Flawless is coming soon...

Monday, January 21, 2008

In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Part II

During the short career of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights Movement rose as the greatest model of protest that this country had ever witnessed. The movement bravely confronted the fact that the United States had never lived out the true meaning of its creed: a government of the people, by the people and for the people, whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed and established upon the principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed theirs lives and fortunes (emphasis mine – taken from the American Creed).

While America was willing to defend these principles for foreign lands during the World Wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, it had turned its back on its citizens of color, ignoring their pleas for freedom, equality and justice. It was not until Dr. King seared the country’s conscience by reminding it that it was created on the principle that all men were created equal, that America began to dismantle its own form of Apartheid. In his memorable speech at the Holt Street Baptist Church, initiating the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, he demonstrated with his forceful use of language that if their cause was wrong, then everything that America stood for was steeped in hypocrisy:

…And we are not wrong, we are not wrong in what we are doing. If we are wrong, then the Supreme Court of this Nation is wrong. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a Utopian dreamer and never came down to earth. If we are wrong, justice is a lie...

Despite the insults, the sticks, the stones, the bricks and the threats, Dr. King and many others in the Civil Rights Movement demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice their lives for the principles of justice and fairness; something that has nearly disappeared from the social landscape today. Using the Civil Rights Movement as a model for contemporary dissent, does anyone believe that massive, coordinated rallies would not be taking place to protest our presence In Iraq, or the Bush administration’s furtive control of the Executive Branch of Government, or outrageous gasoline prices and other energy costs, or the lack of affordable health care for the poor and elderly, among other issues?

In Dr. King’s final public speech, he gave his own eulogy of a life that led the charge to slay the triplets of racism, Jim Crow and the refusal of the Federal Government to come to the rescue of the black citizens of this country. However, it was not until the next evening that those who heard the closing words of his I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech recognized that they were not listening to the motivational speech of a civil rights activist, but the utterance of a prophet:

...Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

At 6:01 p.m., April 4, 1968, the Dreamer fell to an assassin’s bullet, and with him, one might conclude, the heart of the Civil Rights Movement.

America has evolved from one set of struggles in the 1960s to another set of struggles: a wave of bankruptcies; outrageous interest rates for credit cards; the prospect of foreigners buying up this country; an administration that has defied the notion of a transparent government; the threat of terrorism; unusually high energy costs, led by soaring gas prices; and the list goes on. As a concerned citizen who loves America, I ask, “Where are the leaders; not black leaders, but social leaders that can harness the energy of those who see the injustice of it all?” But here’s the frightening prospect - when the masses are more interested in who will win the Super Bowl in February than paying $80 for a tank of gas that will last 4 days, then perhaps we’ve already lost our democratic form of government.

I wrote in Part I of this series about the Trilateral Commission’s report that the Crisis of Democracy was too much access to education. However, certainly this notion is incorrect, because democracies are not vulnerable to an educated citizenry. Democracies are threatened most when the collective will of the people to protest has vanished.

God Bless the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and happy birthday!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Part I

In 1975, the Trilateral Commission published its report on the governability of democratic societies called “The Crisis of Democracy.” This report examined the state of Western democracies – Europe, the United States and Japan – and their biggest threats. If a poll had been taken in 1975, asking respondents what they believed were the biggest threats to Western democracies, most would have rightfully said Communism and/or nuclear annihilation. However, according to the Trilateral Commission’s report, it was neither Communism nor atomic bombs that loomed as the agent to dismantle hundreds of years of participatory government; it was too much access to free education.

The authors of the report, Michel J. Crozier, Joji Watanuki and Samuel J. Huntington,[1] later published a book by the same name, which expanded on the ideas of democracy’s so called crisis. The following, taken from the introduction, gives a clue to how hostile some intellectuals in the Western World have viewed democratic government:

In the age of widespread secondary school and university education, the pervasiveness of the mass media, and the displacement of manual labor by clerical and professional employees, this development constitutes a challenge to democratic government which is, potentially at least, as serious as those posed in the past by the aristocratic cliques, fascist movements, and the communist party (Crisis of Democracy, page 7).

What?! Did I read the misgivings of three Western intellectuals regarding access to education, and how this access poses as much of a threat to democracy as a cabal of wealthy bankers, Hitler and Joseph Stalin?

Huntington went on further to say in the conclusion of part three of the book: “The vulnerability of democratic government in the United States thus comes not primarily from external threats, though such threats are real, nor from internal subversion from the left or the right, although both possibilities could exist, but rather from a highly educated, mobilized, and participatory society” (emphasis mine – Crisis of Democracy, page 115 ).

In addition to the obvious theme of the book that too much access to education is the leading threat to democracy, the underlying suggestion is that it is necessary to curtail access to education and personal freedoms in order to preserve the ability of democratic institutions to govern society.

