Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Welcome Supreme Court Justice Alito

Supreme Court Justice Alito. That is how Mr. Samuel Alito will be referred to from now on. I don’t think that is such a bad thing. Many liberals disagree. I haven’t said anything about it for some time but I think (while probably mote) this is a decent time.

The first thing I should say is I am not in love with all the positions Justice Alito has taken. Then again few ever agree in total with any Supreme Court Justice on all the decisions they have made over their careers prior to appointment. There are several cases I do agree with strongly though, and several I have mixed feelings on. Not being a lawyer I can only say what I think the law should be like, which is overly simplified compared to how complicated laws are today. It should also be mentioned that Harriet Miers was a terrible choice and the thought of her as a Justice scared the crap out of me.

One item that was a big red flag for some, was Justice Alito’s position on abortion. Several look at his dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey to be a key to his views against abortion. Whether true or not, his exact position makes sense to me and I agree with it. Justice Alito wrote, “that some married women are initially inclined to obtain an abortion without their husbands' knowledge because of perceived problems -- such as economic constraints, future plans, or the husbands' previously expressed opposition -- that may be obviated by discussion prior to the abortion." When you are speaking about a married family (or a family in general I think) I find it selfish and wrong for either party to unilaterally make a decision. It takes 2 to create a family and the decision not to should involve both. [And no I do not agree that the body of a pregnant woman is solely hers. The baby has a right to it as well, to a lesser degree, as that is what a woman’s body is designed to do. By that same right, a man has rights as well as part of his genetic life force created that baby.] This does not mean there should be no abortion, I just think there should be equal notification to a husband so the married couple can make an informed and agreed upon decision. That’s not evil, its equality.

I don’t like the Family and Medical Leave Act. I understand why its out there, but I don’t like it. While most of the time it tends to be used by employees that plan ahead, life has no plan and some are forced to take it unexpectedly. In those cases the employer must find a qualified replacement, train them, overwork other employees to cover the sudden gap and pay overtime to do so, see if the new employee works out, and pay extra to the healthcare plan and taxes for an extra employee. When the old employee comes back, you can just fire the new one (this presumes that a temp was not used, many jobs can’t use a temp. Also the cost of a temp is not cheap as you pay their salary and the agency’s) but you must give them their job or an equivalent one. In small companies there are no equivalent positions, and extra people are just that extra cost and overhead often with no real use or benefit.

And another big one is the sex discrimination case. Perhaps I am wrong for this, but I like Justice Alito’s position here as well. I personally have never been fired [I don’t count when I got into an argument with a boss of mine - about whether or not he would dare fire me - and did so, to teach me that everyone is replaceable. I was rehired 1 hour and 15 minutes later. I was 15 at the time.] nor have I known any friends who have been. Of those I know who have quit a position, and myself as well, I have never known anyone to have any basis for bias as the reason. That does not mean it doesn’t happen, I’m sure there were a few positions I did not get hired for when I had braided hair that went to the middle of my back (at the time it was an uncommon hair style for men, especially in the northeast and at the length it was) or just because I am a Black African Hispanic American. It still happens, even in this ‘modern and fair’ age. Given that, discrimination as a cause for termination is difficult. The emotions and anger some have at being fired is a cause of some suits, the ambiguous matter of some of the workplace rules is another. An example of the latter is a woman at an office workplace has on a shortish skirt. If a man comments on the skirt, positive or negative, its harassment and discrimination. Conversely in the same situation that woman is liable of discrimination against the men because of the skirt. I am not a lawyer as I’ve said before so if I have misunderstood the laws please let me know.

More to the point, accusations without merit and substantiation is a waste of time. Costs spent to bring a frivolous case to court so a jury can decide there is no substance is everyone’s loss. Requesting that some proof beyond I said so can’t hurt. 50 people saying I said so is one thing, but just one person with no other proof sounds like a waste of time and money. Even abuse cases seek additional proof to make their claim, as I understand.

So why is Justice Alito so feared? Why are his decisions so horrible? Or could it be that liberals and others not wielding a majority in government at this time are upset because their political ideology wasn’t enforced like it would have been if they were in charge. If so that’s just sour grapes.

