It Doesn't Take Much

Just the publication that a hangman's noose was the inciting incident in Jena, LA was enough to spawn a cycle of copycats - most recently on the door of a Columbia University professor. The allegories here are almost too rich to even begin mining - where does one start? With the "liberal" university named for the progenitor of the African Slave Trade - that profitable font called "Triangle Trade" that turned a mere outpost of European entrepreneurs into the heartbeat of the most powerful capitalistic engine the world has ever known?

One could write books on the above, but I want to bring the focus back to Jena: hanging that noose from those trees was an act of terrorism - perhaps the most basic form of terrorism this country has ever practiced. White people did not invent lynching - perhaps - but they surely perfected it as a means of controlling a people.

When any member of your family - from the smallest child to the oldest grandfather - is subject to abduction and murder at the hands of the mighty in your community (meaning they can kill with impunity and indeed notoriety) the message could not be more clear: your life is so close to being devoid of meaning as to be not worth analyzing the difference.

What should one do in response to terror? The president says the most basic rights of a nation allow it to act pre-emptively to even prevent an act of terror from occurring. Does it not follow, then that as the rights of nations are derived from the rights of man that man has this same right as well? If you know your family is under a threat of terror, do you not have the right to act to prevent that terror from happening? Or must you forever live in the shadow of the hangman's noose?

How can we - as Afrikans - ask our oppressors to act to protect us? How can we ask them to police our communities and yet not act in the manner in which they have always acted? How can we ask the former members of lynch mobs to stand in judgment of our children? Is not the protection of our families our responsibility? How can we take a "trust me" promise from politicians and then outsource that responsibility to the very group that has been the source of the threat for generations?


Racism is not some temporary condition or some momentary ill; it is a generational war against Afrikans waged by our oppressors. And until we start to act like we are in a war with those who seek nothing less than our sheer genocidal destruction (please - do not ask me how I know; ask the first Cherokee you meet) we will forever live with the threat of the hangman's noose.

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Proof that truth and politics can be mixed

More proof that you can't believe what you hear. Or - you can't believe what you heard. Or - you can't believe what you heard before.

Let me return to the beginning. If there is one thing that I have held as a constant it is that politicians are irrepressible, irredeemable and irresponsible liars. How do I know this, you ask? Silly rabbit: every US President in my lifetime - from "I am not a crook" to "tried to purchase uranium from Africa" has lied to me, lied to you and lied to the world. It has gotten to the point that reporters no longer even appear to seek the truth; instead of asking questions to get to an answer, reporters prefer to just run down a list of predefined questions, seemingly oblivious to the obvious falsehoods, untruths and outright, baldfaced lies they have been presented by the interviewee.

Seriously, I do not get that.

Still, a generation of expectation setting has shown me that politicians are dyed-in-the-wool liars - only their mothers know if they are born liars - and there has been nary a hint that this process would not continue ad nauseum, henceforth and now and forevermore.

Until now.

With these words, Barack Obama has tossed down the gauntlet before all of the other candidates:

"So there is a choice that has emerged in this campaign, one that the American people need to understand. They should ask themselves: who got the single most important foreign policy decision since the end of the Cold War right, and who got it wrong. This is not just a matter of debating the past. It's about who has the best judgment to make the critical decisions of the future. Because you might think that Washington would learn from Iraq. But we've seen in this campaign just how bent out of shape Washington gets when you challenge its assumptions."

Not only has Barack just given every voter a simple decision tree for making when they enter the voting booth during primary season next year, but he has laid bare the truth that it is not just the emperor who has no clothes - it is the entire royal court!

The most basic fact by which we all live our lives is this: learn from your mistakes. It's how we learn to stand up by falling down, how we learn to walk upright by crawling on our knees, how we learn to balance a bicycle by unceremoniously getting tossed to the ground.

Trial and error: the world's most basic learning process and the methodology upon which all of our achievements are based.

And yet Washington, DC does not run on this process.

Mistakes are the one constant of our national politics and yet - where is the learning? Where is the simple recognition that touching the stove when it is hot hurts?

We as a people are being led by the worst among us: those too proud or too stupid to recognize that the eventuality of error is not just a probability but a given. And when you add that together with the highest stakes possible, the compounding of error can lead no where but to the edge of a precipice.

So there it is: Barack has told you what no other politician has or is or will say - the truth. With this, we now have a yardstick by which to measure him. The only question is - will you pick up the yardstick?

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Did you watch the Sunday political talk shows?

I used to watch these more comprehensively than I do now, but I did take the time out to check on Senator Clinton in her appear on This Week; I was hoping for some fireworks between her and the host - as he was the former chief of staff to her husband and his renunciation of politics to become a journalist was a slap in the face to the former president.
No luck on that front, but it was a revealing interview nonetheless; no, not because of anything she said - no one goes on these shows to say anything - but because of a revealing implication from one particular exchange. I did not TiVo this episode as I had no expectations, but it went something like this:
George: If you really wanted the President to go to the UN and then come back to Congress before going off to war in Iraq, why did you not vote for the Levin Amendment that actually required that?
Hillary: blah blah blah . . . you will not hear many people say today that we should not have gone into Kosovo to end the genocide that was occurring, but at the time the Congress was controlled by people who chose to play political games instead of seeking to assist in the midst of that tragic event. I am still leering of an Executive ceding that authority and thus being unable to act in a similar scenario.
And there it is in a nutshell: Clinton - both husband and wife - believe in a strong executive. But not just that, in an executive who can commit US forces to war - without the explicit approval of Congress. This is the heart of what has gone wrong in this nation ever since WWII.
Remember that Roosevelt wanted to enter WWII, but he was denied by a Congress who would not declare war? Ever since that - starting with Truman - presidents have been seeking other avenues to bypass the explicit authority granted in the Constritution to the Congress to declare war. Truman used the UN, claiming that as the UN was created by a duly authorized treaty, our obligations to go to war in Korea were clear. Although as there was no declaration, Korea was known as then, and still is today, as a "police action". Vietnam continued this downward trend, with first Eisenhower sending in some "advisors", who were then expanded by Kennedy, which was then turned by LBJ into a fictitious act of war with the Gulf of Tonkin "incident". In fact, for all of the places around the world where troops have been deployed over the last 60-years, the last time Congress actually declared war was after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
We have reached the point where Congress is no longer even interested in declaring war, as that leaves their fingerprints at the scene and does not allow them to proclaim some level of (im)plausible deniability.
Which is the thin cloak in which Senator Clinton wrapped herself yesterday.
Her claims of being deceived by President Bush are as gossamer as a spider's web - and no less deadly. Unfortunately, her lies would be deadly to the average American citizen, who appears only as a pawn in these games betwixt the mighty.

