Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Trails of Tears Unless...Looking Back and Ahead #3

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm sorry. I tried to buy into it - a little.

I wanted to believe that having a Black president would have a different effect on Black America, one that would wake the masses of Black people up in order to change the conditions of our communities.

It didn't happen. I kinda blame Obama. He could be a stronger leader that isn't afraid to be seen as a Black man - and yes, even a Black president.

At the same time, I'm not delusional. I know that Obama should not have been expected to single-handedly change the lot of Black America as many Black people seemingly expected at the end of 2008. I did expect, however, Black people to rally around themselves as much as they rallied around the first Black president in order to change the conditions within the communities.

If President Obama sold Black America false hope with his historic race, Black America lied to itself when it said that change would come as a result of the Hawaiian becoming the 44th president.

And if there is more to come in 2010 of this type of rhetoric, we can expect to bury more African-American children - both figuratively and literally.

The pride and inspiration for having the first Black president seemingly left the Black community roughly 2 minutes after President Obama took the Oath of Office. Being in Washington in January 2009, I was shocked to see the waves of people that bore the cold winter air of the Inauguration without sticking around long enough to hear the president's words after taking the oath.

From there, I was saddened to see the lack of active pride that came through the Black community to make appropriate changes by the time Black History Month rolled around.

Where were the marches to institute peace in our communities? Where was the outrage to fight for better schools now from the current school structures without the need to dump additional millions into a system that's broken? Where were the cries for accountability when President Obama cut money to poor Black students for primary and secondary education? Where were the cries of outrage when Derrion Albert and others feel dead needlessly? Aside from some successes as the 40-Day Fast for Our Future, there was relative silence from the Black community - and notably from the White House - during a historic first Black History Month with an African-American president.

This snowball towards a tragic status quo merely continued throughout 2009.

All of the partisan fighting by President Obama has been met with a willingness by Democrats to overlook the plight of Black Americans concerning health care, education, and jobs. Even as the Congressional Black Caucus and others have slowly come around to criticize the administration's failures to specifically address these issues, the crime really comes from the group of Americans that bought into a politician's historic rise without capturing the momentum as a chance to be historic themselves.

And that doesn't fall on any one politician - or president. It falls on us as African-Americans.

If the record of 2009 shows us anything, it is this: we can ride history, we can watch history, but the ways that we have taken over the past 4 decades will not lead us to making any significant historical changes for everyday Americans without the efforts of those Americans in the history-making events around us.

There are now Americans that can claim a Black city councilman, governor, and president, yet we continue to have African-American males going to jails at record and tragic numbers. We continue to see a waste of American talent as children succumb to substance abuse, school dropout rates, and premature death due to failure of leadership from adults and community leaders. The Obama Effect was supposed to be that "silver bullet" that allowed Black America to take that next step towards true equality in this country. It was supposed to be that boost that allowed Black people to contribute at a higher level to close the achievement gap in school, the math and science gap in the world, and the economic gaps we endure as a nation in the global economy. So far, not of those things have happened as status quo Black America has engulfed the pride of January 20 with a persistence to take a broken approach and continuously apply it to a broken community.

President Obama broke the mold as a candidate in order to create a new reality in American politics. It is sad that Black America hasn't taken a similar approach to break the mold of approaching urban blight issues from the past 40 years of Great Society politics and civics to create a new (and better) reality within American urban centers. Unless if Black America sidesteps its collective fear to approach the unknown, cast aside the stereotypes of the past, and resurrect the courage of past generations, we will continue to walk a 21st century trail of tears that is marked with premature death, unnecessary disease, and lack of education - all endured while watching the height of the Civil Rights Movement epitomized in the White House while the 2nd worst days of Black America play out elsewhere throughout the nation.

What In Store from 2009 for 2010 - #4

Monday, December 28, 2009

And I thought that al-Queda didn't believe in Christmas...

As we can see from the thwarted Christmas surprise on Friday, nothing is scared for our enemies when it comes to attempts to defeat America through the use of terrorism. If there is something to take from 2009 into the coming year, it is this:

The more we focus exclusively on domestic matters as a nation, the more that our international enemies will hope that we continue to do so, even as they plan to harm America.

The continued march of terrorism against the United States only feeds into a cycle that has been repeated earlier in American history. From FDR to Reagan, those on the left have argued that "war-mongering" presidents have been too focused on international threats such as Hitler and the Soviet Union, thus taking away precious resources from domestic issues desperately in need of attention and money.

History shows us that even with liberal calls for "negotiations with Hitler" in order to avoid war (including some questionable positions by Ambassador Joe Kennedy regarding the growing war in the 1930) and other demonstrations against Reagan for ending the Cold War, without FDR's foresight and Reagan's push, we would not be the same nation (that is, free and independent) as we are today.

Many times, history serves as a mirror to reflect our current realities and serve as a roadmap for near-future endeavors.

We can go ahead, continuing to think that President Obama and the folks in Washington should make health care and other domestic issues top priority over international affairs. If we do, the scares from the terror plots in Dallas, New York, and (recently) Detroit will become screams stemming from the successful plots of al-Queda and other enemies, causing us to see another tragic situation unfold on American soil.

The "esteem" coming from our global neighbors through the election of President Obama has not yet materialized. Many European nations have scoffed by American notions that European nations have some accountability in regards to issues blamed exclusively on the United States. Nations such as Iran have ignored the well-wished and intentions for diplomacy by the United States, continuing down their paths to creating more turbulence for the global community. All of this - and other incidents from nations such as North Korea - comes at a time when more Americans (similar to the times post-World War I and pre-World War II) believe that the nation's focus must move away from these threats and towards (almost exclusively) domestic issues. Rallies stating that there is a waste of resources (including money and, more importantly, lives) keeps incurring with losses in domestic affairs as a result miss the point: the American government exists with the primary purpose of protecting Americans.

If we take this continue persistence to look inward towards our domestic challenges with a big government perspective while looking away from our government's big responsibility to be proactive in advancing American sovereignty, we will continue to hear of terroristic "near-misses" until one day, we incur another 9/11 on our soil. We will have only more stories of terror plots on American soil that found ways to beat the system, even as domestic policies concerning health care reform, open borders or amnesty, and increased pressure to divert money from the military and into education and universal healthcare will be hammered through the media into the collective psyche of everyday Americans.

Domestic issues are important, but international issues threatening the USA always take precedent. Failure to be proactive in this realm will no longer provide us the opportunity for second chances as it did in previous times. As the world is shrinking, so, too, is our protection without the proactive focus of the United States towards its primary duties to ensure "...life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."

If we continue to lose out on this important principle, expect 2010 to incur more losses internationally - with a strong prayer and hope that that does not include too many American lives due to our collective negligence for both the signs around us and the cues from history before us.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What to Take from 2009 - #5

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to those of you that celebrate the Christmas season.

As we celebrate the holiday, it is also a time when we begin the countdown to 2010 - not just politically, but socially. And as we start that countdown, what better time to look around (versus looking back) at the results from Washington as we close down 2009 for the history books.

With that said - as with other shows, blogs, writings, and the like - why not move through a small list of issues and items that impacted us as a high level in 2009, issues that we will be discussing both now and in the future as "game-changers"?

Of course, we could be here for quite a while, but there are some issues that continue to crop up through the year that have reached heightened notoriety over the course of the past several days.

Like the health care debate.

Of course, the Senate will pass some sort of health care reform bill on this Christmas Eve. Not surprisingly and sadly ironically, this noted reform for the nation will come from only 50% of the political equation - the supermajority in Washington that has continued to push through their agendas with the glee of 12-year-olds that are stuck in a gym class dodge-ball game with the 3rd graders. Without any regard to doing what's best for the nation in the spirit of patriotism, accountability, or fiscal responsibility, the Democrats have continued to push through radical spending measures in 2,000-page bills that have not been read by the majority of the Senate and have been promoted as cost-saving measures through questionable explanations.

