Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sins of the Father, Part 2: Why We Have to Act Now

Monday, September 28, 2009

I wish that I hadn’t watched the Derrion Albert video.

I really wished I hadn’t. It broke my heart and sickened my stomach simultaneously.

But, then again, I feel like God has called many of us to watch it, remember it, and burn it into our memories forever.

And then ask how the brutal beatings of two young Black men from Chicago can come for two different reasons but maybe, just maybe, their deaths could symbolize two different movements that will usher in change.

It is going on 50 years since the death of Emmett Till. The beating of this Chicago youth in 1955 was senseless, brutal, and tragic. The kidnapping and torture of this teenager symbolized the brutality and insanity that was SDT (Southern Domestic Terrorism) during the heyday of Jim Crow. To her credit, the late Mrs. Till forced America (and the world) to take a good look at what we yielded and tolerated in America. To her credit, it forced American (and the world) to look at the real-time effects of racial hatred and the consequences of tolerance and inactivity.

What Mrs. Till gave us in 1955, we receive via the Internet in 2009. Now, the vivid death of Derrion Albert – an honors student from the South Side of Chicago – gives us a chance to see the consequences of our inactivity and tolerance towards the continued destruction of our cities and urban residents due to drugs, crime, and lack of education. We get to see what continues to occur because of our underfunded efforts to fix our communities; (and no, it’s more than money from the government – it’s about underfunding of resources: time, materials, community members giving back, personal accountability from each of us to change this epidemic in our communities, etc.)

For young people, we get to see the horrible consequences of being in the wrong place and the wrong time – or of letting your guard down for one moment in a moment of crisis.

The question now comes: what do WE do about it? Are we going to rally as we did during the Civil Rights Movement after the Emmett Till murder and ensure that we can remove this latest scourge from the face of the earth? Do we protest and not stop until we get those changes, just as we did during the 1950s and 1960s, even as the murders of Emmett Till were not convicted of their crimes? Whereas a moment in time (or a series of moments, if you will) got us to protest, march, demand, and challenge in court, what have the continued senseless deaths prompted this generation to do?

When are we as Americans going to address the violence in our cities to a point where we end this reign of Black Urban Terrorism (BUT), just as we did with SDT? (Indeed, some could say that we need to deal with the BUT of the problem in our communities…) I know that my “Festive 40-Day Fast for the Future” (http://lennymcallister.com/news.php?item=97) was a step, but apparently not enough of a step to prevent something like this from happening. With the amount of rage and violence found in our communities must be a superior level of commitment, love, and wisdom to overcome this plague.

The sins of our fathers are yielding rotten fruit, folks. There is no other choice: We Have to Act Now.

Folks -

Stop waiting for teenagers and misguided youth to turn things around themselves. Stop blaming the misguided and the victims of this generation for its current conditions without engaging this generation towards the solutions. Stop thinking that it's someone else's problems or someone else's children. It's not. They're ours. It's enough. And it's now that we are going to step up.

Not have to step up. Will step up.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Photo Phriday

Friday, September 25, 2009

This Friday is less about a symbol and more about a statement:

---CNN & The Root panel discussion: “Young & Black In America: Empowering the Next Generation of African American Leaders.”

I will be on this panel discussion along with other young leaders within the country. It will include NAACP President Ben Jealous and will be moderated by award-winning journalist, CNN's own Suzanne Malveaux. I hope to see you there. If you can't attend, look for either footage or a transcript (if made available) coming in the near future.

Sins of the Father

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I received a link to a story on Sara Kruzan.

At first, I was shocked that a youngster so young would be jailed for the rest of their life for taking the life of another.

Then, I was in tears.

If this is not the epitome of what we go through in Black America, I don’t know what is.

Ms. Kruzan’s story is filled with all of the worst that we must overcome as Americans and African-Americans. We have a generation of young people (now going on 2-3 generations) that have been impacted by adults (including parents) that have damaged their lives (as well as their children’s lives) with addiction, be it sex, drugs, or gambling, or alcohol. It is also filled with a crisis that is killing the youth of our children: the sexualization (and eventual abuse) of our young people. Mrs. Kruzan’s tragic journey from honor roll to Hollywood strolls is one that we do not pay enough attention to until it is too late.

And, subsequently, we suffer the consequences as a society as we watch our talent rot in jails, in depressive states, and in conditions that stifle their talents, not promote them.

Many under the ages of 18.

Which is why if there is anything the Congressional Black Caucus can work on as a group over the course of this upcoming weekend, it is putting pressure on states to institute policies to bring some sanity to our states’ court systems. In addition to there being too many Black men and women in our correctional institutions (which is a community-problem, not a law-based problem in most regards), there is a problem with inappropriate sentences in the cases of our children (which, when giving life without the possibility of parole to our children – including children that were raped and pimped out by adults twice their ages) when there is clear evidence that they can be rehabilitated – which, by the way, is the purpose of prison for the majority of prisoners, between worthy punishment and opportunity to rehabilitate.

Ms. Kruzan killed her abuser. There is a penalty for playing God, but is there a penalty too stiff for our young people, those that had been on the right path before the “sins of our fathers” prompted them to a tragic detour?

Ms. Kruzan was once an honors student. Others were caught up in drugs because their parents had done the same, leading them down the wrong path. Do we really need to lock away people that made mistakes in their teens until they hit AARP?

We need a better system of sentencing for our youth, especially those that are coming from at-risk situations including abuse. Being poor is not a reason to kill someone in cold blood, but to kill the man that raped you, abused you, and pimped you out seems to be a situation that forces us to re-evaluate the abuse and pain that young people endure before taking such drastic actions.

I know that the conservative viewpoint is to say that “if you do the crime, you must do the time.” For a 25-year-old that makes the choice to sling dope, then kill others – I concur. Being poor isn’t enough – I’ve been poor, with a child, needing items for my baby. I worked and struggled, but never broke the law to do it and certainly did not kill anyone in the process. At the same time, we already know that we have a clear discrepancy between the sentencing for Black youth and others when it comes to long-term punishments for crimes committed during their youth.