The 1960s witnessed the expansion of special interest groups – Civil Rights, feminists, anti-war, and environmentalists – who felt like their rights were being infringed upon. Consequently, they demonstrated a willingness to risk life and limb to challenge the social institutions that blocked their full participation in a democratic society. Blacks and females experienced an enormous surge in social, political and economic gains, while the anti-Vietnam movement forced the hand of Richard Nixon and resulted in a U.S. retreat, disguised as a cease-fire in Vietnam. And the environmentalists forced the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.

When one thinks of the protest movements of the 1960s, of course the marches against racial injustice in the South stands at the top of the pyramid. The marchers’ non-violent demands for equal rights for all citizens regardless of race, faced the threat of police brutality, water hoses, fire-bombs, incarcerations and lynchings. However, to the dismay of many segregationists, they were undeterred and demonstrated a willingness to endure as much punishment as the segregationists were willing to dish out. And who living during this period of protest can forget the anti-Vietnam protest at Kent State University in May 1970 when the National Guard shot and killed four students and wounded 9 others; one of whom suffered permanent paralysis?

Collectively, these movements believed deeply in the obligation of the Federal Government to protect the rights of all individuals, and that a democratic society imposed restraints on large corporations from acting solely out of self interest. In other words, the Federal Government couldn’t wink at the oppression of blacks in Mississippi or the glass ceiling that had been erected against female advancement in the workplace, and a corporation couldn’t poison a local river with waste from a manufacturing facility in order to save money and increase profits.

But when I examine the social landscape today, I wonder what has happened to the collective will of the people to demand fair treatment and transparency from ‘Corporate America’ and the Federal Government.

…to be continued

[1] Michael J. Crozier wrote concerning the crisis in Western Europe; Joji Watanuki wrote concerning the crisis in Japan and Samuel J. Huntington wrote of the crisis in the United States.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Muhammad Ali

One of the greatest athletes in American history, and arguably the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali celebrates his 66th birthday today. He mesmerized his opponents with skills never seen before in the heavy weight division. “Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee! Ahhhhhhhh! Rumble young man…rumble…Ahhhhhhhh,” was the poetic expression that Ali and his assistant trainer, Drew Bundini Brown, would often shout at each other during times when the adrenaline charged emotions were running high; either during training or immediately preceding a fight.

In Ali’s November 1966 match against Cleveland Williams, he displayed a blend of swiftness, power and dazzling foot work, that caused some commentators to say that that was the greatest performance that he ever gave in the ring. However, some say that we will never know how good he could have been because of the almost four year’s moratorium on fighting that was imposed upon hm by the courts during his legal battle to stay out of the military.

The controversy will rage for years to come whether Ali was the greatest boxer ever. Some would argue Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Lewis, or Rocky Marciano, but one thing is without argument, Ali was more than a boxer or a poet. Muhammad Ali exhibited a quality in his life that appears to be extinct in the sport’s world: He stood-up for a principle that only those who are willing to give their life for a cause can understand. He refused induction into the United States Military at the height of his professional career. As a result of this courageous stand, the Courts denied him the right to practice his boxing trade and made him forfeit his heavyweight championship.

Ali’s refusal to enter the Army was based on his religious belief that the War in Vietnam was evil. In fact, he was vilified for ‘truth-mongering’ when he said the following:

Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.

His stand cost him millions of dollars in boxing purses, the loss of the prime of his career and the threat of a five year prison term hung ghastly over his head. However, this did not alter Ali’s stance. In fact, he once said he would face machinegun fire before denouncing his beliefs.

While today’s top athletes can earn as much as the gross national product of third world nations, I’d be curious to know which one would risk it all for a cause. When Ali fought Joe Frazier during the first fight of their trilogy, both fighters were guaranteed $2.5 million. Based on the way promotional rights are negotiated today, that could easily be $40 million to $50 million per fight in 2008. Ali risked a lifestyle that most people only dream of, but in doing so, he ascended beyond the ring as a sport’s figure into the rare stratosphere as a world-changer. On June 28, 1971, the United States Supreme Court upheld his right to refuse to join the military based on his religious beliefs.

I may as well make a full disclosure now that Ali is my favorite sport’s personality of all time; even greater than Michael Jordan, who I loved as an athlete and greatly admired his prowess on the court as well. However, Michael refused to speak out against Nike for its exploitation of low wage earners in its manufacturing facilities in China and other Asian countries, while being the sports apparel giant’s biggest endorsement. This certainly does not make Michael evil. It simply suggests that he is willing to profit from the exploitation of others, while I believe Ali would have been a forceful opponent of sweatshops before he allowed his name to be associated with one.