For example, this current directive from both houses of Congress will include a mandate on "able" Americans to purchase health care insurance at risk of facing a fine enforced by the federal government. In a current time when the federal government cannot properly and efficiently impose border controls and illegal immigration laws, we are to believe - for the good of the country, no less - that federal enforcement of health care procurement is a good and prudent thing for the federal government to undertake.

So, in a nation where the cost of living is going on and the wages Americans bring home are going down, the best alternative for health care reform does not include measures that ensure that health care-related costs will go down. Instead, we are going to force people to buy health insurance to save money - of course, forcing many of the same underemployed and under-privileged people that don't have health insurance now because of job situations or family economies to scourge for money for another monthly bill.

This will be going on at the same time that additional taxes on health procedures, health care plans (those deemed "too good" or "too generous" by the bureaucracy in Washington), and the well-to-do will place an additional burden on the small business owners and other economy drivers of the nation.

So, what can we take from this "reform", aside from the fact that even the bipartisan ideas (and effort) that President Obama mentioned in his September speech (famously noted for Congressman Joe Wilson's "You Lie" comment) were never considered seriously by the Democrats in Congress?

Mainly, that the Democrats' reputation for tax-and-spend policies - said to be a oft-quoted misnomer during election season - was shown to be a deadly accurate protrayal of the supermajority in Congress today. Each solution given by the Democrats so far during the Obama Administration has centered around government spending, increased taxes on business-creators and economy-movers (i.e., consumers with money to burn), and a blinding belief that government is the solution to problems, not the entity that creates problem-solving environments.

If 2009 was an indication of what we can expect from Washington spending under the Obama Administration, the same issues of government expansion that upset Americans in 2006 will come back to play in 2010. If the same regarding spending (as we have seen repeatedly from Congress, epitomized in the health care bills) continues in Washington, we can also expect the same results in 2010 - heated opposition, lack of bipartisanship when crafting bills, increased spending (and deficits), and minimal results for everyday Americans.

If this is the change that we were supposed to believe in, then it's clear that not much as changed in Washington, DC except the residents in the White House and the seatholders on Capitol Hill - and, of course, the increasing price of admission for everyday Americans to watch the fiasco unfold.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

American Apathy

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What's sad is that the Obama Administration - fresh off of the high of creating history as the first Black president and the president that would usher in an era of a post-partisan, post-racial America - has either lost its ability to capture America's imagination past the rush of January 20, 2009, or it has completed lost its desire to keep its finger driving the pulse of American activism as we approach 2010.

Either way, it's a sad state that we're in as a nation.

At the beginning of this presidency, we had a well-intended president-elect - along with this wife - spending MLK Day doing community service projects, calling on other Americans to help rebuild America while looking forward to working across the aisle in an open Washington environment that would be free of lobbyist rule, political cronyism, and partisan arm-twisting.

Ah, how the hope has become nope in such a short year full of many disappointments.

And the culmination? The epitome of Washington at its worst during this health care debate, from the president's insistence to "...inject (himself) into the Senate's version of the bill..." to ensure that question of abortion was injected back into the mix to the Landrieu Compromise, the Full Nelson, and the Joe Lie(berman) Job done in the Senate during the debate.

And during all of this maddening mix of broken promises, backroom deals, and backtracking with jobs, what have many Americans - particularly those that adamantly supported the president as a candidate with their campaign efforts and spouting off of Obama Rhetoric in 2008 - done during the much of 2009?


The rhetoric that the Obamas' presence in the White House could help to heal the Black community? Violence is going on within the communities as much as it has over the past 10 years.

The rhetoric that Obama's presence as Commander-in-Chief would bring prestige to America overseas and allow diplomacy to be a better option? Lost on apathetic Americans overlooking that fact that nations such as Iran and North Korea ignored American threats for much of the year and allies in Europe take opportunities to diss America whenever convenient, even as they handed President Obama a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

The rhetoric that there will be bipartisan ideas and cooperation to fix America's economy and issues with health care, education, and equality went out of the window with the words "I won" from the president to the minority party before winter ended.

And the American people - again, mainly those young, Black, and eager voters from 2008?


And if there is a dearth that we experienced during 2009, it's nothing that should be exclusively pinned on the 44th president, regardless of how misleading, unsuccessful, or misinterpreted his efforts (or, more accurately in many instances, the efforts of those within his party's leadership on Capitol Hill) have been. AAS (the American Apathetic Syndrome) has reared its ugly head, showing us that the truth health care reform has to come from our interaction with the uncontrollable political animal that is...well...modern-day politics.

The tea party movement of 2009 may be a chance to keep people engaged and going step-for-step with (and, in many ways, toe-to-toe with) their governments, but sadly, this often represented only the conservative side of the American equation. The apathy of the one-time voters that promised political investment (many of the same folks that "understood" when Mrs. Obama claimed to finally be "proud to be an American" during her husband's ascent to the White House) have sold out much more than the president did when he preached "education justice" for poor Black children, only to cut funding to poor Black children in primary education and funding for poor Black young adults for college education during mid-2009.

The unapologetic backslide to partisan mud-slinging and -wresting by both sides of the aisle in Washington has a direct tie to the apathetic American voter - that young, short-memory-riddled citizen that refused to take hold of history in 2009, instead choosing to watch history unfolded as if it were some strange reality TV show where the amount of zeroes behind the big digits concerning the money being spent by Washington has no real impact on them. Without that person being actively involved, there remained the opportunity to regularly polarize the nation into a "us vs them" division into teams at a time when the United States stood ready to unite more than ever - past the perception that it was too racist to have a Black president, that it was too shallow to have spirited and respectful debate to find the best solutions regardless of political origin, and that it was too entrenched in the politics of old to follow the spirit of 2008 with a freshing renewal of hope to make a new path for America in 2009.

That person - that young, energetic, Obama-ized voter (even though that voted against him in 2008, though few and far between with that demographic) - stay home in 2009. In fact, based on what I saw in Washington first-hand, that person left Washington right after the Oath of Office at the Inauguration, not even staying around long enough to listen to the Inaugural Speech.

If the glitz and glamour of this 44th presidency does not invigorate more young Americans to claim their piece of history, then we are looking at the very sad - and real - possibility that America as we know it will be history before too long. The moves of Obama, Congress, and others will just become nothing more than the two-step that we have seen in Washington for the last few decades - without accountability from an apathetic American populace that would rather find history handed to them from on high instead of finding the high in lowering the boom to a political culture that needs a true paradigm shift, not just a partisan change that we believed in...for a little while.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

United Yet Unequal

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What did Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) expect?


Once the word got out that business as usual hit a new low in Washington during the course of the health care debate, did he really think that he would be the only one able to cash in for some earmarked goodies for the sake of getting to the magical 60?

We've had the Louisiana Purchase. We've had Joe Lieberman's lasso holding back the health care vote single-handedly. And now, we have the 50 united and unequal states of the Union.

Senator Ben Nelson's shrewd business deal to sweeten the health care "reform" deal for the citizens of Nebraska (at the inconvenience and fiscal cost of the other 49 states) left a horribly bad taste in the mouths of any American paying attention the latest round of "change" coming from the ranks in Washington.

One can ask: if this is change that we can all believe in, why did we have to bait several left-leaning senators in order to get the deal?

With this being the case - states such as Louisiana and Nebraska benefiting from the negotiations of their senators - what is next on the horizon for the holdout senators that sit on the "needing 60" fence on this health care debate, particularly as we approach the conference to mend the two bills.