We need to have that addressed by Black leadership if we are going to have a chance to rehabilitate a generation that some call “lost.” There are not lost, but we are losing them to abuse, “mis-education”, and crime – both as perpetrators as well as victims. Sadly, more often than not with this generation, our youth are becoming actors in both camps, a growing reality that must prompt the CBC and others to deal with the front end (Black youths getting inappropriate sentences) as well as the back end (i.e., how to keep our youth from going down the wrong paths in the first place) before an epidemic within the community is captured in an epitaph of the community.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ordering A New World

When people talk about President Obama being the Anti-Christ, I usually don’t listen.

When people talk about Mr. Obama wanting to usher in a new world order, my ears may perk up a little.

When more talk of sweeping changes by the president is coming out of the worldly meetings going on in New York City and Pittsburgh this week, I’ll take a little more notice.

People are asking the question again: are we trying to do too much too fast?

Even as we don’t have people back to work yet?

The arguments for global warming/cooling can be made by folks from both sides of the equation. The issue of health care reform has been on the table for quite some time now. The developments of nuclear armament are cropping up again, particularly with Iran marching towards becoming a full-fledged member of the global nuclear community. There is a lot going on so, yes, there is a lot to address.

However, to fully go after all of these things in rapid-fire succession with the limited amount of money and resources that we have may be both noble and overextending.

We have been arguing about health care reform for quite a number of weeks. Now, at the United Nations and perhaps at the G-20 later this week, we will begin the discussion about global warming/cooling again.

Good things to talk about, but not the two priorities of the nation: defense of our sovereignty and fostering an economic environment for jobs.

The president must not allow himself and his administration to get distracted by the temptation to improve the esteem of the United States with other world leaders while ignoring what is most important to us as a nation. Sometimes, it is easier to please the peers around you than it is to serve the people that count on you. This must not be a trap that the president falls into as he addresses issues concerning Iran’s nuclear march, global warming/cooling and how its development may impact our national energy costs and local economies during tough times, and defense tragedies in light of new threats both internal and external.

Yes, it is important that the esteem of the nation improved around the world. However, it’s not as important as national defense and security as well as job creation. Because of that, the president cannot promise more to world leaders than he is obligated to the American people for.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Wrong Race

Today's musing comes from this week's VEO...

"Hello fellow Americans. I’m Lenny McAllister.

"Everyone seems to be talking about race - from the media and the blogosphere to former presidents. All these conversations about all these different American races – Black, White, Latino, Asian, biracial – have not had a healing effect in the post-racial times of the Obama Administration.

"Instead, it seems to have put us on that same never-ending treadmill of racial tension that we’ve travelled repeatedly throughout our nation’s history. Further, we stay running a rat race that keeps us fatigued and frustrated…

…as well as unfocused.

"There are 2 other races that we must reassess and re-engage if we are going to rebound our sense of patriotism and prosperity throughout the world.

"As we bicker about issues that some American generations see as irrelevant while others see as vital, we lose sight on the racing developments overseas that impact us a lot more – and can do so a lot faster – than issues that should have been resolved years ago.

"Word has come that Iran is closing in on its goal of being nuclear. With President Ahmadinejad coming to the United Nations on the 23rd, Iran’s continued march towards nuclear capabilities leads to an eventual showdown between a country that wants inclusion into the global nuclear community and nations that fear this development.

"While we debate the issue of race in America, Iran races to change the balance of nuclear power in the world – and they will do so, if we’re distracted.

"And as they race towards nuclear capabilities, the foes that attacked us on 9-11 are racing for new hideaways in Afghanistan and Pakistan. President Obama may wish to prioritize the war overseas once the health care debate is finalized, but the race to the hills, to the borders, and to the caves – never ends for our enemies. And as long as those races are underway, there is a race against the clock…to block any new plans to terrorize us as Americans.

"If the recent arrest of Mr. Zazi and others in Denver doesn’t focus us in on this, what will?

"Certainly, issues of race are important to discuss, but they will never be as important to our national sovereignty as a nuclear race or a military one. Without prioritizing those races, we may lose a lot more than just a national debate.

"And instead of talking about race and how it runs its course in our country, we may begin racing around…running for our lives."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Unity? Equality? Harmony? Not with the Fox News Freezeout

Before I continue on, I know that people are going to say that I don't like President Obama.

That I'm jealous or some sort of a hater. Better still, I'm going to be called a "sell-out" or some "paid Negro" by "The Man" to oppose the first Black president. It's been said before (even when I complimented Mr. Obama, both both and after he became president.) It will happen again.

With all that (falsehood) said and out of the way, I do have to say that the more I see from this president, the more I just don't know...and don't like.

A lot of people are saying the same about Obama's current media blitz. I don't mind the president being in the media so much. He knows that he is his strongest brand at this time, so if he must play that advantage, so be it. That doesn't bother me.

In fact, President Obama is doing a litany of public addresses and appearances, starting with the September 9th address of Congress that became known as the Joe Wilson Coming Out Party. Since then, the president has been front and center on the issues of race, wars, and health care proposals, including a line-up of Sunday morning show interviews that, literally, included a line-up of Sunday political show hosts waiting in turn for opportunities to ask the president the same list of questions.

And everyone acquiescenced - that is, everyone that was invited.

By leaving off the White House's pet peeve - Fox News - the president's camp again loses some credibility for the long haul whenever the issues of fairness and openness come up.

That does bother me, for every time we as a nation hear about how President Obama looks to bring people together despite delineations and barriers, many of us within the nation (particularly those prone to the aforementioned name-calling) overlook things such as the Fox News Freezeout.