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From whence do these Black Republicans come?

So I watched C-Span this morning - as it my Sunday custom. It is a more interesting Sunday news show than those interview shows as it does not cater in the same manner to the guests: guests are tossed any set of questions the callers who get through can ask - and some of those questions are insightful and some of the answers are revealing!

Today we had a chance to meet Black, female conservative: Angela McGlowan. Angela is all upset that Black folks are by and large members of the Democratic Party and she wails that we are being exploited.


Well of course we are; for that is the way of America - or perhaps she really believes that owners of Mercedes Benz vehicles really do swoon over their cars in evening gowns and flowers or longingly polish away even the slightest of mark of dust on the otherwise gleaming, incandescent paint schemes.

Our consumer culture is built on exploitation and has been ever since the first ad campaign for a candidate. Black voters are exploited by Democratic candidates as surely as they were before by Republican candidates and would be again under that banner.

So exploitation is not the question.

The question has to be: which party will respond to the needs of the Black community in exchange for our votes?

The Democratic Party has a terrible record in this regard; in fact, it is only better than the record of the modern Republican Party; a party which bears ill-resemblance to the part of Lincoln. Angela seems unaware of this history - or perhaps she really is aware but has learned to profit by putting a Black face on conservative policies and candidates. I stopped by her homepage and left this message:


I watched you on C-SPAN this morning and although it was clear that you are very intelligent, it was also clear that you are very disingenuous, at best.

You mentioned that you grew up in Mississippi and you also mentioned the transition that Trent Lott made from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party; what you did not mention is that of course it is easy to find examples of what the Democratic Party has done against people of African descent, for it was the party of the 'Old South', going back to and even before the Civil War. Why stop at Woodrow Wilson? Why not trace all the way back to Andrew Jackson? Not only was he President, but he was also the man who marched the Cherokee out of Georgia on the 'Trail of Tears' all the way to Oklahoma (which was to be their land forever - until an expanding country realized there was good farmland there and some new stuff folks called 'Black Gold').

But there is no need to join in a lengthy historical dissertation: it is clear that you know all of that. Here is the point: it is self-evident that the Democratic Party of the 'Old South' exists today as members of the Republican Party. This transition was led by the man who perhaps coined the phrase 'Dixiecrat' (or for whom it was coined): Strom Thurmond; a man who ran for President in 1948 as a Dixiecrat: and why was that? His decision to run was inspired by the traitorous act - to him and those who think like him - of Harry Truman integrating the armed forces of the country. Ol' Strom was a member of the KKK too - and he actually fathered a child with a teenaged Black woman who lived and worked for his family. In other words: Strom fathered a child through the statutory rape of a servant girl. There was no difference in this act than any other in the previous generations of Africans in America since before this was a separate country - and it was done by a Democrat who became a Republican when too many Black folks came to the party.

That act of Truman's - one that he could take as the executive without requiring a vote in Congress - was a transition point for Black folks to begin voting for Democratic candidates; for all of our decades of support for Republicans - back since when the US Constitution was changed to provide us the right to vote - this was the first tangible, nationwide program that treated Black men and White men the same - at least on paper. Black men like my grandfather came back from World War II having supposedly fought for freedom and then they chafed against the bonds of Jim Crow back home. It was those men and their families who moved to leave the Republican Party of their youth for this changed Democratic Party; this led first JFK and then LBJ to recognize that their was a powerful voting block out their which could be tapped to win elections.

One last point in closing: you and Trent Lott are both from Mississippi - where is where Emmett Till was murdered so grotesquely back in the '50s. This was perhaps the single event of the 20th century that ignited all of the changes that allowed both you and I to attend the good schools we did; a direct line can be drawn from that event to the Civil Rights movement led by Dr. King and the passage of the Civil Rights Act (over the 'No' vote of Bob Dole) and here was Trent Lott, recalling the presidential run of Strom Thurmond fondly and acting as though he knew nothing of the struggles for Civil Rights.

There he was, growing up in Mississippi and a child of his same age is murdered so viciously for at best doing nothing Trent had not done himself as a boy slowly becoming a man. But as the classic racist he was then and is today, he could not see the humanity of Africans; to him - how could Strom Thurmond be anything but a hero?

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Once more, into the breech!

My plans were to spend a relaxing, Labor Day weekend; watch a few college football games on TV and just take things easy.

Then my idyll was interrupted by a willful act of ignorance.