Will a state holdout from another Democrat flip-flopper - for example, say Senator Arlen Specter threatens to go back to the Republican Party and vote against the final bill in the Senate (that is, of course, if they would ever have him back) - could Mr. Specter hold out his vote until, say, Pennsylvania gets another member in the Senate? Perhaps he would bargain for another few representatives in other house of Congress instead? Or many concession for more electoral votes in 2012, just in case the race is close for the White House and President Obama's reelection bid? (Which, at this rate, it will be.)

Does this sound odd, as if this is an overexaggeration? Hardly - when you consider the amount of earmarks and other perks that have been included in the current legislation in order to "persuade" members of the supermajority to walk the party line and ignore their conscience to the nation at large.

And if the congressional (more likely, the senatorial) precedent has been set - that driving a hard bargain with one's vote (instead of treating that vote with the historical reverence and temperance that it deserves) is a recipe to "bring home the bacon" for a re-election bid - what else are we losing in the process of gaining health care reform?

People may lament the excess of taxes being proposed in the legislation. Others may highlight the introduction of universal government bureaucracy into the health care equation. However, the greatest risk to Americanism during this health care "reform" is the lack of reform that it has exhibited within our political system. If the process for instituting "change" has come with the additional (and immeasurable) cost of blatantly buying votes, there is a daunting challenge in front of all Americans and it has nothing to do with health care.

How are we supposed to uphold a country where 50 states are strengthened and sound through their unity as equal partners in running this country from a senatorial perspective? If the bargaining for health care can exhibit such discrepancies between how states will be treated? Are some states seen as being beneath others, thus viable options for securing more Americans to die in overseas wars that others states may direct with additional political powers accumulated through backroom deals? Are some states justifiable in directing other states to pay for the free ride of other members of the Union? Should New York state residents pay a high federal tax rate because they have a higher population? Should border states such as Texas and Arizona pay more towards the federal solution resolving illegal immigration, even as states such as North Carolina and South Carolina suffer a similar fate away from Mexico?

Thank you, Senator Nelson and the Democratic leadership in the United States Senate. The very thing that our forefathers were fearful of - being able to purchase votes in the annuls of Congress - is now occurring, thus making a Union of equal partners at risk of devolving into a hodgepodge of 50 disjointed members. Ironically, all of this at the cost of pursuing what some call "health care equality."

Students of history and common Americans see the problem of pursuing legislative perfection through the imperfections of hidden personal agendas. Sadly, there are not enough equal, focused, and studious historians in the Senate today to share the same concerns that their constituents have repeatedly voiced. The inequalities from American to American regarding health care - also reflected in how Americans are represented in Washington - may spread its poison further to how states treat each other in Congress.

If this is the sickness of thought that we are willing to pursue to heal more Americans, then I shudder to consider the richness of possibilities when corruption, ambition, and opportunity meet during our next "must do" legislative endeavor sponsored by this administration and its supermajority cronies.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Job

Monday, December 21, 2009

I know that's snowing up a storm in Washington.

While many are focusing on Frosty, Santa, and the Tiger Woods Mistress List, we should look at the orgin of this critical storm.

Capitol Hill.

Fellow Americans, the rush to health care reform has been a race to spend money in a time of recession while the benefits for needy Americans have been given a multi-year timeout by the supermajority in Washington. Never before has there been a time in American history where such a race against the clock has been performed by legislators intent on spending historic amounts of dollars, raising taxes on a plethora of items, and expanding the role of government without the American people and their representatives having a prudent opportunity to examine the facts and debate the merits.

This bill – perhaps well-intended – is un-American and wrong. The rush to get it down under the cover of night proves to be nothing more than one historic snow job coming on the cusp of a significant snowfall on the nation’s capital.

It’s ironic and appropriate, actually.

Any amount of spending coming from the fat cats in Washington must be challenged on its merits to find the levels of responsible spending that is required during these tough times. Yet, it is not to be found in the Senate’s version of the bill. Fiscal responsibility has been summed up as robbing Peter – in this instance, robbing Medicare – in order to pay Paul – in this instance, expansive coverage paid for by the same inefficient manager that we are cutting money from – federal government-led health care – because of its inefficiencies.

Yes. Only in Washington does this circulate round of thinking make sense, sense enough to the politicians racing to work under the protection of political power to rush this bill through.

And with the level of spending found in the bill as well as the questions concerning the actual procurement of American-quality health care for more Americans, many Americans will be left out in the cold, between increased taxes (a broken Obama promise), dampened business opportunities (another broken promise), and without bipartisan ideas and solutions (yet another broken promise.) In essence, the statements earlier this year of working together with the GOP’s legislators have become nothing more than the precursors to a huge snow job of partisan politics, acting as if only one party has the monopoly on the best interests of Americans.

And with this going on, the true inefficiencies in health care management in America – monopolies within states borders, lack of tort reform, increased employment and educational levels within the communities of everyday Americans – issues that have been shown to improve the quality of care while reducing the cost of health care in America – all items have been ignored by the supermajority intent on using this bill as a means to an end – namely, the end of civil liberties, job-creating environments, and lower taxed communities throughout America.

A mandate to buy health insurance despite one’s personal and professional standings in life is not liberty. It takes Americans back to the hard choices – paying for mandated health insurance for a single woman just out of college or paying rent and lights. Increased taxes on medical procedures make more bureaucracy impeding health care improvements for everyday Americans. Do women move forward with elective procedures that prove to improve quality of life or risk having the surgeries be deemed “elective”, and thus hit with a luxury tax courtesy of Obamacare? What do the additional taxes on “Cadillac plans” do for job creation? How does this health care reform allow for job creation?

If this bill was so great, why did it cost $300 million to buy the vote of Mary Landrieu? If this bill was so great, why did it take another round of convincing to get buy in from Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson? If this bill was so great, why are we rushing to pass this bill before Christmas 2009?

The more that the government tells you that it is going to do more for you, the more that it is going to charge you for it, the more structures that will be built to provide less service to you, and the more that – in essence – government will have to expand in order to fix what comes as a result.

Doesn’t seem to fix an already problematic issues does it?

It does seem to be shoveling it deep, though, even as we continue to dig ourselves into more debt daily.

And the more we hear about historic change, the more we see that we're being blinded by the definition of change as it is being whitewashed by a snowjob blowing in from the left.

If this type of reform and change only comes from this type of direction (particularly with all of the spending coming from the Obama Administration and the supermajority so far in 2009), perhaps it's time to change - course, that is - coming in 2010.

Inconveinent Villains

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We're never quite going to get the climate change people are looking forward until we get some needed change in areas that people refuse to address.

Like, for example, a commitment from the toxic wonders of the late 20th century.

Any sort of climate change agreement that allows billion-member nations such as China and India to give a scant commitment to change without any viable and enforceable measures in place only amounts to the current conditions that we face regarding the global climate change debate - namely, a lot of blame on the Western world, a lot of guilt assumed by the Western nations for sins of the past, and a growing call for Western nations to pay for it economically.

Now, I'm not saying that many of these nations are without flaws. Granted, much of industrialization (and its impact on the planet) have some from these nations. At the same time, it is also from these nations (particularly their tax base and their native ingenuity) that a climate to address these situations comes regularly. Without the funding within the borders of these convenient global climate villains, we lose valuable opportunities to allow the best and brightest to chase down these solutions that will help us all.

Calling for rich nations to subsidize poorer nations for global climate care is misguided at best and guilt-driven and unethical at worst.

This "distribution of wealth" mantra that has taken over Washington is only a small sample of what has been ramping up around the world for decades now without a clear understanding that there is no true thing called "distribution of wealth." Any "distribution" of wealth always leads to the destruction of wealth - or the accumulation of wealth from private individuals to public governments that eventually lead to controlling the populace.

What the poorer nations of the world need are more initiatives that lead to building wealth, not scattering money around the global as band-aid efforts that never heal the underlying issues. Initiatives coming from Copenhagen should include more of this.

