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 (" the right 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.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Exhibit D(isillusionment and Discovery)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It hardly seems a week since hearing about these radical Black conservatives on "Glenn Beck" on Fox News, yet we continue to see evidence that only is there a pocket of African-Americans that did not support Obama's rise to the presidency in 2008, but there is a growing number of African-Americans - and others previous supporters - that are going weary today due to President Obama's failure to produce promised results.

Exhibit D as to why I can support Mr. Obama respectfully as the President of the United States yet I cannot get behind his philosophies, his politics, and his directives for this country.

And, sadly for a growing number of his supporters, they are feeling a bit of what I have been exhibiting for a while in regards to this president.


Perhaps they are starting to discover what many others in America felt back in November 2008: the poise is impressive, but the policies are misguided for a nation at a time of great need.

On Tuesday, organizations such as the NAACP, the AFL-CIO, and the National Council of La Raza - three organizations that lined up behind President Obama if there were every any that did in 2008 - came out to criticize the White House this past Tuesday for its failure to stimulate job growth with its nearly $800 billion bailout package earlier this year, even as Wall Street has recovered during this period of growing unemployment. Cautious to agitate the administration, groups such as the NAACP stated that they merely want to prod the president in a direction he already seems willing to move in.

However, according to much of America - and now supporters such as these three organizations - a direction not pursued enough despite the record level of spending coming from the supermajority in Washington led by the first Black president.

What is striking to me in view of the "Time to Be Heard" show last Friday is this: the issue of race is always a talking point whenever criticism of Black Republicans and conservatives such as Colin Powell, Thomas Sowell, and Condi Rice are mentioned, yet race must be avoided whenever criticism of President Obama is noted. Regardless of the egg-shell walk that America is prompted to take on while engaging this president, the results are becoming clearer each day: the level of spending coming from Washington without the campaigned-upon results are making even the strongest of supporters walk away from the president's corner - albeit slowly - as the economic snowball of unemployment and shrinking prosperity for everyday Americans builds.

The inspiration that President Obama embodied as a candidate in 2008 has clearly become disillusionment in 2009 as more minorities, young voters, and crossover voters stoke their disappointment and disapproval of the bailout scenarios of 2009, particularly as they have seen their jobs continue to disappear. The pride of Black America oversaw the exodus of jobs from Black America as he jammed through a historic spending bill with the use of the electoral supermajority on Capitol Hill. The numbers of unemployed Americans - particularly those represented by the NAACP, AFL-CIO, and La Raza - months after the stimulus was passed is frightening. For example, South Carolina - a state that played a key role in Obama's primary victory over now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - has a Black unemployment over 20%. Michigan - a state that handled over 17 votes on Obama's march to 270 in November 2008 - has a Black unemployment rate of nearly 25%. Those that wore the Obama paraphernalia in November 2008 are now wearing those shirts and hats in extended unemployment lines despite the record level of voter turnout, campaign spending, and government spending stimulated by Mr. Obama.

Slowly, they are discovering that the "we" in "Change We Can Believe In" did not include as many of the underclass and working class of America as we thought just a short time ago.

These folks - the under-appreciated "we" - do not need the doled-out figures of jobs that are "saved" in the president's stimulus package, particularly as we discover that many of those numbers listed by the White House are invalid. These folks - as well as many others Americans - need to see directives that will create and sustain full-time employment opportunities for the nation to enjoy. That is how America will bounce back, not with a round of rhetoric, a pound of television persona, and a ton of government spending.

As some of the president's staunchest non-political allies start to increase pressure on the White House, the rest of America must take notice and push their governments away from this current legislative path, lest we seek to embrace another exhibit in the "why can't you support the president's policies?"

Exhibit EED: Enduring Economic Downturn

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Exhibit C(riminal Courts)?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I know that there is a thirst for revenge in the streets of New York City after 9/11. The temptation is there for each New Yorker to personally address the men responsible for the most horrific act of terrorism ever seen on American soil. Yet, even with this sting of extremist-led terrorism still painfully apparent (including after the recent tragedy at Ft. Hood in Texas), it is clear that the planning and execution of the events of that sorrow-filled day in 2001 was not a random domestic act but was, instead, a carefully-plotted attack on the United States of America with the clear intent to wreak havoc on the American way of life.

So, to place the march to justice for the plotters of 9/11 - including mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - in the hands of the criminal courts of New York City despite the clear war-like intentions of the conspirators is a move that follows a dangerous trend of ignoring the global vibes around us by the Obama Administration.

In the global community, President Obama attempts to bring a level of connectivity with the rest of our allies and global neighbors through good will gestures and the like. I know the expression, "...when in Rome, do as the Romans do...", and this seems to apply to Mr. Obama's stance on many things. However, in the case of these terrorists and the New York courts, another statement seems to more aptly apply to President Obama and Attorney General Holder:

Gentlemen, when at war, do as warriors do.

