Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What is an important focus for legislators part 2 - 3.28.2007.2

Continued from Where is the attention focused - 3.28.2007.1 Part 1...

But there is the real supposition that this wasted time is being done to distract from real issues. The more time spent creating laws to correct obvious idiocy (in my view) the less focus is placed on real issues. Sensitive subjects like the huge illiteracy rate (for a first world nation) or the apparent increase in crimes against children (such as the arrest of the husband of Mrs. Wynnona Judd) or offenses by police officers and law enforcement agencies against minorities (as the Sean Bell case exemplifies) are untouched and unspoken. Even the media at large tends to address these issues beyond a cursory manner.

The Sean Bell matter is a great example, using Fox News as one media source. Rather than discussing what lead to this overkill shooting, what the repercussions of it are, or why there seems to be a trend of shootings that involve double digit shots made by multiple officers against unarmed Black American men and possibly other minorities exclusively Fox News just forgot about it. I say exclusively as I am unaware of any White males that have been killed by police or law enforcement officers in a similar manner, ever. When I say they forgot about it I mean that there was the initial day of coverage and then nothing. Not a word. There was no comment on the indictment of 3 of the officers involved. No comment on why a supposed 4th individual that was believed to have a gun was allowed to escape the area. No comment on how an individual in a car, presumed armed and dangerous, left the vehicle as it was being shot – unhurt – and was not pursued by the officers that surrounded the vehicle.

So where is the research on this? The committees to discuss the causes and remedies to such events? The media coverage on the repercussions. The involvement in the nation on an issue affecting millions of citizens, directly and indirectly. It doesn’t happen because of distractions, notably a week of coverage on a mindless argument between 2 celebrities (Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump) or 3+ months of coverage on a cute blonde (Anna Nicole Smith). And of course discussion on the obvious.

Legislators, and the media at large, seem obtuse when it comes to a matter of importance. So much energy has been focused on creating stories out of non-events (like the current Mr. Alberto Gonzales ‘controversy’) that real events are obscured. That is not to say that certain events are unspoken. The war in Iraq continues to be discussed, with a bias on both sides. But that is not the only issue of consequence in the nation. It is not the only matter that will affect us for generations.

A law against obvious idiocy should take 5 minutes, and should have a penalty that actually qualifies as a deterrent and punishment. Attention to name calling and legal battles over the death of a celebrity in name only (with due respect Ms. Smith provided no more to the sum total of the nation than any other cute buxom blonde in the nation. In fact I would say she provided less than many that have not had the luck to have a camera on them) or time consuming controversies that have no more impact than allowing one political body the chance to snipe at the other are insulting. Cut out a half hour of coverage of these non-events and congressional time and maybe we can protect our children, or create fairer protection for all the citizens domestically, or educate our kids well enough that we don’t need to create stupid laws in the first place.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Where is the attention focused - 3.28.2007.1

I find it amazing that at a critical point in our nation, with decisions that will affect our children and grandchildren under debate, so many items are lost in the rush by the general media to get to the next story. Perhaps as amazing are some of the things that are requiring attention by legislators, rather than focusing on truly important issues. Rather than being cryptic I’ll present an example.

The State of New Jersey has found it necessary to draft a bill that would ban sending text messages while driving. While this may seem an obvious thing not to do, there has been research done stating that as many as 1-3 drivers text message while driving. (The numbers are less frequent when looking at all drivers as opposed to the 16-29 year old group I mentioned above.) In my opinion, this is stupid. It’s stupid that anyone would send a text message, which requires a person’s eyes be on their phone rather than the road, while driving.

The mere fact that a law needs to be drafted to address this issue gives me the thought that a harsh penalty, and thus a lesson, must be made. The proposed fine of a maximum $250 is far too lenient. It does not make an impact, nor does it impede the desire to act in this manner. Make the penalty a loss of the driver’s license for no less than 6 months on the first offense, going up at least 6 months for each additional offense, and now you have a deterrent. Let one kid, or individual lose the ability to drive and that will be texted like wildfire. Such restriction will have an affect, the punishment being too dire to brush off. And if it seems too harsh, think of this. If your child, sibling, parent or friend were to be killed because someone was writing a text message on how Britney Spears looks (as an example) instead of watching the road, would you think it too extreme then? If preventing an irresponsible driver from committing such an act could be done, would you fight it after losing a loved one? If not why would you want to wait until people die as a consequence?

But this should not even be a question. There should be no need for the law in the first place. Stupidity truly seems to be the only ‘epidemic’ that is overtaking the nation. As time is wasted making laws against obvious offenses and dangers to the public less attention is placed on matters that will affect our future. Consider that in Washington D.C., the nation’s capital and what should be a shining example of the nation, 1 in 3 people are illiterate.