Here is another disclosure – I love history for a number of reasons; not the least of which is because it is so refreshing to read about the Ali’s of the world who faced a Goliath with nothing but a slingshot and one smooth stone, because we are certainly not witnessing that type of advocacy today. Would Ali have sacrificed the 2008 equivalent of his first purse against Joe Frazier? Absolutely yes! Because men and women of conscience see beyond money and know that they were born with something that is more valuable than silver, gold or a piece of paper that we call a dollar – it’s called integrity.

Two of the great social revolutionaries in our country, Martin King and Muhammad Ali, celebrated their birthdays two days apart. There’s nothing mystical about that, but what is pretty astonishing is that both men, taking separate paths, slew the dragon they confronted, making this world a better place for us all.

Happy Birthday Muhammad Ali!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Dr. King

There are times when dying is more gentle than living: for instance, some of us have probably known people who were in excruciating pain at the end of a long battle with an illness and people actually prayed that God would take them out of their misery. Aside from these rare instances, I believe that most people in America can be thankful for their current condition and position in life. It is a blessing to live in “the home of the brave and land of the free.” However this country could not always make the case that this was so. America has an ugly past of genocide against the Native Americans, and more recently its history with respect to its Americans of African descent, include slavery and brutal treatment under the racist culture that evolved after the Civil War.

Thanks to the Civil Rights Movement, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., America discarded its racist past in favor of a society that was inclusive. If this great American Patriot were still alive today, we would be helping him celebrate his 79th birthday. Dr. King was born January 15, 1929, and lived a life that changed the course of American history. He once said that he wanted people who are born in the future to understand that the new rights and privileges that they enjoy did not come without someone sacrificing; without someone dying. And he paid the ultimate price for his beliefs by sacrificing his own life.

Dr. King’s working for peace, campaigning for justice and loving his enemies has been recognized by this great country by bestowing upon him the greatest honor of recognition that a nation can offer – a national holiday in recognition of his birth date. Although, the United States celebrates his birthday on the third Monday of January (this year – January 21st), I would like to take a moment to honor his memory with a moment of thanksgiving:

Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Happy Birthday!

Bill Clinton's Legacy - Part III

Money spent by the Federal government does not always bring the anticipated results. There are two shooting stars of Federal spending to buttress this point: First, the Bush administration has spent nearly $500 billion on the Iraq War, with no tangible results, unless one considers the overthrow of Saddam as one of the positive outcomes of the war funding to date. It wouldn’t take much to convince me that he was a cruel dictator that needed to be removed; however, it would be a challenge for someone to persuade me that it was worth $500 billion to remove him. Plus, if we use cruelty as the standard for preemptively striking regimes that are out of step with democratic principles, then let’s line-up the rest of the world’s dictators and select the next one to overthrow.

Second, the government is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); the Federal agency that was created as a result of September 11th to align all of the intelligence agencies under one department and to protect the homeland. In its first big test to prove the virtue of its creation, it failed miserably when confronted with Hurricane Katrina, notwithstanding that it had one week to prepare for it. To date, DHS has cost the tax payer more than $200 billion.

In two fatal swoops, the Bush Administration has spent nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars in failed ventures. If this were a public corporation, the stock holders would literally demand the head of the CEO on a silver platter. However, since the Bush administration convinced the public that these funding requirements were matters of national security, it has simply been permitted to “print” money to pay the bills. But as we witnessed under Clinton, money for the poor, a dispensable segment of the population, was withdrawn.

The Federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, aka Welfare Reform, effectively eliminated welfare for millions of poor people and removed safety-net programs. A Wisconsin study looking at the impact of Welfare Reform on the state, demonstrated that more than 100,000 children had been removed from the rolls of Aid to Families with Dependant Children and more than 50,000 no longer benefited from Medicaid, despite growing numbers of uninsured children. Food stamps enrollment also declined by more than 70,000 or 41 percent.

Clinton’s Welfare Reform severely weakened the centerpiece of the Great Society; a series of domestic programs established by President Lyndon Johnson. The main objective of the Great Society was to eliminate poverty. This aspect of Johnson’s program provided food stamps, financial assistance and Medical care to poor families; however, they were virtually eliminated under Welfare Reform.

Clinton also signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, aka the Crime Bill that provided $31 billion for increased law enforcement in the United States. Despite the promise of funds for drug rehabilitation, there was only $383 million for drug rehabilitation. Although this may sound like a lot of money, it was only slightly more than 1 percent of the cost of the bill, while $9 billion went to hiring more law enforcement officers and $8 billion went to building more prisons – more than 50 percent of the bill.