I had TiVo slow down the football game for me; I like to do that so that I can speed past the penalties, the commercials and the inane blather that accompanies an Irish game.
Still, I watched halftime almost straight through - I thought that interview with Peyton Manning was very interesting - and prepared to watch the second half excited to watch the rest of the Georgia Tech blowout.
And then they inserted that little advert for the University of Notre Dame: "We are the Fighting Irish!" It was here that I learned that the chaplins or the bishops or whomever at Notre Dame were so concerned about the plight of the people of Haiti ("it is one of the least developed countries in the world", said one erstwhile student). This young man was followed by the friendly father, who leads the program and his comments about the university's commitment to ended some mosquito born disease that was afflicting the Haitian people.
This little interlude was structured to make my heart well with gratitude for the wonderful example of community service this school and these kids were providing to the world. Instead, I became incensed.
Haiti is poor because the United States wants it to be poor and has always wanted it to be so - or at least ever since the first successful slave revolt in the Western Hemisphere concluded so early in the presidency of one of our own great slave owners: Thomas Jefferson.
Haiti is poor because after the slave revolt, France demanded payment for the loss of their assets - what you and I might call people. This demand for payment was accepted by the powers of the Western world as an official debt and it has been on the Haitian books ever since. This debt is now owed to the US; part of the Monroe Doctrine, I believe, wherein the US told the European nations that we were the big dog in this hemisphere and we would handle collections from now on.
I have written about this twice on my blog:
And the history on this matter is very clear. For a "professor" at a major university (a status that is self-professed by the school) to act ignorant on this matter is insulting.



Haiti is not poor because its people are incapable of running their own land; they are poor because of this 400-year record of practiced hatred - far too much of it by folks with deceptive collars wrapped around their necks.

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The cold, really cold hard truth

The "infantry soldier" - a very humble description for someone so close in rank to our exalted generals - make some comments on Altercation today. Perhaps I read them too finely and interpreted them too harshly; you can judge for yourselves. My eyes tell me that he just laid the pending genocide of Iraqis at the feet of those who want to get out of this poor country. Below is the content of my reply to this charge.

Nice. I pray that you were not - with this comment - joining the bandwagon of folks who say that those who support leaving Iraq do not have a plan. Regardless, I took some umbrage at your comment that those of us who want to leave have done some cold, hard calculus that states that American lives are worth more than Iraqi lives. This just in: that is how it has always been. As someone who is proudly descended from those whom the authors of our Constitution were not quite convinced of our humanity, I have to do nothing but read those cold, hard words of "non-persons" to know how I was defined by this nation. And I have but to read reports of soldiers referring to Iraqi's as "sand niggers" to know that those thoughts are still with us - and they are present in more than just the wishes of those who want to leave.

We all have the deaths of Iraqi's on our heads as our crown of thorns and that we must deal with, but that is true whether we stay or go. The only question is: are our aims achievable. I say there is absolutely nothing in our history or in our current efforts in Iraq that proves we have the capability to achieve these goals (creating a stable democracy in the nation once known as Iraq). So if we cannot do what we claim we want to do, the only sensible course is too leave - as prudently as possible, certainly, but sure in the knowledge that many, many, many deaths will occur regardless of which path we take.

As far as the slaughter that awaits the Iraqi people and the potential wider war that might engulf the region, the die was cast on that back in 2003.

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I can see clearly now

Wow - I have never read a post so enlightening.

You state that by definition, one cannot be a messenger for the poor and yet live in an "ginormous" house; and yet live a lavish lifestyle by enjoying an expensive haircut.

Do you know what you have just said?

Who among us does not aspire to the accumulation of enough wealth, such that we might live wherever and however we so desired - even a "ginormous" house, should we so choose. In fact, people used to call that "The American Dream"

You have just said that one cannot obtain "The American Dream" and still profess to care about the poor.

This explains so much about what is wrong with our nation: why so many children are homeless, why so many people cannot get care for their illnesses, why so may go without the education required to live in the 21st century and why so many die so young, so violently.

The American Dream is antithetical to professing honest concern for the poor.

Thank you, it is all so clear to me now.

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It's a shame, the way you hurt me


Shame on us for permitting this to happen. Is this not the land of government of the people, by the people and for the people? Is this not the land where we are ruled by laws and not by men? How did we become so blinded that we twice elected a man who believes that he - and he alone - has the authority to discard the Great Writ (the Magna Carta) on which Western civilization has stood for just under 1000 years.

Woe be unto us for our failures to protect the freedoms that our forefathers bled to leave for us.

If this be what America is today, then I am an unlawful enemy combatant.


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And the beat goes on . . . .

Wow. The mind reels. I told myself that there was nothing this President could do that would shock me - and I heard so many people say that Libby would never spend one night in jail - but I could not see to how GWB would extricate himself from his "hard on crime" pose.

Is Libby the first person for whom GWB has ever commuted a sentence? He was a hang-em-high governor of Texas and I do not recall him changing his ways in the more than six years he has been in DC, so I am amazed by this.

It would be foolish of me to say "never again" as it is apparent to me that this man is as slippery as an eel. GWB will surprise us again and APAB just prays that it is by not living up to our prediction of an attack on Iran.

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T-minus 30 and counting . . . .

Today was my off day . . . damn!

Those fools over at the LA Times (has Dean Baquet been gone that long?) have added their voices to the chorus laying the foundation for war with Iran.

Did they learn nothing from the last misguided run up to war? The loopholes in this article are immense:

  • Hezbollah has 24-years of computer records? That sounds like the lead story to me. Why does a trainer of militiamen travel with two decades of employment history?
  • How does the capture of a man from Lebanon - along with two brothers from Iraq - implicate Iran? And how secretive can this Quds force be, if their operatives are taught to travel with such extensive documentation and to spill the beans after a few days of questions (which certainly did not include any torture; the US does not torture)
  • "Not too far from Tehran" - are you kidding me? Am I the only one or does this remind you too of Mr. Rumsfeld's famous announcement that -
    • we know where they [weapons of mass destruction] are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north, somewhat."
That's it - no more from me today. But when the US sends a cruise missile or two into Iran proper and GWB goes on TV in another sham serious announcement of taking the war to more evil doers, don't say you did not hear it here first.