If you want to help the poorer nations more with global climate change efforts, provide more exchange programs for their students to come to the United States and other Westernized nations in order to study specifically science and math in order to take this knowledge home to their native nations after 4-7 years of study in order to impact their homelands in this climate change endeavor. If you want to help the poorer nations more with global climate change efforts, incentivize the business leaders of those nations (even if they come from external sources) to attempt to provide green incentives to businesses within their borders; (of course, the college initiative plays into this.) If you want to help the poorer nations more with global climate change issues, help them find greener methods to excel at their top business successes. If you want to help the poorer nations more with global climate change efforts, provide more exchange programs for their students to come to the United States and other Westernized nations in order to study specifically science and math in order to take this knowledge home to their native nations after 4-7 years of study in order to impact their homelands in this climate change endeavor. If you want to help the poorer nations more with global climate change efforts, incentivize the business leaders of those nations (even if they come from external sources) to attempt to provide green incentives to businesses within their borders; (of course, the college initiative plays into this.) If you want to help the poorer nations more with global climate change issues, help them find greener methods to excel at their top business successes.

Shifting money from nation to nation is not the answer to build from a long-term perspective in business and the same is true when regarding the climate change fight. It's that much worse if we focus on the Westernized nations and not on the growing nations of China and India, particularly their impacts on the world's ozone level and overall environment.

Shifting funds around without holding these two nations at a high level of true accountability (e.g., shutting down the continued progression of Chinese-built coal furnaces and plants weekly) only makes one set of nations a target for scorn and blame without addressing current challenges, culprits, and conceptions that could lead to 21st century solutions.

Perhaps we as a nation continue to play into this game of Inconvenient Villains because we know that the Chinese and Indians are not as willing to acquiesce to the whims of other nations, changing their routines and causing their economies while sending valuable resources outside of their borders.

And we are - again - willing to fund the whims of others (as we were with abortion services and other "needs") - at a time when many Americans are suffering throughout a historic economic crisis here in the USA.

Then again, we are a convenient - and willing - participant in the blame game for most things wrong with the world. And as long as we are willing to financially pay for it without looking into the true economic - and rudimentary - costs and causes of today's climate issues, we as a nation will remain willing to over the Inconvenient Villains in 21st century climate abuse while paying the cost to slide back as a world leader.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Too Much Power for One Man in a Republican Government

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

If nothing else aside from seeing the outrageous amounts that government has grown comfortable spending, there is something else clearly frightening about the direction that we see in Washington today, particularly with the health care debate.

There is just too much power that rests in the hands of one man.

No, conservatives - that man is not President Barack Obama, although a case could certainly be made for that with the hard-left lean that Capitol Hill has made since January 2009.

It's Joe Lieberman.

No, granted, at this time, Ol' Joe is being thought of more along the lines of "Ol' Faithful" when it comes to his determination to keep "health care reform" from equaling another government episode of wasteful spending and inefficient service delivery.

However, the paradigm is still the same, fellow Americans.

Too much of the fate of the many is held by the too few of the people there to represent the masses.

And that's a problem, regardless.

As we have already seen with the cloture issue a few weeks ago, all that it takes is a few holdouts on each side and, lo and behold, legislation flies through - or gets held up.

I guess it's the American way? Really, this is how republics are supposed to advance "change"?

Don't tell me about the change that can when Mary Landrieu (D-LA) decided that it was more important to get $300 million for her state than it was to think about the long-term costs her change in vote would have on her constituents. Perhaps Lieberman is doing the same, thinking about the long-term implications that this bill would have on the people of Connecticut or throughout the nation.

And if Lieberman remain as the one holdout, who lines up next once he falls? Landrieu, asking for more money? Nelson?

This is still not bipartisan leadership coming from Washington. This is not balance. This is not change.

What we are seeing playing out are the same sorts of back-and-forth exchanges that hamper the balanced progress that maintains a sense of Americanism and a commitment to fiscal responsibility and global independence.

What happened to the portability that President Obama mentioned in his speech back in September? Doesn't matter - not a top priority of the one man that could be holding back this bill from getting 60% approval.

Folks - 60% approval is a very low D in school - and that's in the worse schools. Many schools, a 60% gets you a solid F.

And that is what this health care bill may end up being remembered as - a failure of the American legislators in Washington to create a balanced, responsible, and long-reaching directive that creates better health care, lower costs, and opportunities for more economic vitality for Americans (yes, including jobs) despite the temptation to "do it my way" because the numbers are right.

From the rush to get this done before Christmas to the push to get Lieberman on board, this has been the height of political expediency, not the promise of togetherness and effiency we expected in January 2009.

What a difference a year makes - or maybe it doesn't. And sadly, because of that, it's back to addressing the whims of the mighty few at the cost of the masses.

For everyone of us, one does end up making the loneliest number.

Iranian Countdown and the Ramp-Up Overseas

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I know that you may tell me that they are not related - Afghanistan and Iran. On the surface, you may be right. However, a deeper look will reveal that in many ways, they are one and the same regarding goals and relevancy to American sovereignty.

And, again, American sovereignty - not health care reform, "cash for clunkers", or bank bailouts - is the number one business that the American federal government is around for. With the crisis in Afghanistan (prompting a ramp up of 30,000 troops) and the latest in Iran, it is clear that our military must receive our support on all fronts in order to secure American safety on all accounts.

The question of winning the wars in the Middle East was always about securing the nation from terrorism. However, the Bush Doctrine of the 21st century took this initial goal to another level, understanding that by stabilizing the region with American-friendly leaders (if not exclusively American-leaning allies), we are more capable of lessening the threats of both terrorism from groups such as al-Queda as well as threats from nations such as Iran. Where the threat of a dirty bomb coming into the nation is one that keeps many Americans up at night (in fear but also in thoughts working to hold off such attacks), the continued march of a nuclear Iran is a bigger threat that casts a long shadow over the makeup of the region moving forward.

With the establishment of a nuclear Iran, the environment of the Middle East shifts dramatically. Israel becomes more of an antsy nation more inclined for self-protective measures (including preemptive strikes) that can quickly destabilize the region. Iran's desires to be a strong leader among Islamic nations could prove to rile up extremist factions favorable to Iran's positions (both secular and religious) that could lead to increased terrorism - both organized and self-perpetuated. The strength of a nuclear Iran could lead to an expansion of risk-taking activities by other rogue nations. Countries such as North Korea need no further excuse to move forward with actions that contravene the goodwill of the international community.

Which is why the Iranian countdown to nuclear armament and the ramp-up of troops for Afghanistan are related, even if the immediate military goals are not.

Victory in both Iraq and Afghanistan are vital to long-term stability and safety for the American people. Because the nature of threats against our nation's sovereignty are diverse in nature in today's times, America must use war theatres in ways that signal multiple messages throughout the world community simultaneously. The battles to secure regions previously held by terrorist-friendly regimes must also secure opportunities to pressure Iran and other like-minded factions within the Middle East to return to the table with the global community with the best of intentions and the most honest of declarations. These victories - done with honor, respect, and with might - are our best chances to provide Iran a clear roadmap on what next steps may be as their leadership continues to lie, conceal, and press on with their nuclear dreams: either you will pursue open peace with us or you will be handled along with other shadowy forces attempting to spread destabilization and horror through freedom-limiting threats, ill-intended pursuits, and violent behavior.
Those upset with President Obama's decision to send additional troops to fight "...an unwinnable situation in Afghanistan..." miss the point. Without victories in Iraq and Afghanistan, we open the doors to increased terrorism domestically (as even the battles being fought overseas has not completely stopped domestic sympathizers from attempting to ramp up their efforts) but also invite Iran to fill the void of nationalized terror that was previously occupied by the late Saddam Hussein, now with the additional nightmare of nuclear weaponry and an expressed disrespect for the state of Israel. In a situation where we can prevent two political travesties (and global threats) with one collective blow, filling that void and restarting the process of a galvanizing force in the Middle East focused on creating a syndicate against the Western world is not acceptable.
With one collective blow, we can temper this effort. We may be able to help win the ideological and diplomatic war with Iran through ensuring that we win in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus, it starts again with Obama's 30,000, a ramp-up in troops that perhaps comes in the nick of time to halt the Iranian countdown to inclusion in the global nuclear community.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lieberman, Moderates Hear America; Will Obama and Liberals Also Listen?

