Damn them!

I have always loved newspapers - which may sound strange to people in my age group (mid-thirties) and alien to those younger than I. I do not have a romantic story of delivering papers as a teenager - in fact, I could not stand that gig (you deliver newspapers at 5 in the morning in upstate NY in the middle of winter - real winters of the sort we don't have anymore) - but I always loved to read newspapers. They are the most amazing documents and their production over a 24-hour cycle is an amazing undertaking.

What I love about the newspaper is it brings together articles on such a variety of topics, that one cannot help but be exposed to things outside of a stated area of interest, no matter how well-developed. The very act of turning the page reveals a panorama of new stories and one never knows how interesting a story is until one reads it.

You cannot help but be exposed to new ideas, new information - with a good newspaper.

So why then, do I not subscribe to my home town paper - the Miami Herald - or any of its neighbors like the Sun Sentinel or a national paper like the USA Today or my previous home town paper like the New York Times? Quite simply, I grew disillusioned with the content of newspapers, across the board.

I need not tell the author of "What Liberal Media" tales of dismay with the editorial boards of the WSJ or the NY Times or especially the Washington Post. But what I do not understand is how all of these "businessmen" who week after week of declining subscriptions can still remain so oblivious to the cause. They want to blame their readership - we don't have time; we don't value newspapers; we would rather get the content for free over the internet - instead of looking in the mirror at how their own actions have taken the natural newspaper reading public - people who are curious about the world around themselves - and alienated us by serving us all the news that is not fit for print.

I believe that newspapers no longer serve the naturally curious market of readers, as they see us as liberals. I believe they have bought into the idea propagated by conservatives that "liberal" a dirty word.


I would expect a businessman to understand his market and know that regardless of labels, if you want people to buy your product you must provide them a service.

Long winding and ranting introduction to a scoop that the politico.com broke Tuesday evening: Bush relied on propaganda to sell the war in Iraq to the American people and the "liberal media" aided and abetted him along the way. So says former press secretary Scott McClellan. The vaunted American "free press" - that relentlessly announces itself to the world as the pre-eminent force for freedom on the planet and endlessly injures itself in self-congratulatory bouts - was hoodwinked by a man who brags about his "Gentleman's C" approach to university life.

And we are all poorer for it. And some of us are no longer alive for it.

I say the newspapers can either come back to us or they can all crumble. We will manage without them.

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Lets Clear Some Things Up

Discussion is good. Expressing disagreement is healthy. After all - I already know what I know; how can I learn what others know if I do not express what I believe and then (and this is key) listen to what others believe.

I surmise that the set of ideas on which we agree is probably larger than this discussion has made it appear - and it is also larger than some of the other posters who have made an appearance here.

But I would not be me if I did not quibble.

I have no use for "blackness" or "whiteness". To me, they are artificial signifiers that are so diluted in nature as to almost be impossible to define. Literally, people have written books about each of these constructs and they are very elegant and reasoned books at that. And were it possible for everyone in this society to read those books and really develop an understanding of just what is behind these terms, then perhaps they would rise to the level at which they should be kept.

As then they could add value to our communication, as does the word "red". I don't need to do a dissertation on the word "red" to use to communicate an idea: "that flower is red" stands by itself and while it could indeed be expanded upon by a poet or a painter, that exposition is not necessary to communicate a common understanding.

I could do the same with: "that guy is driving angry"; short, sweet and to the point with little room for misunderstanding.

"that boy is acting black" is not such a sentence. Physical fights can erupt over a phrase of such seeming inauspiciousness. At the least, reasonable people could argue over 60% of a five word sentence: "what do you mean "acting black"; "who are you calling "black"; "what do you mean "boy"?

I believe that the original question to this post: "Is Obama Black" was a question posed by someone with a good heart and in an innocent fashion, but because these words - black/white; whiteness/blackness - carry such baggage with them that it is possible for those three little words to spawn heated and extreme rhetoric.