Now, I know that Fox personalities such as Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity have been thorns in the side of the Obama Administration. Calls proclaiming the president as a racist not only seem foul and controversial at best, but also come across a little misguided considering the president's family lineage and deft serenade of the issue of race since his presidential candidacy pre-2009. To the everyday guy on the street, a combination of open tension and controversial statements from Network Fair and Balanced would be plenty enough to keep the Fox News folks at bay, even if that includes Chris Wallace, one of the few on the network that generally attempts to hide his conservative leanings.

Then again, Mr. Wallace did (on "The O'Reilly Factor") call the Obama Administration the biggest crybabies he's ever dealt with in politics. Again, with the common man, this would be plenty enough reason to stay away.

However, this is not a common man we're talking about, is it?

Not only are we talking about the President of the United States, but we are also talking about a man that campaigned on the message of unity, harmony, and open debate, even with people that openly disagree with him.

It was a message that he delivered on "Meet the Press", "Face the Nation", and "State of the Union" Sunday - even as he shut out Fox News.

And it's a message that started on September 9, a message that called for unity and bipartisianship, even as he drew the proverbial line in the sand as he slammed Republicans for "spreading misinformation" via their campaigns of opposing universal health care.

It makes Mr. Wallace's comment seem both off-the-cuff and, perhaps, riddled with a little bit of truth.

Moves such as the Fox News Freezeout show that this rhetoric of unity and openness from the president more often than not proves hollow when the rubber meets the road. It's hard to talk about unity and harmony when you are only willing to play with the kids that look like you on the playground. It's hard to talk about openness and equality in a respectful debate at this historic time when you don't engage some players in the game for ideological reasons - or even invite them onto the playing field at all.

If ever there was a time to confront the "lies and misinformation" from the conservatives, it was now - and it was to be done on Fox News, just as it was on the other networks. Sometimes, the best way to neutralize or defeat a perceived bully is to confront him on his own turf and on his terms. Fox News - with its pundits and its stories - is conservative home turf.

By continuing this on-going battle with Fox News, the White House lost any momentum in the argument that it sides with those pursuing fair, open, and direct debates on health care and others issues impacting America at this time. Further, by shutting out Fox News, the White House has placed the presidency on the same level as the conservative media, an unnecessary move that only plays into the perception of "Obama vs. Conservative America", particularly at a time when the president is losing moderate and independent support.

Not a good move.

The presidency and any part of the media can never be seen as peer authorities by the American people on any issue. After all, one is accountable to ratings and advertisers. The other is accountable to all citizens of the nation as well as to the nation's allies. The harm of personalities doubling as legislators does not compare to the harm when legislators attempt to be media rock stars. Once the perception is cemented that any faction of the media is strong enough to champion an "us vs. them" battle (even as an underdog) with Washington or, in particular, the White House, it becomes engaged in a fight that it can never win. The White House is in the business of government. The media is in the business of...well...media.

Perhaps that is why the White House avoided "Fox News Sunday", although I doubt that President Obama and his staff saw Fox News as a foe they were incapable of dealing with. Instead, it comes across as more of a punishment for bad behavior and intolerable positions.

Of course, by the end of this latest tour by the president, Fox News will let you know that only a socialist Big Brother such as the Obama Administration would shut out one network while inviting the rest - of course, in a conspiracy to control the media and keep everyday Americans away from the truth. I'm sure Rush will chime in to say that the "state-controlled media" was used once again by the Obama Chicago Machine - and that only a few, independent patriots (including himself and his buddies on Fox News) are free of the control to give you the truth.

Unfortunately, President Obama's Fox News Freezeout ruined a chance to address these allegations and bring us closer to unity and harmony as a nation as we continue to face such a difficult time. Instead, leaving Fox News out in the cold will only serve to stoke the fire of the conservative media.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Photo Phriday: Working Today...

This week's "Photo Phriday" may have actually come from Labor Day, but it is apparent that we all have a little work to get done if we're going to get America away from the in-fighting and tension and make on track to being a great nation.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

How Kanye West Helped George Bush's Legacy

Kanye West seemed like an American willing to take a stand against injustice when he spoke out against President Bush during Hurricane Katrina. Now after another public speaking snafu, it just seems like he merely spoke out of line - again.

When Kanye West "called out" President George W. Bush by saying that "...George Bush doesn't care about Black people..." after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he was regarded by many as a hero that was willing to break live broadcasting rules in order to make an important statement about the status of racial injustice in this country.

With each subsequent, unrehearsed verbal misstep by Mr. West afterwards, however, Kanye has entered the realm of negative credibility, one that diminishes any kudos he may have earned from others.

And it is sad, too.

Not that I believe Kanye West when he said that President Bush was being racist in not coming to the aid of New Orleans in a quicker fashion - I don't, but I know that we could be here all day talking about the protocol between local, state, and federal levels of government during an emergency of that magnitude, so I digress. I believe that at the same level that same level as I believe Van Jones and the conspiracy of our government allowing 9-11 to happen; (you see how much flak came from both sides on that "theory.") However, Kanye's proclamations on live television in 2005 made for interesting conversation about where we stood as a nation regarding race. That dialogue, in many ways, was not only constructive, but also gauged how we stood as a nation in accepting other racial realities in the 21st century.

Like having a Black president.

Now that Kanye has used his "ad lib manifesto" points up on music awards (now acting inappropriately again at ceremonies repeatedly, including his famous incident with Taylor Swift for which he had to call her personally to apologize only after being called out by Taylor Swift and others), his infamous 2005 opinion seems more like an immature rant from an emotional guy than it does an educated opinion from an outspoken community leader that analyzed the facts and spoke out for justice.

And, again, that is sad.

Not that I'm a fan of Taylor Swift. I didn't even know who she was until Monday morning. Nor was I a big supported of the 43rd president - me and the other 78% of Americans that watched him leave office in January with a 22% approval rating.