Monday, December 14, 2009

It took a while, including multiple tea party protests around the country and heated town hall debates on health care. However, it looks as though the middle in Washington finally gets what the American people have been saying throughout 2009:

Listen to me - we don't want this level of spending and this is not the change that we voted for.

American lawmakers voted on party lines and ignored the will of the people in early 2009 regarding the high levels of spending in Washington, particularly for institutions that now are willing to pay back taxpayer loans without giving anything back to taxpayers in regards to jobs, unfrozen credit, or economic stimulus - the very reasons the loans were given in the first place. American citizens were left on the sideline to watch moderate Democratic senators be forced into voting for cloture on Senator Reid's health care bill some weeks ago, seeing that democracy in today's America has a heavy hand and a bully's heart.

Through it all, the American people protested, blogged, talked, and pursued some champions in Washington, all in the interest of getting a better handle on things within the country.

Finally, with Senator Joe Lieberman's stance to join Republicans in protesting the Senate's version of health care reform along with some moderate Democrats, many Americans are now able to breathe a small sigh of relief.

Finally, someone decided to listen to me. After all, I am their boss.

How far this will go depends on the American people from here. The misnomer that the Republicans do not have a viable set of options for successful and beneficial health care reform is as inaccurate as Senator Reid's slavery comparison to this health care legislative debacle from last week. Lieberman's thoughts - along with others including Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) - echo the sentiments voiced by everyday Americans since the beginning of 2009: Congress must stop instituting legislation that adds to taxpayers' burden and increasing the deficit, particularly at a time when America is holding a historic deficit while facing discouraging unemployment, urban crisis, and 2 war efforts. Health care reform is necessary, but spending our way to it is not, much in the same way that getting out of this recession is vital but President Obama's opinion that we must "spend our way out of this recession" is misguided historically.
True reform within America never comes from its republican government. It only comes from those represented within that republican government. Thus, the call for true, successful, and non-toxic health care reform in a systemic fashion will come only from a successful message being carried throughout our system of government, starting with the foundation.
Namely, you going to representatives, senators, and government operatives that you support in Washington, letting them know.
Listen to me. It's my money. It's my government. It's my nation. And I know what I'm talking about, particularly when it comes to what I want.
And if they won't listen to you, you have to propose:
Listen to me, or leave in November.
Lieberman, McCaskill, and some others are saying it. Health care reform is not an excuse for more irresponsible spending, something that recently started under President G.W. Bush and Congress but the Obama Era has taken it to a whole new level. It's time that we listen to folks like Lieberman when it comes to the proposed health care spending in Washington. It's time for us to remind our government represenatives and elected officials through blogs, office visits, radio comments, and the like that excessive spending does not equal effectiveness or success.
And it's time that they hear you when you say: listen to me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nevada Compromise

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

And they say that Republicans are the racists always playing the race card?


However, it's certainly not as amazing as Senator Harry Reid's (D-NV) comments comparing the health care resistance from Republicans and conservatives on Capitol Hill (namely, to the universal health care option) to prior legislative resistance to slavery years ago.

Those mean-ol' Republicans, always trying to keep the moral directives of history down, Reid would argue from the Floor. That same spirit from the Republicans and conservatives now (a universal sentiment coming from more Americans daily, it must be noted) is akin to the anti-abolitionist movement in pre-Civil War America.

Ironic that Senator Reid would say such a thing, considering history - and current times.

Did the irony ever hit the Senate Leader that the faction attempting to hold back the passage of slavery-limiting and -ending legislation (to the point of dividing the country legislatively, then literally, for several years) were not those "mean ol' Republicans" but were, in fact, his political forefathers? Such a statement from Reid shows a political willingness to paint such a complex issue (i.e., health care reform) into a corner where the sides are only black and white - not bad for the leader of a political party that has manipulated the social fabric every November with catcalls of racism and separatism against their opponents for the greedy purpose of gaining electoral victories with the hopes that a Rush Limbaugh comment here or there would seemingly valid their political poison. A decision to demonize opponents on such an important issue would only seem to promote the view that Reid, Pelosi, and others pushing this type of health care reform see this imitative more as a must-win political battle (to "keep hope - and change - alive", to paraphrase two historical Democratic presidential candidates simultaneously) instead of a problem requiring the best and most comprehensive solutions possible regardless of political origin or affiliation.

In referring us back to the days of the Kansas-Nebraska Act (which repealed the Missouri Compromise) led by Democrats to uphold slavery, Mr. Reid has instituted the Nevada Compromise - a move designed to compromise an increasingly-fragile nation's psyche through throwing verbal bombshells intended to push folks into an "us-vs.them" situation through some "winners take all" dysfunctional and misguided prism that many congressional leaders are seeing the health care debate through. Although, it must be said - after witnessing the arm-twisting by Reid to get apprehensive senators to vote with Reid for cloture earlier in November, it is no surprise that the "hope and change in Washington" that people voted for November 2008 was officially given a half-Nelson through brow-beating Nelson and others to get to 60 votes. Reid's Nevada Compromise is the next step in compromising the best long-term solution for health care that Americans need and deserve for the self-serving needs of Democratic leaders that have squandered their supermajority status with misguided legislation, inappropriate spending, and negative economic results that now need a "win" to stave off an electoral repeat of 1994.

I'm sure that the Senate - and Nevada as well - is wondering if that is the type of focus from leadership we need on Capitol Hill as 2010 rolls in.

Incorrectly, Reid - along with other left-leaning politicos - tries to demonize conservatives' objections to their health care proposals by comparing this to the slavery debate, notably saying that there are only 2 sides to this current issue: for health care reform with a public option or against health care reform overall. Sadly, the Nevada Compromise has no true "compromise" incorporated into it at all aside from the compromise of America's ability to get the best from both sides of the political aisle in this all-important debate. Health care reform is not a black-or-white issue as slavery was. Republican proposals to allow portability, encourage insurance competition, cover the poorest of our society (while pushing for lower costs for others), reevaluating regulations that skyrocket drug pricing, and disavowing the Democrats' mandate for private health care coverage (at the risk of fees and penalties) represent the grey area that Reid and others hope that Americans forget about. Even conservative Democrats have issues with the proposals that Reid, Pelosi, and others have advocated, most notably the issue of government-issued abortions at-will (i.e., pro-choice abortions, not per-crisis abortions) in one of the few common ground items that both Democrats and Republicans have been able to find, much in contradiction to the terms of the chief conspirator of the Nevada Compromise. Rather than compromise a personal and political preference to get an American result, Reid would rather compromise America's decency to expose raw emotion in an attempt to gain a political advantage with moderates and minorities.

Further, it's interesting that Senate Leader Reid is so concerned about the historical plight and current feelings of Black America, considering the dangerous unemployment levels among African-Americans coupled with the years-long issues of Black-on-Black crime, Black youth educational issues, and Black health care discrepancies are issues that he has been silent on despite his willingness to find legislative inspiration from the Republican-led efforts to end slavery.

I wonder if President Obama shares Reid's belief that this legislative endeavor is akin to the debates of the early-to-mid 1800s. Further, I wonder if Reid's statement reflects a common ground between the men on their concern for Black America in these dark times.

If the president's responses to the Congressional Black Caucus and others on specific focus on Black unemployment, Black education (DC vouchers and HBCUs - historically Black colleges and universities), and Black crime are any indication, it's clear that Reid's comments have nothing to do with their caring nature and much to do about their conniving political aspirations.