That’s what I think, what do you think?

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Commenting on Sen. Hillary Clinton's Dr. Martin Luther King Day speech

I realize I may be a bit behind, as life beyond the blog has been hectic, but I can not let the words of Sen. Hillary Clinton pass without comment. Sen. Clinton on Jan. 17th, Dr. Martin Luther King Day, made the comment, “when you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about.” The senator went on to say, “It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard.”
Those that have defended Sen. Clinton’s remarks include Rev. Al Sharpton [see my comments on Rev. Sharpton], Sen. Barack Obama and New York Rep. Gregory Meeks. Sen. Obama has stated he believed the remarks were expressing, “the ordinary voter and even members of Congress who aren't in the majority party don't have much input.” Rep. Meeks for his part stated, “There was no race card played here. If any card was played here it was a joker, because that's who seems to be running the House right now if you look at the leadership.”

Do these individuals, Sen. Clinton in particular, believe that the citizens of America are that stupid? I say this because to deny the racial implications, that seem obvious to me, would be the same as assuming I am to stupid to understand the meaning of what was said. Not only were these words chosen for their impact long before the actual event (unless Sen. Hillary Clinton is the only politician not using speech writers), the date and audience were critical factors.

But let me start with the comparison to slavery. First I must say that I am both tired and appalled by the constant comparison, by every group you can imagine and many you don’t, to slavery. While the Holocaust that occurred during WWII was savage, killing an estimated 8 million of 13 million Jews in the world at the time, it is not unique. There is no denial though that this is a fair comparison. Much like the way that many use comparisons to the Holocaust, Hitler, and Nazi regimes in an attempt to bolster their claims American Slavery is also used. The Native American Indians also have suffered horribly. I believe that at this time not one pure-blooded Native American Indian exists in the world, though I may be wrong. If I am correct, or even nearly correct in that thought, then that is an act of genocide. Comparisons of this are also fair to American Slavery. The fact is that of the millions of slaves brought forcibly to this nation, or born in this nation under slavery (there is no estimate I am aware of as “property” does not require records of any type) died. The deaths can be attributed to ill-treatment, unsafe (to say the least) living conditions, malnourishment, lack of medical facilities and treatment, murder and as acts of sport. I strongly believe that not one Black African American that can trace their lineage to slavery, has a pure blood-line. That can be attributed predominantly to rape, and abuse both physical and mental. Any group that cannot claim centuries of the above descriptions should never open their mouths to make a comparison to slavery again.

Thus when a comparison of a part of Congress is made to American Slavery, I am insulted. I would normally call someone making a shallow, useless, and self-motivated comparison of this nature a fool, but in this instance I think it is worse. Since Congress, and any of its parts, are not being raped, killed, nor denied any rights the comparison is useless and false. Since no one in this country is considered property of anyone else [excluding active military who give up their rights under the Constitution for the period of time they serve in the armed forces] the statement fails there as well. The Congress has, theoretically, 1/3 of the power of the nation as described in the Constitution and the Amendments. If the Senate feels, as Sen. Clinton implies I think, that it is without power it is so only because they allow it to be. The Congress passes legislation, not the President. If the President’s administration has support of the Congress, which is in place to represent the best interests of the citizens they represent, then that is just leadership not slavery. In addition the further comments stating that, “...nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation...” sounds more like a disgruntled individual that has not been able to get what they want, not slavery. If the President has support on issues she is counter to, that is not unfair or un-American; it’s politics and no different than what any President tries to, and some have, achieve in their administration. As a white, relatively rich, powerful, and somewhat in my opinion elitist woman, the comparison Senator Hillary Clinton makes leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Especially since an apology and/or reparations cannot pass in the Congress in which she is a part. The fact is she has never even mentioned either of those options, ever, but finds it appropriate to use American Slavery as a tool for her own ends. That is an abuse on the abuse done in the past. I don’t hold anyone responsible for the actions of the nation centuries ago [I do hold the Government responsible as discussed in a previous post] but I do hold them accountable for their actions today.

