Sunday, January 31, 2010

Let's Get Ready to Rumble...or Reconcile

Monday, February 1, 2010

I like it.

I like the new President Obama.

Talk of utilizing nuclear power.

Talk of off-shore drilling.

Talk of tax cuts to encourage business growth and subsequent job growth.

And the president took on the GOP - on their turf and on their terms.

I like it. I like the feistiness. I like the talk of bipartisan ideas. I like the efforts to talk to Republicans directly.

Perhaps the Tea Party people were heard after all. Perhaps Scott Brown's victory made a difference. Maybe the president sees the need to wrangle in the fringes of the right and try to find common ground.

Now, if only I can get him to do the same with the Democrats that ran things off the rails in 2009.

Many conservatives criticized the president on his appearance at the GOP House retreat in Baltimore on Friday. They felt that President Obama was being rather condescending, professorial, and perhaps revisionist with some of his responses while going through the live televised question-and-answer he conducted with the participants of the retreat. Maybe they thought his answers were, at times, terse. At the same time, they were probably just as packaged as some of the questions coming from a body full of candidates looking to keep their jobs and accumulate more power as mid-term elections loom on the horizon.

Or many this was just the tough love talk that both sides needed to have after a failure of 2009, one where Republican ideas were never seriously considered by a president and supermajority (may it R.I.P.) that felt that it could take political and legislative risks with impunity while Republicans refused to budge much at all to compromise their positions while staring down the wrong end of the Capitol Hill numbers barrel.

If President Obama is serious about becoming the centrist he attempted to run as during 2008 and pull in his party's extremism, he has a good chance of being able to gain some considerable legislative wins during 2010 and, perhaps, lessen the losses for his party in November. Reigning in Pelosi and others may come with the ire of some Democrats and left-leaning media types, but it may also come with victories that translate into betters numbers with employment, energy needs, and support for his initiatives in handling the war effort overseas. A majority of America likes Barack Obama the person but, to date, have not been able to rally behind (or, in some cases, like) President Obama the chief legislator.

The type of tough-talk directness that we saw from President Obama and the House GOP is along the lines that we expected to see in 2009 in order to hammer out the ideas coming from all sides in a process that was supposed to yield the best solutions for a struggling America.

Again, if this is a start to a new way of doing things in Washington: I like it.

And, for the record, I won't hold the president attempting to make his 2009 legislative endeavors (led by Speaker Pelosi and Speaker Reid) appear to be centrist if he doesn't continue to hold President Bush accountable for the growing lack of confident Americans are having in Washington. At some point, we each are only what we believed in, and sometimes that is enough to prompt us to defend even our failures just as the president did in some regards this week. However, as we know, the nation doesn't get much of a puncher's chance of knocking out this recession and other crises without our leaders finally getting in the ring - on equal footing - to duke it out. if this process leads to real conversation, real reconciliation, and real change, then let the combatants in Washington go at it as the results will yield something that Americans can believe in, more Congressman can agree to, and people can benefit from.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oh No, Justice Alito!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The picture shows confidence, calm, and a pleasant demeanor. A smile that indicates that he will not worry about criticism from the right or the left, keeping his focus on the constitutional obligation to uphold our founding document.

If we pull a George H. W. Bush, we can clear see a different story.

Read Justice Alito's lips: that's not true.

And if you read his body language after President Obama's judgement on the Supreme Court's recent ruling on campaign support, you can see that the stoicism from Alito may not be as true, either.

So much for the notion that the Supreme Court is a ruling body that operates outside of the influences of emotion or concern for anything other than a just interpretation of the Constitution.

Perhaps judicial activism - or emotional investment - isn't just a liberal stronghold anymore.

For as bold as the president's stance was to take on the Supreme Court as Commander-in-Chief (and former constitutional law professor) during his first State of the Union Address was, it was also bold for the justice to knowingly mouth "...not true..." during a round of applause in response to the president's statement, especially as he must have known that cameras were catching responses throughout the room (especially after Congressman Joe Wilson's (R-SC) remarks in September.)

Usually, it is the Supreme Court that fits into the role of populist defender, guarding the rights of America and her citizens as afforded in the Constitution against the special interests of politicians and significant policy makers. Everything from defending the premise of equality (Brown v Board of Education) to the very nature of its makeup (the infamous FDR attempt to stack the Supreme Court with his choice of justices with a 1930s quasi-pyramid scheme to expand the number of justices on the court) has been under the umbrella of the Supreme Court in its quest to defend the tenets of the nation as a populist gatekeeper. President Obama's televised rebuttal from the presidential bully pulpit changed that dynamic.

As, perhaps, rightfully so, a point that rubbed Justice Alito - and perhaps judges modeling his style of ruling from this decision - the wrong way in such a public place.

Washington as usual has been defined as the ability of big dollars and big business to influence the manner of everyday politicking moreso than the everyday Americans that congresspeople represent through the election process. This ruling, on face value, seems to jeopardize the ability of the everyday American (i.e., the guy or lady without the "deep pockets" that a select few have) to have a tangible voice in the political process, particularly regarding campaign advertisements and big-dollar donations to campaigns that shift the attention span of candidates from the populace to the lobbyists. Regardless of the legal arguments stating that the risk is minimal at best (it may be true that the law directly speaking to foreign-based corporations was not addressed or changed by the Supreme Court last week), the fact remains that a risk was taken - perhaps inappropriately - by the Supreme Court in reversing this previous statute in favor of big businesses, notably at at time when big business has been able to receive bailout money without much responsibility to the American taxpayer for
regarding ethics (i.e., keeping the big bonuses in place) or recovery (i.e., not using the money to annul this trend of unemployment).
Usually, it is the Supreme Court that has to remind a president of the jeopardy incurred when American endeavors are not in line with basic premises of the Constitution - namely, a republic where the everyday American is represented and listened to by its government without impediments of race, gender, previous servitude, or other labels that do not strip our citizenship (such as socioeconomic background.) In this instance, it worked the other way around.
President Obama got it right - we cannot allow corporations even more ability to buy-and-sell politicians, political agendas, and voting influence if we are going to continue the march towards rebuilding the best of America as we renew our nation. Call it politically convenience (many big businesses may come out against the president during Election 2010 because of his unpopularity at the polls right now) or populist fury (a renewed political personality that the president seems to have taken on since the turn of the year) if you will, but Obama's stance seems to be both anomalous - but correct - turn for the administration to change how Washington "is done" today.
It will be interesting to see how Washington plays out from here after suck a public calling-out by the president towards the Supreme Court. President Obama seems willing to take on perceived naysayers and opponents in a fight to earn back the confidence of the American people. Since day one, that has included Republicans, but perhaps it will now also include Republicans on the non-partisan bench of the highest court of the land. The Court may continue to find itself being criticized by a former law professor that has the rare eloquence, a new (or renewed, based on your view) populist backbone, and the ultimate bully pulpit (the presidency) to cast down judgement even after the final ruling has been sent down from the Court. The non-partisan Court - full of political appointments - may soon find itself reminiscing of the times when being political meant merely taking sides on Roe v Wade. The thoughts of that must make the members of the Court hold firm on the stoicism and disregard of outside detractions needed to clearly uphold the Constitution and the best of our nation's legal realities for freedom, even when Obama and the Court disagree on particular decisions.
Especially if this president continues to take a populist stance to wipe the smiles off of a justice's face.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of DisUnion

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Everyone is waiting to hear President Obama's first State of the Union Address.

What I am waiting for: for President Obama to reunify our states - our states of politics, our states of economics, and our states of cooperation.

To me, the most important thing with this evening's address is to restate the union that he campaigned to lead.

Pundits on both sides of the aisle are going to look to see how the president projects his overall message. They will pick apart his words and try to read his intent on the economy, on health care, and on the wars overseas.

However, those will not be the important points, for nothing else will matter if the president is unable to get a majority of Americans clearly on the same page, including those Americans serving on Capitol Hill and in Washington.

