recently expressed U.S. support for Ukraine's efforts to enter NATO (despite its own population being against it). Obama and his Neo-Con Lite foreign policy team are also cheerleading for Georgia's entry into NATO.

This is perhaps the dumbest foreign policy effort that the Obama Administration has engaged in so far, piggy backing on the damage in the U.S. - Russia relationship caused by the Bush Administration, and the Clinton Administration before that. Strategically it makes no sense. There are no good outcomes from this effort. None.

The best that could come out of this is a long-term chilling of relations between the U.S. and Russia; basically maintaining the status quo (not in the best interests of the U.S.). The worst that could come from this is a new arms race in Europe and a renewal of the Cold War...and a situation where military conflict (accidental or otherwise) becomes more likely....even more likely than the old NATO vs. Warsaw Pact days, when the two sides battled for influence in Europe and competed in other parts of the World (particularly Africa and Central America).

As I have written a million times before, expanding these kinds of treaties (NATO), particularly to include Countries that are politically, militarily, and economically unstable and are not at peace with their neighbors (and thus don't meet traditional requirements for NATO membership) would expose the U.S. and its military to unnecessary risks. NATO expansion would add more responsibility to a military that is already overstretched. Ultimately, this policy doesn't match up with Obama's efforts to focus more on domestic issues. These kinds of strategic moves overseas can easily derail his domestic agenda....an agenda that is already coming off the rails. Neo-Con Lite, despite what it says about improving relations around the World, seems to be deliberately testing Russia and appears to be willing to manufacture a crisis in Eastern Europe.

And what does the U.S. and NATO get for killing U.S.-Russian relations, taking on all these new responsibilities and risks, destabilizing Eastern Europe, and risking an arms race? Absolutely nothing of any substantive value. Georgia and Ukraine don't offer much militarily to NATO. In fact, the two Countries would be more akin to dead weight. Adding these Countries would be symbolic...another way for the U.S. to thumb its nose at Russia.... but this time the U.S. is dealing with a resurgent Russia. Such a move would only motivate the Russian Government, and its people (who once supported the U.S....but who now basically hate us) to do even more to work against American interests...whether in Iran, in the UN, on energy, North Korea, Iraq, the global economy and in other aspects.

I guess Neo-Con Lite and her 'reset button' nonsense was the gimmick that I thought it was afterall. That's exactly how the Russians are seeing it right about now.

Republican Website Used for Racist Attacks on the Obama Family

Nope... no signs of reform within the Republican Party. In fact, it's becoming more hardcore as the GOP is forced to rally behind the racists who make up the Party's base.

Last week... the Obama family was the target of Right Wing racists on the popular Conservative website The Free Republic. The Free Republic's Founder Jim Robinson defended the comments on his website, calling it freedom of speech...and he even got in a few jabs of his own.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Arrested After Entering His Own House


skipgates


Harvard Professor Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, was arrested

IN HIS OWN DAMN HOUSE!


Guilty of.........RESIDING WHILE BLACK!!


From Ta-Nehisi Coates:

Police arrived at Gates's Ware Street home near Harvard Square at 12:44 p.m. to question him. Gates, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, had locked himself out of his house and was trying to get inside.
He was booked for disorderly conduct after "exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior," according to the Cambridge police log.

He was booked for disorderly conduct after "exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior," according to the Cambridge police log.

Friends of Gates said he was already in his home when police arrived. He showed his driver's license and Harvard identification card, but was handcuffed and taken into police custody for several hours last Thursday, they said.


I bet he did exhibit "loud and tumultuous behavior." I likely would too. Actually, I wouldn't. But I don't work for Harvard. And my mother taught me how black men are to address the police.

Fellow Harvard professor Allen Counter has had similar encounters with Police:

[S. Allen] Counter has faced a similar situation himself. The well-known neuroscience professor, who is also black, was stopped by two Harvard police officers in 2004 after being mistaken for a robbery suspect as he crossed Harvard Yard. They threatened to arrest him when he could not produce identification.

"This is very disturbing that this could happen to anyone, and not just to a person of such distinction," Counter said. "He was just shocked that this had happened, at 12:44 in the afternoon, in broad daylight. It brings up the question of whether black males are being targeted by Cambridge police for harassment."