As to those who deny or divert attention from the fact this was a racially motivated statement, and in poorest of taste in my opinion. I will not discuss Rev. Sharpton as I have commented on him enough previously and my position is clear I believe. Sen. Obama is another matter. I respect the dedication he has had, and self-discipline, in achieving the things he has. I do not doubt his convictions nor his intent to better the lives of his constituents. I do find fault with his attempt to clean up the obvious racial and misrepresented statement by Sen. Clinton. His claims that the comments by Sen. Clinton were not racial are in contrast to her “and you know what I'm talking about” inclusion in the statement. The fact that she chose Dr. Martin Luther King Day, and a black audience also adds to the credibility that it was her intention to be racial. Would she have said the same comments (of which it should be noted are not common for her nor expected from past speeches) on the Fourth of July? To a group of white Americans in the south? Or Montana? We may never know, but if she did I don’t think the response would be nearly as soft. To the credit of Sen. Obama he backs away as best he can, from the remarks of Sen. Clinton and instead attacks the support of the President. Politically and as a member of the Senate, I can abide that as he does so with the best interest of the citizens he represents. That is American politics.

Rep. Meeks on the other hand, seems to be oblivious to the obvious. To emphatically say there was no issue of race in the comments by Sen. Clinton, would cause me to wonder if he is obtuse. To continue with his statement and insult and disrespect colleagues is absurd. I cannot see how more personal attacks (calling someone a ‘joker’ is not professional nor endearing in any profession or business I have known or been involved with) will cause members of the opposition party, or even members of his own party with more respect for their colleagues, to suddenly enjoin his proposals. I do not see how his statement will cause the citizens of various communities to rally support to the causes he and his party represent; as his statement was lacking in credibility, substance or merit as I understood it.

I have made many comments in reference to Sen. Clinton. It is not because I personally find her to be power-hungry, or that she appears to be manipulative in my mind. It is not because of her attempts to grab attention with half-thought comments or actions, as I perceive them to be. I am focusing attention on Sen. Hillary Clinton because she is up for re-election in 2006, and I do not feel she has beneficed New York State. I pay attention and become upset with her actions because many portray her as the front-runner of the Democratic Party’s nominee for President in 2008. I expect better of a nominee, and candidate. I expect far more for an elected official. Sen. Clinton may have more raw brainpower than our sitting President, but it is coupled with an even greater desire for power as I perceive it. For all the faults President Bush may and does have, I think few doubt that his ultimate intentions are for the betterment of this nation and its citizens. Debate over whether or not his actions will improve the country are par for the course of any sitting President, and will not be known empirically for perhaps a decade. But to sit back and allow someone who I find deeply flawed and maintaining an agenda whose ultimate benefit is herself, is emphatically wrong.

I will end this here for now, but I’m sure I will come back to this again in the future.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Monday, January 16, 2006

A few words on politics, war, and Dr. Martin Luther King

So I here I am reflecting on the news out there and I started this stream of thought.

The Democrats are currently raising a storm on how horrible the administration of President Bush is. The major thing they are citing is how they never would (even though they did) put the youth of America on the front lines without reason. The Democrats would like us to forget that they, along with Republicans, voted and approved of the war with Iraq. Nor would the Democrats like us to recall that they, along with the Republicans, voted to approved the Patriot Act.

I realize that after the attack that destroyed the Twin Towers, everyone in the country wanted to draw blood. As the only superpower, or in effect as the empire of the world, we were going to get it too. I have no problem with that. Unlike politicians I believe that any decision I make is right at the time, though the consequences may not be what I expect or like. But at any rate, we as a country committed ourselves to reduced freedoms, expanded governmental powers (including those of the President), and a never-ending war.

Let me clarify something. There cannot be a war on terrorism. Terrorism is an ideal, a thought and as such it cannot be destroyed. If it could either the British (in their fight against the IRA) or the Israelis would have done so long before we decided to. We can fight and destroy the terrorists though. (Of course in doing so you will ultimately create more terrorists.) You cannot fight a war against individuals though. A Declaration of War cannot be entered into against individuals. A nation can attack threats to its citizens and defend itself against acts of aggression, but it still isn’t a war. The game of words is just a tool to lull the citizens of this nation and the world into a more passive state. If the Government said it was going to enter into a never-ending battle against an ideal, there would have been an uproar.