Perhaps it will be the losses in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts. Perhaps it will be the daunting realization that while the Congressional leadership led much of this disaster for the Obama Administration in 2009, most of them will be in full campaign mode in 2010, thus leaving him to hold the bag of responsibility for the current status. Perhaps it will be a reflection upon the magic of 2008 and the hope of January 2009. Regardless of what the primers end up being, President Obama will be successful with his address and with his impending presidency if he is capable of finding the true middle ground that will allow a majority of lawmakers and everyday Americans to get behind him as Commander-in-Chief with full force, something that has yet to transpire during his term.

Gathering Republican ideas (such as the spending freeze, an idea that he mocked John McCain with during the presidential debates as a "hatchet job" idea towards the economy) or championing through left-leaning pet projects will not do. At some point, it's not partisanship anymore, just as the Obama Presidency had the promise of being past after his historic election. This point on Wednesday night will be about unifying the nation behind a leader. Obama made it a point to look towards Lincoln as an example as he rode into Washington (literally) 12 months ago. With his State of the Union Address, he has a chance to channel the Great Emancipator again, this time to free America from the chains of disunity brought on by economic peril, proposed historic change, and fears for the future.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Selective Americanism Against Celebrating the Standard

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This is why I get frustrated with liberalism.

And sorry - I hate to go all "Beck-Hannity-Limbaugh" on you, but you have to understand - this is ridiculous.

And I'm really not the "I hate liberalism" type of guy. I disagree with it. I stand against it. I don't hate it, though, nor do I hate those that lean in this direction politically.

But, we have yet another example of what frustrates me so.

A series of questions:

Why is it that when we get mainstream liberal messaging such as homosexual parenting ("Jimmy has Two Mommies", for instance) or other alternative lifestyles, there is an argument that roundly states that America must foster this messaging for the good of diversity, even if it means promoting books about gay penguins to kindergarten and 1st grade students in public schools? (And, it should be noted, schools that still fall woefully short on historical books such as the Buffalo Soldiers and other civil rights pioneers.)

Not that I'm trying to prohibit any Americans from their right to free speech as long as it does not physically harm anyone. At the same time, I don't want or need a barrage of messaging going directly to my children at school on issues that are socially controversial or complex. I can do that explanation for them, as I should as a father.

Now, why is it that when it's time to hear the other side of a story - a perspective that leans conservative - there becomes a threat to safety and personal liberty that must be stopped in its tracks.

We hear that civil rights will be rolled back decades if a conservative perspective is shared. We hear that people's rights will be trampled upon if we allow free speech in this instance to be voiced.

In many ways, it ends up becoming an "I love America...but only when it's the America I want" type of situation.

Such is the case coming from the Tim Tebow inspirational story that is becoming a symbol of fervor against the pro-life.

For those of you that don't know the story, it's pretty simple to explain:

Tim Tebow's mother was overseas as a missionary when she contracted an illness that made her pregnancy in 1987 a high-risk one. After being advised to terminate the pregnancy, Mrs. Tebow and her family decided to go forward with the pregnancy due to their Christian beliefs.

The baby that was born of that decision was Tim Tebow, an award-winning and 2-time NCAA champion football player. And, from all accounts, that's the low side of his accomplishments. Known as a proud Christian and a gentleman, Tebow is roundly respected in sports circles for his manner with disadvantaged children, his affability with the media and with opponents, and his leadership within his team.

All Tebow wants to do in a 30-second ad is tell his story as an encouragement for women to consider decisions other than abortion when pregnant, a move that is a lot less powerful than multiple Planned Parenthood buildings standing in urban centers throughout the nation as symbols encouraging women to make that opposite choice.

Yet, to protesters, this move by Tebow and Focus on the Family is a threat to their rights as Americans and a violation of broadcast integrity during the Super Bowl.

Somewhere, Rush Limbaugh is surely yet sadly calling someone a femi-nazi even as I type.

I disagree with his terminology, but I agree with his sentiment 100%.

Only in America can we defend a woman's right to choose while bashing another's right to give both sides of that very complex issue. And regardless of what people want to say about this, it does boil down to liberalism vs. conservatism in a way that makes people draw lines in the sand and refuse to acquiesce to our collective Americanism. The clear contradiction of the left comes across as a response that one would expect from a group of spoiled second graders that are upset that the first graders also got a chance to go on the special field trip that they just returned from. For all of the screaming and anger, there is a clear principle that is being ignored by these protesters from the left: that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, particularly when it comes to the court of public opinion.

How is it that we can now be at a point of time in America where we can be blitzed with gay characters in prime time dramas, sitcoms, and other avenues in the media on a regular basis - complete with intimate scenes - and not be able to tolerate the social opposite? Again, conservatives are told repeatedly to learn tolerance (which, for the record, I believe in as being accordance with the "love your neighbor as yourself" commandment that many on the Christian right conveniently forget about when addressing these issues), but those following alternative lifestyles are not held to remembering what they truly are: alternative lifestyles. They are not the mainstream. They are not the norm.

Life is, however, and a celebration of a difficult choice and a success story that follows from it is nothing to be scared of.

The same liberalism that wants to prevent this ad from running during the Super Bowl and wants to promote abortion rights without supporting women's right to choose (and, that does include choosing life, not abortion) would continue to block fair debates on complex issues, erect left-leaning institutions in communities that do not need such on-going "influence", and potentially snuff out lives.

This is an issue that is close to home for me. 15 years prior to Tebow's birth, I had a similar story.

My late mother and I were dying while I was being born, a result of my mother's undiagnosed diabetes and me being more than 2 weeks overdue; (I was supposed to be a Christmas baby.) In the midst of childbirth, monitors indicated that my mother and I were suffering greatly during the birthing process. Due to my size (I was born at 10 pounds), my breathing was cut off and my head was being crushed. The stress from the complication caused my mother to have life-threatening issues. Both of our heart rates dropped considerably.

The doctor came out to consult with my father about a painful decision he was giving him to make: save the wife and try again to have another child or save the child at the strong risk that the wife may die.

My father took the third option: go save both the wife (my mother) and the baby (me.)

Perplexed that my father's decision did not include "choice" but only included life, the doctor returned - and we both lived to tell about it.

Not that I'll ever win a Heisman Trophy or throw a collegiate touchdown pass, but I am glad to be here :-)

In a land where life , liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is celebrated as a constitutional right and a backbone statement from our Declaration of Independence, it is puzzling that so many on the left would argue to celebrate choices from abortion that honor the opposite while working so hard to prevent the pursuit of happiness through the choice of life, even in the same annuals of media that their alternative messages have been constitutionally-protected to survive in. Again, I have nothing against the right to hear about alternatives, but I will never stand for the protection of alternatives at the risk of destroying the standards - and, in this instance, if the alternative is abortion through choice, the standard is life.

If the aftermath of abortion - the resentment of lost fathers, the regret by lost mothers, the pain of blotched or repeated procedures - is cast aside by these same liberal organizations in their quest to promote their social agendas, why must the conservative side of the coin do the same by casting aside the joy of choosing life and allowing God the opportunity to present His Glory in what initially appears to be a downturn in one's journey? At some point, if America is going to return to its glory as a nation, it must begin to return to the glory of standards, even as we protect the rights of those from an alternative point of view.

If we can use television to celebrate Super Bowl touchdowns, diversity, alternative lifestyles, and diverging political points of view, why can't we use the greatest American television stage to celebrate the greatest gift we have all received: life?

It may not be politically correct for some, but I'd love to hear an amen to that.

Standing in Congress vs Standing for America

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's funny...well, not really.

If the Congressional leaders that stand behind President Obama on Wednesday night during the State of the Union Address were more concerned with standing for Americans instead of merely standing up for partisan unity or presidential presence, perhaps the nation would not be as far behind on the path to recovery as it is today.

Wednesday's State of the Union address will probably not include much of the language that President Obama mentioned in his speech to Ohio residents after the Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts - namely, that he is willing to take his lumps as president. However, many of those lumps have come from friendly fire as the Democrats have taken their focus away from the primary issues as defined by the American people (jobs) in order to chase pet projects that have become their legislative Moby Dick (universal health care.)

Starting Wednesday, the Democrats will need to do a better job of listening more to the American people. Despite what many left-leaning politicos will say, the supermajority of 2009 was lost in 2010 because of the Democrats' inability to balance the ambition of congressional leaders with the will of most Americans. Some of the failures of the Democrats throughout 2009 have come from overreach by Obama, Pelosi, and Reid, risk-taking that led to questionable behavior including the "Cornhusker Kickback" and the "Louisiana Purchase." Instead of standing up for Americans to promote a better and unified nation, they took a stand in order to promote their ideas and avenues for actions.