And yes, it has been pretty clear through the evidence and unfolding of the last 8 years that we are at war with an enemy that has continued to plot terroristic acts on American soil. As a result, we are engaged in a 2-country war effort that is designed to keep the battles on foreign soil away from the American homeland. Yet, in regards to our march to justice, we choose a legalistic approach that is akin to dealing with 21st century mobsters.

With this same logic in place, the Nuremberg Trials for Nazi leadership would have been seen as a political overreach. After all, Jeffery Dahmer mutilated and horrifically killed many, albeit on a smaller scale that that of the Nazis. Why not just present the leaders of Nazi Germany for a jury of their peers?

Exactly - because the Nazi plotted and led a war effort that killed innocents, just as the conspirators of September 11 had done. Anything other than a war tribune minimizes the war actions against the innocents that lost their lives.

In a round of minimalism and disrespect of those that paid the ultimate price, the Obama Administration is missing the mark in so many ways by sending this matter to our criminal court system. In addition to providing valuable legal avenues to non-citizens and enemies of the state in their attempts to beat the charges, it also affords our combatants access to the information granted to all criminals facing murder changes - namely, lists of information, witnesses, and techniques used to assemble the evidence against them in the trial process. This occurrence is bad move that plays out like a bad movie, one destined to have a worse sequel.

Remember World Trade Center 1.0?

The Clinton Administration, reeling after the attempted tumbling of the World Trade Center in February 1993 by Ramzi Yousef and others, brought the terrorists behind this action to justice. Yousef today sits in a maximum security prison in the continental United States despite his pride in committing this heinous act and in being "...a terrorist, and...proud of it as long as it is against the US government..." (Does this sound familiar, Obamicans?) Despite clearly spelling out his intent in striking against America (his letter noted reasoning behind the bombing as "...(declaring) our responsibility for the response to the American political, economical, and military support of Israel..."), Yousef basically received the same treatment a gang banger might should he had taken the lives of 6 innocents that cold February day.

Sadly, WTC 1.0, with its labeling as a criminal matter and subsequent treatment by the Clinton Administration, served as a teaching mechanism that bore its hideous head as WTC 2.0 on September 11, 2001.

Yet, we seem to be willing to take that same chance again for the sake of global political correctness and our failure to learn from our painful past. It looks as though President Obama, Attorney General Holder, and the rest are willing to follow the footsteps of the Clinton Adminstration and hope that they don't step into a bigger mess of war and terrorism than we are already in.

Of course, this overlooks the mess of confusion that it creates, even as it did during WTC 1.0 process that led to WTC 2.0.

This is not doing what warriors do, Mr. President and Mr. Attorney General. Taking this case through the criminal courts weakens our morale to address the evils facing us on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. It diminishes our position on worldwide extremism against us and our allies. It challenges the notion that this is a cause against the American way of life overall and instead views it through the prism of domestic acts, not international directives.

If the Obama Administration is willing to expose pertinent details to our enemies as we engage them in the march of justice, how can we expect to win a war against an enemy that has no borders, lands, or reliable demographics or characteristics? If the Obama Administration is willing to treat the most detestable war act on American soil in our history as a criminal act that can be handled outside of a military hearing, how can we fully expect the nation to be united in a war effort that we must win in order to save future American lives? If the Obama Administration is willing to risk failure in the march to justice for these terrorists on the same American legal system that has allowed multiple murders to walk free (OJ?), that has forced repeated men to serve decades in prison on crimes they did not commit (until DNA evidence years later), and that has a knack for ignoring facts for technicalities, how can the nation have confidence that those plotting murder and mayhem against the citizens of the United States will fear any true retribution should their deeds be found out by an Obama-led country?

The march to justice in New York will highlight just how dastardly these men of terror were in their schemes to murder innocent victims in 2001, but the decision by the Obama Administration to allow our terroristic enemies to take the easier path to justice has a tinge to it that seems more criminally faulty in nature.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Exhibit (un)B(elievable)

Tuesday, November 16, 2009


Really, it is - and I'm not a medical professional.

Yet again, it's not surprising, especially for those paying attention to the direction that this nation is headed in.

Anyone that questions why many people are opposed to a government-run health care option only needs to look at Exhibit B.

That's B - for breast cancer.

The recent "recommendation" from a government task force stating that women should wait an additional 10 years before having regular mammograms smacks in the face of the hard work of valiant organizations such as the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the conclusions of the American Cancer Society - ironically, not long after Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This "recommendation" from the government task force is a dangerous move that reeks of government-mandated cost-savings just as the nation is crowing over the proposed cost of a government-run health care plan.