Now if the Congress had truly wanted to not fight, they simply needed to look at the War Powers Resolution of 1973 - section 2 article c part 3, which states “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States” is needed for the President to act. Iraq had not attacked the U.S. and the then stated imminent threat does not qualify. So all they had to do was say no. If they had reservations, and some did, they just had to vote no and investigate further. Most did not, thus they allowed the President and his administration to go forward on evidence that seemed shaky, to me at the time. I’m not the smartest man in the world, nor am I as well informed or familiar with the nature of information at the disposal of Congress, but if I had doubts they should have as well. The fact that they did not, as a group, does not allow them to hope that enough time has passed to say they never intended the current situation. This is the natural progression of the actions we have taken with their approval.

Again this has nothing to do with a “war” on terrorism. Our attacks in Afghanistan are not against the people pf that nation, but small groups within the country. Because many local authorities backed these ‘cells’ they too became fair game. But Afghanistan is not a very inviting country. It has a bland look, few major cities by U.S. standards and little technology. You just can’t get news flashes back to the public fast enough for our greedy eyes to stare at a television with. Our success in Afghanistan, in upgrading technology and improving the quality of life (to more American standards) just hasn’t happened fast enough for the music video addled minds of many Americans, especially without visuals.

The Patriot Act has already been discussed to some degree in my earlier post Patriot Act and Politics. Please read that to see my thoughts there.

So Democrats are preoccupied in taking the other side of the current war with Iraq. Its sad that the motivation is not because our efforts, as a nation, have been poorly planned or due to the fact that the reality of changing a nation in such a fundamental way takes longer than a television season. The reason for the Democratic Party suddenly jumping sides is that they think this will help them with elections. It’s not enough that they failed to impress the nation with the fluff presented by the last 2 presidential candidates. The fact is that they still have no plan other than saying, essentially to me, ‘the other guys are not nice and I am.’ That is not a plan, but it does go over well in a sound bite (which I despise) and at a rally.

The wounded duck plan of limping away from Iraq is ill-conceived in my judgement. It will not only fail in stabilizing a region that is rife with conflict, it probably will create more. Taking away support of a developing democracy (that we instituted), and allowing the ethnic and religious factions in Iraq to splinter and fight helps no one. The mere suggestion that we may withdraw has lead to increases of attacks on our soldiers. That makes my blood boil. I have said many times, and it won’t be the last time here I am sure, Politics should NEVER be involved in military decisions. It only and always costs lives. Viet Nam told us that, and many in this nation are old enough to know what that cost us as a nation.

I will not say staying in Iraq and getting that country stable is not going to cost lives. If the goal of the nation is to gain a strategic foothold in the Middle East, and by that foothold improve our oil supply, we cannot leave. If we wish to remind other volatile nations of the world that America can and will act in its own defense, or proactively if need be, we cannot leave. To forgo the impression that having a good PR campaign will be enough to beat the military forces of this nation, demands that we not leave. Provided that the above are important, and our having created this conflict suggests that they are, then the fact that lives will be lost is part of the overall that is the plan.

I do not intend to be mean or harsh. I do appreciate the lives of our troops. I understand what it means to stand for our nation, under whatever administration, and defend the decision made - even if they are against a personal view or are unpopular. My father volunteered for the Marines and went to Viet Nam. It cost him for the rest of his life, but he was proud of doing his duty for the country. I volunteered, and had the luck of not having to give life or limb. Others in my family have also made the choice to defend the nation, regardless of personal opinion. I may not agree with why we started the fights we are in, but I’m raging mad at the politicians screwing around and increasing the loss of lives because a poll leans one way or another.