It is impossible to remove these terms from their origins in the African Slave Trade and the resulting power structures that were born from those endeavors. No longer was someone from BassaKongo and someone filled with a rich sense of history, family and culture; no - he/she was now "black" and therefore interchangeable and indistinct from any other tribe and/or kingdom across Afrika. And it was through creating this interchangeable and fungible product called - a black slave - that the agrarian South and the trader North were able to build the ideas of Capitalism from concept to what it is today: the most powerful force on the planet.

Right or Wrong; Love it or Hate it; the implementation of capitalism found itself highly suited to the slave trade. Yes, slavery existed before and in other cultures around the world - in almost every culture around the world - but here, in these 13 original colonies that grew up into 50 states and assorted territories, slavery and capitalism fed on one another until slavery exploded in what is still the deadliest war this nation has ever fought.

That's passion.

And still the ideas live on and in more than just the terms "white" and "black". What were interchangeable and commoditized slaves if not forerunners to the assembly lines implemented by Henry Ford? Just as farming was turned from a craft practiced and developed and handed down from one to another, the art of growing food to support a community was turned into a business that sought to minimize costs and maximize profits.

We used to trade African slaves on the same markets where today we trade corn, wheat and pork bellies; people purchased shares in slaving ships then the way we purchase shares of Microsoft today.

Black/White: these are terms we use and we have but the vaguest understanding of the meanings of them. We know not their history nor their origin and because of that we can callously sweep away the blood that has been shed in their name with nary a thought. Blood that has been shed across a continuous arc for 500-years. And each of us, each successive generation has had the question before us: will we add or signatures to this blood-stained contract, in either ignorance or in full knowledge of all that has been done and will further be done, in our name?

Well . . . yeah . . . I signed my name.

But I don't like it.

And I am looking for a better deal.

I would rather we drop these terms and the insults they contain - for both those who see themselves as "black as well as those who have been taught to believe they are "white". I would rather we allow ourselves to be ourselves as members of the families and cultures into which we were born; for though there was a time when the French and the British were born to fight deadly wars, today they squabble over soccer.

The past need not be prologue.

Family, tribe, culture - these are not our enemies. They are the roots in which we ground ourselves as society, so that we can pass along what we have learned to our children and thereby position them to enter adulthood in good stead.

It is not written in stone that we must pass along hatred from one generation to the next. Hate is not an emotion that adds to our wealth, it only destroys us - even if it takes awhile to catch back up with us.

Sorry to ramble, but no - I have no use for either the term blackness or whiteness or any of their derivatives. I use them at my own peril, in the hope that I can escape their pernicious pull before I become too tainted with blood.

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Pardon Problem

Thanks to Bill from CT for awaking our eyes (ok, mine) to the simple fact that like Ford and Daddy Bush before him, George is going out on the pardon train.

But, a President cannot pardon himself, right?

Which means that by signing those pardons, all GWB will have done is free his cohorts from any possible prosecution for their crimes. Is there not one weasel among them who - once freed from cause and facing a suitably vengeful public - will not step forward and callout "J'accuse!"?

Could this pardon train leave GWB alone at the station as the only one to face justice for the last eight years of criminality?

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Wow - I am agreeing with Andrew Sullivan

Not often that I find myself here, so I am going to be more tentative than usual . . .

Damn! Does this post sum up what has happened in this campaign or what?

I have been shocked by the callous disregard shown to black voters by the Clinton campaign. But the simple reality is that they never suspected that Obama could do well with black voters. The campaign supposedly headed by the wife of the first black president, just could not conceive of the notion that Obama would ever be accepted by black voters - remember all of the "is he black enough" comments from 2007? Which surrogate was it who said that "Bill Clinton has slept with more black women that Barack Obama"?

The Clinton's - and their cohort of black supporters (Andrew Young and Bob Johnson most specifically) - were so removed from the feelings of the black voting populace that they were blind to the appeal of Obama. From top to bottom, they exuded nothing but disrespect for the Obama campaign and that literally made black voters curious to learn just who is this guy?

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Few Details on Immigrants Who Died in U.S. Custody

Obviously, I was a little younger then and I more easily fit the definition of "naive"; still, it is troubling to me how often I find stories that trouble me so, when I turn to a newspaper that literally at one time was a joy for me to read.