At a time when professional athletes such as the men of the NFL wore pink throughout October to bring awareness to early detection and continue research in the fight against breast cancer, this government task force attempts to take the wind out of the sails in this much-needed campaign against an unnecessary and preventable killer.

Those that think that it's just about cost - in terms of money and anxiety - may have a point, but it does not support the case of the government in this instance. Not only does this appear to be one of the few times in modern medical history will a group of medical professionals advise people not to take the path of precaution and early detection (as they do from everything from annual checkups to dietary habits), but it also comes as a move that seems to benefit insurance companies that would increasingly become unwilling to financially cover a number of tests designed to catch cancer in its earliest forms, a move that would save these companies billions of dollars annually but would also - and more importantly, we must remember - save thousands of American women's lives annually as well. Isn't that what insurance companies are supposed to do - ensure that we have the avenues and resources to optimize our health as prudently and swiftly as possible? Instead, this move encourages these companies to do the exact opposite, providing an opportunity where bureaucracy via paperwork and policies can prevent women from the life-saving tests and preventive measures that they desperately need while these insurers save billions of blood-tinged dollars.

Just in time for the potential new kid on the insurance block to get into the game and save some bucks with this government task force "recommendation" in the process - the federal government.

And this is a huge example (Exhibit B, if you will) of why government-run health care for the masses is a very bad idea.

Under a government-run option that insures a significant portion of our nation, this "recommendation" from the government task force to push back the annual mammogram age from 40 to 50 would have quickly and effectively become an edict from on high, thus making law (without using the law-making powers of the populace-elected Congress) a statement discouraging health care professionals and women from actively searching for breast cancer for another 10 years. Further, the strength of this de facto edict would have enabled the government-run option to deny women that have concerns about their bodies the opportunity to investigate possible issues before they become fatal problems.

Even still, under this same plan with what we have seen of the wishes of the White House and the government bureaucracy this week, American women would be able to get abortions on demand - and in many cases, taking lives needlessly- with taxpayer funding but could not get the taxpayer funding needed (under this "recommendation") to detect a growing killer in America for another 10 years - thus, in many cases, losing lives needlessly.

The more we hear from the health care arm of the federal government, the more that we should walk away from a health care bill that includes anything that involves the term "government-run." Washington is exhibiting clear signs of what we will have in health care should our resources be directed towards the government-run option for all Americans. We will not buy reform, but a twisted bureaucracy where the select few - not American women or the nation overall - will have ultimate power over the decisions to prevent life and death.

So, simply of the exhibits on health care we have seen so far this week: Buyer Beware.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Exhibit A(bortion)

Monday, November 15, 2009

Alanis Morissette sung a classic song many moons ago. The catch phrase of the song was, "...isn't it ironic....don't cha think?"

And believe me, that is how I'm feeling today, especially after appearing on "Glenn Beck" on Fox News Channel last week. It was a special show (apparently now one of several that will air) that featured Black conservatives and Republicans (if you saw the show, you may have seen that those two are not always the same) commenting why they opposed the direction that the country is headed as guided by the supermajority in Washington. Further, a good segment (but again, not all) of the African-American audience were able to offer points of contention with the Obama Administration and why they did not vote for the first African-American president in history.

For me - someone that has vocally opposed the president's policies while appreciating his historic presence in the White House on a regular basis - it seems as though President Obama was watching the show this weekend and wanted to help further the Black Republican cause.

First, Roland Martin (one of his staunch supporters) sent out an editorial that challenged Black America to stop the name-calling and reactionary rejections of Black Republicans without merit (

Not to be outdone, the president moved forward through his top adviser to illustrate further why Black Republicans and conservatives oppose Obama so fervently.

Look no further than Exhibit A - that's A, for abortion.

The post-partisan president was not content on leaving the House bill for universal health care alone, one that passed after conservatives from both sides of the political aisle pushed for anti-abortion legislation in the bill to ensure that the federal government did not provide funding for elective abortions. Rather than acquiesce for the sake of the little bi-partisanship the House was able to garner, President Obama lashes out against it in the name of the extreme left and some notable left-leaning lobbyists.

The post-lobbyist president has sent word via David Axelrod that he will position the White House into the universal health care debate in the Senate in order to strip away from the House-mandated amendment restricting government-funded abortions, a move that powerful Washington lobbying groups such as Planned Parenthood and others on the extreme left are certainly thankful for. After all, that would be the only way they got their money's worth out of supporting Obama in '08.

Sadly, the post-racial president that has stripped away funding for poor Black students in secondary education (the DC voucher program) and post-secondary funding (with taking funding away from historically Black colleges and universities) - both programs started under that "notorious white supremist", President George W. Bush (you know, the one with the Latina sister-in-law) - now is looking to strip away an amendment protecting against government-run abortion-at-will. Anyone looking at the numbers and history of abortions, Planned Parenthood, and its ilk will see quickly that if Obama is successful, the impact of such a move will be felt disproportionately in the African-American communities.