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A Modest Proposal

Awhile back, I read a post on TomDispatch about a fictional court case: United States v. George Bush, et al. It was inspiring then and I still here the siren call of justice a-coming for G. W. - but I no longer feel that we should go the impeachment route - as former Reagan lawyer Bruce Fein calls for again just this week. Sure, Bruce believes that the VP is the cancer that must be removed - and he is absolutely right on that - but what I have slowly come to realize is that the US justice systems are not equipped to deal with crimes this grand. The only course of action that makes sense is for the next President of the United States to sign the treaty for the International Criminal Court and then seek a resolution of the United Nations Security Council indicting GWB et al for crimes against humanity.

The past six years have seen an unheard of degree of criminal activity on the part of this administration: Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay are just the most extreme examples. It almost seems quaint now, but how many people even recall how Aristide was escorted out of Haiti by this administration? Yes, it is unquestionable that this government has treated the Constitution as though it were a list of soft guidelines instead of bedrock law, but it is also without question that an impeachment would not succeed - and how damaging would that be to national and international law? For these men to be seen as tried and not convicted would be tantamount to a finding of not guilty - a result that sneers in the face of justice.

The ICC provides the best vehicle for these criminals to face the bar of justice - and it places us back on the world stage as a nation that unflinchingly lives up to principles again. Signing that treaty and referring the case to the ICC should be done in the first 100 days of the next administration, to allow the healing process to begin as soon as possible. Witnesses in the case should include - but not be limited too:

  • anyone who was ever snatched by the CIA and taken to a secret prison for torture;
  • anyone who was taken to Guantanamo Bay or any of the staging zones;
  • Scooter Libby - and his testimony should be compelled.
The nation is watching what we do next; the world is watching. We must act fast to restore our standing and give us back the simple dignity that used to come with being an American.

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Life Out of Context

I was an early inductee into the Walter Mosley mojo (Easy Rawlins is one of the best characters introduced onto the American literature scene - ever), but I have to confess that I started to doubt when Mosley transitioned from the gritty, street tales that he has a real ear for into realms as far a field as science fiction. That is a point more on who I am than who Mosley is as a man (he contains multitudes) and as an author; I am very much a fan of a structure – the right thing in the right place. Heck, it even relates back to my selection of an undergraduate major (electrical engineering) and the focus (digital logic) I choose (analog was so messy - too voodoo-y for my ordered world). So the very concept of an author of detective novels composing sci-fi tales left my brain in an endless "does not compute", If-Then-Else loop.

And then a book club I was in selected a book from Mosley, "Life Out of Context". Wow. In this book, Mosley weaves together all of the disparate threads that have always lurked within the sub-context, the underbelly if you will, of his fiction. In this tome it is revealed as the sense of what it means to be a citizen of the world's most powerful nation – but defined by others to be a second-class citizen – based on personal attributes that were selected for you at birth. And if that does not make sense – good, because a reality like that is not supposed to make sense, can never make sense.

The book opens with Mosley in the company of giants and reads almost like a continuous stream-of-consciousness report of his experiences and thoughts as his life winds amongst 20th century Afrikan /Afrikan-American royalty. Throughout it all, Mosley describes the mundane tasks of his life and his writing in such detail that it is as though he has invited us to look over his shoulder as he draws from that stream the elements of the book. Life Out of Context is then a book that is not so much read as it is experienced, a book through which we experience Mosley’s thoughts contemporaneously with him – which means his conclusions are not so much told to us – instead we reach them together.

I will not report those conclusions here, rather I will urge you to buy the book or pick one up from your local library – or read it one afternoon at your favorite book store (it is not too long); do what you must, but read this book.

I give it 5 Stars.

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Juneteenth / The Maafa

Here it is . . . . BAM!

When I was a child, 4 July was more or less just another day. Oh sure, Dad would break out the grill and we might have a picnic or something, but the emotion was reserved for a time a few weeks earlier on the calendar. When my Dad first told me about Juneteenth - the celebration that commemorates the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation to the Africans enslaved in Texas - he first described it as: "that was the only day of the year your Mother and I could go to the amusement park in Tulsa when we were kids."

One day.

A year.

To a child, that was traumatic.

It was only later that I learned the larger story behind the celebration, but whenever anyone tells you that "slavery ended back in 1865", you should remind them that until 1964, most Southern states felt completely comfortable with implementing enforced segregation between the races - down to the level of ensuring that when highways got built, they ensured they were routed through black neighborhoods and around white neighborhoods (this example actually holds true for every city in the country with a significant Black population - every wondered why the route North from downtown Chicago is a winding trail, while the path South is ruler straight, six-lanes wide in each direction?).

But today - with the onset of yet another "immigration debate" - I wanted to ask myself if slavery was truly ended with the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution (patently not true as we required the 1964 and 1965 Acts for Civil Rights and Voting Rights), so here is the question before us: what is the difference between the Constitution's declaration of non-persons and our modern day declaration of "illegal aliens"?

Truthfully, I cannot see any difference. Yes, at the micro-level Africans were captured and then sold into slavery, transported to the other side of the world and then forced to live and work as slaves in perpetuity. That is a key difference and yes, this country has successfully made the step to a point where chattel slavery no longer exists.

But I speak of the macro level and here the similarities between what happened then and what is happening now are striking:

  • First, placement into a legal vacuum, a separate class of sub-humans.
  • Second, accusations that these "others" will corrupt the "purity" of this democracy.
  • Third, dangerous ingress into the country - before over oceans and now over deserts - where those who die during the journey are discarded as though they were trash.
  • Fourth, burdened by a proclamation that the "slave" or the "illegal alien" owes a debt to those who brought them here in bondage.
  • Fifth, described as necessary for the nation as "they do jobs that citizens will not do".
I imagine that if I sat here, I could easily double this list; furthermore, if I had the time I am sure I could produce a book-length study that parallels these two groups, but the purpose here today is to ask this: why do we continually allow ourselves to fall into these traps of fearing some mysterious other?