Sadly, the Democrats did more to follow the lead of the Republican congresses before them this decade and look to please themselves over standing up for the nation while in office. Ironically, the Democrats are the party that is seen as more populist - or, at least, it was seen that way from 2006 through last year. Perhaps bipartisanship leadership - not supermajority status - will make the difference and allow 2010 to be the year where Congress does more for the American people than spend more money, do less for everyday Americans, and invoke President Bush's legacy repeatedly as a cause for their shortcomings.

One MLK Day, Two Needed Messages...

Monday, January 18, 2010

(The following are speeches given during MLK Day events in Florida)

Lenny McAllister: MLK Day Celebration in Ocala, FL (2010 January 18 (“MLK Day, Furthering The Dream of Yesterday, and Waking Up for a Better Future”))

People may wonder why it was important to me to come with prepared words to address you today. Many of you may state – and rightfully so- that we gather today to honor the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man that was moved by the Spirit to move a nation towards a better way of life. And you would be right – Dr. King was a man that used his connection to the Holy Spirit to dare to have The Dream. At the same time, my fellow Americans, he also had action items, and without action items – along with a network of leaders and fellow dreamers – we would not have a MLK Day each year and chances are that we would not have the expression of civil rights that we enjoy today. Therefore, I come to you with action items to further Dr. King’s dream and ask that we honor the man and his memory with more than just talk of dreams.

President Lincoln used a speech that started “4 score and 7 years ago” in order to call his beleaguered countrymen to continue their march towards unity of our nation during its most trying hour. Now, here we come today, 2 score and 7 years past the date of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, speaking up in order to call our beleaguered communities to act so that we can continue our march towards equal rights as Americans, equal opportunities as contributors to our nation, and equal kindred in the brotherhood of prosperity and visionary leadership of this great land.

King’s efforts and sacrifices came those scores of years ago, but our time to continue his accomplishments and dream is right now. It is before us here in the Sunshine State. It is in our hands in each state of Lincoln’s Union.

Without the sustained march towards realizing the fullest details of King’s Dream, we are hampered in our march towards bettering our fellow man. Although we are capable and encouraged to help the victims in Haiti through the epic tragedy they are incurring, we are limited in restoring their communities if we lag behind in our societal, educational, and economic potential here in America. Although it is best to encourage and mentor our schoolchildren today with the pursuits of their youth, we are limited in leading our children into a prosperous future if we impede our discipline, communicative channels, and networking relationships that could make the difference in their lives with limiting stereotypes, outdated misunderstandings, and esteem for others and ourselves. Although we are free from slavery, Jim Crow, and many glass ceilings from the American past, we are boxed into probabilities of failure and disappointment if we are not willing to actively work towards being freer than the previous generation, healthier than we were just a year ago, and better than we were just yesterday.

Dr. King worked aside a network of leaders and everyday Americans. He came at a time when America needed a dream – a new vision for what the United States could be once united past the impediments of racism and self-limitations. He came with a Dream that talked about his children being equal but spoke to America about opening up its potential to becoming a superpower of wealth, might, and ethical esteem throughout the world by shedding its racism of the past and embracing the moment to be historic.

President Lincoln had Americans such as Frederick Douglass to push him to greater heights as the Great Emancipator, just as Dr. King had Freedom Fighters and others that believed in the push for Civil Rights.

Lincoln noted change “4 score and 7 years ago” during his time in Gettysburg to reunite America. King told us 2 score and 7 years ago that he had a dream for a better time for America.

Today, I say that it is time to even the scores throughout America.

It is time for us to even the scores of our schoolchildren with others as they have fallen behind other American children in the classroom. It is time to demand better facilities, better teachers, and better school options with our tax money. A better educated child will be a more active citizen in our communities and a source of pride for Black America as an adult.

It is time for us to even the scores in the job market, as African-Americans are still more likely to be last-hired and first-fired. It is time to even the playing field, one that today sees that Black men are twice as likely to be unemployed with college degrees as other American men with similar levels of education. It is time to ensure that equality is not just a slogan from the past, but it is an umbrella promise for the future for all Americans.

It is time for us to even the scores and lessen the rate of disease, disillusionment, and even death at our own hands. It is time to even the scores within the fields of health care, crime, and chivalry once again with other Americans. It is time for us to stop killing each other with our diets. It is time for us to stop killing each other with weapons. It is time to stop killing each other’s esteem with disrespect for our women. It is time for Black pride to rise up through teaching Black love, Black self-respect, Black family unity, and Black chivalry and stop speaking solely with a tone of blaming others, looking outside our communities for solutions, and embracing sub-standard realities for our children and grandchildren. King led the disadvantaged towards equality with self-empowerment. We must do the same today.

Dr. King spoke of a Dream for all of America, but he knew that he would take action within Black America for this dream to become reality. Therefore, if we are to take one thing from this MLK Day, I ask that it be this:

If Dr. King dared us to collectively Dream along with him, we must now be called to collectively wake up to honor him.

Wake up, brothers and sisters, and act towards better educational opportunities for our children immediately. Do not allow the continuing failure of the school system in our communities to continue to be the box that limits our children’s futures. The status quo of educational poverty must be replaced with a quid pro quo system that rewards educational freedom for our children and nothing else, not political allegiances or backroom deals that cut us out. Be involved as volunteers, as mentors, and as civic activists so that our children receive an education, not just schooling.

Wake up, brothers and sisters, and act towards better quality of life within Black America. Regardless of the health care fight in Washington, if we are unwilling to stop the violence against our bodies with our diets, with our physical confrontations, and with our inactivity, we will always stay behind the health care curve. Wake up to live lest we continue to die prematurely in our sleep. The time is now to change our daily habits so that we change our daily experiences.

Wake up, brothers and sisters, and act towards health care justice for Black America, making sure that we are not the most murdered in the womb and the fastest to lay in the tomb.

Wake up, brothers and sisters, and act towards embracing economic opportunities, equality, and prosperity in America. Embrace Americanism – economically, socially, and historically – with tenacity and insight. This is your nation, too – fully. The red represents our ancestors’ sacrifice. The blue represents the depth of talent that we can contribute to America’s improvement. The white represents the brightness of our future – together - should we remain engaged in upholding America - together.

There was a time for Dr. King to be historic and Dream. It is now our time to be historic and wake up into action.

If you have not contributed or volunteered to improve our communities, do so now. If you already do contribute, thank you – for now, it is time for us to do more. We must be involved in educational changes, economic changes, and personal changes daily if we are going to wake up from crisis and return to the highest pursuit of Dr. King’s Dream.

As I have written in my book, America will only be all that we can be with smaller government along with bigger people. That applies so much more to Black America and the crisis we face today in our communities.

It was a time to dream. Now, it is time to wake up and DO!

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of those bigger people when he gave us a Dream to chase after.

Now, we must be those bigger people by waking up into action so that the American Dream – along with Dr. King’s Dream – can become a greater reality for us all.

Thank you very much for your time. Thank you, Dr. King, for your love. And thank you all for what you do to improve our communities, save our children, and strengthen our nation. God Bless you all and God Bless the United States of America.

Lenny McAllister: Ocala Tea Party (2010 January 18 (“Martin Luther King Was a Tea Party Patriot”))

Good afternoon, Tea Party Patriots.

Thank you for the invitation to address you this afternoon. In a region that is part of the Sunshine State, it is refreshing to see the sunshine reflecting off of your faces today. It is a clear sign that more Americans are becoming engaged with the political processes of their communities and less likely to tolerate a government that has gone on far too long without a true sense of accountability to the Constitution of the United States, the memory of our founding fathers, and the will of a representative republic constituted by one simple phrase: We, The People.