Reid's comments - and Obama's previous comments and actions to do little to specifically address the plights of Black America in crisis as the first Black president - serve as yet another episode that shows Black America and others that Democrats are more than willing to pimp out Black history and African-American emotionalism for their own self-serving interests without any desire or effort to provide an avenue for long-term prosperity, safety, and development for Black America. Since the election of the first post-racial president, this administration and the leadership of the supermajority has shown a toxic and divisive willingness to cry out calls of racism on a plethora of issues ranging from tea party protests to the extreme spending in Washington to the opposition to 2,000-page legislative overkill parading as health care reform. Knowing that racism has yet to make its way completely through the American system, Reid and others hold out for the residual racist sentiments clinging in our nation to rear their collective presence, willfully compromising the gains of the past 50 years racially and socially in America to create a "us vs them" mantra that may allow them to win in the short term on passage of legislation, but serves to wreck the nation's good will and possibly take race relations and tensions back decades in the process. Evidence of this occurring may be seen in the spike of Black unemployment in these times (where Black men with college degrees are twice as likely to be unemployed as their White counterparts as recent studies have found) and various reports of increased racial tension in many parts of the nation despite the presence of the Obamas in the White House. The good racial direction set by King and others generations ago found its apex in the election of Obama, Patrick (in Massachusetts), and others this decade, but those historical accomplishments have been compromised over the past months by a disrespectful disdain for responsible leadership and deference to history led by opportunists that have personally won while Americans everywhere continue to lose.

Harry Reid's Nevada Compromise may not have ceded land as did the slavery-inspired statements did in the 1800s, but his statements from the Senate Floor this week served to draw the same types of lines in a hypocritical claim to history, especially in line of how this bill will impact average Americans and how his leadership- along with the leadership of President Obama and Speaker Pelosi - have failed Black people throughout 2009 even as their supporters continue to pull the race card and brandish racial feelings in America like a 6-year-old with a machine gun. At this point, the Nevada Compromise cannot be the line in the sand dividing Americans on health care reform in a black-or-white fashion towards an issue with many grey areas. It's time for Reid's debacle to serve as confirmation that current Democratic leadership will do anything and say anything to win legislatively, leaving all else be damned - including a respect and understanding for history and a people used as political props in the process for their political gain.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Seeing the Light in These Dark Times

Monday, December 7, 2009

It took months of double-digit unemployment, a series of questionable moves, a clear statement of disconnect and disloyalty, and a year of failures and disappointmennts before groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, and a larger portion of African-Americans are starting to see the light.

But, it's finally happening, just as many Black conservatives and Republicans have said since 2008.

It doesn't matter that Obama is the first Black president in regards to Black America's loyalty if the 44th president is going to treat Black America as many of the other 43 presidents have previously.

And, if a matchup with Obama's precedessor's accomplishments for Black America is any indication - with regards to issues such as the Washington, DC voucher program, government-led abortion funding, and the termination of funding for historically Black colleges and universities ("HBCUs") - the results are not kind to President Obama. Coupled with high unemployment rates and increased racism and urban violence in the nation without much said by the post-racial president, and one thing is clear:

Maybe more African-Americans are starting to see the light during these dark times for America.

When the Post-Partisan Needs to Stop Being Partisan

Thursday, December 3, 2009

When should the "post-partisan" president stop being so partisan with his policies and initatives?

Well, it hasn't happened with his domestic policies to date - especially as he moves with a job summit and talk of a stimulus package (haven't we done this before?) to try and move the unemployment rate back underneath the double-digit barrier.

However, a good start to cut partisan ties with his party would be now regarding the wars overseas. This week's announcement to send 30,000 troops in an Iraqi-type surge seems to be a move in that direction.

And, if he continues to trump the whims of those driving the supermajority in 2009, perhaps he will be able to provide the type of leadership America is desparately in need of as we approach 2010.

Decisions, Decisions: Deployment or Diplomacy

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Later this evening, President Obama is going to announce a decision on our national direction with the war in Afghanistan. The main question, among the others swirling around, is this: will the president follow the advise of his military leaders and deploy more troops in the effort to overcome the stagnation found on the ground in this key region, or will the president acquiesce to the demands of the more-liberal factions of his supporters and defer to diplomacy in the region as the primary resource to change the climate in the fight against American-opposing terrorists?

Protection from the Cult of Personality

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

And, to think that the image of the first pop-culture president since John F. Kennedy has taken a hit on his image of proficiency from one of his biggest factions of supporters.

The pop culture posse.

The Real Turkey Day

Monday, November 30, 2009

And you thought that last Thursday - Thanksgiving Day - was Turkey Day?

If you listen to the sentiments coming from Nancy Pelosi and the gang otherwise known as the supermajority in Washington, you may hear that it's actually coming a little later than Thanksgiving 2009.

And the turkeys on display, according to the President Obama and the Democrats? The American people, particularly American taxpayers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Compare and Contrast

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

There is a pretty famous quote that lives on in America's lexicon. It goes something like this:

"...The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated..."

About 100 years or so ago, this quote was attributed to Mark Twain. Today, it should be attributed to RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

See, it's amazing how things work in politics, based on one's perception. For all of the chatter about how and why President Obama should be given more time to allow his policies to take root and work, there is a greater amount of rhetoric that keeps feeding into the notion that the Republican Party is ripping apart at the seams, taking everyone from Steele and others down for the count with it. With this being the first time in American political history where the proverbial (i.e., the White House) and literal (i.e., the Republican National Committee) heads of the 2 major parties in the nation are headed by African-Americans, it is no wonder that many national pundits and media outlets continue to tie the two gentlemen together, yet often rooting for their successes inversely. Just as each step within the Obama White House is noted for its historical nature with a fawning over that can be downright embarrassing at times, every single "indicator" that Steele is failing as the national leader of the GOP is analyzed, criticized, and theorized, each considered another step into the implosion that many are certain will occur within the party soon enough. Early occurrences in the Steele Era at the RNC of this included the Steele-Limbaugh controversy (and questioning of "who was the actual head of the RNC"); more recent incidents center on the Sarah Palin book and the resignation of the RNC's communications director just this week. Each day has its media reports that foretell of a turnaround for the Obama White House, just as there is a series of rumors and innuendos that supposedly indicate the end of the Republican Party as we know it and a journey towards a new third-party full of GOP rejects that are frustrated with the traditional conservative party.

Just as the optimism for post-partisanship on Capitol Hill, cooperation in Washington, job creation by the president's stimulus package throughout the nation, and confidence in bringing societal and community tensions to a halt under Obama's leadership have been greatly embellished (symbolized by the Nobel Prize earned in just 30 days of in-office work as the President), the tumbling downfall of Michael Steele as the RNC Chair - along with the effectiveness and cohesion of the Republican Party as a national force - have been inflated at best.

Further still, if you compare the effectiveness of each man 10 months or so into their tenures, you might be surprised in what you see, for the rumors of the RNC's demise - and Steele's with it - have been greatly exaggerated.

In stark contrast to the legislative and national failures that President Obama and the Democrats have experienced throughout 2009, the RNC has been a leader in the country as the wave of electoral momentum has swung back to the GOP. Decisive blows in Virginia and New Jersey - both areas where President Obama and the Democrats campaigned hard, extended resources, and spent money in order to win the gubernatorial seats in play earlier this month - only seem to serve as an indicator to the level of comeback that the Republicans will infuse into the 2010 midterm elections. Under Steele's leadership, the Republicans have been able to consistently out-raise the Democrats in terms of fundraising and outmaneuver the Democrats in terms of shaping the financial landscape of the future coming as a result of the directives being passed by this presidential administration and its allies on Capitol Hill. As well, under Steele's leadership, the RNC has expended resources and funding strategically to change the political tide - a move that, evidenced by the victories in Virginia and New Jersey, the national responses to health care proposals over the summer, and the change in branding for the Republican Party as the "Party of No" earlier in 2009 to a party with hope for 2010.