Finally, let me turn to The Maafa. This is a kiswahili word for "disaster" and it provides us with our own words to tell our own story. If we begin to tell our own story - to ourselves, to our children - we can begin to take control of our past, our present and our future.

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Life or death - it doesn't matter, I come again

There is so much fear in the world today; no, I did not watch the Republican debate last night. I had plenty of Rudy G. when I sojourned in NYC for six years. I could tell you stories of that man that would make you weep. Regardless of my actual view status of the debate, I know well enough what was said: there was some Clinton bashing (both Bill and Hillary), there was some chest-thumping on the war (mostly by those who have never been to war, but also by a "war hero", whose claim to fame was being shot down by second-hand anti-aircraft armaments). Mostly though, Republicans - since the age of Nixon - have loved to pin all of their troubles on some mysterious "other"; substituting - temporarily? - for the Negro is "the immigrant", although the preferred parlance is "illegal alien".

I have been accused of having an outlook on immigration that smacks of a Pollyanna worldview; one reason this is so is because I choose to adhere to the poem that adorns a plaque at the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Sure, these are but the words of a woolly-headed poet and there has never been, is not now and perhaps may never be a land that embodies these words as true; but does that mean we should not strive for perfection? Can someone explain the goal of trading off the pursuit of perfection for the attempt to attain only that which we know we can do?

Spare me the pleas for safety! Was it so long ago that we proudly (blindly?) strode through the world, secure in the knowledge that yes, there were obstacles before us - but none so great that we need turn aside? How is it that we are the first generation of Americans to wither in fear on the cue of color-coded calls to quake? Why is it we teach our children to scurry about from one refuge to the next, always mindful of an ever-present, omnipotent, omniscient terror?

Bollocks! When I was a child, the only entity with these awesome powers was God - and lo did we fear him! But to fear a man so? To imbue a man - or a class of people in this case - with such power is to create a false god and woe be unto him who succumbs to the sway of a false god!

Guess what? Immigrants - legal, illegal, alien or otherwise - are just people. As such, we should be comforted in the knowledge that we know what they want; they want what we want. There is no mystery here. The creation of an "other" is just a ploy the powerful use to control the weak (meek? surprise ending here though; the meek shall indeed inherit the earth!). Cast away the chains of fear that bind ye and you will see that they are as powerless to constrain your possibilities as the gossamer from which they were spun.

To pretend this rant has a sense of coherence to it, I must state that I do not support this "amnesty" bill, as it provides our current President with something he can claim as a victory and I choose not to aid him in expanding his fearsome ego.

The problem - and listen closely here - is not now and has never been "illegal" people; there is no such thing as an illegal person; a human being can never be an alien (say it with me: a human can never be an alien!). The problem is this: our designation of a class of humans as illegal, creates a market in illicit services for those people to perform. Creating a class of people who are "illegal" identifies for employers where the cheapest labor can be found.

Solution: no class of people named as "illegal"; no class of people who can then be paid under the table - which is merely a means to increase profits. Pay everyone above the table and pay them all the minimum wage or above. The idea that a minimum wage causes jobs to disappear is an economist joke. Jobs exist because there is work to be done; raising the wage does not remove the work - it reduces the profit. Fortunately, it is not the job of government to guarantee profit; it is the job of government to ensure a just society for all.

A capitalist society is driven by the relentless search for profit and as long as this class exists, it will be exploited. Call them slaves, call them aliens - call them what you will. They - we - are people.

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Get in there, Kid

I made the big time today, batting third on Altercation in the Correspondence Corner. Altercation is a great blog because it is everything one looks for in a blog - a fearless desire to take opinions on the issues of the day. More often than not, I find myself in agreement with the author, but my comment today was on an area of disagreement: border fences.

I cannot think of a more useless device than a border fence. If the Great Wall of China did not prevent the Mongols from making it down for some tea; if the Maginot line
did not prevent the Germans from stopping by to hang out along the Seine and smoke those long, thin cigarettes - what makes anyone think a border fence will prevent people displaced by American trade policy from coming here to get the jobs they need to support their families?

I have noting against immigrants - illegal or otherwise. In fact, I despise the term "illegal immigrant". As a former slave, I know what it means to define people as illegal (although is a "nonperson" just a completely separate category all together?). Nevertheless, it all means the same thing at the end of the day: white people have decided that it is okay to treat a specific class of people as though they were worth less than themselves. And lets be clear here, that is what "illegal immigration" is all about: identifying for the country just who can be paid under the table, who can be dismissed without concern and who can we feel free to discuss as though what motivates them is an entirely separate set of human emotions - ones unique from those that drive "us" the "real" humans.

Instead of building fences at border crossings, we should be seeking ways to remove borders; political borders are imaginary constructs anyway, designed and implemented as control mechanisms by the mighty against the powerless.

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It's Getting Kinda Hectic

Dear reader: The article we are linking to today builds upon the previous post here on All Panthers Are Black. The Washington Post is reporting that Sunni factions in Iraq are growing disillusioned with the tactics of al Qaeda in Iraq. And why should they not? Who among us likes to have foreigners step into our neighborhoods and begin to dictate what should and what should not happen.

This response can only be described as expected. Still, the presence of the US in Iraq gives the jihadists an inexhaustible source of angry young men that is equally matched by the daily insults to Islam that are used to stoke the fires across the nations of the Crescent. Should the US immediately announce our plans to withdraw - six months, no more - and begin scheduling planning conferences across Iraq and inclusive of her neighbors, the pressure on the insurgents will increase exponentially.

They can only survive in Iraq in the shadow of the backlash against the US; as soon as we announce our plans to depart, the Iraqis will scramble to rebuild their nation - and they have no reason to align themselves with a group that hates the modern world; remember - unlike Afghanistan, Iraq sits atop the most valuable commodity this modern world knows.

Juan Cole has posted a more detailed version of this same concept; read it and send a link to as many folks as you can. This is an idea that deserves action now.