In college, I worked as a coop-student at Eastman Kodak and as my Dad worked at Kodak too, we would ride into work together. Obviously, the work day for a coop-student ends well before the workday of a 20-year employee, so the need to kill some time was a frequent one. (Just to further date myself) I would wait for my Dad at the Kodak library, reading the periodicals on the business, but most often picking up the day's New York Times and immerse myself within "All the News that's Fit to Print". While New York City was just a seven-hour drive from Rochester, NY - when reading all of the sections of the Times made it feel as though NYC was a completely different world: a more exciting world. And while that world also contained stories about Yusef Hawkins or teenagers arrested for "wilding" through Central Park, somehow I was able to gloss over the reports of murder and mayhem and believe in a city that represented the power and the glory of this country of ours.

Honestly, I never thought that I would continue to read stories of how young black men would repeatedly find their way to death for the slightest of cause - or no cause at all.

So it was on yesterday, when I picked up an electronic copy of the Times once more (I do miss the heft and the feel of a newspaper - but I love the convenience of online review) that I saw this story on Boubacar Bah; a 52 year-old tailor from Guinea, who died for the crime of over staying a tourist visa. Now the article tells us that 65 other people have also died in "immigrant custody" (a new term for me; yeah!), somehow I suspect that not a single person of Caucasian descent has ever died in this oddly framed, custodial world.

I am sure that this is just me, but I see all of the different terms we develop to refer to people - immigrant, illegal immigrant, alien, illegal alien - as just further gradients on the "non-person" scale. And as a former "non-person" - as the proud descendant of those once considered to be non-persons under the laws and jurisdictions of the United States of America - I want it to stop.

Stop taking people and creating classifications for us, which you then use to deny us the rights with which we were born into this world. Your own defining document - the Declaration of Independence - claims for the world to see that these rights are granted to us by our Creator and that they are inalienable rights.

Meaning these rights cannot be taken from us by any man, for any reason.I call on those who claim to have authority to live according to this creed or remove themselves from office.

read more | digg story

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. . . in which our hero gallantly stands at the gates

This is just a snippet (ok - a long snippet) from an extended discussion on Amazon.com with the anti-Obama hordes. I spent a great deal of time writing this reponse, so I thought I would save it for a time.


Hmm . . . so you have been sipping deeply from the well of anti-Obama - but are your points internally consistent and have you applied the same standard to all of the candidates?

Iran has no bombers. Their "air force" - such as it is - consists of leftover planes purchased from the USA as late as the 1970s (remember the Shah?) and those were no doubt leftover models from our early forays into Vietnam (I would lay even money on the same model in which McCain was shot down. I wonder how replacement parts are for those babies). No matter how much we like the Shah, we were never going to sell him an air fleet even remotely capable of competing in either air combat with Israel or with bombers that could be used against Israel. Israel is our prime ally in the Middle East and has been since Eisenhower - if not also Truman. And in the 1980s, Iran was too busy fighting with Saddam to restock an air force from anyone else (France, Russia, etc.) - plus, we were providing Saddam with aerial and satellite information, with which to target Iranian forces. You might ask Donald Rumsfeld if he left any planes un-targeted during that eight year campaign - but I doubt he would tell you the truth. And as for nukes - I am glad you mentioned that: here, your argument seems to begin its run of cherry-picked evidence. The most recent National Intelligence Estimate states that there is no evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Indeed, it states that the latest intel we have shows Iran is backing away from plans to develop nuclear weapons - most likely because their influence in the region has already improved so greatly what with the demise of their nemesis, Saddam. They are the new superpower of the Persian Gulf - and you can bet that chaps the Saudis everytime they hear that phrase (BTW - does anyone remember that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis? I would love to hear people talk of straightening out our Saudi-problem. Those duplicitous ----------. We made them billions and they repaid us with terrorists).

Iran cannot now threaten Israel or Iraq with neither bombers or nukes and is not likely to gain the ability to do either in the next six years. This is what the NIE says (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Intelligence_Estimate#November_2007_NIE) - I just happen to agree with it.