Where Obama has taken on a difficult task as president to shift the fortunes of America - meeting this challenge with very mixed results, Steele has taken on a more difficult task (from a political standpoint, that is) as RNC Chair to rebrand the GOP away from the image of an out-of-touch, isolated, fringe party incapable of being a viable option in urban states and with growing new voting blocs in the country - meeting his challenge with resiliency that has yielded major victories under his leadership this month as the 2010 elections come on the horizon.

Even opportunities to bury Steele and the Republicans politically have not been capitalized. In lieu of taking advantage of perceived Steele missteps in public forums (such as the Feb 28 incident surrounding Limbaugh on the now-cancelled "DL Hughley Breaks the News"), President Obama continued to up the ante, becoming personally involved in embarrassing issues such as "Beer Summit" while being painfully behind the curve on relevant matters such as the DC Voucher program debate (where he initially moved to cut off funding to poor Black children only weeks after proclaiming his devotion to the educational pursuits of at-risk kids) and the Derrion Albert tragedy (an incident occurring right in his beloved South Side of Chicago, one that was ignored by several days by his press staff while he made a rush trip overseas in an attempt to secure the Summer Olympics as a called-in favorite for fellow Chicagoans.)

Whereas the blitz of Obama in the media has caused a dulling effect on the nation as his "cult of personality" continues to dwindle, the effectiveness of Steele's nation-wide tour is only beginning to yield fruit. Early appearances at events such as the State of the Black Union (in Los Angeles), multiple coffee house talks with constituents across the country, college forums in various locations, and regular media appearances on Sunday political shows and weekday morning shows have resulted in a consistent and measurable move of independents, young voters, and other voting blocs away from the allegiance that they gave Obama and the Democrats since 2008. This shift in voter persuasion also comes as the president and Democrats have failed to articulate their plans for fixing the economy, capping unemployment at single-digit rates, and improving the lives of everyday Americans. Not only has the White House and Congressional Leader failed at using their supermajority in Washington to convince America that their directives are sound and just, but they have also failed to convince moderate Democrats of the same, especially after the rounds of economic failure coming earlier with the stimulus package, the lack of job creation and credit availability, and the increase in unemployment to depression-like levels in many American communities. All this has been occurring while the Republicans have lined up in unison to oppose the historic deficit spending and other directives that have hampered the American comeback.

Just in time for the Republican comeback.

Coupling this with the frustration of young voters with the White House snub they have received to date and the call to task of the Obama Administration by the NAACP, AFL-CIO, and La Raza is the RNC's continued movement to infuse a more visible sense of diversity and inclusion - in essence putting Steele's money where his mouth in a fashion that the Obama Administration never really has with the very people that elected the first Black president. In sharp contrast to the White House's tendency to ostracize critics (i.e., Fox News) in a clear indication that the jabs were getting underneath the administration's skin, Steele and his team at the RNC have displayed a focus that looks past intended death knolls both within aspects of the party structure and the national media and rumor mills, thus enabling a continued march towards reversing the supermajority in Washington electorally and the tide of unemployment and disillusion socially as next November nears.

Steele has not won a Peace Prize as Obama has, but at this rate, the bigger historical prize coming in 2010 seems to be his.

In an era where President Obama's promise of post-partisanship, bilateral support domestically and a return to American prestige internationally has fizzled into the malaise of status quo in Washington - the exact opposite of what Obama campaigned on as a candidate last fall - Steele's leadership at the RNC has been the example of being a trendsetter, one where conservative values and principles have garnered a positive response from a growing section of Americans while independents and moderates continue to support Republican leadership against the massive spending coming from Washington. For every one Obama move behind closed doors that contravenes the will of the American people (e.g., the after hours deal between the White House and AIG executives to pay out millions in bonuses with bailout funding), Steele has similar back-room moves that build a stronger, better, and more diverse Republican Party despite the media back-biting and de facto calls of failure. Despite the Democrats' strong-arming to create unity at a time when confidence in their direction continues to wane, the Republican brand continues to strengthen as a viable option for more Americans nationally coming into 2010 under Steele's watch regardless of perceived rifts. Between the Tea Party Movement, the surge in conservative conservation in the media, and the shift of independents and others away from the Obama Administration, there is evidence that the Republican brand is strengthening despite the lack of credit being given to a man perceived as nothing more than a token in response to Obama's presence in the White House.

Tokens campaign well but never live up to campaign promises. Results yielding from Steele's RNC throughout 2009 serve notice that Michael Steele is no token - and that the results in Virginia and New Jersey may only be the beginning for a party that is on the cusp of reclaiming America in a way it never has before after a historical election of its own.

With all of these examples in tow, a summary look at the The One's sliding approval ratings, two major victories in gubernatorial races in November, and three rounds of proposed unpopular spending from the supermajority (i.e., the stimulus package, the bank bailouts, and the health care bills), it's becoming clear that the superlatives of Obama's excellence in the White House (i.e., the Nobel Peace Prize) contrast with the exaggerations of Steele's demise as well as that of the RNC. And where Obama's mantra increasingly seems beholden to one Mark Twain quote ("...better a broken promise than none at all..."), Steele's legacy is being forged slowly but surely with another ("...do the right thing...it will gratify some people and astonish the rest...")

Man Up!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I know that it's not supposed to be appropriate to write behind the news cycle. In this line of activity (i.e., work, profession, or passion - depending on who you are and what you do it for), you are supposed to be avant garde with your writing, finding the story before the rest of the pack does. And that has merit. There is certainly something to be said about being the one that breaks the news, finds the nugget of relevancy that others have overlooked, and ties the argument together for a fascinated readership. More often than not, these stories are the sexy stories - the ones that have sizzle for pundits, tabloids, and water cooler conversations.

Other times, however, it is important to look back at a story and see its relevance to us, even after the news cycle has informally told us that the issue is dead.

Such is the case with the latest from the camp of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr.

A public comment from the reverend came last week as he criticized U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) for voting against the health care bill passed in the House of Representatives a few weeks ago. Congressman Davis - a candidate for governor in Alabama - was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against the massive health care overhaul, one that could end up costing Americans over $2 trillion over the course of its first decade of implementation without guarantees that Medicare would not adversely impacted, that quality of American health care would improve, and that health care premiums would not go up as a result.

Rather than attacking the vote on its perceived merits, Rev. Jackson - a one-time highly-respected civil rights activist and leader - took Davis to task by saying that "...(one) can't vote against (this) health care (bill) and call yourself a black man..."

Very interesting in how the definition of being "Black" - a term that people such as Jackson's mentor, the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, fought so eloquently and passionately to ensure that the word was inclusionary, not monolithic - has been laid down again based on political expediency, not practicality or reality.

Not surprisingly, I took an interest in this, being that I am often criticized as not being able to "call myself a Black man" for my political and social beliefs. Thus, I looked deeper in this story and to the deeper meanings therein.

In a time when America seems to focus on the inclusive practices of the national Republican Party (or, at times, the lack thereof at the state levels of the party) while turning a blind eye towards the intolerance that Black America has shown towards thought, cultural, and political inclusion and diversity over the past 20 years, it is ironic that the definition of "being Black" keeps getting laid down in accordance to hot-button issues. With that enslavement from many to the trend of the day, however, comes the probability that one's inconsistencies on positions will go hand-in-hand with one's shifting needs in an ever-changing worlds of politics and society.

Rev. Jackson only serves as an example.