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How to Win in Iraq--and How to Lose

The title is not mine, but that of an article from Commentary; an interesting magazine with a long history of reasoned discourse. Unfortunately, they tossed that all aside to come out with the curve that supports the current "surge" in Iraq. While there are some nice historical parallels included herein, the piece is one of a kind with the current illusionary thinking that we can still "win" in Iraq, as though there were not a major geopolitical blunder currently underway but as though it was merely just a slow start that had us behind at halftime and that we could still pull this one out by putting in the replacement players.


Below is my attempt to elucidate the editors; let's see how much of this - if any - makes it into the letters column.

Dear Editor:
Re - How to win in Iraq-and how to lose.
Accepting all of the premises within this article as fact - that it was political defeats at home that led to military defeats for both the US and France in our respective misadventures in Vietnam and Algeria - there seems to be a strangely myopic obfuscation of the outcomes above, which in turn precludes sight of other, better potential outcomes in Iraq.
Who cares that France was forced to leave Algeria? By what right did they have to be there in the first place? How was the second half of the 20th century on up to today diminished because France was not still the colonial master of Algeria?
Who cares that the US was forced to leave and the "country" of South Vietnam was removed from the political map of the world? By what right did the US have to be in Southeast Asia? What "threat" did a communist Vietnam make against the US and when did that threat cease to exist - if it ever did?
Above lies the thinnest thread, by which you might be able to pull yourselves out of the modern day morass of Iraq. There was no threat to France from Algeria in the 1950s; just a reduction in their own mythical self-importance as a colonial empire. There was no threat to the US from Vietnam in the 1960s; merely a theoretical, invisible cold war against the USSR that we chose to wage in other lands for our own reasons (or was it China we were fighting in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia?). Similarly - there was no threat to the US in 2003 from Iraq. There was indeed a hypothetical one from a former ally gone rogue - but Saddam Hussein was effectively contained by the conditions of the cease fire to the Gulf War of 1991. This is now established as fact evident to all by the lack of his ownership or control of any weapons that might enable him to threaten any nation anywhere in the world. If there is one fact that this sad endeavor has proved beyond doubt it is this: Saddam was a paper tiger.
Now - there are those who wish to validate this mistaken effort by claiming that as we have "broken" Iraq, we own it and therefore we cannot leave until it is whole. While I absolutely stand against the notion that people who have made so monumental a mistake are somehow capable of righting the ship (does not the clear incompetence of starting a war against a non-existent threat lay bare the notion that an even more difficult maneuver is even probable of success), to remove Iraq from any historical context and just say, "well, we are here now" is foolish in the extreme.
Yes - there are jihadists or terrorists or whatever term we might choose to anoint upon their heads, present in Iraq. These folks are our stated enemies and there is no question about that. Unfortunately for us, we cannot identify them and separate them from the environment in which they have taken root. Our knowledge of the cultures and ethnicities of this nation so far removed from our own is limited - at best. The good news is: we do not have to separate the jihadists - the Iraqis will do that themselves.
Yes - the removal of Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party brethren has dethroned the Sunni Arab minority and left them to the devices of those they used to torment: Shia Arabs and Sunni Kurds. So while I might hate to be a Sunni Arab in Iraq today, their fate is sealed and has been from the moment the US tanks first crossed the border from Kuwait (or as I like to think of it - the 37th province). The only case we should be making today is to encourage our new Kurdish and Shia allies to be wary in their reprisal attempts, as it is still a large world and their vindictiveness will be on display for everyone to see. Currently they feel free to go about settling old scores in the most violent manner possible as the repercussions will not fall upon them, but on the United States - the only remaining superpower. When you have cover like that, who among us would not seek to exploit it?
But should the US and our allies withdraw, those who seek to settle up accounts will be clearly visible and they will not be able to act with impunity. Will the Turks stand by while the Kurds acclaim the birth of a new nation? Will the Saudis, Syrians and Jordanians continue to assume the influx of their Arab brothers - driven from home by pogroms? No, they will not.
The Iraqis must reconcile as to not do so spells doom for their nation; they will be torn apart by their neighbors as surely as jackals swarming over a fallen wildebeest. And whom does a dismembered Iraq favor? The jihadists? Once the US leaves, their presence becomes as visible as a sore thumb - where will they be able to hide? Who will give them shelter? Ipso facto, the jihadists will no longer have tall grass within which to hide and they will not be able to make Iraq their home any longer, as the locals will drive out them as surely as a body repels a foreign invader.
I beseech you; use whatever leverage you might have with anyone who has the ear of this administration and ask them to seek the swiftest retreat possible from the land of Iraq. Removing our presence from the stage will highlight the remaining actors and cause them to seek a new strategy. This is the only way to truly end the madness.

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Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

On this last day of March 2007, All Panthers Are Black would like to return to a riff from an earlier post; debt.

Debt is a powerful force in this world; in many places debtors can be thrown into prison. Certainly being known as a debtor is apt to bring shame upon the heads of individuals; surely the same is true for nations too. Throughout recorded history, debt has been used by powerful nations as a cudgel with which to beat weaker ones.

Just under three years ago, APAB focused on this aspect from the tale of Haiti and as an allegory Haiti is still a perfect example even today; the mighty toy with the dispossessed. This same example scales down to the individual level - where everyday citizens are told of their obligations (debts) to the society in which they live - and on up to the self-named "Worlds Only Remaining SuperPower", which uses debt to finance its wars of expansion (sorry - pre-emptive democracy giving). Truly then, debt is an awesome and fungible force. Physicists should weigh it in comparison to gravity.

But whereas gravity is a natural phenomenon (not created by man and not dependent upon man for enforcement of its bylaws and precepts), debt exists entirely at the will of man; more precisely, it exists at the behest of the arbiters of our societies (btw - that is a lovely word).