From the Harvard Crimson:Renowned Af-Am Professor Gates Arrested for Disorderly Conduct

Here is a copy of THE POLICE REPORT

From Wonkette:Famous Harvard Intellectual Arrested In Connection With Attempting To Enter His House

From the Boston Globe:Harvard professor Gates arrested at Cambridge home

And, what would an arrest story be without the proverbial mugshot:
skipgatesmugshot



As Percy Sutton once said,

" If you wake up and forget that you are Black, by the time 5 pm rolls around, someone would have reminded you."

EDITED TO ADD:
Skip Gates is 60 years old and can't walk WITHOUT A CANE.

Yeah, he's a threat to you and me, y'all. I feel soooo much safer knowing that he was taken off the streets.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite Has Passed Away At 92

waltercronkite1-799355


From Wikipedia:

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. (born November 4, 1916 - died July 17, 2009) is a retired American broadcast journalist, best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years (1962–81). During the heyday of CBS News in the 1970s and 1980s, he was often cited in viewer opinion polls as "the most trusted man in America" because of his professional experience and kindly demeanor.

Early years at CBS
In 1950, Cronkite joined CBS News in its young and growing television division, recruited by Edward R. Murrow, who had previously tried to hire Cronkite from UP during the war. Cronkite began working at WTOP-TV, the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C.. On July 7, 1952, the term "anchor" was coined to describe Cronkite's role at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, which marked the first nationally-televised convention coverage.[4] Cronkite anchored the network's coverage of the 1952 presidential election as well as later conventions, until in 1964, he was temporarily replaced by the team of Robert Trout and Roger Mudd. This proved to be a mistake, and Cronkite was returned to the anchor chair for future political conventions.

From 1953 to 1957, Cronkite hosted the CBS program You Are There, which reenacted historical events, using the format of a news report. His famous last line for these programs was: "What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times... and you were there." He also hosted The Twentieth Century, a documentary series about important historical events of the century which was made up almost exclusively of newsreel footage and interviews. It became a long-running hit. (Note: In the early 1970s, You Are There, hosted by Walter Cronkite, was revived and redesigned to attract an audience of teenagers and young adults. It aired on Saturday mornings.) He also hosted a game show called It's News to Me, a game show based on news events.

The CBS Evening News
Cronkite succeeded Douglas Edwards as anchorman of the CBS Evening News on April 16, 1962, a job in which he became an American icon. The program expanded from 15 to 30 minutes on September 2, 1963, making Cronkite the anchor of American network television's first nightly half-hour news program.

During the early part of his tenure anchoring the CBS Evening News, Cronkite competed against NBC's anchor team of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, who anchored the Huntley-Brinkley Report. For most of the 1960s, the Huntley-Brinkley Report had more viewers than Cronkite's broadcast. This began to change in the late 1960s, as RCA made a corporate decision not to fund NBC News at the levels CBS funded CBS News. Consequently, CBS News acquired a reputation for accuracy and depth in its broadcast journalism. This reputation meshed nicely with Cronkite's wire service experience, and in 1968, the CBS Evening News began to surpass The Huntley-Brinkley Report in viewership during the summer months. In that same year, the faculty of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University voted to award him the Carr Van Anda Award "for enduring contributions to journalism."[5]

In 1969, with Apollo 11, and later with Apollo 13, Cronkite received the best ratings and made CBS the most-watched television network for the missions.

MSNBC's Resident Racist ---" White Men Made This Country."

Uh huh.

On last night's Rachel Maddow show, here's MSNBC's Resident Racist, well, being who we know him to be:
Maddow: Why do you think that 108 of the 110 Supreme Court Justices have been white?

Buchanan: White men built this country. White men drafted the Constitution. Almost all the people who fought on the beaches of Normandy were white men.


White men built this country?

Oh really?

Actually, they didn't. The economic foundation of this country is built upon SLAVERY, Pat Buchanan. It is on the backs of AFRICAN SLAVES, for HUNDREDS of years of FREE LABOR, upon which this country was built. Find an industry in this country, and it was built upon SLAVERY.

Black people are a Founding Population of this country, Buchanan.

You want the TRUEST Americans, Buchanan - look no further than the Black folks that you so blithely dismiss.

Because, you've never once had to find a REASON to fight FOR this country. To actually THINK about it in any seriousness, and then decide, 'Yes, America is a country worth fighting for. ' Your mindless version of patriotism is so shallow and insincere, it's an utter farce. I don't believe, for all your patriotic yammering, that your ass put on an uniform to actually DEFEND this country...which puts you in good company with a whole lot of chickenhawks named Cheney, Limbaugh, etc. Name one, and somehow, there's some EXCUSE as to why you didn't fight for this country when the opportunity availed itself.