Today, we gather here to protest the direction of government on a day where the nation commemorates the successes of one of its greatest protestors – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Like you, Dr. King saw the need for a change in how our society and government worked in his day, just as we do now. Like you, Dr. King did not wait for others to make a difference in the world – he believed in the power of people over the power of government. Like you, Dr. King saw the vision of a better America coming through the application of our unique constitution, one that guarantees the enjoyment of inalienable rights from God alone, not through false promises through expansive government that taxes us plenty to give us little. Dr. King knew that holding America to its credos as listed in our Constitution was the way to ensure equality. Just the same, we stand here today knowing that holding our current elected officials to the tenets of representative government is the way to scale back the waywardness in spending and backroom deals that we have seen in Washington, allowing us to regain the effectiveness of our collective voice in government.

In his time, Dr. King stepped outside of societal norms to change the way society operated. That is how he led the Civil Rights Movement.

In our time – right here, right now – we must step outside of politics as normal in order to change the way our government works. That is how we will lead our nation back on track and ensure that America will be a world leader for generations to come.

Dr. King led a movement of people that reclaimed the American Dream 50 years ago. You – the people of the Tea Party movement – are the current leaders that will help reclaim the American Dream for the next 50 years. King fought the good fight against government for American equality for us. Today, we fight the good fight against government for American prosperity for all.

Because of the King example that you are following, if someone comes to you and says that it was inappropriate to have a tea party today or that it was not in line with the message of Dr. Martin Luther King to protest government today, I implore you to remind them with respect that Dr. King rallied against government that restricted personal liberties, just as you are doing today. Remind them that Dr. King marched against laws that contradicted the Constitution, just as you are doing today. Remind them that Dr. King was also called a rabble-rouser, a trouble maker, and a radical without a cause, just as you are called today.

Those that think that you dishonor the memory of Dr. King by speaking out against the continuation of the abomination in Washington on MLK Day obviously do not see one simple fact: that Martin Luther King was a 20th century Tea Party Patriot.
Yes, he was – from protesting for a reality that was needed in America before others joined the fight to believing that the Constitution was a time-honored document to be followed by government, not ignored by contemporary politicians chasing partisan glory, big-money contributions, or political philosophies.

And as a Tea Party Patriot, Dr. King would encourage you to protest your government until your government fulfills the obligations enumerated in the founding laws of the land.

He would tell us something that we already know: change will come, but positive, American change will not come from free-spending politicians or big-government program. It will never come from more taxation or from more spending. It will come from the collective power of the people, not a powerful collection of politicians.

With the power of the people, change for the better does come. We have examples on both sides of the political aisle throughout American history.

Ronald Reagan started his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a town historically marred by a low point in the Civil Rights fight. Yet, it was the same man – later as President Reagan – that signed into law the Martin Luther King national holiday that we celebrate today.

The Democratic Party was the party that fought for segregation against African-Americans throughout the Civil Rights era of the 20th century. Yet, it was that same Democratic Party that nominated, then supported the first Black president of the United States.

So yes, change does comes, but it only comes through the persistence of the people - people that work through obstacles of name-calling, disenfranchisement, and discouragement from the status quo to remind us of what is right, what is best, and what is American.

Tea Party people today: with your protests against the outrageous spending that is burdening our children and grandchildren with global debt, you are reminding us of doing what is right.

With your demands that we return the government to the will of the people through smaller, representative government that fosters bigger opportunities for everyday Americans, you are reminding us of what is best.

With your persistence to make your voices heard again and again, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomics, political affiliation, or location, you are reminding us of what is truly American.

You exemplify freedom of assembly. You extol the merits of freedom of speech. You make possible the freedom to prosper.

You are reminding us of what is truly American at a time when the leadership in Washington continues to moves us past a point of recognizing what made this nation so great for so many years.

We now see the desire to be popular with our enemies overseas and be seen as fair by those that attack Americans supersede the obligation of our president and his administration to put the safety of the American people first and foremost. It is time for us – the people of the United States – to remind our elected leadership in Washington that while understanding the human rights of terrorists may hold ethical merit, upholding civil rights of terrorists is unfounded at a time when giving terrorists American criminal rights in court is more important to this administration than getting the needed information to keep Americans safe in the war on terror.

2010 is the year to say clearly and continuously:

Mr. President – prioritize protecting Americans over protecting your reputation around the world.

Mr. President – the prize of a peaceful and safe American homeland will always be worth more than your Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr. President – allow us to claim victory in this war on terror without any campaign timetables before the terrorists claim any more lives.

Mr. President – you are called to be a commander-in-chief to protect our homeland from these attacks, not be a commander-in-thief in taking the nation into unmanageable debt with unsuccessful stimulus packages, cash-for-clunker schemes to uphold the broken and stubborn business model of American automakers, and a questionable national health care plan while unemployment stays unbearable and everyday Americans stay anxious about their prospects for recovery.

We cannot and will not spend our way out of this recession. Big government spending never solved our problems. American brainpower and elbow grease always have.

And that is why it is up to us.

It is up to us, fellow patriots, to remind our government that spending our tax dollars to give us more only ensures us that our government will come around for more of our tax dollars. Taxation does not ensure the prosperity of a nation. Innovation does. Commitment does. Education does. Emancipation of the people does.

Yet, we have watched billions given to banks that asked for money to unfreeze the credit market for Americans, only to watch them freeze out everyday Americans from the rebound that Wall Street experienced over the past several months. Banks have played a corrupt game of us versus them in American business, just as American career politicians have played a continuing game of us versus them in American politics for years.

It is up to us, fellow patriots – today and now – to tell these businesses that horde American prosperity with off-shoring and outsourcing during good times and taxpayer-funded bailouts during bad times that the American taxpayer is not a pawn in your personal game of greed. Without hardworking Americans to pay your goods, Mr. AIG, you are good for nothing. Everyday Americans – and their children and grandchildren – bailed you out of your mire of greed and dysfunction that led to the financial crisis, only for you to spend it on bonuses based on your incompetency. Now it is time for you to work to beat back the rising rate of unemployment. Your profit margins can only be maximized through optimizing American prosperity – and that comes only through American jobs, American workers, and American products being made in the United States of America, sold throughout the world, and winning in the global markets just as we have done for decades. I believe in the American worker – it is time that you believe in him again as well.

Big and unresponsive government restricts American workmanship. Efficient and representative government empowers it – and protects us and our prosperity. We have the talent and the willpower. I believe in the USA. It is our time to make sure that our government acts that way as well.

It is up to us, fellow patriots – today and now – to tell these politicians that our history of republican government of the people is not a roadmap for their individual fame and glory, but a structure guiding the freedom and prosperity for a nation of millions. The 4 walls of government were not built for their comfort in making illicit backroom deals to pass billion-dollar legislation with diminishing benefits for the American people. Those rooms are to be used to empower American ingenuity, encourage private solutions without increased government limitations, and invigorate the economic, social, and personal wealth of Americans – not entrench career politicians into office, particularly those that have forgotten that they serve the American people, not the other way around. It is up to us to say to these politicians in 2010 – change is going to come. Either you will change your ways of spending and of handling the business of government starting in January, or you will be surely be changing your location of business after November.

It is up to us, fellow patriots, to do more than just protest, however. Just as Dr. King did, we must protest and be proactive – we must dream while being diligent with our desires. As a politician, I could tell you what party to be involved with, but as an American, I must implore you to be involved regardless of party affiliation. The mindless servant of politics is the person that does not have an active constituency to be mindful of. That part is up to us today – we must be mindful of our role to stay active in the process if we expect the political process and its participants to stay mindful of our high standards and our historical obligations between government and those that truly govern – we the people of the United States.

Be not discouraged, patriots. This seems like a daunting task, but Americans have faced grim realities before throughout our history and have always created greater realities for themselves in the end.

Only in the United States of America can the rich run for the highest offices of the land, only to be defeated at the hands of the poorest voters at the polls. America was never about the royalty of a few but the prosperity of a nation. With your efforts in elections, in town hall meetings, in local government debates, and in building alliances with your neighbors every day, you can reincorporate the everyday American into the fabric of politics every day. A government focused on taxing and spending is solely concerned about your money. A nation focused on your talents and liberty is focused on your patriotism, your desire to work hard and contribute, and your ability to rebuild America. With you, we make our country less about our government and more about our countrymen and women, the people that our government works for.