An exercise is left to the reader to further investigate these questions:

  • Who decides what the terms are for the assignment and the repayment of debt?
  • Who decides the penalties for the non-repayment of debt?
Know this and you will know whom are the arbiters.

And yet is not their judgment - almost by definition - arbitrary? It is always their choice (the powerful) to determine which of their edicts to endow with the nomenclature of "debt". Indeed, to state that someone owes you a debt is to simultaneously state that you have power of them. And that is the way the world works. To hold a man's debt is to hold that man's life in your hands; to hold a nations debt is to hold that nations fate in your hands.

Today, there are many people who believe that the nations of Afrika are "debtor nations"; i.e., nations in debt to other nations. Without even knowing the source of those debts, accepting the very adjective as a befitting description colors the thoughts of the listener and the speaker with all of the saddlebags of debt. Most commonly, these "third world" nations (to use an ancient, 20th century nomenclature) are debtors to "first world" nations (and one begets the other). Should the history of that debt be examined, however and it becomes apparent that many assets have been left of the audit trail and that a full accounting has not been done.

If it has never been stated anywhere before, let it be stated here today that the nations of Afrika - and her people wherever they may reside - are creditors across the world over. All of the wealth that exists around us was created by the extraction and the exploitation of the greatest resources Afrika contained: her people. Across the span of centuries hundreds of millions of the strongest of her children, were abducted and taken on the most arduous of journeys - where tens of millions of them died in the passage - and where the survivors were forced into perpetual bondage, even down through generations of her descendants - whereby the theft of one or two was turned into the theft of 10 or 20. To this day - almost a full four hundred years after the arrival of the first 20 Afrikans to the continent now known as North America - a full accounting of this horror has not been done. Indeed, the mighty shy away from calls for this accounting, as they surely know what is obvious to any CPA: the ledger is unbalanced.

The Accountant of Justice strokes with a mighty pen and as it is true for the smallest of households so it is for the grandest of nations: the books must balance.

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I thought I had covered this before, but apparently it is so easy for black writers to be published by positing a lack of support from African Americans for Barack Obama that instead of the surgical strike I had hoped I am going to have to follow a strategy more akin to whac-a-mole.

Let me say this again, this time as slowly as possible: as much as some folks would like see a divided Black electorate - it just does not exist. Descendants of slaves, immigrants from the Caribbean or South America or Europe or Africa - we all vote the same way: in our best interests. And in a country where people's voting interests can only be given voice through one of two outlets - Democrats or Republicans - is it really so surprising that black people would be so united?

This latest Time magazine article posits that a polling advantage for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama among black voters more than a year before the first vote is cast for the Democratic primary, translates to a lack of support for Obama from some in the black community - due to his biracial and non-slave descended heritage. This conclusion is no more than a theory, of course, and I happen to have one of my own: Senator Clinton is a former two-term first lady who has been on the national political scene for more than 15 years, whereas Senator Obama is a first term senator who has had national exposure for little more than two years. Instead of a national poll of black voters, how about a poll of black voters in Illinois - the state where Senator Clinton was born and raised and the adopted home of Senator Obama? Until someone shows that Clinton has a 40-point lead in Illinois amongst the black electorate, perhaps the difference is solely due to comparative knowledge of the candidates.

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Poor Christopher Hitchens

One of the saddest things to see is watching someone you had long admired cast themselves off into the great unknown. "Sure," you tell yourself, "he has wondered off alone before and he always makes it back." But for each of us, I guess, there comes that time when we sally forth to return no more.

It is time to bid farewell to Christopher Hitchens. Yes, he has had a long and stormy career tilting at windmills; and he has felled a few (why people still book Kissinger to talk shows amazes me endlessly). Yet for all his successes he has allowed his once erudite mind to become consumed by the fear engendered by the attacks on his adopted homeland on 11 September 2001. Since that time, he writing has been consumed with vengeance. And while we all lusted for the blood of Usama bin Laden, Hitchens enlisted with the neocon cabal, into the seemingly mindless "War on Terror" and now he continues to release periodic drivel based upon nothing more than the ever shifting sands of "we must not allow ourselves to lose".

Lose what? What are we fighting? How can one wage war on a tactic?

In the article linked to that is the basis for this post, you can witness the degraded Hitchens of 2007 before your very eyes as he takes the tiniest shred of truth ("Iraq's problems existed long before 2003") and weaves them together with classic neocon fables to build the case for continuing this catastrophe. Here are some simple talking points that you can use with those you love, should they also be experiencing the same degree of delusion that has engulfed our President and timid folks like Christopher Hitchens:

  • Of course, Iraq's problems existed long before 2003.
    • Indeed, this was the main reason given by opponents of this war plan back in 2003. Do not to topple that particular house of cards as it will be exceedingly hard - if not impossible - to resurrect.
  • The problems with Iraq are irrefutably linked to its creation by the British Empire, cutting it whole cloth from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire after WWI - something a child born of the United Kingdom should know in depth.
  • Starting a war against a Sunni dictator - and really the last holdout of Arab Nationalism - only to now find ourselves enmeshed in a Shia/Sunni power struggle - for which we blame the Persian Shia's of Iran - was imminently predictable from the beginning.
    • How many times will we allow ourselves to be told, "No one could have foreseen"?
  • The last best hope for reasonable adults is the prescription provided by the Iraq Study Group - although I would not give it more than 1 chance in 10 of leading to a peaceful, stable Iraq.
Salon has a riposte to Hitchens et al that we all should read - several times a day. This author - Gary Kamiya - has the historical context to place his thinking on a solid foundation, as opposed to the fanatical rantings about an all powerful al Qaida that has been created in Iraq by American actions merely to provide the basis for conducting a war against a nation that had never caused harm to a single American citizen and possessed neither the ability nor the intent to do so in the future.