What did Wright say at the National Press Club that makes him unpatriotic? He is definitely critical of the government, but cannot someone be critical of a country he loves and wants to improve? Obviously anyone can be unpatriotic - war vet, preacher or both - but on what statement(s) are you basing the claim that he is unpatriotic:

- the US government created HIV to infect its own black citizens?
it is a fact that our own government used black men to study the impact of syphilis on their health and the health of their community for decades after a treatment had been produced. Our government lied to these men, told them they were being treated when they were not and then watched them get sicker as they continued to spread the disease with all of their sexual partners. Sounds pretty heinous to me. HIV as a government plot may be a marginal belief, but is it unpatriotic?

- the US government committed acts of terrorism around the world, which led directly to the response we all saw when those two planes hit those two towers?
More people that just Wright argue that the atomic bomb drops on Japan were unnecessary and even more argue that the second one surely was. Seems like we as a country should be healthy enough to have that debate. Or maybe we can feel free to just say, "tough". Japan attacked us - unprovoked - and whatever they get in return is just a little "que sera sera". So then, one might wonder what the Iran of 1953 did to us? Remember that one; the British came over to us, upset at having their embassy staff kicked out of Iran and asked us if we could use our embassy to plot a coup for them, to prevent the Iranians from nationalizing their own oil assets (you know how GWB is fond of saying that the oil in Iraq belongs to all of the Iraqi people? Yeah - the CIA did not go for that back in the 50s. That oil belonged to British Petroleum; hell - it said so right in the name). Bye-bye Mossadegh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mossadegh#Coup_d.27etat), hello, Shah (I love the notes from Eisenhower's diary here. Thanks to GWB, we will never again have contemporaneous notes like that again. History weeps). And if the Shah needed a little help building a repressive police force to keep him in power, well - the USA was only too proud to help. More than half a century later and Mossadegh is still a popular politician in Iran. Except with the religious leaders; they found him too Western. Need I add in the story of Patrice Lumumba from Congo or Salvador Allende from Chile? Or perhaps you thought those two countries wanted to be rid of democracy and instead preferred the rule of brutal thugs like Mobutu Sese Seko and Pinochet? Our commitment to democracy in resource-rich nations is very, very recent; does it make someone unpatriotic or un-American to acknowledge the simple truth?

As far as McCain's preacher, we really do not know. But we do know that he went out of his way to seek the approval of and the endorsements of:

- Rev. Pat Robertson
- Rev. Jerry Falwell
- Rev. John Hagee

The first two of whom respectively blamed gays, abortionists, feminists and ACLU lawyers (Civil Liberties lawyers?) for the attacks of 11 September 2001 - just two days after the attacks! And the last of whom who believes, respectively that:

- The Roman Catholic Church is "The Great Whore"
- Roman Catholics "thirst for the blood of the Jewish people"
- God created Hurricane Katrina to punish the city of New Orleans for a planned "gay-pride" parade. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/opinion/04rich.html?hp)

I hope you will not hold McCain accountable for the rants of these preachers, as even though he sought out their endorsements, it would be patently unfair to attribute their beliefs to McCain - unless he stands forth and says he agrees with Hagee's call for a pre-emptive attack on Iran.

I do have to say that in my swamp, there is a difference between being "proud" and "really proud". You see, I know there is a difference, because one statement has an extra word. And I know that extra word has meaning, because that is what words do. The only way you and I have been able to have an asynchronous, extended conversation like this is because of words, so you just cannot throw away a word if it does not match with your own pre-conceptions. Michelle Obama has spoken eloquently about how she is an excellent example of what good public education systems can produce; that is a routine part of her stump speech and she is perhaps one of the best rationales I have ever seen for just what public schools can do. Heck - even Barack has stated that it may not make sense for his two little girls to have the same boost from affirmative action programs that he and Michelle did. I think every aspect of both Michelle and Barack is walking proof of how proud they are in this nation; and perhaps seeing young people participate in ways in which they never have before and at levels everyone else said they would not is a reason to be really proud.

It makes me really proud, but I am a contrarian.