Let me close this, I suppose you can call it a streaming thought rant. I think on a day meant to remember a great leader of men, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., not using his name and words to advance a political agenda would be nice. ( I mean Sen. Dick Durbin comments). I also wonder the fact that “fewer than one in six whites, 15 percent, planned to commemorate the day,” lent itself in any way to such (what I call) political verbal arm-twisting. Perhaps next year will be better, but I won’t make a bet on that.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Harry Belafonte and respect

Respect. By definition it seems to be a word that some entertainers cannot abide by when discussing their personal views. Tact also seems to be a word that has no meaning. Of course I am referring directly to the outburst by Kayne West and Mr. Harry Belafonte words recently. I first mentioned that I wanted to address Mr. Belafonte’s comments in my post Entertainment with Fox, Stern, Belafonte and other thoughts on my www.blackentertainmentblog.com site.

The outburst by Kayne was in regard to the actions of the federal government in their mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina natural disaster. It was obvious that on many levels, local state and federal, that little organization or coherent planning was in action. Sadly this caused the loss of many lives. Many entertainers banded together at various functions to raise funds for those that had lost so much. [my thoughts on events of this nature can be seen in the post Latin music, celebrity donations] At a time when various people and institutions, even governments, are reaching out to help aid those in need and asking others to do the same, personal opinions are not required. The thoughts expressed by West are rude, disrespectful to the office of the President of the United States, and in no way that I can imagine provide any benefit to those in need or the efforts to raise funds for that purpose. A bit of respect, tact and timing, are all that was needed. It’s not like, as a entertainer on a national level, he is unable to get an interview or make a statement to the press to state his views.

Mr. Belafonte though is something else all together. He is a man who is older, mature and experienced. One would expect that his knowledge of the media and his own ability to provide press coverage to issues he has strong convictions for, would allow him to act with more respect and tact than a youthful and inexperienced upstart. Sadly this appears to not be the case.

When I say Mr. Harry Belafonte is experienced in matters of politics, I refer to his work with the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King. On a more satirical note is his television appearance in 1968 on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Since his 1956 Calypso album he has had numerous opportunities to express his views, just from the attention he receives as an entertainer. Again I say that his ability to call a press conference or release a statement to the press would not go unheeded.

Yet Mr. Belafonte has chosen to also disrespect the President of the United States. While I understand and honor the Freedom of Speech entitled to any citizen under the 1st Amendment, tact respect and an understanding of the implications of actions is warranted. Much like the personal attack that Mr. Belafonte launched against former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell where he lashed out because someone held separate views than his own, which I find hurtful and malicious. In calling President Bush “the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world” he does more than just express a personal view. Mr. Belafonte should realize that he is also a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, and AARP 2006 Impact Award recipient. [It should be noted that both UNICEF and AARP have distanced themselves from the comments made] His words affect millions internationally. The weakening of the United States, and the direct statement that America is a terrorist nation, via the leader of this nation does not bode well for the interests of any American at home or abroad. These statements, or accusations if you prefer, give justification do deny aid or support from those we seek to ally ourselves with in removing the threat to ourselves and the world of true terrorism. These statements give support and credence to the allegations made by those who have stated their only purpose is to destroy our lives and nation. These statement help to reinforce the desire to maintain conflict against our troops, wherever they may be. Renown entertainers and Goodwill Ambassador’s words travel not just nationally but internationally, and affect the efforts of millions.

Additionally I am brought to the point to wonder what has happened in America. While there has never been a lack of dissension to the goals of this President or that, there used to be a general sense of respect. Many of the greatest political figures, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Alan Dershowitz, and many others have always maintained at least the pretense of respect even when describing their adversaries. On a more recent level, smear campaigns that are not only political but personal in nature are more prevalent than ever before. Since when has America been a country that takes the easiest, lowest common denominator approach to anything (besides some television programs/commercials in my opinion). Has the ease of using sound bites and bashing an opponent on items not related to issues been so appealing that it has supplanted the pride in standing tall and presenting an actual position on a view? Are we destined to only have candidates, like Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Hilary Clinton and regardless of who is in office a general disinterest or respect in our government? If we do then I will not be surprised that another government will seize that time as the opportunity to claim this nation and all the freedoms we enjoy will be gone faster that a commercial. And we should never be so obtuse as to believe that our way of life cannot be changed to the worse from within. Without care, or attention, for those in power corruption will happen. Corruption in any form is bad, but as a nation and in particular this nation, such a thought is something I would not care to do.