I wonder what the impact would have been if the $500 billion that had been spent on the Iraq War had been spent on domestic programs, with $17 billion of that going toward drug rehabilitation and training programs in high crime areas. This country has expressed a willingness to bring liberty to a nation that is more than 6,000 miles away and leans under the heavy sway of terrorist regimes, but will not fight to bring liberty to crime infested areas in its own country. What a paradox. Are you kind of getting the picture of where the black community is on the national priority list? It’s not at the bottom of the list, but it is far, far from its position of the 1960s.

The crime bill also added 52 Federal Crimes for which the death penalty can be imposed, which, again, adversely affects blacks since a black male is more likely to be executed than anyone else.

In November 1991, Congress enacted the U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which established guidelines for judges to use when sentencing someone who has been convicted of a crime. The sentencing disparities fell harshest among black drug users. Anyone caught with 500 grams of powder cocaine received the identical sentence of someone found guilty of possessing 5 grams of crack. What was even more bizarre than the 100:1 ratio was that someone possessing 5 grams of crack would be sentenced as if he intended to distribute that quantity. Now I am not a math scholar, but I was able to convert 5 grams to ounces, and I came up with .176 (one hundred and seventy-six thousandths) of an ounce. I would have to believe that anyone caught with .176 of an ounce of crack would intend to use it him/herself and certainly is not intending to distribute it.

The cocaine sentencing disparity immediately became an issue after its authorization under the Clinton Administration. Consequently, the Sentencing Commission was mandated to provide a report to Congress not later than December 31, 1994 (see page 620 of Appendix B of the Guidelines), to address how the penalty levels were applied and to make recommendations to correct the imbalance. Despite this mandate, the bias in the sentencing guidelines for cocaine was not remedied until 13 years later. Don’t misunderstand me; I certainly am not attempting to give criminals a free-get-out-of-jail-pass for breaking the law. I am simply demonstrating that President Clinton allowed racial bias in the sentencing of typically black drug users, and made no effort to correct this disparity during his entire presidency.

And finally, while affirmative action and set aside programs were under severe attack during his administrations, Clinton refused to stand strong to prevent their erosions. Affirmative action and set asides were centerpieces of the Civil Rights Movement, and he simply gave lip service with a clever spin-campaign of “Mend but don’t end.” Well, mending affirmative action and set aside programs has made them vulnerable to all types of assaults from organizations that have been attacking them since they were established in the 1960s.

Although Bill Clinton has been successful in masking his true disposition towards domestic policies affecting blacks, a recent statement about Barack Obama’s campaign for president, may demonstrate his true nature. In a campaign stop for Hillary, he seemed to suggest that the Obama Campaign is the biggest fairy tale that he’s ever seen. Chuckle, chuckle. After nearly 20 years of shucking and jiving[1] the black community, the true Bill Clinton begins to show.

Between black-on-black violence, epidemic proportion AIDS infection rates, high incarceration rates, and Bill Clinton, no wonder some refer to the black male as an endangered species.

[1] Shuck and jive – Not the whole truth; or manipulating something to get it your way; to get rid of, ditch, throw away; to try to shed your true image in favor of a false one; trying to adopt a new social status, pretending to be "all that" + a bag of pentium chips (from the Urban Dictionary).

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bill Clinton's Legacy - Part II

Somehow Bill Clinton was able to strike a chord in the black community; often referring to himself as the first black President and maintaining a durable bond that has lasted to this day. Surprisingly, this carefully crafted propaganda has bewitched some who were once stalwarts in the Civil Rights Movement. Former Atlanta Mayor and confident of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young, recently catered to the notion that Clinton is black, by claiming that “Bill is every bit as black as Barack. He’s probably gone with more black women than Barack.” This is extraordinary on two fronts: First, considering the fact that Clinton did more to dismantle years of hard fought Civil Rights’ gains, one must wonder how Young could have such a blind allegiance to this man. And second, how could the once implacable foe of racism, stoop to such gutter suggestions about the sexual preference of a former President?

The Civil Rights Movement, against enormous odds, slew the dragon of Jim Crow and forced America to live out the true meaning of its creed – the land of the free that guarantees equal rights and opportunities to all men and women regardless of color. And certainly one would have to be cynical and/or na├»ve to argue that black people have not been afforded opportunities unimaginable just 40 years ago. Oprah Winfrey is the most popular TV personality in America with net assets of more than $1.5 billion. Colin Powell was promoted to 4-star General under George H.W. Bush and served as Secretary of State under George W. Bush. And Barack Obama appears to have a serious chance of winning the Democratic nod for the presidency of the United States. These are only a few of many great success stories, demonstrating the long strides that this country has made to repair its race relations with people of color.

It is easy to take for granted that the United States is only one generation removed from treating blacks with a despicable disdain. Consequently, many in the white community and some in the black community have this notion that opportunities exist on an equal basis for all people. This social pathology is partly to blame for the loss of momentum in the Civil Rights Movement. So when Clinton embarked upon his slash and burn policy of Civil Rights’ gains, the black community no longer had the political muscle that caused a reformation of the social landscape during the 1950s and 1960s under the leadership of Dr. King.