Now, perhaps Kanye didn't help the former president directly with his actions on Sunday night, but he surely didn't help the legacy of his (West's) comments from 2005. After repeated incidents of speaking out due to feeling "wronged" - a lot including being "wronged" by Whites in some capacity - some may say that West overreacts with covert charges of racism whenever things don't go his way. That behavior, the logic would go, is what prompted the outburst in 2005, not some actual racist and devious plot against the people of New Orleans. It proves a dark mark on the benefits of the 2005 conversation.

Racist motives are theories that we saw promoted at times with President Bush in power. It's something we are certainly seeing with President Obama in the White House.

And although racism is certainly something that we have seen in America during both presidents' administrations, it is something that we need to see to being careful about throwing out there moving forward.

Not every criticism or wrongdoing is based on race. Not every slight is because we're Black. The race card - because of its explosiveness and its viscosity - has to be held back from being approached at all costs, even by us.

Lest we come across like the guy that spoke up too much too often and discredit ourselves completely in the process.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Really? Why Must Every Criticism of President Obama Be Racist?

Now, don't get me wrong. Before anyone starts to say that racism is not a factor in today's America, I want to preface this by saying that it's pretty clear that we don't live in a post-racial America. We still have a lot of problems with racism. We still have a lot of mistrust coming from all sides of the racial spectrum. A glimpse at the recent St. Louis school bus "brawl" (seen here at http://videos.stltoday.com/p/video?id=6172583 ) shows that some of the viciousness from today's racial problems can come from different sides.

And don't get me wrong. There was a segment of Americans that lost their minds for a second when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in November 2008. I remember the death threats. I remember the graffiti and some of the comments.

But let's be real, people. It's 2009.

Not 1959. Not 1929.

And not every criticism of the 44th president is based on race.

The more it seems to be said - that race is not as much of a factor in America - the more we hear that it is when it comes to President Obama.

Now, we hear it from former President Jimmy Carter, someone who, by the way, Obama's spending and snafus are often compared to by conservatives that experienced both administrations.

I can't get over the fact that someone as worldly as Carter would go on national television to address this Wilson situation (as well as the ongoing Tea Party phenomenon) as a racial knee-jerk reaction to the nation's first Black president. If the United States was such a cauldron of overt racism, how did President Obama win the presidency in the first place? Applying race to every aspect of criticism is getting not only old, but toxic in a nation that doesn't need many other factors to contribute to the heightened level of anxiety throughout the country.

A former president should know that. A former president should act very responsibly. A former president from a southern state should know exactly what happens when the brew of race, economic hardship, joblessness, anxiety about the future, and rapid change come together.

Yet, Mr. Carter added his two cents to a situation that needed to be defused, not ignited. On national television no less. Why?

Adding to a debate by suggesting that criticism of the president - a far-left leaning president that is growing more unpopular (from a policy point of view) as his administration continues forward - is primarily fueled by race only plays to the lowest points of ourselves and discredits the hard work of civil rights leaders from years gone past. The very efforts that allow for President Obama to be the first Black president must also be the very essence of why he can be criticized for his positions, his actions, his affiliations and selections, and his directives for the nation. The door that Obama walked through to gain the opportunity to become president did not close once he walked through. It has been and will be propped open for the rounds of criticism and debate that comes with the Office of the Presidency.

The continued race card being brought up regarding President Obama not only cheapens any true issues of racism that he has faced (and will face), but also numbs the nation to the calls of racism when it actually does occur, such as continue incidents of "driving while Black" or imbalanced funding of public schools' revenue between schools within the same system. It diminishes the sacrifices made by others (of all races) for racial equality in America. It takes proud history and personal growth and makes it cliche.

Having seating Congressmen making this argument also makes a tough situation - one where many people are trying to navigate through debates and disapproval without being wrongly defamed by the dreaded "r" word - worse. To hear Congressman "Hank" Johnson speak that folks will soon be "...(wearing) white hoods and white sheets and riding through the countryside..." not only smacks of overreaching dramatization (do we really think that several generation of leaders and citizens post-Civil Rights movement would tolerate open terrorism by the KKK?), but seems to reflect a desire to reflect the worst of our history and attempt to paste it to these tough times today.

It's ironic. When Democrats (including key Black Democrats) wanted Secretaries of State Powell and Rice to "fail" under the Bush Administration (i.e., not deliver the goals set forth by the Bush Administration in the best interests of the American people), it was not out of racism and not wanting to see the first two Black secretaries of state to success. Of course, it was out of principle against the Bush foreign policy.

No offense, Colin and Condi.

Now, the rules of racial engagement have swung so suddenly and dramatically for the Democrats' third president since 1977, moving to a point where the horrific imagery of the Ku Klux Klan has been thrust into the national spotlight by a US Congressman.

And why?

Is it because a very popular personal figure has become a very polarizing president? Is it because a personal project of many Democrats (i.e., universal health care run by the government) keeps hitting roadblocks every time the political climate seems right in Washington? Is it because approval ratings for this president and his supermajority in Washington keep slipping? Is it because, at this rate, voters may vote Democrats out of office in 2010, perhaps for the same reasons why Republicans were voted out of office in 2006?

Or is it because pulling the race string makes the American puppet jump in reaction, perhaps in an attempt to yank the American people back in line "behind" the president and his proposals?

It's sad that President Carter felt the need to come out and offer his two-cents on this. One thing that people cannot say about President Bush is that he has been sticking his nose into these affairs, ones that have remained heated through the Obama term to date. Introducing race into this equation as an ex-president only brings a dangerous fuel into the fire, particularly as we look to our country's history with racial tensions.

As an elder statesman (and a rarity over the past 40 years...a one-term president), Carter had an obligation to speak with restraint, regardless of how others (including Joe Wilson) act in kind. As a nation, we have a duty to trust the best within us - including and especially in regards to race - even when we act otherwise. Without some common trust, we can only expect a shared failure to meet our challenges with any measurable and sustainable success.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lenny McAllister's Weekly VEO from Fox Charlotte

The Ruler of Obama

No, it's not "Obama the Ruler."

And it's not "Obama is the Rule."

And not "The Rule of Obama."