$1 Billion a day for war in Iraq, all charged to a debt to be paid by generations yet unborn. Shame on us America.

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A Dysfunctional Democracy

This article starts out as a garden-variety the-Republicans-are-inept-and-so-are-the-Democrats that you and I have both seen hundreds of times before. In fact, we have heard it so many times before that it is easy to become inured to these tales of woe. It is only on the last page of the article - page 3 - that we begin to see something new - something that actually justifies this n-th edition of the same old, same old.

In what must have seemed like a dream to the author, he returns us to the world of the late 1990s, back when Bill Clinton was in office as President of the United States. From there, he recounts a few tales of just how the US was viewed from around the world back then. And while we were obviously not universally loved - see, bin Laden, Usama - there were enough positive poll lines in nations all around the world that most countried viewed us in a positive light. Not easy to maintain a global jihad against the most popular kid on the block and so UBL and his homies were run out of Saudi Arabia and then Sudan, before coming to rest in Afghanistan. From the remote hinterlands of a war torn nation, UBL was able to conceive and execute the attacks of 11 September 2001, but as he looked around on 12 September, the odds of his survival must have seemed bleak. Instead of united the world in opposition to the US, the attacks united the world in support of the US. Okay - that link was from a military alliance, you might expect their support. How about this one?

So what happened? Well, we have all had a chance to see this crazed president take the support the world offered us and told them, "thanks - but no thanks". This article lays out the support the world has for us now: Jordan, Egypt and Russia - which used to either be comfortably within our sphere of friendly nations - now cannot even allow themselves to be seen with us; Pakistan and Turkey find themselves reconsidering just how much they ever really liked us; China shoots down satellites (how does that missle defense system look now?).

Bush has been a travesty for our country; it would take the reincarnation of FDR to restore our nation to prominence in the world.

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Damn! I was hoping to stay out of this for awhile

So, the author of "The End of Blackness" now deigns to tell us the difference between black and "black". And while I have endlessly delayed reading this book (really waiting for the avalanche of parallel books from other cultures to sweep the market; still waiting for that The End of Jewishness to reach the charts), I have to say that her division of the descendants of slaves from modern day immigrants to the US from Africa is perfectly appropriate and really nothing earth-shattering.

One wishes that the writer had taken time to visit MOAD - perhaps it would have enhanced her descriptive metaphors.

But what this commentary does highlight - inadvertently, of course - is the author's own rejection of Pan-African philosophy. This is not surprising from again - the author of The End of Blackness. While one rarely hears white intellectuals posit the wholesale rejection of Western thought such as from the Age of Enlightenment, it seems as though the best way to be published as a black author today is to reject the very concept of collective black action, as though it is okay and perfectly appropriate for white people to establish social organizations and communities, from which they proceed to act in their collective interests, but for black people to embrace Afrocentrism or express any inclination to form social collectives violates some principle of "individualism" that must be the basis of all Black success. It is as though there is this coterie of black authors who somehow figured out that Ayn Rand was really talking to us.


Dickerson cannot unequivocally support Barack Obama because she is uncertain about the necessity for collective black action. This causes her to hesitantly crab walk toward what his candidacy means at the same time as she skitters away from the very idea of why she as a black pundit must have an opinion on a black presidential candidate. Only when the scales fall away will she be able to see that the Obama candidacy is an unalloyed good - for black people and all citizens of this nation. It is precisely because Obama is a member of yet another migration from Africa (back to MOAD) that his story can be one to lead us all away from this endless game of musical chairs that has ensnared former slaves and former slave owners for these many centuries.

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Madam Speaker, the State of our Union is . . .

What tripe. What if the President gave a State of the Union address and nobody came? I ceased watching these events back in 2004 and I kick myself for taking so long to awaken to the reality of this presidency - and the signs were all there from the beginning: faith over evidence. At the very start of this reign of Bush the Second, he has chosen to ignore things that do not conform to what he believes: stem cell research is bad as an embryo of 12-weeks has as much a right to live as a person of 30, 40 or 70 years; hybrid cars are not the way - hydrogen is the path we must trod; treaties - even those written in his lifetime - are too ancient and creaky to underpin our nation's defense (what must he think of some rickety documents like the Declaration of Independence?); and the one that surely must be thought of as Belief Zero - if Bill Clinton did it, it must be wrong.

It is from these beliefs - those of a man who has a surety of self that is supremely uninformed by his own record of achievement - that we have arrived where we are today: 3000 of our citizens killed in one day from an attack by an organization that until 12 September 2001 never received more than passing attention (next time you hear anyone complain about the Clinton Administration response to the attack on the Cole; ask them what the Bush II Administration did?); 3000 of our soldiers dead and tens of thousands of them gravely wounded in service of a war against a man (Saddam Hussein) and a nation (Iraq) that had neither the intention nor ability to attack our nation and still today - 24 January 2007 - the man who struck the gravest blow against our nation that has ever been struck walks the earth as free as the day he was born. Almost 2000 days have past since that fateful day. Scores of children have been born into this new world - the world created in the aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001. How they must walk around and think that as it is now it has always been an forever shall be: airplane passengers treated like criminals simply for wanting to fly and color-coded messages that tell us how fearful we should be on any given day. A world in which the adults talk of never-ending war and then tell their kids that violence is not the answer. Our actions are leading us further from the goals in which we profess to believe: Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward all Her People.

When will we arise from this nightmare, shake loose the cobwebs from our minds and venture forth with the confident stride of our ancestors, as opposed to these timid steps that keep us within the limited visibility of our "leaders"?

I should make this clear: I was against this war in Iraq before it started; I am against it now; I do not support expanding the war with a "troop surge" and I certainly do not support increasing the field of battle by attacking Iran and/or Syria. I lived and worked in NYC back in 2001 and I was their on that day. I want those responsible for that attack to face justice. Last I heard, the whole world believes UBL to be living on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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