Only in the United States of America can the competition of business ideas, the competition of schools and their offerings, and the competition of products across state lines make for a better overall system for us all. We embrace diversity, we encourage healthy debate, and we foster a way of life that says that no one group should dominate based on numbers alone, but should lead with the best ideas and the best models for leadership. Health care reform should not come in America by way of the Democrats have 60 senators; it must come through the sharing of bipartisan ideas that embrace the American spirit of competition of choice, business innovation to drive down cost, and the knowledge that government that dictates how to provide health care can also decide when health care is no longer available based on bureaucratic urges and statistical conclusions.

Freedom – whether it is in health care, in educational opportunities, or from societal restraints – can never be taxed and sold, nor can it be purchased in backroom deals and corrupt conference meetings. It is earned with our patriotism. It is earned with our engagement with the issues. It is bonded with our love for every good thing that America stands for as a unique presence in the world. It is through that promise of hope – not the false promise of free health care – that America shines as the city on a hill throughout the global community.

American health care reform will not come from taxation in 2010 without implementation for years down the road. The sanctity of life is too precious for that, despite what Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi will tell you. Health care reform will come from listening to the American people and giving us what we want – more control of our choices, less costs for service and goods, and the same quality of access and care that we enjoy today. Freedom of choice and quality of service will only be gained the same way as it always has been – through free market enterprise…the beauty of the American way of life.

It is up to us, fellow patriots, to be the change that we can believe in, not the lack of change that we have seen in Washington. It is up to us, fellow Americans, to be the primers of change through our willingness to protest and educate and through our persistence to be involved and be heard. Being a rabble-rouser or being on television means nothing if we are not then ready to be a force with our representatives in Washington, Tallahassee, and points of government in between.

We celebrate the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today because he was willing to be historic at a time when doing so was a threat against his life.

We protest today against the efforts of a tax-and-spend, minimally-effective government because of its threats against our liberty.

We must dare to be historic today and throughout 2010 because without our constant action as respectful activists, candidates, speakers, and citizens, we incur a major obstacle in our collective pursuit of happiness.

The Constitution calls on us to be amenable to these inalienable rights, but the times call on us to be historic to protect these inalienable rights. As I have mentioned in my book, America is in need of recovering through smaller government and bigger people. That means that you are the giants that our nation needs to stop the gigantic debt mounting in Washington. You are the giants that we need to raise the accountability to stop the huge push for a system of change that America has not bargained for. You are the giants to rein in a system that stopped listening to America previously, but now hears your voices loud and clear today.

Be the change.

Be historic.

Be not afraid and be not deterred.

In the face of civil rights challenges, Dr. King was a giant that overcame the negativity, name-calling, and discouragement to beat back government and provide a better way for us all in the 20th century.

In the face of mounting personal restrictions and intense debt, you are the giants to overcome the name-calling and discouragement to beat back government into its rightful place and provide a better way for us all in the 21st century.

So I say:

Be historic.

Be the change.

Be what Dr. King was before you: a protesting patriot with a vision for tomorrow, an unyielding passion for America and equality, and a refusal to stop until life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was once again safe and sound in America in his time.

This is now our calling and this is now our time. Let’s do this – together.

Let’s be historic. What do you say? Are you with me?

The time is now. Let’s be historic.

Thank you for this opportunity. Stay involved with what you do.
God Bless you all and God Bless the United States of America.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Was “Change” Worth It?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two historical candidates bucked the odds and brought change to the two major parties in the nation 12 months ago. But with mounting criticism and public missteps, has change been worth it so far?

Just 12 months ago, there was so much to be proud of for Black America - from both sides of the political aisle.

President Obama was underdog candidate-turned-history’s darling, becoming the 44th president of the United States and the first African-American to garner the post. As president, Mr. Obama would also hold the title of the de facto head of the Democratic Party. He did so after fending off political legacy (e.g., Hillary Clinton) and tenure (e.g., Joe Biden) within his own party before defeating a war hero and a cult hero (e.g., John McCain and Sarah Palin, respectively) in the general election.

Entering into office just mere weeks later was another underdog candidate: Michael Steele, former lieutenant governor of Maryland. After 6 rounds of voting, the former head of GOPAC became the head of the Republican National Committee, head of a grand old party of conservatives best known for being “too old”, losing national affluence, and sustaining Southern Strategy over the past several decades.

Both promised changes for the better – for their parties and for our nation, particularly for America’s up-and-coming generations.

After 12 months, much of the change that we can hope for at this point is a change in perception and direction. However, some of the criticism of both men has been unfair.

Despite both being attorneys, no lawyer without the last name of Cochran could hope to deal with such a tangled web of self-incriminating behavior and bloody debauchery as President Obama and Chairman Steele have been required to over the course of the past 12 months.

Obama and Steele needed to act aggressively to the crises before them, admirable choices that are often forgotten about as both have endured hiccups along the way. In winning as telegenic and affable candidates that found connectivity with young audiences, both men discovered that they overestimated the power of their personality and celebrity (i.e., their “political capital”) to re-direct their teams’ efforts while concurrently perhaps underestimating the severity of the problems facing them as leaders. This immense pressure to make immediate changes under these conditions impacted these men into missteps and miscalculations mixing in some victories during the course of 2009.

In the case of Obama, the 44th president came into office at a time when the nation was at the precipice of major financial collapse, forcing him to act to turn around the increasing joblessness, lack of access to credit, and void in consumer confidence and activity. Despite his affection for President Lincoln, President Obama was not able to follow his lead of uniting the nation under one common cause nor was he able to follow the lead of other presidents (Reagan and GW Bush immediately after 9/11) in creating financial policy that would turn around the economy. Instead, Obama followed his precedent of choice (FDR) without stemming unemployment at 8% (some estimates have the true number as high as 17% and upwards of 25% in some Black communities) or influencing at-risk financial institutions to filter TARP-given funds to the American public to unfreeze credit and stimulate the economy. Further, his willingness to allow Congressional leaders to steer legislation has led to a backlash against his stimulus package and health care reform initiatives, leading to protests nationally and dropping presidential (and Democratic) approval ratings.

In the case of Steele, his experience and media presence have not translated into immediate changes to transform the image of the RNC. Perceived in-fighting with conservative pundits such as Rush Limbaugh (folks that, ironically, do not consider themselves Republicans) and reported conflicts with some old-school Republicans hampered Steele’s ability to broaden the base of the Republican Party and fully leverage the energy of the conservative Tea Party movement, thus leading to continued perceptions that the Republicans and Tea Party goers have remained the same non-diverse activists that many remember from the delegate floor of the 2008 Republican National Convention.

Regardless of the frustrations, the results are indicting but not an indictment yet as their terms are not complete. Further, it is not as though both have had the total support that they require for such a historical job.

For Steele, overcoming the decades-old GOP banter with Southern Strategy (along with Republican experiences that they can win national elections without diversity) and without the newest trends in technology is not a job that will be won overnight. Crafting a new image of the Republican Party (one that is more in-line with its history and Steele’s new vision of conservative inclusion) comes that much harder when Republican insiders continued racist behavior throughout the year, including those working for elected officials in South Carolina and Tennessee. Steele’s verbal gaffes can be overlooked when focusing on the greater picture: Steele has yet to receive the fortified support of Republicans in their efforts to retake seats in Congress and diversify the party, despite a shift back towards Republican candidates (according to major polls), the upsurge of African-American and minority leadership within Republican circles, and major victories in Virginia and New Jersey – all on his watch.

Just the same, President Obama has not received any favors from his Democratic compatriots during his first 12 months. Many were quick to note Congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst during the president’s health care speech in September, but fewer remember Obama’s call for congressional leaders to consider Republican health care reform ideas into the final legislation. The president’s critics have been as unwilling to overlook presidential gaffes such as the “Beer Summit” about as much as the Democrats were willing to overlook the president’s directive from that September speech, instead looking to their Democratic supermajority for non-transparent guidance. Further, Harry Reid’s most recent behavior – between his comments about “Negro dialect” and his willingness to purchase the votes of Landrieu and Nelson during the health care debate in the Senate – was one example of many that single-handedly tarnished much of the Obama Promise: a change in the culture of Washington under his administration. Still the same, the president has been able to pass some major legislation, but only because he has been forced to abandon the bi-partisanship that he campaigned on (but has not delivered to date.)