Certainly if the President backed a bill to outlaw guns, the NRA would invade Capital Hill with a contingent equivalent to the National Guard. Likewise, if there were efforts to limit support for Israel, the very formidable Israel lobby would mobilize its forces and bring pressure on the President and every member of Congress. However, when it comes to a lobbying presence on Capital Hill, the black community’s interests are rarely articulated or defended. I often wonder if our lack of political presence on Capital Hill was an unintended consequence of the great Civil Rights Era victories.

If 100 people were polled in the 1950s regarding the five most important issues facing the black community; certainly equal access to education, voting rights, employment discrimination, access to loans and civil rights protection would be tops on most lists. However, if that same poll was taken today, it would be clear that there is no consensus of what are priorities within our community. Is this a function of a lack of centralized leadership? Probably, but there is another fundamental issue at play here that is equally as important: If a lobbying group is to effectively represent the needs and aspirations of its constituents, it needs financial and moral support. Using The People’s Pulse as a focus group, I ask this question – when is the last time you made a contribution to an organization that represents the interests of black people?

Many of the Civil Rights Era organizations are still around, like the NAACP, the Urban League, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). However, these special interest groups are shadows of their former glory days of sit-ins, boycotts and legal challenges to unjust laws. As a result of the black community’s inability to effectively represent its interest on Capital Hill, Clinton was able to authorize a number of landmark laws at its expense – Welfare Reform and the Crime Bill. He also lacked the political courage and will to exhibit a strong defense of affirmative action, along with the fact that he oversaw a biased, Federal Sentencing Guideline program that generally imposed longer sentences against blacks for drug offenses.

Clinton's dubious distinction as an ally to the black community must be brought to task before his wife, Hillary, begins a third Clinton administration.

...to be continued

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bill Clinton's Legacy - Part I

Why does it disturb me that some in the black community somehow believe that it shares some type of special kinship with former President Bill Clinton? The notion that Clinton was the first black President was spawned almost immediately after he was elected in 1992. However, it was not until the fall of 1998 after Nobel Laureate, Toni Morrison, launched a vigorous defense of then President Clinton in the New Yorker Magazine as he was coming under attack for his sexually depraved behavior in the Oval Office, that this idea began its public ascent into the lexicon of the black community. Clinton himself has gained a lot of mileage out of this idea, occasionally laying claim to the title as the first black President while in the presence of blacks.

I’ve often wondered if Clinton himself deserves the credit for churning this ridiculous perception that he was the first black President. Politicians are not above deigning themselves on the campaign trail for a vote, and to consider that he may be the maestro behind this necessary illusion, disturbs me even more. I say this about Bill Clinton especially, because he practically had the black vote locked up during his runs at the White House under the false impression that he felt black people’s pain.

Morrison bolstered the perception of this bond between Clinton and the black community in her New Yorker article by laying out a list of black stereotypes that were also related to him: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving and so forth. And then to leave the White House and secure office space in Harlem was a stroke of genius to mask the fact that he did more to erode the gains of the Civil Rights Movement during his eight years as President than the combined 12 years of Ronald Reagan and Bush 41.

I don’t mean to be an apologist for the gay community, but he also betrayed their trust, and he simply threw the labor movement under the bus.

Clinton campaigned on the promise that he would bring full civil rights to all Americans regardless of their sexual orientation. However, after one losing battle in his attempt to root out bias in the military against homosexuals, the best he could offer them was, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Now I’m not suggesting that I endorsed his campaign pledge to the gay community, because I didn’t; however, I’m simply demonstrating that Clinton backpedaled from a campaign promise to one of his largest constituents. What he did to the gay community was a reflection of his lack of integrity, but what he did to the AFL-CIO, the largest Democratic supporter, seems to reflect a more hideous side of the man.

By signing onto the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), he endorsed open borders that would help accelerated our move towards a global government. This was done at the expense of people on the factory floor, along with their 401(k)s. Although Bill Clinton cannot make a decision for a corporation to close a factory, he can facilitate it and make it attractive by removing free-trade barriers that complicate the import-export process, which is exactly what he did during his time in office. In fact, his domestic and foreign policies encouraged corporate zeal to outsource many functions; a practice that continues to occur at a furious pace. You ever call your local bank branch and reach a call center in India? Well, thank Clinton for that.

Clinton was trained in global government as a student at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and as a Rhodes Scholar. He says something very curious during his Acceptance Speech to the Democratic National Convention in 1992: Towards the end of the speech, he invokes the name of Professor Carroll Quigley, whom he considered as one of his most influential professors at Georgetown University:

“As a teenager, I heard John Kennedy’s summons to citizenship. And then, as a student at Georgetown, I head that call clarified by a professor name Carol Quigley, who said to us that America was the greatest Nation in history because our people had always believed in two things- that tomorrow can be better than today and that every one of us has a personal moral responsibility to make it so.”