Oh and that Weatherman stuff? Just how is Obama responsible for what someone did when he was eight - and yet Hilliary Clinton is not responsible for what her husband did when he was President? Yes, William Jefferson Clinton walked out of office in January 2001, but not before pardoning not one, but two members of the same Weather Underground group. (I will give you even odds on whether or not a donation to the Clinton Library and or the Clinton Foundation was behind those pardons; any takers?) So which is worse? Serving on the same board of a charity with someone who has never been convicted of a crime or pardoning two criminals who actively sought to bomb government offices in our own country?

White people continually overestimate the power of Sharpton - but don't take my word for it - how many votes did the well-known Al Shapton receive in his Democratic primary campaign and how many has Barack Obama received? I lived in NYC at the time of Sharpton's run, so I know that he received so little support from within the Democratic Party, that he had to reach out to Republican operatives (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Stone#2004_United_States_Presidential_campaign). And just like Republican operatives (i.e. - Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity) today have purely altruistic motives in calling for Republicans to vote for Hillary, I am sure that Roger Stone really wanted Sharpton to stay in the 2004 campaign to "talk about the issues".

I certainly have not the media power that Sharpton has, but I believe that black voters will do what we each individually feel is the proper thing to do at the outcome of this campaign. Is there enthusiasm within the black community for the Obama campaign?


Will this community be supremely disappointed, should super-delegates come out and push Hillary over the top - after 20-months of campaigning?


Will black voters vote Republican in response?


Will black voters stay home?

"reply hazy - ask again in October".

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The Best Political Team on Television?

I think this is CNN's slogan - I should know it by heart now, it has been beaten so repeatedly into my skull - so I refuse to turn the channel over and listen to them say it one more time.

But if that is going to be their stated definition of themselves - humble as it might be - they may be disappointed if the best their Chief National Correspondent can produce is a rehash of Republican talking points as an example of "analysis". I for one am not surprised that Republicans much prefer to run an election campaign against Rev. Wright - as opposed to Sen. Obama - as Wright falls neatly into their "angry black man" stereotype, you know, the one they want white people to fear.

The only thing better for Republicans is if Obama actually matched that stereotype himself, but they will not let the fact that he does not stop their attempts to portray him as such. After all, they had great success at framing Gore as an elitist (as if the son of a former President was equally an elitist) and they equaled that success at framing a former war hero as quasi un-American (against someone who picked up an assist from his Dad to fill his service in not one but two state National Guard programs - instead of, you know, actually on the front lines); why not return to the formula that has worked so well in the past?

I think I heard a man say once that you can fool some of the people some of the time . . .

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Isn't it ironic - dontcha think?

I was watching Morning Joe on MSNBC today - as I am wont to do - and the eponymous host was in fine form today, this time revisiting a favorite them of his: the efficacy of torture. I was going to less this pass by unremarked, except for this sequence of events:

  • The show went to break over the strains of an old rock tune that I am familiar with and yet uncertain of
  • I immediately paused the TiVo and hit the internet, in search of enlightenment
  • A search on the partially heard lyrics: "at the party she was kindness in the hard crowd" led me to a really excellnt online book site called: Reason to Rock; and the song, "White Satin" by the artist, Cream
  • An exploration of the rest of the site revealed a discussion on another oldie but goodie - the Rolling Stones song, "Sympathy for the Devil".
This is a great site. by the way; I love the exposition of the songs discussed herein. And I as began to read over "Sympathy for the Devil", I kept seeing more and more parallels (from the mockery the Devil made of Jesus to the vilification that He endured from the authorities of the day) with things going on today - especially concerning these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the willingness of so many Americans to support the torture of our fellow human beings.

And that started me to think: why do Christians - who mourn the martyrdom of our Lord and Saviour - find the concept of torture to be so irresistible?

How is it that we Christians - who are seemingly so devout in our prayers and who most recently saw a film that recounted the tale of our Lord's crucification in gruesome detail - have forgotten how He was tortured and taunted, how He was pressed so mightily to reveal His divine nature before His accusers?

And how have we forgotten that all of the torture came to naught?

By what process have the sons and daughters of Christ become the legions of Roman centurions, blindly following the dictates of a second-rate Caesar into treating "the least of these" as though they were beneath us?

We have lost our way as Christians and as Americans, if we believe that we can save ourselves through the mistreatment of others.

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