Not long ago - roughly 30 years in the mid-1970s, to be exact - Rev. Jackson could be seen rallying against the upswing of abortion and population control activities in the Black communities of America. Not only did Jackson - a man of the cloth - abhor practices such as abortion, he compared these activities to genocide. On more than one occasion did the civil rights leader publish positions through media quotes and prepared statements that indicated his clear position against abortion. Rev. Jackson was anti-abortion, and it was clear - no self-respecting Black man that fought to protect the rights of Black people to exist peacefully on this earth would support abortion.

Until the reverend made it clear that he wanted to become President of the United States.

By the time he was to run for the presidency as a Democrat, things changed - starting with Jackson's need for deep pockets to run an effective campaign. By then, the Democratic Party was the party of choice, one that was supported in many ways by organizations with deep ties to pro-choice initiatives, including Planned Parenthood and others - the exact organizations that Jackson protested just a few years earlier. Instead of keeping his prior position with a sense of honor, the reverend flip-flopped his position, quickly taking a pro-choice position to "honor the rights of women to control their own bodies" - a position that sounds good in media quotes but starkly contradicts his pro-life position of a few years earlier.

The same could be true for his most-famous utterance in the 1980s. After all, no self-respecting Black man - particularly a disciple that taught equality and love for all men in the face of bigotry - would ever be caught making a ethnic slur against another group of people.

Nor could a man ever call himself a Black man for making a reference to the days of lynching and castration - horror inflicted upon Black men nationally (and notably in the South) for decades before civil rights laws chased away this terror - based on some personal frustration. Further, a self-respecting Black man would not make such a statement on national television, speaking of no less than the first Black major-party presidential nominee, a reality that past civil rights leaders help to procure with their sweat and blood.

Unless, of course, it is politically expedient to do so, at which point the definition of Black manhood and its expectations therein - similar to the pros and cons of the abortion issue beforehand - are merely up to interpretation based on the political and social landscape of the times.

Say it isn't so, Rev. Jackson, especially since I grew up as a young Black man admiring the good things that you had done in your career.

When the definition of "being Black" is left up to the whims of a cantankerous lot of manipulative public personas that have wrestled away the freedoms fought for by King and others 50 years ago for the sake of mind-control over a set of people concerning a series of issues, it leads to a bastardization of the Civil Rights Movement as it takes the "content of our character" aspect of King's Dream and degrades it to "consolidating our collective thought based on color." When the definition of "Black manhood" can be thrown around by a select few with the sorry, self-prescribed standards that date to racial realities and attitudes that were current around the same time as plaid suits, goldfish platform shoes, and parachute pants, it is no wonder that Black manhood continues to take a beating from everyone ranging from Rush Limbaugh and some conservative talk show hosts to President Barack Obama at NAACP events - all acting as if every Black man must think the same, act the same, and fail the same, from the way we vote to the way we parent. This outdated and cancerous monolith of thought - intended to bind us together - serves as the very structure that holds Black America (and, as a result, the United States in general) back from achieving more in a tough economy and a historic age. If the monolith of Black manhood (and, in general, Black political and social thought) is held to the standards of a mighty few, only to watch those few flip-flop on issues in accordance to their personal and political whims, then how will this manhood ever be expected to take on the challenges facing our communities, families, and nation?

Maybe it's good the self-respecting Black male conservatives aren't considered "Black" by those of Rev. Jackson's philosophy, as it would get confusing to follow the cues to switch our positions on issues based on the needed rallies of support in Congress and beyond.

As argued by Black men including RNC Chairman Michael Steele, diversity within the breadth that is Black manhood is only a positive occurrence that should be fostered in order to optimize the talent and perspectives found therein for the improvement of the nation. Sadly, as America's media machines constantly look at Republicans and White people to take them to task for perceived slights on African-American men, perhaps they - and the rest of us as well - would be better served if they kept an eye on those containing Black manhood based on their ever-changing personal and political needs, not the ever-growing needs of Black people and Americans in general.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Political Pressure, Post-Partisanship, and a Prideful Prize

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's good that we are past the area of partisan politics, isn't it?

I mean, after all, we know that Republicans would line up and attack anything that the Democrats would propose. Regardless of the hazardous amounts of spending, the increasing debt, the diminishing returns on the spending that the American people are receiving, and the amount of personal liberties (by way of government control and mounting taxes) that are building under the Democrats' control in Washington, we all know that the Republicans are only forging unity out of political allegiances, not because of their ideological beliefs as individual legislators.

It's good to know that in President Obama's era of post-partisanship, we would not see one Democrat be pressured into acquiescing to the whims of a political party against one's established - and public - stances.

No, we saw three.

And in the era of change and hope for the political landscape of America, we see that current climate of haggling and partisan pressure means more to the Democrats than does standing up for the will of the people. Post-partisanship on the part of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid (and anyone that does not think that the three are tied together like combatants in a highly-political game of tug-o-war isn't paying attention) went out the window once the egos and pride of the Democrats launched this air of "winning" this legislative chapter in American history, a sad display in contrast of our real need as Americans - a set of legislative initiatives that will allow the American people to win, not politicians.

Wasn't that the whole point of throwing out the Republicans from Washington in 2006 and 2008 - to rid Washington of the self-serving level of corruption and angst that American endured through their previous leadership in the decade?

The Fall of Nelson, Lincoln, and Landrieu sounds more like the failure of a law firm after a big lawsuit but, in reality, it was the failure of the post-partisan reality that Americans voted for in historic numbers just this time last year. The nation saw yet another campaign promise of the supermajority fall to the waste side as Democratic senators with genuine concerns about the $2+ trillion health care bill (the official number is $849 billion or so, but that includes the years of head-start taxing before actual services are offered as well as the discounting the notion that sitting politicians are actually going to cut services to the one bloc of consistent voters - the elderly) were pressured by lobbyists, left-leaning politicos, and more liberal fellow Democrats to vote to continue this trillion-dollar-trial run of government-mandated and -directed health care for the majority of Americans.

Of course, the political pressure did not come without purchasing the prize. It has been reported that the cost for Senator Landrieu's vote has been $100 million in pledges to the state of Louisiana, a sad occurrence considering that the state is in need of stimulus but should not have come at the expense of a massive health care bill.

However, this is not the biggest price we paid on Saturday.

With the actions of the Democrats in the Senate, we now see that this legislative initiative is more about a win for the president and the two leaders of the Congressional houses than it is about winning solutions for Americans. With the failures coming from the Democratic supermajority in Washington by way of the February stimulus package, Cash for Clunkers, and the bailouts (to unfreeze credit to small businesses and everyday Americans, thus helping the economy as well), the health care initiative is clearly the win that the Democrat-controlled White House and Congress would like to hang their proverbial hat on as the 2010 mid-term elections rapidly approach, especially as unemployment has risen above 10% nationally. Despite the clear objections to major portions of both bills went through the House of Representatives and the Senate (including the existence of a government-run plan and its authority to fund at-will abortions), the Democrats have shown a propensity to push for legislative success over the will of their constituents, notably those in the districts and states where political arm-twisting made the difference in creating winning votes. If the health care legislative issue has become a victor's prize for the Democrats to win at all costs (notably, at the cost of trillions of dollars in a time of economic hardship) as it does appear after this weekend's political machine-like strong-arming, what else have the American people purchased with their votes in 2008?

The levels of spending, the processes for legislative debate, and now the health care debate in Washington have continued to highlight what conservatives have been saying since 2008: that the promise of responsible spending, bi-partisanship problem-solving, and cooperative and respectful governance under this White House and Congressional leadership is much like the current health care plan for government insurance - something that Americans have paid for dearly already but will not receive anytime soon, should they receive it at all moving forward. If this is the prize that Democrats have been waiting for since the initial wave against the GOP began in 2006, then it may be up to more Americans from all political beliefs to apply their own political pressure to ensure the republican government many have paid for in a multitude of ways. Without us, the promised pot of gold by the Democrats at the end of all this may end up being nothing more than a booby prize.