To invoke Quigley’s name was extremely significant, because Clinton campaigned on the theme of change, but for the powerfully, wealthy men in the Western World who were intimately aware of Quigley and what he stood for, that line was a refreshing acknowledgment that there would be no change. Quigley is the author of a classic study on the powers that control the destiny of civilization – Tragedy and Hope. This book exposes to the public, perhaps for the first time, that there is a furtive movement in the United States and Europe that is aiming for global government (http://www.seanet.com/~barkonwd/quigley.htm). He doesn’t expose the book in hopes that the cabal behind the trek to world government will run and hide. He actually states that it is a good thing and he only wishes that they would be more forthright about what they are doing. What makes the book so significant is that the cabal actually invited him in to see the plan for global government.

So we can see that Clinton was not the portrayal of progressive politics that he made many believe. He was a pawn that furthered the agenda of the men that Quigley spoke of. Time is the judge of all things, and history will not only buttress my suspicion of him, but it will articulate how he was able to betray his constituencies and still maintain their support. Now that is a masterpiece of politics! While volumes will be written on the 8 years of Bill Clinton, I can summarize his cloak and dagger waltz that he did with the black community, but I must do it in Part II of this post.

...to be continued

The First Black President?

And with these words, “So help me God,” Barack Obama made history today at the swearing in ceremony of the first African America President in the United States. With his wife, Michelle, at his side, President Obama, began the traditional and historic walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, waving to tens of thousands of supporters who are lined up, in some places15 people deep, behind the barriers set up by the Secret Service. On one hand this walk is only a few miles away from a former slave trading post in Alexandria, Virginia; but on the other hand, it is light years away. During the first half of the Nineteenth Century when Price, Birch & Co, was bustling with business, trading in slaves for the wealthy, white land owners in the District of Columbia, no one would have ever imagined that this country would witness the day when an African descendant would take the Oath of Office for the Presidency of the United States. This is quite astonishing.

President Obama campaigned on a theme of change, and for those who do not quite understand the historical significance of what we are seeing today, this theme seems to ring like an utterance of modern day prophecy; almost as significant as the calendar turning to AD…

Okay, okay. This is only a fictional account of what we might witness during the inauguration ceremony in January 2009. If someone had asked me two months ago if a black man could make a serious run for the White House, I would have pointed to General Colin Powell as the only one who I thought the public could embrace as President. Consequently, my obviously flawed prognostication didn’t give Obama much of a chance to beat the formidable Hillary Clinton. However, notwithstanding her narrow margin of victory in New Hampshire the other day, it has become painfully apparent to her campaign and obvious to many in America that Senator Obama just may be the next President of the United States. In fact, the poll data predicted such an overwhelming Obama victory in New Hampshire, that Hillary’s staff had not even prepared a victory speech by the time that her surprise triumph was announced.

Now given the historic prospect of the first black President, you would think that the average black person would have a sense of glee that they can scarcely contain. However, I’m subdued in my emotional response to Obama’s success, because I understand that the social planners of this country have too much at stake to allow him to manage the country unfettered. It is not because he’s black that they will put gentle pressure on him to follow a course that has been charted long ago. The men who sit in the pantheon of the gods have a goal that does not include the policy ambitions of the first African American President. What’s at stake is the destiny of the human race, and a candidate running on change presents a potential problem.

If you recall, Bill Clinton ran on the identical theme of change in 1991 and 1992, but yet a close examination of his two terms demonstrates that he advanced someone else’s agenda during those eight years. A quick look at his First Inauguration Address in 1993 shows something curious: The very first sentence should make you wonder what he was talking about – Today we celebrate the mystery of American renewal. Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle. Now I ask you my friends, what was this mystery that Clinton referred too? By my crude understanding, a mystery is something that can not be understood without the aid of a teacher; usually in a spiritual sense. Did anyone explain to you what this mystery was? Do you suppose he was talking to someone other than the American public when he uttered those words?

I have numerous grievances with the administration of Bill Clinton that are beyond the scope of this post,[1] but suffice it to say that as a Rhodes Scholar, he had an obligation to use his position, prestige and power to further the last will and testament of Cecil Rhodes, the European colonist who plundered Southern Africa during his life. It was his dying wish to see the Western world dominate humanity. In fact, unknowingly, most of us further his dreams and ambitions each time we purchase a diamond that was distributed by DeBeers. The DeBeers diamond cartel is the product of the colonial work of Rhodes, and it is believed by some to be the most successful cartel in human history. If you think about it, we complain about a gallon of gas costing $3, but will spend $5,000 or more for a diamond without hesitating.