Obama's first presidential executive order was to send American funding (at a time when the nation is in an economic crisis) overseas to aid in overseas abortions, a move that undoubtedly included impacting babies in his father's Kenya and other nations around the globe. Now, his perceived crowning legislative achievement this year will be to have the US government again fund the killing of children, including a disproportional number of ethnic children in America.

Some Exhibit A.

Aside from the conservations on the set of "Glenn Beck" - both on-air as well as off-air comments - the moves coming from this historic first Black president give rise to a growing swell of opposition throughout the country with much of it coming from a conservative segment of Black America that prioritizes their personal values over the intoxication in setting trends. Christians, conservatives, moderates, and Republicans alike have no recourse but to oppose such dastardly actions by a president that, in one fell swoop, has reversed the new directions on partisanship, race relations, and lobbyist influence that he campaigned to guide America past. Tragically still, that fell swoop happens to be one of the most divisive issues in America over the past 40 years - an issue that the House of Representatives (including extremely-liberal Nancy Pelosi) compromised on in order to get passage of a bill, only for the president to attack that small strand of unity with a dividing measure that only ensures continued discord in Congress. Just as polarizing politicians found a first measure of peace on the health care issue, the president has thrown down the gauntlet on abortion for the sake of the extreme left and its lobbyists (such as Planned Parenthood) and, thus, is taking the country towards another philosophical and divisive domestic war.

No amount of Glenn Beck, talk shows, or "Party of Lincoln" rhetoric can convince America more about why Black Republicans and conservatives oppose President Obama's policies in Washington than the president's actions themselves. Even when the criticism of people like me reaches a feverish pitch, there is always something coming from the Obama Administration that just moves to prove our point, from opposing the educating of the disadvantaged to supporting destructive measures such as government-funded abortions.

For someone that was supposed to help heal this country past race and partisanship, President Obama has found a way to keep re-opening old wounds and making the case for those that oppose his positions.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Phiday Photo of the Week (November 13, 2009)

Friday, Novermber 13, 2009

Here's a clip from Friday's show on "Glenn Beck" on Fox News Channel.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Straight Talk on the Health Care Bipartisanship...Sorta

Thursday, November 12, 2009
It’s good to see some bipartisanship on Capitol Hill during this health care debate. If we can work together during these difficult times, we can see a better future on the horizon.

You may be wondering what I’m referring to, especially since only one Republican – Congressman Joseph Cao – voted for the actual bill in the House of Representatives. Where Cao was the lone Republican to agree to the bill, he was among a larger group spanning across the political aisle that rallied for changes to the legislation before it passed. These adaptations made sure that elective abortions were not covered in any form of government-run health care.

And where Cao’s efforts as a staunch Catholic and former seminarian leading this effort were opposed by some, there is a growing bipartisan assembly of legislators and citizens that are reexamining the issue of abortion and its presence in the national discussion.

This is a development that comes not one minute too soon for the African-American community.

Statistics show that abortion impacts our communities at a rate that is daunting and disturbing. The invisible wounds for survivors of abortions – both men and women - keep the burden of depression and pain ongoing in a community that already incurs its share of death and urban decay between issues of Black male incarceration, Black families in disarray, and Black youth drop-out rates. Despite being 12% of the nation’s population, Black people account for 35% of the nation’s annual abortions.

From the suffering that we can measure to the pain that we cannot, this is a pattern that must be scaled back in the African-American community if we are going to heal as Americans. Whether we realize it or not, this bipartisan move between congressmen on Capitol Hill last Saturday – both Democrats and Republicans – helps Black America move in the right direction on the issue of abortion.

The funding of abortion by a universal health care option would levy a swathe of additional physical, emotional, and spiritual destruction in our communities, an encumbrance that may have put our people on a journey from challenged times towards genocide. We may have our disagreements on how to provide more health care coverage for more Americans, but it is clear that more Americans are certain about the government’s role on abortion – particularly government money towards abortion.

This may be small common ground in politics right now, but it will have big consequences for the Black community moving forward.

Turning a Cub Into a Foxx

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One week after Election 2009, we see that change has a lot more to do than just President Obama.

I picked up a copy of a local newspaper to read one of the front-page stories:

“President Obama Calls Mayor-Elect.”

As a Hip Hop Republican, I really didn’t know how to feel about the reality I was reading, considering that it crystallized two recent electoral defeats.

As a Davidson Wildcat, though, it did make me smile.