You want TRUE PATRIOTISM - how about men like my Father, and millions like him, who put on the uniform for this country, risking their lives for this country, when, officially on the LAWBOOKS, my father and others for generations, were SECOND CLASS CITIZENS.

THAT is a patriot.

You are a poseur.

A racist poseur.

There were nearly a million Black men who fought for this country during WWII, though none of the movies nor newsreels from that time would indicate such. Why would they - those men were putting their lives on the line in a SEGREGATED ARMY that treated German PRISONERS OF WAR better than Black soldiers.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

President Obama's Speech to the NAACP



Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
NAACP Centennial
New York, New York
July 16, 2009


It is an honor to be here, in the city where the NAACP was formed, to mark its centennial. What we celebrate tonight is not simply the journey the NAACP has traveled, but the journey that we, as Americans, have traveled over the past one hundred years.

It is a journey that takes us back to a time before most of us were born, long before the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, and Brown v. Board of Education; back to an America just a generation past slavery. It was a time when Jim Crow was a way of life; when lynchings were all too common; and when race riots were shaking cities across a segregated land.

It was in this America where an Atlanta scholar named W.E.B. Du Bois, a man of towering intellect and a fierce passion for justice, sparked what became known as the Niagara movement; where reformers united, not by color but cause; and where an association was born that would, as its charter says, promote equality and eradicate prejudice among citizens of the United States.

From the beginning, Du Bois understood how change would come – just as King and all the civil rights giants did later. They understood that unjust laws needed to be overturned; that legislation needed to be passed; and that Presidents needed to be pressured into action. They knew that the stain of slavery and the sin of segregation had to be lifted in the courtroom and in the legislature.

But they also knew that here, in America, change would have to come from the people. It would come from people protesting lynching, rallying against violence, and walking instead of taking the bus. It would come from men and women – of every age and faith, race and region – taking Greyhounds on Freedom Rides; taking seats at Greensboro lunch counters; and registering voters in rural Mississippi, knowing they would be harassed, knowing they would be beaten, knowing that they might never return.

Because of what they did, we are a more perfect union. Because Jim Crow laws were overturned, black CEOs today run Fortune 500 companies. Because civil rights laws were passed, black mayors, governors, and Members of Congress serve in places where they might once have been unable to vote. And because ordinary people made the civil rights movement their own, I made a trip to Springfield a couple years ago – where Lincoln once lived, and race riots once raged – and began the journey that has led me here tonight as the 44th President of the United States of America.

And yet, even as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of the past one hundred years; even as we inherit extraordinary progress that cannot be denied; even as we marvel at the courage and determination of so many plain folks – we know that too many barriers still remain.

We know that even as our economic crisis batters Americans of all races, African Americans are out of work more than just about anyone else – a gap that’s widening here in New York City, as detailed in a report this week by Comptroller Bill Thompson.

We know that even as spiraling health care costs crush families of all races, African Americans are more likely to suffer from a host of diseases but less likely to own health insurance than just about anyone else.

We know that even as we imprison more people of all races than any nation in the world, an African-American child is roughly five times as likely as a white child to see the inside of a jail.

And we know that even as the scourge of HIV/AIDS devastates nations abroad, particularly in Africa, it is devastating the African-American community here at home with disproportionate force.

These are some of the barriers of our time. They’re very different from the barriers faced by earlier generations. They’re very different from the ones faced when fire hoses and dogs were being turned on young marchers; when Charles Hamilton Houston and a group of young Howard lawyers were dismantling segregation.

But what is required to overcome today’s barriers is the same as was needed then. The same commitment. The same sense of urgency. The same sense of sacrifice. The same willingness to do our part for ourselves and one another that has always defined America at its best.

The question, then, is where do we direct our efforts? What steps do we take to overcome these barriers? How do we move forward in the next one hundred years?

The first thing we need to do is make real the words of your charter and eradicate prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination among citizens of the United States. I understand there may be a temptation among some to think that discrimination is no longer a problem in 2009. And I believe that overall, there’s probably never been less discrimination in America than there is today.

But make no mistake: the pain of discrimination is still felt in America. By African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion for simply kneeling down to pray. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.

On the 45th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination must not stand. Not on account of color or gender; how you worship or who you love. Prejudice has no place in the United States of America.