I do believe that unthinking and potentially slanderous statements, against the institution that is the government of the United States is wrong. Comments against a political figure or the general direction of the nation are always welcome. That is the nature and a great asset of this nation. But actions that actively weaken and diminish the nations ability to function are not. Sowing seeds that will grow to create a field of dissension and animosity towards the institution, and in effect against the actual government, are serious offenses and should be treated as such. I am offended by Mr. Harry Belafonte, and Kayne West, not because they have feelings and strong convictions that go counter to those of this President and via him this nation, but in their selfish unthinking and immature manner in which they express themselves.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Black Republicans Exist

There I said it. The myth held by far too many, especially democrats, can now die. The reason I bring this up is that this is an election year of note. Many seats are up in Congress, various govenorships are in contest and front-runners for the 2008 presidential elections are starting to jockey for position. So the question is who are these black republicans? I and several of my friends are republicans. There are many others as well. Some of the more famous Black republicans include Mr. J.C. Watts, Mr. Dwayne Johnson (also known as The Rock), Mr. Wilt Chaimberlain, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Mr. Ernie Banks, Mr. James Brown and Prince (yes I count donations as implied membership though on this I could be wrong) among many others.

It seems that another prominent republican, Lynn Swann, has thrown his hat in to run for Govenor of Pennsylvania. Why are there such prominent and respected [I recognize their choices and influence, not necessarily their work ie. rappers] Black African Americans in the Republican Party? As Mr. Swann states Democrats have "taken the African-American vote for granted." That is not a light statement. Popular thought is that the Black vote has always sided with Democrats. The truth is that since the right to vote was granted until roughly the mid-60's Black African Americans voted Republican. As the generations passed the youth assumed that voting had always gone the same way, and Democrats made every effort to keep that thought alive.

And why shouldn't my friends and I, as well as those mentioned above and others, be Republican? Unless someone can show me differently, the belief that you keep what you earn, and that government should not choose how to spend your money, and that the need to work for a wage are all Republican ideals. Are Republicans by and large conservative, sure. So are many in the Armed Forces, those raising families, ect. Religion is a seperate issue, one that is personal and has no place in politics to me. Yet if you are a Black American and say that you are a republican you can expect evil stares and hisses. I mean that literally as it has happened to me on several occassions.

What have the Democrats done to earn the Black African American vote? What has been done in recent years that earns such devotion? The Democratic choice of President candidate in 2004, Sen. John Kerry, continues to seek support and rally individuals to the cause. Of course that is if he can overcome the "image as a Northeast liberal with fuzzy views on major issues like Iraq." My thoughts on the other big name for Democrats, Sen. Hilary Clinton, can be seen in my posts Politics for elections, Vass thoughts on Senator Clinton. I think I need to say no more on that. What about the former-President Mr. Bill Clinton? He seems like a nice man, and I would love the chance to speak with him on various topics, and he is regarded highly by many inner city Black African Americans (by my understanding). With all due respect, what did his administration do? In effect there were no net gains by his administration, and the aftermath was the stockmarket crash and wars in Afganistan and Iraq.

I realize that terrorist actions cannot be placed on a seperate entity, but the fact that the CIA and other U.S. institutions failed to recognize the threat during his administration is. The fact that, against the protests of Mr. Alan Greenspan, nothing was done to slow the markets is a truth of his administration. The fact that during his administration the government authorized spending based on monetary gains of U.S. citizens from the stock market, in the future, is also to be noted.

So again I say, why is being a Black African American Republican a taboo? Don't look at the political parties as a blanket. When President Bush is wrong, or does something I disagree with such as Patriot Act and Politics, I speak on it. That doesn't change the fact that the overall ideals and actions of republicans in my voting lifetime are better than those of democrats.