After all, not long ago, there were several young Black men sitting at the dining commons as college freshmen, talking about how we were in rarified air: we were Black men on the Davidson College campus. During those first few weeks of first semester, the talk escalated about what we were, what we symbolized, and what we could achieve during the course of our time in college. Several took the risk to proclaim where they thought that they would be in 10 years.

Ironically, one of us knew where he would be in 20 years, and despite the coincidence, it has nothing to do with the Obama Effect. In fact, much of it happened without it.

And where the victory of Anthony Foxx as Charlotte’s second African-American (and youngest-ever) mayor-elect will be seen through a prism crafted by the Era of Obama, it would be short-sighted to attribute this as a trendy win due to a historic presidential election a year before. As I learned once again after seeing long-lost classmates over the course of a 2-day span last week, there is always the temptation to ignore the steps walked from planning goals to making history – a dangerous rue to alienate people from understanding the process of discipline that often determines our level of prosperity. Seeing the successful people they are today reminded me of the challenged students we were not too long ago.

It is a lot easier to accept that there is power in the examples of select “rock stars” than it is to harass the power of people that is exemplified in those select few. Granted, there is inspiration found in the historic victories in rising politicians. Just as I had the opportunity to tell the first Black mayor (Harvey Gantt) the impact his example had on both Mr. Foxx and me as college students, someone will one day tell Foxx how he served as a muse for young people to pursue challenging and meaningful goals. However, the true examples that we must look to in these victories are the accomplishments of progress over complacency and lethargy that keeps us from investing in the future.

Both Obama and Foxx were prepared behind the scenes for years by mentors and supporters that saw the potential they had. These supporters took time and resources to cultivate winners – in politics and in life – in order to provide these men opportunities to succeed. If we are going to find more victories in our communities, we must challenge ourselves to look past the images of the winners standing at podiums on Election Night and focus on the examples of giving back to our young people, molding them into winners long before the cameras, newspapers, and fame learned how to pronounce a funny-looking first name and remembered to put an extra “X” on a common last name.

In an era where uncommon people can come from simple beginnings, it is up to us to begin claiming common victories in the midst of unacceptable conditions in our communities. For every Obama or Foxx, there are scores of Derrion Alberts in the nation, struck down by needless violence and our inability to stay engaged enough to make the needed change.

And perhaps we can help our cubs from running wild and guide them towards the right goals to pursue.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Health Care Victory

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I know that it sounds a little weird after Saturday's health care vote on the House floor, but if Speaker of the House can claim victory after losing two gubernatorial races because of beating one third-party candidate, then I can claim victory on the passage of a massive health care bill that may impact millions of Americans.

Particularly those directly affected by the pro-choice political machine.

The power of pro-life choices stood tall as the deciding factor in moving any legislation forward towards health care reform. Granted, I believe that this direction towards government-run health care is not the best direction to provide more Americans with quality health care. With that said, seeing that Democrats and Republicans can come together in a bi-partisan protect of elective abortions on the taxpayers' dime.
Those opposed to this development can look towards one of two sets of facts in order to see why this is the best move for America, particularly if we continue towards this public-funded option.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute did a study a few years back that concluded that only 13 percent of abortions in the US were covered under private health insurance. The Kaiser Family Foundation's findings conclude that roughly half of those women that have employer-based insurance have abortion coverage included.

Most would not argue the procedure on the grounds of danger to the women's well-being, but the polarizing rhetoric from the left concerning the insistence of a public option that includes carte blanche abortion accessibility was misleading as it was slanderous of those that opposed this use of public funds. It is bad enough that President Obama already made public-funded abortions possible (by way of this January 2009 executive order - his very first presidential executive order - to fund overseas abortions with American tax dollars.) What would be worse would have been our willingness (through a political supermajority, not a majority of American citizens, by the way) as a nation to extend this practice of elective state-run genocide on American soil.

And let's call many of the elective abortions what they are - genocide. Many African-American leaders continuously point to the numbers of abortions endured by Black women as a sad sign of the times for Black people in the USA, a cycle that keeps many Black women in fiscal and spiritual poverty and despair. Other communities within the Christian realm note similar findings from their experiences providing counseling and support for women survivors of abortion.

Do we really want to dip the hard-earned money of Americans into - at the very least - a well of controversy and divisiveness? At the worst, do we put it towards a perceived cesspool of depression and destruction?

People can put this argument in a frame of their personal choosing (just as I did), but there is a slew of complicated facts that transcend the abortion issue past considering it a mere women's health care issue that should be included in federal funding. Even if Congress collectively got it wrong on Saturday, they got the abortion aspect right. Perhaps that was the bi-partisanship that the White House was looking for.

Then again, after again looking back to January and throughout the record, perhaps not.

Tumbling Down the Wall

Monday, November 9, 2009

There was a time that many Americans do not remember and cannot relate to in these current times. However, it is a time that we should reflect upon as we begin a special week.