But we also know that prejudice and discrimination are not even the steepest barriers to opportunity today. The most difficult barriers include structural inequalities that our nation’s legacy of discrimination has left behind; inequalities still plaguing too many communities and too often the object of national neglect.

These are barriers we are beginning to tear down by rewarding work with an expanded tax credit; making housing more affordable; and giving ex-offenders a second chance. These are barriers that we are targeting through our White House Office on Urban Affairs, and through Promise Neighborhoods that build on Geoffrey Canada’s success with the Harlem Children’s Zone; and that foster a comprehensive approach to ending poverty by putting all children on a pathway to college, and giving them the schooling and support to get there.

But our task of reducing these structural inequalities has been made more difficult by the state, and structure, of the broader economy; an economy fueled by a cycle of boom and bust; an economy built not on a rock, but sand. That is why my administration is working so hard not only to create and save jobs in the short-term, not only to extend unemployment insurance and help for people who have lost their health care, not only to stem this immediate economic crisis, but to lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity that will put opportunity within reach not just for African Americans, but for all Americans.

One pillar of this new foundation is health insurance reform that cuts costs, makes quality health coverage affordable for all, and closes health care disparities in the process. Another pillar is energy reform that makes clean energy profitable, freeing America from the grip of foreign oil, putting people to work upgrading low-income homes, and creating jobs that cannot be outsourced. And another pillar is financial reform with consumer protections to crack down on mortgage fraud and stop predatory lenders from targeting our poor communities.

All these things will make America stronger and more competitive. They will drive innovation, create jobs, and provide families more security. Still, even if we do it all, the African-American community will fall behind in the United States and the United States will fall behind in the world unless we do a far better job than we have been doing of educating our sons and daughters. In the 21st century – when so many jobs will require a bachelor’s degree or more, when countries that out-educate us today will outcompete us tomorrow – a world-class education is a prerequisite for success.

You know what I’m talking about. There’s a reason the story of the civil rights movement was written in our schools. There’s a reason Thurgood Marshall took up the cause of Linda Brown. There’s a reason the Little Rock Nine defied a governor and a mob. It’s because there is no stronger weapon against inequality and no better path to opportunity than an education that can unlock a child’s God-given potential.

Yet, more than a half century after Brown v. Board of Education, the dream of a world-class education is still being deferred all across this country. African-American students are lagging behind white classmates in reading and math – an achievement gap that is growing in states that once led the way on civil rights. Over half of all African-American students are dropping out of school in some places. There are overcrowded classrooms, crumbling schools, and corridors of shame in America filled with poor children – black, brown, and white alike.

The state of our schools is not an African-American problem; it’s an American problem. And if Al Sharpton, Mike Bloomberg, and Newt Gingrich can agree that we need to solve it, then all of us can agree on that. All of us can agree that we need to offer every child in this country the best education the world has to offer from the cradle through a career.

That is our responsibility as the United States of America. And we, all of us in government, are working to do our part by not only offering more resources, but demanding more reform.

When it comes to higher education, we are making college and advanced training more affordable, and strengthening community colleges that are a gateway to so many with an initiative that will prepare students not only to earn a degree but find a job when they graduate; an initiative that will help us meet the goal I have set of leading the world in college degrees by 2020.

We are creating a Race to the Top Fund that will reward states and public school districts that adopt 21st century standards and assessments. And we are creating incentives for states to promote excellent teachers and replace bad ones – because the job of a teacher is too important for us to accept anything but the best.

We should also explore innovative approaches being pursued here in New York City; innovations like Bard High School Early College and Medgar Evers College Preparatory School that are challenging students to complete high school and earn a free associate’s degree or college credit in just four years.

And we should raise the bar when it comes to early learning programs. Today, some early learning programs are excellent. Some are mediocre. And some are wasting what studies show are – by far – a child’s most formative years.

That’s why I have issued a challenge to America’s governors: if you match the success of states like Pennsylvania and develop an effective model for early learning; if you focus reform on standards and results in early learning programs; if you demonstrate how you will prepare the lowest income children to meet the highest standards of success – you can compete for an Early Learning Challenge Grant that will help prepare all our children to enter kindergarten ready to learn.

So, these are some of the laws we are passing. These are some of the policies we are enacting. These are some of the ways we are doing our part in government to overcome the inequities, injustices, and barriers that exist in our country.

But all these innovative programs and expanded opportunities will not, in and of themselves, make a difference if each of us, as parents and as community leaders, fail to do our part by encouraging excellence in our children. Government programs alone won’t get our children to the Promised Land. We need a new mindset, a new set of attitudes – because one of the most durable and destructive legacies of discrimination is the way that we have internalized a sense of limitation; how so many in our community have come to expect so little of ourselves.