Obama makes the claim that he is not beholden to any special interest group, because he does not take PAC money, but I cannot overemphasize that there is simply too much at stake for his presidency not to be molested by the ‘gods.’ Western corporations have invested trillions of dollars into the global infrastructure and they cannot afford to allow a maverick to manage it, or should I say mismanage it. They need to be in control, and if Obama becomes president, I can see that shortly after taking office, he will have a sit-down with the big money interests – the rulers of the banking industry, stock market, international lending institutions, etc. – and they will remind him if he forgot Economics 101 that they fuel the economy and increase the money supply by expanding credit, which he can take credit for. And they will also let him know that they can ruin an economy by contracting the credit, and he will shoulder the blame, like they did to Jimmy Carter.

Unfortunately, unless Obama’s integrity rivals Mother Teresa’s, he will march to the drumbeat of the special interest just like the last six Presidents before him back to LBJ, excluding President Carter. I’m sorry to have to say it, but it’s the world we live in.

Am I being cynical? Perhaps, but why else would George Bush continue a failed military strategy in a war that was steeped in deception from the beginning? It could be because he pays homage at the alter of the ‘gods.’

May God Bless America, save the king and protect Barack Obama!

[1] I will address the candidacy and administration of Bill Clinton in a separate post and demonstrate how he betrayed the trust of his three biggest constituents.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's Time to Revisit Term Limits for the President

Before the presidential campaign is concluded this November, both parties, including PACS, lobbyists and other special interest organizations, will have spent over $1 billion. $1 billion?! The founding fathers of this country could not have conceived of a presidential campaign costing a $billion. Their idea of an aggressive campaign was touring all 13 states in a stage coach, with some direct mail going out via the Pony Express. American politics have come a long way since 1776, which causes me to wonder if today’s politicians are more adept at fund raising and operating a campaign than they would be at managing the affairs of our nation. With the size of the government and the complexity of the country’s/world’s problems, who really is qualified to run America?

There are perhaps a handful of men in the country who are qualified to manage the United States; men who have been at the helm of the largest multi-national corporations in the world, who could hit the ground running on inauguration day. However, short of that type of experience, any presidential candidate will spend the first 12 to 18 months in apprenticeship, learning the job. This on-the-job training and the enormous time that it takes to run a campaign has caused me to wonder if America should reexamine the notion of a two-term President.

Most successful candidates for the White House will spend a good portion of their first term learning how to be the President of the United States. Based on the following simple calculation – a first term President spends 12 to 18 months learning his job; then the next year doing his job; and then 30 months into his administration, it’s time to begin campaigning for a second term; consequently, the final 18 months of his first term is spent on the campaign trail again. And if he is successful in re-securing the White House, he becomes a lame-duck.

When I consider what George Bush had to contend with during his campaigning for the 2004 election – a failing war in the Middle East and the threat of terrorism – it is curious to me that he could justify leaving the affairs of the nation in the hands of unelected aids while he was on the campaign trail. (And now we see that perhaps more examination of the economy during that time would have predicted the looming mortgage crisis, and some thoughtful consideration could have gone into averting it or at a minimum reducing the adverse impact.) It would seem to me that no matter how capable one might be at multi-tasking, campaigning for a second term as President of the United States (today) will draw an incumbent leader away from more important issues. Yes, I do believe that this nation faced a number of issues during the 2004 campaign that were urgent enough to warrant an announcement from George W. Bush, like Johnson during Vietnam, that he would not seek or accept his party’s nomination for the presidency.

Three years on the back side of Bush’s second term, it is clear that he has experienced the second-term-curse like his three, two-term predecessors: Richard Nixon and Watergate; Ronald Reagan with Iran-Contra; and Bill Clinton’s sex scandal with Monica Lewinski. However, Bush’s second term has pundits wondering if his presidency will go down as the worst ever. In fact, this past Sunday, the Washington Post published a commentary by George McGovern calling for the impeachment of President Bush, claiming that he and Dick Cheney are “clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses.” McGovern writes, “[they] have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of the people around the world. These are truly “high crimes and misdemeanors,” to use the Constitutional standard,” he writes.

The Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution established term limits for the presidency. Prior to that, there were no Constitutional term limits; however, Congress passed the Amendment in 1947, but it was not ratified until 1951. I believe that now Congress should revisit term limits. Without an exhaustive study, I would suggest that we limit the presidency to one-six-year term like Senators, and once the President-elect takes office, we the American public need to hold him/her to a much higher standard than previous generations did. I think if we held them to the standard of the oath of office, that would be a great start:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States (Presidential Oath of Office).” Presidents traditionally include "So help me God" at the end of the oath.)