With the tragedy of Ft. Hood fresh on our minds and Veterans' Day approaching later this week, we will be reminded (and rightfully so) of the sacrifices that our military men and women make daily in order to keep America safe. We will hear about the risks that they make regularly - risks that are often the difference between being sub par, being status quo, or being great.

Today - November 9 - marks another day when American dedication to being great mattered enough to take that risk. The world, in many ways, is better as a result.

Just as the defenders of the wars overseas are being told that it is an impossible task to take on - and thus no need for us to continue the endeavor any further - there were a similar lot of people telling us for years that the way to protect America is not through the staunch build-up of military might against the Soviet Union. Diplomacy - and even compromise with the communist imperialists - was the best way to keep America safe from the Russian threat and keep us away from the real possibilities of nuclear war. Despite watching the developments of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960s, there were plenty that felt that the Cold War was an impossible endeavor to win, one that only stole money away from the domestic agenda while failing to improve the nation internally and keep her safer globally.

President Ronald Reagan disagreed - and took a military risk. He challenged the nerve of a mighty nation that leveraged communism to pursue its agenda of global domination and inhibitions to capitalism and freedom based on its twisted view of society.

And yes, it was a risk, although many of us not old enough to remember "fall out shelters" at schools across the country or recall the tensions of US-USSR relations and its intrigue with spy espionage. There was a years-pursued passion to win "an impossible war" in order to keep the freedom espoused by the United States of America intact throughout the world. Just as it takes our proud countrywomen and men to have nerves of steel in order to face death and separation from family daily in order to be historic in the face of adversity and controversy, it took vision to face the task of ending the Cold War and writing a historic chapter in our era with a happy ending that reunited families, ended a nuclear threat, and brought peace where most thought it would never reside.

President Reagan and his allies had the nerve and the vision to look ahead and see a world where the Wall would fall. We look back today from that world to see it tumble once again to remind us of the power of persistence.

And as we tackle the wall of our times - terroristic extremism - it is important for us to note that these battles take nerve to take risks, and even with history and morality on our side, it does take time. It took mere months to build the Berlin Wall, a physical and mental structure that stood for decades. It took nearly as long for that wall to come down, crashing at the feet of those willing to hammer away bit-by-bit. Just the same, we must continue to support our troops as they work with history and righteousness on their sides so that they can make good decisions, project the best of America with each action they do on our behalf, and face tough choices with honor and courage.

After all, if they are risking their lives to keep America great, we must risk to be personally greatness when fatigue, trends, and fear persuade us otherwise.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Phriday Photo of the Week - November 6 2009

November 6, 2009

So, what's it gonna be?

Do we get a brand new health care system - along with a brand new level of spending?

Or can we get actual reform without risking fiscal failure? Saturday begins the decision process...

The 10-Finger Theory and Pulling the Rope

November 5, 2009

Everyone has a role in politics. The people. The politicians. The pundits. The politicos.

Everyone has a role, but not everyone knows their roles. In many ways, it’s about 10 fingers working together to handle victories for the Republican Party – and for the citizens that they are representing.

Not that it’s the worst thing in the worse, nor is it intentional. However, it is important.

The large victories for the Republican Party nationally – and the mostly-large defeats seen for the Republicans in North Carolina (aside from Greensboro, a significant city of victory but not quite the same national banter city like Charlotte is) – have been earned through the application of knowing how to work together as a team. Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans have had an inconsistent time of putting together the plans and processes to move people into the voting booths for Republicans candidates. The inability to coordinate the moving parts of the political players of the process have hampered the successes in a multitude of ways.

Without the grassroots being the foundation, there is no way for the party to build successfully.

Without the pundits to hold the Party accountable, there are no avenues to check the efforts in an unbiased and academic fashion.

Without the leadership within the party structure that takes chances to be involved and to be in front, the shot to win each November resembles more of a shatter shot, giving a random chance for victory for their candidates.

And without the candidates that know how to balance the philosophy of the party, the needs of the people, and the discipline needed within the campaign and governing worlds, there is no way to change the direction of the party's fortune - nor the direction of the nation's cities and states individually.

Each finger needs to grasp the rope - in faith and in the spirit of cooperation.

And each finger cannot be afraid to point out flaws, point back personal shortcomings, and indicate new directions for the people to move in. A finger incapable of pointing, grasping, and directing - through arthritis, gangrene, or muscle weakness and failure - must be made new and healthy again as we need all hands on deck.

And as with skin of hands, there needs to be a shedding when flakiness, dryness, and inflexibility inhibits the fingers from having the full range of motion needed to point, grasp, and direct in its roles effectively to pull the rope in this political tug-a-war back towards Republicans as victors.