Consider this as politicians try to buy your vote [speaches, displays of faith, and non-debate orientated television debates are attempts to buy votes cheaply to me]. Remember this as they do or do not address issues that matter to you. Note this when they detail what their plans are for the issues you care about. Then go vote.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Your neighborhood - black, white or whatever

Take a look around your neighborhood. It something that nobody really ever does, I mean you know what's there but when was the last time you actively looked at what was there? I have done this from time to time, due mostly to the fact that I have travelled alot in my life and often find myself several states (or countries) away from the previous place I called home. I have lived in L.A., Moscow, Tsiblissi, New Brunswick and New York City (where I was raised) and am currently in Binghamton. Those are the bigger cities, of the smaller ones there are dozens, literally, where I have lived.

I have mentioned the above for a clear and specific reason. The vast difference between city and suburban business placement. I was reading an article, Religious differences underscore liquor store proliferation and reflected back on several former residences. I ask you to count how many bars/liquor stores are within a 10 minute walk from your front door step. Now add to that number any business that actively sells alcohol (ie beer). In Binghamton that number for me is 3. I am in a better neighborhood and close to the main street. Take away the gas station (which sells beer) and you are down to 2, the liquor store is the only one I've noticed for about 1-2 miles so it wouldn't be hard to live only a few blocks away and have the number be 1 or very possibly none depending on direction.

Why is that relevant? Well in the neighborhood I grew up in, along a major road in the 'good' part of the Bronx there are 6 in 2 blocks currently. In the past the number was 8 (in 2 blocks only). Walking 10 minutes today the number is 18-19 (depending on the path you take). The difference is 6x for the Bronx. Adjusting for living further from a main street and comparing the two cities you get something like 1 to 4-5. That is absurd.

But to be fair, I'll compare a few other places I've lived. In Manhattan, the lower east side (not a great neighborhood, but alot of college students which compares well to Binghamton a college town) on a main street there were 5 in 2 blocks. Of course the lower east side is a night-life zone. to be more residential perhaps the upper east side of manhattan would be better. More residential, no colleges and mostly working people - though they are mostly white collar workers with middle to upper incomes. From Lexinton Ave on 77th there are in 2 blocks 3 bars. [note that midtown and upper manhattan blocks are 1 1/2 the length of a lower manhattan block, and almost 2x a Bronx block. Also a upper Manhattan block is roughly 3x or more a Binghamton block.] In L.A., living on Hollywood Blvd. there was 1 in 5 minutes, everything else was driving range (as much in that city is setup that way). In Moscow living in a very good neighborhood, about 1 1/2 mile from the Russian 'white house' [a parliment building] there were 3 in 2 miles after that you hit a business and resturant district which I will not count. In New Brunswick, a small college town very similar to Binghamton in block size and student density, in a good neighborhood away from the college dorms there was 0 in 2 blocks, 3 in 10 minutes walk. In the poor and higher Black and minority/student density part of town there were 4 in 3 blocks, 6 in 10 minute walk.

So what does this all mean, besides I drink at bars? As stated in the article there is a major abundance of alcohol in lower income, Black African American, Hispanic and minority areas throughout the nation. I have no doubt that in any town/city you wish to choose the same will be seen, as it has been the same in the roughly 150+ places I have lived. That is an outrage.

"West Oakland has 69 stores supplying liquor or beer and wine. That's 28 more than the maximum number acceptable by state standards for the population..." This is not a new situation, but it is a statement on the value of the individuals in areas like West Oakland, or the Bronx. Applying a variant on "My ultimate test when viewing commercials I think are badly portraying ANY minority is to view them as being white and everything happening exactly the same" rule in this case would be looking at higher income areas. The number of ads for malt liquor, beer, alcohol and the number of places to get it are radically lower. But is that important?

Well history has clearly shown that infusing certain groups with alcohol has had horrendous social and individual results. The american Indians were faced with colonials that expanded the liquor trade to nearly every Indian community from the Atlantic to the Mississippi. The benifit of that, and the spread of alcohol as America expanded west, is the country as it exists today. That is not to say that it was a plan, then or now, to use alcohol but it must be noted that in both cases the promotion and availability of alcohol is unfairly geared towards the poor, Black African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities.

Look at your neighborhood. If you can take a casual walk and see more than 1 business that provides alcohol then you can be sure that the government (local, state, national) believes you are less worthy of the same treatment as those in other neighborhoods. Now that you've been told, what will you do?

This is what I think, what do you think?

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