Not in New York yesterday.

It was "The Ruler of Obama" that was out on display. Mainly, it was the ruler that the president kept smacking across the knuckles of those bad schoolboys on Wall Street, demanding that they keep the American people in mind as they recover from last year's economic crisis.

Fat chance.

And that's why hard-core conservatives (but certainly not all conservatives) were skeptical about the government's (Bush's as well as Obama's) intervention into the federal system with tax dollars.

Businesses look for capital wherever they can get it. They do not care about where they get it. They primarily serve the whims of their shareholders, not the American people. Subsequently, once they were going to get back on their feet, they were going to serve the whims of their shareholders, not the patriotic feelings flowing through their veins.

If there was any in the first place.

It's the same as when the crisis first hit. The funding provided to banks was supposed to freeze up the frozen lines of credit that small businesses were facing, forcing many of them to go out of business and spike the unemployment rate. Problem was, the banks were more concerned about their own interests - as businesses are in a free market economy, as we were reminded after the Merrill Lynch purchase and other take-overs by institutions, even as they continued to cut jobs.

Unless if the government was able to force every move of the banks upon receiving the money - that is, nationalizing the banks - there will be no way to force what President Obama talked about in New York: making the financial institutions in question "give back" to the American people that bailed them out with tax dollars.

Sadly, what we are learning is that when the government gets involved in such a large way, it's either a large step towards socialism or a gift to big corporations with little in place to hold them ethically accountable.

President Obama's ruler slapping the hands of Wall Street proves that, despite the reports that the recession seems to be over, the real recession (felt by the American people, not just American business investors) is ongoing. There is a clear divide that exists amongst us between Wall Street and Main Street, one that was repeatedly pinned to the Republicans during the 2008 campaign as a divide of their doing. However, with the supermajority in Washington for almost a year now (yes, it's been that long - it's already the middle of September), we have yet to see the spirit of cooperation emanating throughout the financial system despite its lifeline from the American people.

The president and others may hand-wring to try and "persuade" the corporations to "do the right thing", but maybe the Tea Party goers had it right: these steps towards socialism to aid "banks too important to fail" only allows for a failure to the American people and perhaps the American Way of Life by measuring its merits by the fruits of their actions, regardless of the rhetoric from the president.

Mad Dog Democrats

Most of us have heard the expressions used to describe Democrats:

Blue Dog Democrats.

Yellow Dog Democrats.

Well, if the axiom ever needed a better time to fit the Party of Jackson (Andrew, not Jesse, although both are true), it would be the dog expression. If ever there was a need for a party to get some restraint and focus, it would be them right now.

It looks like these Blue Dogs and Yellow Dogs need to be put on a leash if they're ever going to get out of their own way as a supermajority. Every time they get a clear advantage, there is a clear overreach from their camp following.

By pushing for a resolution to admonish Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) for a mistake that he has already apologized for is a bad, bad move. Not only does it give the nation yet another opportunity to focus on the partisanship of the health care debate and not the solutions needed to address the issue, but it also provides the Republicans an opportunity to show the divide and failure to lead coming from the Democratic Party.

In essence, the Democrats already have their congressional poster boy from the town hall rallies. Let me shine without doing much yet. The clip speaks volumes from their perspective. Their commentary to it cheapens its effectiveness.

Further, making a military veteran and current congressman apologize two and three times for this flaw is dangerous as it gives Wilson more opportunities to solidify his point. Just as his opponent has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars since Wednesday, Wilson has been able to match or better his Democratic foe in fundraising since his national anonymity washed away. He became a rallying point at the Tea Party on September 12th. His face is now all over Facebook and other social networking sites in a sign of support.

And you want to stick a microphone in his face and make him "apologize" - again?

Bad move. All that could happen is that the congressman, with press near the equivilent to a presidential speech, will not only briefly say that his action was inappropriate at the time, but he will take the next 5-10 minutes to explain why the Democrats' plans for health care are so off base. He would probably take a moment or two to explain how the Democrats are refusing to take Republican ideas into consideration (although the president seemed to be coming around starting Wednesday.) He will hammer home the Democratic threat of Reconciliation to push through their version of a bill; (something like the equivilent of using a "ghost man on second and third base" from back in the days of grade school kick ball games in order to skirt the rules to get the votes.) And he will talk about how all of the spending from Washington hasn't brought back jobs or turned around "Main Street", even as "Wall Street" seems to be recovering. He'll end the speech with,

"...and now the President and the Democrats want to spend yet another $900 billion??? Not on my watch. I may have been wrong to call President Obama a liar, but I know that you're all lying to yourselves if you think that the American people want to keep spending trillions of dollars at this historically dangerous rate!"

And the issue will not be about disrespecting the Office of the Presidency. It will not be about calling President Obama a liar. It will be about Joe Wilson taking a stand.

And the dog days of the Summer of 2009 for the Democrats repeating itself on Capitol Hill.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11 2001

On this Photo Phriday...
What else needs to be said?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Spontaneity: A South Carolina State of Mind

Perhaps I need to be careful...

I love the people of South Carolina. I'll have a chance to talk to the folks down in Columbia on the airwaves on Friday (the anniversary of 9-11.) Yet, I have to ask.

What the heck is going on in South Carolina? Have the politicians lost their sense of political bearings?

First, we hear about a spontaneous governor, taking his achy-breaky heart down to the land of forbidden loves (at least for him.) That situation - supposedly a "personal matter" - still tears apart the Republican Party in the Carolinas, particularly as more than 60 Republicans from the Palmetto State are asking for Governor Sanford's resignation...again.

Now, we get Congressman Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina, making a picture-made moment for the Democrats as they attempt to craft Republican opposition to the universal health care directive as mean-spirited, angry, and misguided.

Now, people will take the line that Wilson's blurt was a prime example of the venom and racism directed at this president. After all, Wilson is from the state of South Carolina and we know that everyone from the South is racist, right?