Postscript: So, after the money is spent and the promises made, will it influence your vote on Election Day? Well it’s no secret here, they could spend the equivalent of the entire gross domestic product of the United States, and I will still vote for David R. Tolson, Sr. as a write-in candidate. Should any of you out there wish to be my running mate, please let me know, because I would be more than happy to write your name in as my vice-president.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Farewell to Coach Gibbs

Joe Gibbs surprised many in the Washington area by resigning as the coach of the Washington Redskins football team. I am not sure why he could not bring the magic back to Washington during his second time around as the Redskins' coach, but according to his press conference, he felt like at this point in his life, he needed to spend more time with his family. I don’t mean to be cynical, but let’s keep an eye on his NASCAR race team to see if he resumes the day-to-day operations.

I believe that part of the underlying motivation for Gibbs’ departure was that he knew he had not met the standard that Owner, Dan Snyder had set for the team. There is something about Dan that has prevented me from warming up to him, but I have to give him credit for proving that he will spend any amount of money to bring a winning football team to Washington, D.C. And when you have an owner who will open his wallet the way Snyder has, a top-shelf coach must produce more than what Gibbs has.

Coach Gibbs certainly has nothing to be ashamed about when viewing his entire career as a head coach in the NFL. However, I wonder if his undoing has more to do with the modern athlete whose thirst and desire to win has been trumped by a lack of discipline and the lust for lucrative contracts; aka Latrell Sprewell not being able to feed his family on $10 million.

My son, David, Jr., and I often have these little friendly arguments, and one of them is which sport’s rivalry is the greatest of all time. He argues that it is the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, but I believe that the greatest sports’ rivalry of all time was Muhammad Ali and “Smokin” Joe Frazier.

Ali and Frazier fought three of the greatest heavy weight battles in boxing history, during a time when boxing matches were scheduled for 15 rounds. Although Frazier won the first bout and Ali evened the score in their second fight and won on a technical knockout in the third fight, one could argue that either fighter won all three bouts. Ali-Frazier III certainly is one of the greatest heavyweight fights of all time and is one of my personal favorites because of the determination of each opponent: Frazier could not answer the bell for round 15 and when Ali got word that Frazier could not continue, all he could do was lift his hand in complete exhaustion.

At the end of that bout on that October morning in 1975, in what was known as “The Thrilla in Manila,” each fighter could barely look across the ring at his opponent after a brutal 14 round performance. They gave everything that they had, and left it all in the ring. That era may have been the beginning of the end of the Golden Age of Sports; a time when athletes made no consideration for pain or the need for rest. Unlike today’s carefully scripted sports’ contests, where a starting pitcher only goes 6 or 7 innings, or a star football player is rested during the last game of the season if there is nothing to play for, the athletes of the Golden Age took their sport much more seriously than many of the athletes today.

Could any serious fan who remembers the 1960s imagine Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale, Bob Seaver, Vida Blue, Phil Neikro or Dave McNally not pitching a full game if they were still able to throw strikes after the 6th or 7th inning? Or who would imagine Dave Butz, Jim Brown, Deacon Jones, Paul Warfield, or Johnny Unitas sitting out the last game of a season so they can rest for the subsequent playoffs? These men had enormous pride about what they did, and they also understood that the fans wanted to see the best players on the field all the time.

I do not mean to suggest that the Redskins lacked the type of pride that wins championships, because I’m sure that some of the players did, but the team as a whole did not match the skill, discipline and motivation that we see with some of the other teams in the NFL. I’ve often wondered why a professional sports’ franchise does not hire motivational coaches to inspire those on the team who are not self-motivated. I mean the Redskins have a $118 million payroll, so what is another $million for a respected motivational coach to spend 12 or so hours per week to help shepherd the week links.

Lance Armstrong completely dominated the Tour De France for seven years. During his training, he weighed every ounce of food in a perfectly calibrated diet; stuck to an unimaginably strict training regiment, where he rode 25,000 miles per year; and spent hours upon hours studying his competition. This is what it took to be the best in his field. I can only imagine how many players on the Redskins, or on any modern sports' team, could embrace Lance’s disciplined approach to winning. This is what I see a motivational coach doing for the franchise: demonstrating real results in other’s lives who pay the ultimate price; urging the team to flee fast food in exchange for a more balanced diet; showing the benefits of proper rest and the hazards of poor lifestyle choices; and of course, inspiring them to give 110 percent on the practice field. I think it's that simple. And by the way, if anyone's interested, I'm available for far less than $1 million.

I believe if each player on the Redskins team had a slightly higher devotion to his job; Gibbs would still be coaching with many more wins under his belt and the team would probably be in the second round of the playoffs. Anyway, despite a lackluster record over the last four years, I enthusiastically say, “God Bless you,” to Coach Gibbs and "may you find contentment in your senior years."