The beauty with history-making figures, though, is that because they have broken the mold, they are capable of creating any mold to fit a new and changing time should they have the courage to grasp the times and ignore the critics, including those within their own camp. It would seem that the two well-intended men made Black America proud with the rise to leadership in 2009, only to bruise their reputations (and perhaps their egos as well) as obstacles both foreseen and others cropped up during a major portion of their tenure. Both still have to time to claim success and carve a legacy of positive American political history for themselves. Better team-building with reliable, talented, and visionary leaders that these men can mentor to, partner with, and be challenged by will be key in determining whether these men will make the most out of year 2 of their leaderships of the major political parties of the nation.

Can both be winners in 2010? Probably not as they oppose each other politically. However, with increased support, tweaking of their methodology and support teams, and insight from 2009, they can both make Black American proud while fostering improvements in America, thus turning around the mixed results under their watches in 2009.

If so, change will be worth it after all.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Unnecessary Casualties of The Culture War

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I mentioned this to people numerous times, and I meant it every single time.

The Republican Party is in the midst of a culture war as it fights to become relevant with everyday Americans – and bolster its image (and presence) as a national electoral force in a nation of ever-shifting demographics.

In that war, there will be casualties, including ones that may cost the Republicans a lot more than they are willing to spend in 2010.

One proposed name at the top of the casualty list: Chairman Michael Steele - its leader, first Black chairman of the RNC, and one of the best opportunities to diversify a party that is seen as being too old, too detached, and too exclusive for today's America.

The image may be of Ali decades ago, but today, Michael Steele is one Black man in America dodging a lot of arrows and attacks from all directions, both deservedly and otherwise.

"...honest Injun..."

For all of the admitted verbal gaffes (including the chairman's misstep last week as quoted above) and slow starts during the first 12 months of his term as chairman, one thing cannot be said about the former candidate for the United States Senate: he is not going to be accused of sitting around, not working to affect change for the GOP.

And - regardless of whether anyone wants to say it or not – that matters.

Ironically, the same passes that President Obama has gotten from his gaffes in the White House – from his team promoting him for a Nobel Peace Prize mere weeks into his presidency (and winning the prize despite a dearth of international accomplishments aside from a speech in Berlin) to the “Beer Summit Blunder” and now the “no Negro dialect” oversight – are not afforded to the chairman of the RNC despite many of the same dynamics coming into play.

There are reasons to disagree with the methods and directives of every leader, from Washington to Lincoln and from the Roosevelts to Reagan. However, when personal attacks come in the line of fire as America looks to pivot in accordance to the changing dynamics of the nation, it becomes more than about politics.

As is accurately true about some of the criticisms directed at President Obama, the same applies to Michael Steele.

Some folks just don’t want to see some types of change and will not stop until things…well…stop changing.

After winning the election after 6 rounds of voting, Michael Steele went to work as the new chairman of the RNC by looking to cut the legacy binds within the party, removing many people from the organization in an attempt to rebuild the party’s image into one that reflected more of how America looks in the 21st century.

Do you think that move made a lot of friends, regardless of how much people were saying on both sides of the aisle that the Republican Party looked too much like the “party of old, White men” and needed to change?

The culture war within the Republican Party – one that looks to morph its image and tolerance of other backgrounds while keeping its core principles intact (even in the aftermath of losing those principles over the past decade) – began in earnest 12 months ago once Steele’s victory made it clear that these changes would be coming, starting with the changes within the building. Even with all of the missteps, the tone within the RNC and the branding of conservatism changed in 2009 under Steele’s watch, a fact that very few want to attribute to him. Last year, the Party of Lincoln could speak with a chairman that attended the State of the Black Union and the NAACP Convention while speaking to the DC school voucher issue from a first-hand experience, not a one-off perspective that sounded conciliatory and foreign at best despite some of those that had the best of intentions.

The Republican Party’s history of Southern Strategy could not be argued against a man that stood in clear defiance of that legacy without saying a word.

Then again, things like Southern Strategy, the Jeremiah Wright ad, the Jesse Helms “quotas” ad, and the Willie Horton ad didn’t get out there on their own.

So, yes, there are forces that don’t quite want to see certain types of “change.”

Between the first Steele actions in office to his public missteps and statements, the move was on to make sure that those fighting change could control any further “change.”

The moves to limit the chairman’s ability to spend – a move not seen within RNC circles in some time, if ever.

The rhetoric about “overexposure” of the chairman on television – a call that seemingly ignored the impact that Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and others had on keeping minorities and others away from approaching the party with some of their own unique rhetoric.

The slight within Republican circles after the victories in New Jersey and Virginia – a snub that comes across more as an unwillingness to share the wealth of victory than it does a “truth-bearing initiative” on what happened last fall.

Now, the motion to donate all proceeds of Steele’s book to the RNC and its candidates – a move that screams “share the wealth” from a group of die-hard free market capitalists that reeks of the hypocrisy that hindered the GOP through the last decade and has made the brand an afterthought in 2006 and 2008.

Why am I saying this?

Because the question that everyone is thinking but many are afraid to ask still looms.

How much of these attacks on Steele are really about “poor” or “questionable” leadership?

How many others that could be in the chairman’s shoes would turn down book money at this point of time, particularly as precedent has been set for former chairmen to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars from outside interests? Think that should interests didn’t raise the risk as potential “distractions”?

How many chairmen would sit still and watch their spending power be attacked or limited?

How many other chairmen would be told – silently or otherwise – that his role was little to none in the surprise victories in Virginia and New Jersey without a rebuttal?

Change often does not come without struggle. Inclusion often is not the friend of legacy.

The RNC is in need of both change and inclusion in order to compete successfully in a 21st century America that has shifted its views on gender, race, power, wealth, and success. Without a successful push for inclusion, the conservative principles that the GOP espouses will be lost to a wave of left-leaning followers of the only major party that reflects their demographics, life experiences, and circle of influences.

Because the RNC needs change and inclusion, it will continue to incur bouts of struggle from certain pockets of legacy until the culture war is won. That battleground has its beachhead at the desk of Michael Steele, Esq.

Mind you – not every move that Michael Steele has made has been successful or appropriate. And for those “taking score”, not every Black Republican has been on the same exact page with Steele on every issue; (one example would reflect back to when the chairman publicly asked on CNN that some within the party should “…stop talking so much…” about the Audra Shay controversy with the YRNF – right as I continued to speak publicly about the damage that I felt such a candidate would do to the efforts and image of the Young Republicans.) Some battles will always be fought within large organizations full of diverse leaders. That should not change – in the RNC, the GOP, or elsewhere.

However, it’s not supposed to be about a top-down, legacy-driven mindset that will turn around the Republican Party. Conservatism and free-market principles dictate the best rising to the top. It supports healthy competition that will further the overall effort.

It does not destroy itself from within via greed, jealousy, and worse – unless if we’re applying free market principles to Wall Street.

Or maybe politics.

Whether intended or otherwise, the constant call for Steele’s head on a platter by some (yet not all) factions within the RNC does a lot less to rally the grassroots towards a stronger, more viable Republican Party for America. Instead, it harkens America’s imagination back to the glory days of the party from the past several decades, including many of its inglorious moments – intended or otherwise.

And the casualties of this culture war may bring with it collateral damage - namely, losing a prime opportunity to take back seats in 2010 and take back viability with American voters for a generation - if the Republican Party and the RNC doesn't rescind on its latest round of in-fighting.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Uncle Barack and Mister Reid

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

To many, this is going to be a ridiculous rant, so please bear with me. You have to understand, to me, it's just as ridiculous as many people calling people such as myself "Uncle Toms" and "sellouts" for staying supportive of people that I know personally - just as President Obama has a habit of doing when it comes to issues of race.

Again, I'm admitting - this may come across as ridiculous to many of you, but go with me for just a second.

As it may come across as unfair or undeserved to many of us - just as those slurs seem uncalled for and undeserved to many Black conservatives when they are hurled by the left side of the political aisle - President Obama may be quickly gaining a reputation for being an Uncle Tom racial apologist for those that he caucuses with on the Democratic side of politics. Looking over his time on the national scene, Mr. Obama has a track record of overlooking racial slights whenever they come from his side of the house, while at the same time taking on an aggressive campaign to isolate and label folks such as Rush Limbaugh, conservative talk radio, and Fox News Network as racists and entities that promote hate throughout America (rightly or otherwise.)