If anyone goes with that angle, they are not only going off on a tangent, but they are going off of a cliff as they miss the point.

Wilson and Sanford are high profile Republicans from a solid red state - South Carolina. To have these two in lights for all of the wrong reasons only allows for the Left to continue to do the exact thing that has plagued the GOP for years now. With their actions, they give the Democrats the paint brush to draft the image and perception of the Republican Party as a party of fact-bending hypocrites (see Sanford during the Clinton affair in the 90s), apathetic policymakers (again, see Sanford, this time with the stimulus funds as South Carolinians suffered earlier in the year), disrespectful malcontents in the worse of scenarios (see last night and Congressman Wilson.)

It's almost as if they - on behalf of Republicans - are trying to throw the game here, even as Democrats can't get out of their own way.

Even with the best-speaking politicians, being spontaneous often leads to being apologetic later on; (even President Obama comes to mind with this "guns and religion" comment last year, along with other speaking snafus.) If the GOP is going to rally past this South Carolina stumbling blocks and the president's brilliant-sounding speech (that, to date, has shifted some polls), it must continue to stick to plans and hope that rogue politicians supporting USC would remain removed from the media's cameras or microphones...

...especially if they are willing to prove the wrong perceptions or points to the American people.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The High Wire Act on Health Care

If there ever was a time for Barack Obama to display his ability to bring people together as a pragmatic president, it is now, starting tonight with his address to Congress and the nation.

If the last 43 presidential administrations are any indication of what may come about at the health care address by President Obama on Capitol Hill on Wednesday night, it looks as if another American tradition will be upheld by another American president.

The president's campaign promises and the president's administrative priorities might not always match up as advertised.

President Obama will be walking a fine high wire act on the issue of health care starting this week. In order to bring about some needed change in the health care realm without further alienating both conservatives that have opposed him since the election as well as voters that backed him last November, the president will have to consider compromising key aspects of his initial push, including the public option.

Will that mean that an opportunity to improve the health care system will be lost? No, but it does mean that his compromise, coupled with the Van Jones dismissal and other perception-based losses incurred by the president recently, shows that the president - someone that looked rather invincible in the public's eye for a good while now - has certainly come back down to earth. Failures with the stimulus package, "Cash for Clunkers", and the health care town halls (to convince America that this is a good plan) have ratcheted the president's approval ratings and confidence from the American people down a significant notch.

While that might seem like a bad thing for the Obama Administration at this time, it may not be a bad thing for the Obama Legacy.

The losses on these recent fronts for President Obama may provide the primer for the discipline that he'll need to enact policies that will create the change and support that is required - both to lead this nation back to a state of unity but also to move it forward in a state of true American progress.

Candidates are usually idealistic; leaders must be both visionary and realistic. During the campaign, many stated that President Obama showed the potential to be the latter. His contemporaries within the Democratic Party have failed to show the potential to do the same. With the president's continued willingness to "drive the agenda bus" so far throughout this administration, one has to wonder whether this misstep constitutes the lack of experience Obama's detractors mentioned throughout 2008 or, perhaps, it is a glaring realization that this president is more idealistic than realistic - a fatal flaw for a leader that faces a country that is losing jobs, heads a nation drowning in debt, and doesn't have the political capital he had to throw around as he did earlier this year.

The president talked to school children about discipline, focus, and poise earlier this week. It is a difficult balancing act to perform, he said, but one that should and must be done by our youth without excuses. Now, the same must be said for his performance before Congress and the nation Wednesday evening, for as is the case with America's school children, our future is hanging in the balance - along with part of Obama's Legacy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Death of CL2009?

It seems that the mainstream media is starting to look at the validity of CL2009 (Czar List 2009) all over again, now the the Van Jones controversy has ended in Mr. Jones' resignation.

Amazing how those pesky Tea Party goers and their merry band of supporters can create so much trouble talking about the constitutionality of the latest directives in Washington.

The Jones resignation has to mean more than just the removal of a man from CL2009 that expressed the thought that the federal government was behind the deaths of September 11. This must be a movement to revisit the question of whether CL2009 should be removed in its entirety.

Now, I'm not saying that the president should not be able to pick and choose who he would like to work with within his administration. After all, he did win the election. However, CL2009 has become more like a federal mandate or law passed without the consent of the people (through their elected officials in Washington) than it has a collection of teammates willing to assist a sitting president. And that is the concern that many Americans have with CL2009 - as well as the reason why it has to come down in its current form and be rebuilt under the constructs of how we do things civically in the USA.

Uncovering some of the more radical positions and statements that Mr. Jones has placed on record (unwillingly or otherwise) must lead to the continued focus of other radical positions that CL2009'ers hold (compulsory abortions? involuntary sterilization? look it up) to uncover whether we should allow CL2009's existence another minute.

The American people have a right and a responsibility to hold accountable those elected officials and presidential appointees for behavior that impacts the direction of the country. Even if Americans are not living up to that responsibility as much as they should (although they are doing so more now than they have in recent times), they must never have that right taken away from them by their president through some form of de facto shift from how we conduct government in the USA. It is the republican form of government - not a democracy nor a czardom, for certain - that allows the United States to be the bastion of freedom, hope, and transparency for the world. It is time to reflect that proud example once again, and barriers to reflecting that - those such as CL2009 - must be both re-examined and, eventually, removed.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Is "Van Jones" a Victory for the Right?

It was pretty interesting how the Van Jones resignation came out to the media around midnight or so Saturday evening. It was timed in such a way that it would be easy for someone to miss.

Of course, that would be someone that was not a documented insomniac.

I was not very surprised about the news, although I don't quite know how much of a success his removal from CL2009 (that would be "Czar List 2009") qualifies as a victory for conservatives.

Granted, there was the removal of this man from the Obama Administration. And yes, it has been shown that Jones has some incendiary viewpoints that were caught on record that made his presence on CL2009 very difficult for the president.