We have to say to our children, Yes, if you’re African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that someone in a wealthy suburb does not. But that’s not a reason to get bad grades, that’s not a reason to cut class, that’s not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands – and don’t you forget that.

To parents, we can’t tell our kids to do well in school and fail to support them when they get home. For our kids to excel, we must accept our own responsibilities. That means putting away the Xbox and putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour. It means attending those parent-teacher conferences, reading to our kids, and helping them with their homework.

And it means we need to be there for our neighbor’s son or daughter, and return to the day when we parents let each other know if we saw a child acting up. That’s the meaning of community. That’s how we can reclaim the strength, the determination, the hopefulness that helped us come as far as we already have.

It also means pushing our kids to set their sights higher. They might think they’ve got a pretty good jump shot or a pretty good flow, but our kids can’t all aspire to be the next LeBron or Lil Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers, not just ballers and rappers. I want them aspiring to be a Supreme Court Justice. I want them aspiring to be President of the United States.

So, yes, government must be a force for opportunity. Yes, government must be a force for equality. But ultimately, if we are to be true to our past, then we also have to seize our own destiny, each and every day.

That is what the NAACP is all about. The NAACP was not founded in search of a handout. The NAACP was not founded in search of favors. The NAACP was founded on a firm notion of justice; to cash the promissory note of America that says all our children, all God’s children, deserve a fair chance in the race of life.

It is a simple dream, and yet one that has been denied – one still being denied – to so many Americans. It’s a painful thing, seeing that dream denied. I remember visiting a Chicago school in a rough neighborhood as a community organizer, and thinking how remarkable it was that all of these children seemed so full of hope, despite being born into poverty, despite being delivered into addiction, despite all the obstacles they were already facing.

And I remember the principal of the school telling me that soon all of that would begin to change; that soon, the laughter in their eyes would begin to fade; that soon, something would shut off inside, as it sunk in that their hopes would not come to pass – not because they weren’t smart enough, not because they weren’t talented enough, but because, by accident of birth, they didn’t have a fair chance in life.

So, I know what can happen to a child who doesn’t have that chance. But I also know what can happen to a child who does. I was raised by a single mother. I don’t come from a lot of wealth. I got into my share of trouble as a kid. My life could easily have taken a turn for the worse. But that mother of mine gave me love; she pushed me, and cared about my education; she took no lip and taught me right from wrong. Because of her, I had a chance to make the most of my abilities. I had the chance to make the most of my opportunities. I had the chance to make the most of life.

The same story holds for Michelle. The same story holds for so many of you. And I want all the other Barack Obamas out there, and all the other Michelle Obamas out there, to have that same chance – the chance that my mother gave me; that my education gave me; that the United States of America gave me. That is how our union will be perfected and our economy rebuilt. That is how America will move forward in the next one hundred years.

And we will move forward. This I know – for I know how far we have come. Last week, in Ghana, Michelle and I took Malia and Sasha to Cape Coast Castle, where captives were once imprisoned before being auctioned; where, across an ocean, so much of the African-American experience began. There, reflecting on the dungeon beneath the castle church, I was reminded of all the pain and all the hardships, all the injustices and all the indignities on the voyage from slavery to freedom.

But I was also reminded of something else. I was reminded that no matter how bitter the rod or how stony the road, we have persevered. We have not faltered, nor have we grown weary. As Americans, we have demanded, strived for, and shaped a better destiny.

That is what we are called to do once more. It will not be easy. It will take time. Doubts may rise and hopes recede.

But if John Lewis could brave Billy clubs to cross a bridge, then I know young people today can do their part to lift up our communities.

If Emmet Till’s uncle Mose Wright could summon the courage to testify against the men who killed his nephew, I know we can be better fathers and brothers, mothers and sisters in our own families.

If three civil rights workers in Mississippi – black and white, Christian and Jew, city-born and country-bred – could lay down their lives in freedom’s cause, I know we can come together to face down the challenges of our own time. We can fix our schools, heal our sick, and rescue our youth from violence and despair.

One hundred years from now, on the 200th anniversary of the NAACP, let it be said that this generation did its part; that we too ran the race; that full of the faith that our dark past has taught us, full of the hope that the present has brought us, we faced, in our own lives and all across this nation, the rising sun of a new day begun. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.