And lest we not forget the racial interjection of President Obama that led him to the "Beer Summit,” either.

We slam those that stand with us but "forgive" (i.e., overlook) the racial slights that come from within our own ranks, Mr. President?

Some media outlets have accurately reported that the comment from Harry Reid was not the first time that President Obama has had to handle issues of racial disrespect within his own party - taking those opportunities to respond with interesting results.

For example, comments very similar to Senator Reid's remarks were attributed to then-Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, saying that Obama represented the "...the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy..." No offense to the other hundreds of mainstream African-American men that were capable of meeting these "requirements" and changing America - from Malcolm X to Dr. Martin Luther King to Thurgood Marshall to Colin Powell (never mind the countless attorneys, politicians, preachers, and businessmen that also have these qualities) - but, to Biden, this Obama must have seemed like a " type of Negro..."

How insulting, particularly when it comes from a man that later told the young (but apparently naive) presidential candidate that the presidency was not a "...(position) that lent itself to on-the-job training..."


So, after being called a "new type of Negro" (in essence) and being told that he was not ready to be president by this man, what does Mr. Obama do after overcoming the odds?

He makes him Vice President Biden.

Now, Harry Reid - a man that flippantly compared Civil Rights Legislation (one that prevented Black people from, among other things, from being denied the right to vote, continuing to endure savage beatings and torture, and living a legal second-rate citizenship) to the health care bill he was championing - now comes out in 2008 and equates Obama's chances as a presidential candidate as greater due to his “light-skinned” features and not having a “Negro dialect.”

Let’s overlook the fact that he is – along with many others over the course of the past 30 years (and, in many years, a lot longer than that) – Ivy-League-educated, multi-degreed, and published. Let’s overlook the fact that he was, after all, a United States senator at the time when he decided to run for president. Let’s overlook the fact that he overcame a lot of personal challenges in his life to become an attorney, a legislator, and a national figure.

No – let’s just focus on the fact that those qualities don’t give him the same access or shot that being “light-skinned” or being devoid of a “Negro dialect” will.

Obama’s response? Basically accepting an apology, calling Reid a reliable friend of his and a friend of America, and trying to put it behind him, even as many Democrats defend Reid by saying that the “light-skinned” comments were intended to be “complimentary” – an offense that Mr. Obama’s late father should shudder to hear if he were still walking this earth.

After months of insults from the Clinton camp – ranging from everything from then-Senator Clinton calling Obama a neophyte politician (similar to the remarks from Biden) and President Clinton’s now-infamous comments about Obama only being capable of “serving coffee” to him just a few years ago – President-elect Obama’s response to the vicious slams was to make Hillary Clinton the Secretary of State. That, of course, meant taking on the presidential luggage of Bill Clinton as well, baggage that now includes more racially-insensitive (or blatant racist) remarks from the “first Black president of the United States.”

And, perhaps, those are just good ol’ fashioned political bedfellows playing out.

Of course, that’s until you remember President Obama’s first fundraising tour as United States senator. That endeavor included stumping for Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a known former Klansman for decades.

Political bedfellows is one thing, but does an African-American candidate that won a senatorial election with 70% of the statewide vote need to turn around and campaign for someone that would have looked to hang his late father from a tree around the same time he was conceived in his late mother’s womb?

One thing is for certain – and Americans don’t want to talk about this aspect of the controversy with Harry Reid – it’s this: if a Black Republican (notably, a biracial Republican) would have had the gall to campaign for a known-Klansman so early after winning a historical seat, there is no way that he would have gained enough of Black America’s imagination, support, and votes to even consider running for the presidency in the 20 next years after his victory, let alone in the 20 months Obama turn his victory into a presidential campaign as a Democrat.

One has to wonder: would a biracial president that was a Republican be given the continual pass to overlook racial slights, jaded and antiquated racial ideologies, and divisive comments and viewpoints that equate into the “…well, you’re not really Black…” sentiment that many of us grew up with (and hoped to overcome as a society) that continues to create chasms within America and distrust among many of us?

The longer that President Obama picks and chooses when he wants to address perceived racial hatred and division (see the Tea Party outrage, the Fox News Freeze-out, and the Rush Limbaugh and conservative radio chronicles of this administration to date for examples), the more he comes across as the very stereotype that his counterpart in the RNC (Michael Steele) continues to hear as the head of the other major political party nationally. Obama’s willingness to jump into the racial fray over friends (Dr. Henry Louis Gates) or have the system do it when politically convenient (the Tea Party movement over the historic spending and government option debates last year) reeks of political opportunism and politics-as-usual when it contrasts with the president’s track record of lovingly “turning the other cheek” when similar disgusting comments come from his apparent allies in the Democratic Party.

People say that the president does not garner the respect he should because, in large part, it is due to Mr. Obama being Black. However, looking at issues such as this, it has as much to do with the willingness to flip-flop on his outrage to intolerance than it does with his extreme big-government policies and failure to deliver on the unity and prosperity domestically and internationally that his campaign was built upon. Regardless of history-making endeavors, the American people will not respect those unwilling to call to task their own when the same mistakes made by adversaries are subsequently made by allies. There’s a reason why people have my back when I speak to matters that impact our communities, particularly about race. It has much to do with my willingness to call out the Democrats’ inconsistencies with race just as I did with Audra Shay’s unfortunate stumbling during the Young Republican election in July 2009. It comes from my willingness to question what other civil leaders and I can do to improve the educational opportunities for poor Black children (and say that we are not doing enough to make more of a difference), even as I criticize President Obama for cutting funding to poor Black children for primary and secondary educational pursuits. It comes from being able to speak strongly at a tea party about the changes we need in government today while also being able to speak to some of the racist and hateful rhetoric that was spewed in a minority of events – and speaking to it directly.

President Obama does not speak to these things. He rode the wave as being the first Black president, yet has ducked from being Black at every chance he gets except when it’s politically prudent not to do so. The Harry Reid example appears to be another case in a track record of catering to political allies while overlooking the same racial stereotypical thinking that brands the Republicans as hateful, racist, and separatist – only when it’s convenient to ignore the poison coming from the left. Of course, all bets are off when shunning Michael Steele (as he did to the then-Lt. Governor of Maryland in 2005 when Steele reached out to befriend Obama) or condoning the hate-labeling when it’s done to those on the right (very often wrongly.)

Or, maybe not. Maybe it’s just a rant based off of a string of separate events that have no correlation to each other. Maybe it’s just a perception. But, you know what they say – in politics, perception is reality. And if this were perceived from the other side of the political fence, I know what the reality would be.
Then again, perhaps it would be best to drop these silly slurs and names in the first place, regardless of who is accused and where the accusations stem from.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Racing Through the Politics of Race

Monday, January 11, 2010

Harry Reid's recent comments (actually, "recent" in this instance means 2008) concerning how the viability of President Obama's 2008 campaign was tied to him being "light-skinned" and without "Negro dialect" just shows yet again how much we are tied to issues of race in most - if not all - aspects of our society.

Even when we are not Black...Negro...or African-American.

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's latest claim that he was "Blacker than Obama" brings the sentiment of race back to pay in yet another way. Not so long ago, the complaint about then-candidate Barack Obama was exactly that he was not Black enough for America. Now, you have well-known White men making that case, in effect saying that he was a viable candidate because, well, there were other White men that could be Blacker than he was.

And we heard that we were post-racial because of Obama’s victory?

Please. I will say this, though. The evidence is clear: race matters.

In the 21st century, racing through the politics of race has everything to do with perception of acceptance, not the reality of breaking down barriers that divide us. Sadly, the latest comments from two nationally-renowned Democrats only highlight this fact: that both sides of the aisle still have a propensity to celebrity diversity as a means to delineate culture for the benefit of gaining a political victory versus teaching future generations the best ways to be tolerant, accepting, and comfortable with societal changes.

The Obama Presidency – once thought to be the symbol that we have overcome our racial demons – may now indicate to us just how much we haven’t move past these obstacles at all.