However, what have conservatives gained? After all, this isn't like a Supreme Court nomination process where we may get a chance to replace a left-leaning liberal with a solid conservative...or even a moderate conservative. Is the job of "green jobs czar" going to be eliminated completely at this point? No. Nor will CL2009 in any entirity, at least at this point.

If the right believes that they have a shot to get rid of the inappropriate influence and power of CL2009, it must place a focus on the issues at hand and wait for the facts to fall in the favor of the right's positions. For example, the issues with Van Jones had the appearance of the typical "attack Obama at all costs" tone to it....until the facts starting falling into place and Jones' own words came to light.

And that is the key - win with facts, not rhetoric. Republican rhetoric is not getting its just due in the media eye right now, and until that reality shifts, Republicans and conservatives must stick to the facts.

The Van Jones removal is not the victory that conservatives may think it is, but it proves a point.It serves as a blueprint for a strategy that must be played out by Republicans with the purest focus on the Americana that they state that they are seeking. Just as the rest of the country is finding out with many of the president's decisions, the facts are not adding up as his plans (or those of the Reid/Pelosi gang on Capitol Hill.) Villification of the opposition is not necessary when just a simple refresher on common math will do. Let facts speak for themselves, for the recreation of the American "Red Scare" doesn't have the effectiveness conservatives think it does.

The very conservativism that Republicans promote must be applied to the debates on liberal candidates, appointees, and ideas that crop up in the media and the legislative bodies we are dealing with today. If the allegations are true, no need of adding any more to the argument than need be without running the risk of coming off as racists or separatists.

To properly critique (and possibly get rid of) CL2009, conservatives must continue to focus their efforts on facts that are significant while presenting the information in ways that are relatable. After doing that, just sit back and let the facts speak for themselves. Allow America to see that we're still center-right while we still are. America doesn't need to be convinced that communism doesn't belong in America. Reminding them of this as conservatives only ripples the waters. Letting the facts speak allows the reflection to shine in conservative still waters.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Photo Phriday: Catching a Weekly Glimpse in Pictures

Happy Friday, everyone!

What is "Photo Phriday"? It is our Friday visual showing another picture of the news around us. It includes the aspects of our world that is "seen but not seen" - that is, we know it's there but we aren't quite realizing its potential, power, or significance...until now.

This week's "Photo Phriday" is a link to a presentation I gave at Innovation Generation a few months ago, talking about the impact of technology on the political process. Let's face it, folks, it helped elect a president, create a tea party movement, and keep the electorate more engaged in the process that it has been in a long time.

It also serves as my daily musing for the day. You can check out the presentation (made in Washington, DC before several leading young technology professionals and elected leaders throughout the country) at the URL:


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Watering Down the Obama Brand

It's pretty amazing that so many conservatives are upset about the latest round of "Obaminmedia" coming up this week.

What's "Obamainmedia"? It's not the media's love affair with President Obama. It's the effort of putting the Obama Brand (i.e., the President, his past momentum from the election, etc.) out there on center stage whenever the polls indicate a lag or at times when other national Democrats are not pulling the weight a supermajority in Washington should.

Look at the issue with the students hearing the president speak on September 8th. Think about this presidential address of the joint session of Congress coming up next week.

Many conservatives are upset. They have some legitimate reasons, but I don't want to focus on that. Why do that when plenty others will do the same.

The focus is this.

The magic is fading away. The Obama brand name no longer carries the same weight that it did just a short year ago.

Like sands through the hour glass during Cinderella's magical night with the prince at the ball, President Obama's continued foray into the media in efforts to convince the American people of his plans for the nation occur periodically, with each instance finding him with a lower approval rating than the last. It is becoming his ball of political yarn each time he has to go out and stump for a directive he supports in Washington.

Granted, some of this has to do with the natural process of politics. People are more optimistic at the beginning of a historical presidential term than they would be, say, during the Dog Days of Summer. At the same time, these dog days have brought about none of the history-making impact to improve American quality of life for the better, even as we have seen historical growth and spending from Washington.

People ask as though the charm of the Obama Brand has the same potency that it had this time last year. It clearly does not. And it's not because conservatives are out there, trying to stop everything he does just because he's the first Black president of the United States.

It has everything to do with an unemployment rate that was supposed to stop at 8% but not is over 9.3% - and we're happy when it comes down .1%.

It has everything to do with a market recovery that hasn't shown enough signs of job recovery in tow to make consumers and employers more comfortable with the direction of the country.

It has everything to do with the president's DFQ: Dichotomy Frequency Quotient.

Examples of this inlcude:

  • The president goes in front of the NAACP to talk about personal accountability and education, but cuts funding to future (poor and disadvantaged) Black students in the DC Voucher program as well as to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

  • He campaigns on a platform of efficiency and openness, only to find his stimulus and omnibus bills riddled with pork and waste while his "open" White House attracted critics earlier this year for its increased guardedness.

  • He clamoured over the financial crunch Americans were feeling on Wall Street yet he sent money overseas for abortion services at a time when America was in financial crisis.

  • He calls for bipartisanship but his political allies are looking into technical methods to skirt the rules in Congress, hoping that reconciliation may be a means to push through their health care agenda, even in the midst of protests and dropping approval ratings - and voters' confidence in his administration.

That pretty much has nothing to do with him being African-American. It does have a lot to do with moves that have eroded his credibility with the American people, polarized the nation, and tainted the number one thing he had going for him:

His image (and message) of hope and change for the better.

With that in mind, what is the negative impact of having an increasingly-beleaguered president - a historic figure, nonetheless, just due to being president - address schoolchildren? As long as these children have parents at home to talk to them about the address on the 8th - and these children can't go out and vote in November 2009 or even in 2010, for that matter- why not let them hear from their president? American children need to learn how to have pride in America once again, and they can get that from having respect for the presidency by viewing Obama's speech on the 8th, even if their parents give their kids the hands-on guidance of the political (and often very adult) issues aside from a one-time speech given to children in schools.