And, consequentially, pulling America back towards the tenets and actions that made the nation the beacon of the world.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Non-Allure of the Young

November 4, 2009

If the Republican Party is going to catch a foothold on the hearts and minds of more Americans - and, in this case, North Carolinians and Charlotteans - it is going to have to take a page out of the Democrats' book and build some wealth and legacy.

In the case of Charlotte's next mayor, Davidson College grad Anthony Foxx was supported to a narrow victory by Democratic help from all over the country, soliciting and receiving help from the NC Democratic Party and notable Democratic figures. In stark contrast, not only was the Republicans notably silent regarding similar styles of support, but moreso, their approaches to providing widespread support for candidates with all-encompassing de facto endorsements watered down a brand. Moreso, it hampered the efforts of several strong young GOP candidates in their attempts to win significant seats this November.

Whereas Foxx got support from the state Democratic party, the NC GOP did not have enough effort or muscle to support young candidates including Tariq Bokhari and former Mecklenburg County (NC) YR Chairman John Ross. Further, blanket endorsements given to both their opponents (many of which were Republicans uninvolved with the GOP structure until running for office) and to them only distanced their invested efforts to build relationships with the grassroots.

Subsequently, those roots were flying with the barn house when the strong winds of Election Day.

Which leads to the question: why does the GOP have such a hard time supporting its young elephants in the charge to create gains in electoral races and footholds with voters?

It must be because their meat tastes so sweet, for one way or another, the party structure continues to eat their young, particuarly those that are not selected by the party elite as "the chosen ones" to represent the GOP. Ironically, the more this model is followed, the more voters show the local parties that regardless of who the GOP selects as their "chosen ones", local voters will reject them just the same.

Perhaps it is Republican pride that causes this continuation of "politics as usual" - and the forthcoming losses as expected with each ensuing November in the Carolinas. And with each subsequent rejection - now culminating with a supermajority on the Charlotte City Council and the unseating of a Republican incumbent on School Board (although that was in a Democrat-controlled district) after a clean sweep of at-large candidates on the county commission and gubernatorial, and US Senatorial levels in 2008 - there comes an indictment of leadership within the Republican Party at the state and local levels. It is quite possible that the vision that Democrats hold when supporting their young, tenuous candidates such as Mayor-elect Foxx and state representative Nick Mackey (allowing them to win, even by the slightest of margins at times) is lacking on the Republican side to support and foster their young candidates in reply.

Of course, this does nothing to remove the label of the GOP as an aging, non-inclusive party, especially as pride serenades them into thinking that doing things the same way despite previous failures will miraculously lead to new results.

Or perhaps this is a strategy or non-concern as refreshing, young candidates are overrated as a political resource for the NC GOP. If so, it is a dangerous path to take.

With the re-election bid of those such as US Senator Richard Burr coming up in 2010, there will be a need for young backs to carry the day for an incumbent that narrowly won in 2004 and now faces the possibility of losing after solid-red North Carolina turned for Obama and the Democrats in 2008. Young backs carry campaign signs, campaign energy, and campaign hope a lot better and a lot further than most others; (ask the Obama campaign from 2008.) Young electoral winners that cover a broader base of Americans play to more potential voters for future campaigns. Young people that represent differ aspects of the Republican Party help to attract the moderate and independent voters that helped candidates in Virginia and New Jersey on November 3.

The same type of voters, by the way, that didn't help Republican candidates in Charlotte, quite possibly due to the blood on our hands from eating our young. Or, at the very least, watching with a lack of focus while we see our young devoured by consolidated power from the other side of the aisle.

They are the same voters that cost Pat McCrory and Elizabeth Dole. And if Republicans are not careful, it will cost them a chance to take advantage of the national referendum going out against the Democrats in North Carolina and their supermajority in Washington. After all, the combined speed for the sprint and the endurance for the marathon that is campaign politics is best served with a spice of youth and energy. Without leadership that understands this and captivates it selflessly (without motivation to exclude or dictate in very, well, un-republican manners), Republicans will be more apt to look back to recent failures than they will to look forward to future victories in 2010.

The Presidential Price of a Nobel Prize

November 3, 2009

Is anyone really surprised?

Tell me, really?

No more than one month after President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize on potential - not substance (remember that his nomination was submitted before he was one full month in the Office of the Presidency) - he has been found doing more campaigning for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey and Virginia than he has been found agreeing with his commanders on the ground in Afghanistan.

After he won a Nobel Peace Prize from an international committee with no ties to American sovereignty - one that is openly and actively pursuing him to honor diplomacy at all costs, even at the behest of American interests.