Fair and Open? Talk about Faux News...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Funny - when people usually talk about "Faux News", it's a satirical take on the slanted viewpoint of the conservative-tilted network, Fox News. The criticism - often well deserved - comes from left-leaning followers of politics that find themselves reviling the opinions and stories that come from Fox News. To them, Fox News provides too much propaganda and not enough openness with all sides of the issues.
In light of the recent developments coming from the Obama Administration and the supermajority leadership in Washington, perhaps that moniker is best worn by those propagating falsehoods concerning the "open and fair debate" in Washington concerning health care reform that was supposed to epitomize the new era ushered in last January.
Just last week, word came from Capitol Hill that the president and congressional leaders would not invite top Republicans into private negotiations over the compromises that will shape the rest of the health care legislation proposed for passage early this year. Of course, this is a huge contrast to the "C-SPAN open" debates on health care that President Obama mentioned in earlier times. Perhaps it was the blowback that came at the town hall forums across the country during last summer or perhaps it is the fallout from repeated Republican pushback on Democrat-led bills since the beginning of last year. Whatever the case may be, this stands clear: that after successfully convincing Americans that government would be fairer and more open under Democrat-driven rule post-2008, the Democrats have consistently and repeatedly shut out a significant portion of American ideas and proposals simply based on political affiliations regardless of whether or not the solutions could improve America.
The lack of openness is more detrimental than just the broken promise of healing the heated partisan divide that America suffered in the media and beyond over the past decade or so. It goes back to reminding us of a painful reality that has yet to be addressed properly in Washington - namely, that both major political parties are full of leaders and support systems that are more interested in the power-grab that comes with winning elections than they are with service to the people and focus on the solutions needed for the nation, even if that means coming up with appropriate compromises with viable ideas from rival American leaders.
After all - it is still one big nation, working together for common goals, right?
And that is what has preached by the Obama Team in 2008 but has been constantly overlooked since Barack Obama became president #44. The inability (and, now, apparent unwillingness) of the new administration to harken to this sentiment during such a critical time in American history only reeks of more political deception and pandering than it resembles any sort of true leadership. Through the first quarter of this presidency, there has not been enough chance-taking outside of the party structure set for #44, a clear break from the gameplan set by Candidate Obama that now has led to unpopular and unsuccessful spending programs from Washington that has had minimal impact on turning around the economy, unfreezing the credit market, and putting more Americans back to work. This direction - if appplied to the health care reform initiative - will only have similar results in 2010 to what we have seen in 2009: one-party-driven legislation that ratchets up America's debt while hampering the recovery for Americans across the land.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why Fume over Hume?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I heard the comment on Sunday. I didn't think anything of it.

Then, I started looking around at the folks upset with the inference.

Geez. Really?

The comment from Fox News political commentator Brit Hume concerning the troubles of Tiger Woods was not the culturalist, mean-spirited, and naughty sentiment that many (and, yes, I'll say it - most of them on the political left) are saying that it was.

Usually, I'm not in the choir of people actively saying that proud Christianity is not welcome in America anymore, but situations such as this one making me rethink the issue.
Only in the Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave, and the original Bastion for Religious Expression can a man's honest advice as an older, proud Christian get so much flak as a nose-thumbing culturalist.
To those that are taking the position that Brit Hume meant hurt or was looking down his nose at Tiger Woods by suggesting that he should consider switching from Buddhism to Christianity in order to help get his life back in order should heed this:
C'mon, folks.
And yes, that includes you, too, Mr. Stewart, although your wit more often is served to prove a point rather than be malicious.
Duly noted, but have we lost the ability of older Americans to be able to impart on us items and actions from their experiences that helped them along the way?
Any believer that practices a religion will compassionately offer assistance to those that are suffering life challenges (self-inflicted or otherwise.) Furthermore, anyone that gives their spiritual energy and time (and, in many cases, financial resources) to a religious institution such as Christianity will carry the de facto belief that their faith is the best. At a time of need, they are going to offer the best that they can in order to help, even from afar. Hume's sentiments on Fox News Sunday this week does not lend to the cultural (or religious) elitism that many felt that it did.
Organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and others use the Christian faith to successfully turn around the lives of addicts everyday, using the principles of the faith in order to help previously non-practicing Christians and non-Christians alike to pry folks away from the grip of addiction. From the sounds of reports, it seems as though Mr. Woods may have an issue or two with addiction. What else would cause someone to intentionally sabotage a billion-dollar, self-made, one-man industry? There's not that much pride in the world to cause someone to be that reckless.
And that leads to the point that Hume was alluding to when he made his statement.
If Tiger Woods was simply seen as an arrogant athlete that controllably threw caution into the wind with affair after affair, it would be one thing. However, most of the reports coming out indicate that Tiger now has a life that is rapidly spiraling out of control as allegations come out about multiple affairs circulate, complete with careless, nondescript behavior that left "tiger prints" everywhere.
When the Christian soul of a man sees another in need, he offers him the one thing that he knows - from experience - that will not fail him in recovery from a major life crisis: a deeper experience with God. This is what Brit Hume - a surviving father of a son whose life troubles led to suicide a decade ago - did for a young man that was not much older than his late son was. Sadly, this well-intended public act of compassion was instead scorched in the media as a strike against Buddhism.
When the selfless intentions of a Christian man in America cannot be seen as a well-meaning invitation based off of experience in a nation where Christianity was the rock for the vast majority of our founding fathers, we are truly headed to an abyss as a nation that will only be averted through the Grace of God. Spinmeisters and talking heads alike need to give back to America a dignity that commonly understands what criticisms are in-bounds and which ones are nothing more than opportunities to make something out of nothing - acts that often create division out of good intentions.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Calling Off the Dogs

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

You would think that Senator Ben Nelson would have known that it would come to this.

You know that the Democratic leadership in the United States Senate knew - and didn't care to allow this senator to be thrown under the bus in order to get its precious 60th vote a few weeks ago.

Having the slightest bit of foresight would allow one to see that the attacks from the right (and the moderates) without much protection from the left was coming.

So, to hear the "mea culpa" asking for the dogs to be called off was - well - surprising.

If the senator from Nebraska thinks that the dogs are coming after him through the use of several states' attorney general' offices, he - and the Democrats in Washington, for that matter - have yet to see who the real dogs are going to be that need to be "called off."

The American voters in 2010.
A nation filled with discomfort from the economy, disillusionment from the "results" from the stimulus package and other initiatives from the Obama Administration to date, and the disapproval of Congress overall (including approval ratings in the 20s-30s% for both Democratic leaders in the Congress) will be armed and ready to strike back at a government that they voted to put into place in 2008 but has yet to provide the change from Washington's status quo that they hoped for after the Democrats took control of both the White House and Capitol Hill 12 months ago. The event captivating this entrenched behavior - the non-descript purchasing of votes to lure both Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) to put forth votes to secure the "magic 60" in the Senate for health care passage - only highlighted the cause for anger, mobilization, and continuation of the Tea Party movement in grassroots America and the general media assault on the left-leaning supermajority that is seen in conservative circles.
Calling off the dogs - even in legal circles - will not calm down the firestorm within America that was touched off when news of these "secret deals" was "leaked" to the media, not because people are fed-up with Democrats exclusively (especially after the recent dismissal of Republicans in '06 and '08), but moreso due to the promises of ethical change that were campaigned upon by Democrats led by now-president Barack Obama. The failure to see this change in Washington while, at the same time, yielding blank check of legislative power to one party has done less to eliminate the woes of the GW Bush Era but has, instead, led to the reminder that any 1 particular party left in absolute power without the willingness to abide by its own campaign promises of lobbyist- and cronyistic-reform or a direct tie to the people it represents to acquiesce to their whims will march forward without delivering the change requested by the people through their previous votes. The shine that Democrats wore as change agents for the populist has been tarnished throughout 2009, completed with a self-induced plattering of mud coming from the "Cornhusker Kickback" and the "Louisiana Purchase" during the health care debate in the Senate.
Sadly, what Democrats may learn in 2010 (particularly if the GOP plays its cards right) is that the dogs from the attorney general offices may be called off due to Obamacare Controversy, but the chicken may be coming home to roost nonetheless soonafter.