(After all, if a person in a television is the primary influence over children's lives, we'll have plenty of problems with the youth of America, including teenage pregnancy, violence, school drop-outs, and substance abuse...oops...)

Same is true with this address to Congress next week? Will the silvery words from a media-savvy president lagging in the polls (now under 50%) help the poor congressmen and congresswomen that have to face their angry constituents in the near future once again, this time as "humble civil servants" trying to earn votes for their upcoming elections? If the town hall meetings, the Tea Party Express, and the recent polls are any indication, the answer is a clear, resounding no.

The beauty of the American system is that the people and their politicians are capable of speaking clearly without reprisal in order to voice their concerns, demands, desires, and initiatives. Approval numbers for the president amongst the elderly, the young, independents, and even African-Americans are going down. For the Obama Brand - one that caught fire throughout the nation just a short time ago - the more we see and hear the president speak from the left as the leader of the Washington supermajority, the more water gets poured on this blazing brand as his contemporaries and he rain on their own parade.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Iranian Breadcrumbs and Vice Presidential Clues

I know that the biggest item on the domestic agenda is our health care system. How we oversee the accessibility of quality health care has an obvious impact on the way we conduct our lives as Americans. It affects how we work, how we live, and what we can do to contribute to making the United States a better home for us all.

Government should be involved with providing better avenues for better health care, even if that means not running the health care system itself.

No, I don't agree with moving to an expansive universal health care system. And why is that?

It's because the federal government has a more important job, one that is clearly spelled out for us in the Constitution, unlike the vagueness of role it holds within the health care debate.

That job? Protecting America's sovereignty against foreign threats.

Is anyone paying attention to Iran?

The latest news from the Middle East stating that Iran has an "updated nuclear package" makes the presence of former Vice President Dick Cheney in the Sunday news more relevant that it may seem.

While many Americans may feel that Cheney's presence in the news cycles is nothing more than either a ploy to protect the Bush/Cheney historical legacy or a move to prod the Obama Administration while it's down, we should look at Cheney's continued arguments considering foreign affairs. Regardless of the arguments about EITs (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques) or federal spending (both conversations for another day), this is clear: the United States is facing a threat overseas that the nation - especially leadership in Washington, particularly the White House - must focus on moreso than universal health care.

With other world leaders taking sides on the results of the Iranian presidential election a few months ago (as countries such as Russia and China quickly "approving" of the Ahmadinejad victory while nations such as France expressed doubts about the validity of the results), Iran's determined march towards inclusion into the nuclear community is an item that must never lose focus.

America's prioritized attention towards foreign affairs not only follows the protocol of the Constitution, but it follows a logical argument as well. Without standing up for the freedom from fear that allies such as Israel are cannot enjoy due to the Iranian nuclear threat, our freedom as a powerful and safe nation risks compromise. As we continue to face a money crunch, a changing world landscape, and a shift from political apathy since the election of President Obama, we must focus on what's truly important - and what's truly the role of the American government.

Even to supporters of the president's domestic plan, universal health care doesn't hold its same allure without having American freedoms and security from attack as part of the package.

The former VP is dead-on. If leadership in Washington is spend more money on anything, it must look to stabilize situations in the Middle East, including the current wars we are engaged in as well as the nuclear threat from an unstable opponent. Iran keeps showing us clues that they are serious about changing the paradigm we live in globally. Cheney keeps bringing these items up to our attention. Despite our desires for domestic changes (of which many are needed) and some folks dislike of the former vice president (of which there are many), we need to piece together the signs out there and follow the breadcrumbs before they lead us to a foreign affairs reality that we may not like.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A New Beginning...

Hey friends -

Thanks for visiting my new blog.

I know that many of you may be used to seeing my thoughts expressed in different venues, including traditional media (CNN, Newsweek, Fox Charlotte, WVON-AM) as well as new media (satellite radio, CNN.com, http://www.youtube.com/.) For those of you that have been supporting me through those experiences, I want to take a moment and say thank you for your support. I really do appreciate it. As you know, being a trailblazer can be tough work from time to time, but we also know that together, taking a new path that embraces the best in us is always the highest path to take.

For those of you that are reading as new visitors and supporters - thank you for coming to my site. This site is an off-shoot of my biographical site, http://www.lennymcallister.com/.

The purpose of this site is to give you a daily view of my thoughts as the continued political development of the nation and the world play out before us.

Those that know me know that I am unabashed in my beliefs as a P.Y.C. - Proud Young Conservative. You can see it in my book, "Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative)." You can hear it in my appearances and public speeches. You can feel it in my personal dialogue. However, people that know me (and will get to know me through this blog) also know that I am fair. I am tenacious in my beliefs without being vicious in my pursuits of them. There is a way for a proud young conservative to provide a voice of leadership in these times. What I aim to do with this new blog site is to reflect that reality with my words and actions.

I invite debate. I invite conversation. I invite varying viewpoints on particular issues. We can examine the issues from different views - both traditional and avant garde, conservative and liberal - without losing our Americanism.

I am confident that a focus on the best of America can bring about the best in America - a blend of American historical victories, moxie, values, experiences, "lessons learned", and pride. Further, I believe that we are capable of doing this as classy leaders, not stone-throwing politicos. The lines within a balanced America are pliant to allow freedom of speech without wrecking the Constitution, God's inalienable rights bestowed upon us, and our American Way of Life.

That doesn't mean that I won't be critical, but it does mean that I will be cognizant of classiness and conscientious of the highest goals for all as I do so.

I hope that you will join me for this next journey into American politics - and our foothold in our nation's business. I hope that you will pick up a copy of my "Diary" (now available online on http://www.amazon.com/ and at www.tinyurl.com/lennysdiary.) And I hope that I can count on your support as I continue to work to make our nation better and stronger - from our urban citizens to our business leaders and civic servants.

Thanks for your time. Talk to you again soon.

TCNGB (Take Care N God Bless)