Are you surprised that the president has been seen as "dithering" on the issue of sending more troops, even as those from both sides of the political aisle (can you imagine former VP Dick Cheney and US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) agreeing on anything, yet they do with McChrystal's recommendation) are pressuring him into making a decision to turn the tide overseas and keep America safe? I'm not, especially after hearing the explanation of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee when discussing why a first-term, first-year president was able to win the Prize after a nomination submitted mere weeks into his presidency. (Side note: isn't it ironic how the same people that don't think that President Obama has been in office long enough to change things also think that he was in office long enough to change enough to garner a global prize given for time-tested changes for the better?) The Committee's desire to promote the president's stature around the world and persuade him to pursue diplomacy at all costs (i.e., not increasing the threat of violence with increasing troop volumes) may not be in place with the Afghanistan decision, but it sure looks like it, doesn't it?

And that's a problem.

People were roundly noted for saying that President Obama would have a hard time winning a Peace Prize while promoting the continuation of two wars simultaneously. In essence, in order to live up to the esteem that a Peace Prize presents, the president may, in fact, compromise the best interests of Americans if those interests prompt Obama to take a more aggressive approach to international affairs, particularly in the Middle East. Although many initially stated that the Prize's connotations would not impact the administration's decisions moving forward, the hesitancy surrounding a decision that involves military recommendations given by his hand-picked team only brings a round of pause to many Americans.

Is there a price to having a presidential prize-winner? And, if so, are we seeing the beginning of those payments on the international front?

If this is so, then we must caution ourselves against keeping the 44th president accountable to the people of the United States on a regular basis. The foreign affairs realm, although better with a solid round of cooperative efforts and good cheer, is clearly an arena where popularity pales in sharp comparison to safety and respect in the global community. Granted, this respect and subsequent safety does not have to stem exclusively from fear, but fear of doing what is required to keep America's people safe is worse than fear of America by our enemies or, worse still, fear by America to lose popularity in the global community based on self-motivated interests. Very rarely will you see others within the international community rallying to the aid of Americans in time of military need, much less see them take the lead in some endeavors. Since World War II, it has been the Americans that have ponied up the costs of war, from financial resources (e.g., funding before Pearl Harbor) to weaponry and soldiers on the ground. Unfortunately, that has always been the cost of freedom, respect, and safety throughout the world, particularly as we deal with some rogue nations.

Which is all the more reason why it is dangerous when a new price is commissioned by a committee of few with requirements for one with obligations to us all.


November 2, 2009

We have heard from weeks now - or since the last time I have been able to get away from an adorable but fussy newborn baby :-) - about the missteps that the Obama Administration has taken regarding our overseas missions. That, perhaps, we should be willing to commit more troops to the effort in Afghanistan, thus taking the advice given by General Stanley McChrystal. Or, rather, we should continue to strengthen our efforts in Iraq, particularly with the latest bombings and other disturbances that are costing lives on the ground - both American and otherwise.

Or, most notably, we should stop dancing around the Iranian nuclear issue, especially as Iranian leadership continues to show a willing to move towards acceptance into the world's nuclear community.

Recently, everyone from former Vice President Dick Cheney to former presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has criticized both the Iranian government's actions as well as President Obama's continued "dithering" on the plan to move forward.

Conservative critics are getting their message to the president: be tough with a regime that has yet to respect the order of day, the people of other cultures, and the will of the free world - do not acquiesce. Now, the question is whether that same message will be agreed to and passed along from the Obama Administration to Ahmadinejad and others within Iran, with the pressure of that message making the difference between continuing a covert nuclear weaponry campaign and reeling in a government more intent on rogue intentions than global cooperation.

Like the childhood game of "Telephone", the question on the American side of the equation comes down to how much that message of stern resolve on the Iranian nuclear issue comes to bear once incorporating the varying opinions and approaches that encompasses our foreign policy over the past several years. What can be easily forgotten is that the holdover of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, combined with the new direction that President Obama is taking, provides an interestingly crossroads of perspectives tying the past two administrations. So far, America has taken a diplomatic approach towards Iran, only to be rewarded with inflammatory rhetoric and hidden nuclear facilities. Will the influence of Gates (and, by proxy, the Bush Administration) and a dose of Cheney and conservative viewpoints impact the next steps with the Iranians, especially if their public actions do not equal a stoppage in their secretive march towards nuclear weapons?

The message has been sent many sides - not only a side of American politics that longs for tougher actions against those that threaten American liberty and her allies overseas, but a side represented by the Nobel Peace Prize coalition, one that seeks to influence more diplomatic efforts by the Obama Administration through encouragement that included the 2009 Peace Prize. Very rarely does a message come "crystal clear" from one source to the next, but in this instance, there will be a clear influence of one tactic over another in the messaging that is sent to Iran, al-Qaeda, and other enemies to American allies and interests overseas. Obama and his team will speak clearly, but what is ultimately said boils down to what line of communication (and subsequently what tactic) he keeps open to him to use.