Illiteracy is something that as a first world nation, and the only real empire in the world at this time, should not exist in a meaningful manner – least of all in our capital. Yet there are about 36% of the people in D.C. that are functionally illiterate (meaning they can’t read a bus schedule or a restaurant menu). For the nation as a whole the rate is 21%, nearly one fourth the populace. That’s embarrassing.

I have to believe that if there was less time being dedicated to nonsense like text messaging while driving laws, there would be more time to find a solution to real issues like illiteracy. We have the money. And I firmly believe that for every dollar we don’t spend educating, we will spend 10 dollars incarcerating.

Continued in Part 2...

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Michael Vass ponderings part 2 - 3.23.2007.2

Continued from part 1...

If someone says “so and so just said you sleep with animals” and you hit so and so, it doesn’t matter that what you were told wasn’t true or only partially true. You will be in a fight all the same. I it’s known that you stop fighting once you get a bloody nose, I’d expect you will get hit in the nose. If you do stop fighting because your nose starts to bleed, it doesn’t mean the other person is going to stop fighting, in fact I’d expect them to kick your arse now that you stopped resisting. Every kid in elementary schoolyards understands that.

I try to understand the conspiracists that feel Americans staged the 9/11 attack on other Americans. I am lost at how anyone could agree with this. I am befuddled. Where is the logic in it? What is the gain? Is there anything of worth for America in Afghanistan? Did we need to kill Americans to attack Iraq? Didn’t we fight a war previously without any attacks on our soil?

I wonder how anyone can claim that EVERY Jewish person was out of the Towers and away from the area. I personally know for a fact that several I know where there and injured. I am told from friends of Jewish persons being part of those that died. I wonder how anyone could know the religion of every person that didn’t show up for work that day, or everyone that died to be able to make such a claim. I wonder how many Black Americans, Hispanic Americans and Whites and other minorities didn’t make it to the Towers that day. What are the percentages? If more women didn’t show up to work for the attack does that mean that N.O.W. organized the attacks? If that sounds ludicrous (which I feel it is) how is any other group of Americans more credible?

If it were Jewish Americans what could they gain? America already supports Israel. The Twin Towers were not owned by any Jewish corporations or persons at that time to my knowledge. If the profit were shared among Jews the payout from the insurance is worthless unless a handful of people were involved. If it were a handful, why would they need to kill thousands just to get a minor amount of money? Wouldn’t it have been easier to simply use hijacked planes that were empty and attack in the middle of the night?

Of course all Americans have a right to think whatever they wish. They have the freedom to make any movie, or help distribute any movie, they wish and can afford. But where is the logic in this theory? Where is the gain? And what consequence is likely? Wouldn’t EVERY enemy America use such a film to denounce the war in Afghanistan and Iraq? Wouldn’t EVERY militant Muslim group point to such a film to gain recruits and funds? Wouldn’t every terrorist use such propaganda to incite attacks against Americans everywhere in the world?

And I have to consider how different the actions of liberals today are from the actions of liberals during Viet Nam. How much support is shown by retreating from the fight now? How much respect is given to those that VOLUNTEERED to fight in IRAQ? How much confidence are we inspiring as congressmen and women seek to enact restrictions that would prevent soldiers from protecting themselves [part of the recent bill passed by 218 congressmen and women requires that there must be a 15 day prior notice to Congress before any troops can be moved into Iraq. Thus is troops need support from the air, they would need to wait 15 days to get a C130 in with supplies. This is a fact not a supposition. Read page 72 of the bill.] I wonder how long it will be before ultra-liberals call the troops baby-killers as they did to those that returned from Viet Nam.

These are things I wonder and see. What about you?

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Ponderings of Michael Vass - 3.23.2007.1

So I’m sitting back and I start to wonder. I wonder about a lot of things when I have a free moment. I like to look at the logic of things and follow them to their logical most probable outcome. Perhaps it could (and has) be called mental masturbation. Tell me what you think of my musings.

I think about global warming. I wonder what was the temperature of the world in 1492, or 500, or 1776, or even 1865. There is no answer, though there are several guesses by very intelligent people that refuse to say “I don’t know.” I wonder how many people were alive in the world at those times. I’m quite sure there were less than what is in the world today. Half a billion? 2 billion? Who knows. But if the number is set at say 1 billion in 1492, just to have a fixed number, I wonder how much more CO2 has been created by human beings breathing and living as we grew to the estimated 6+ billion today.

I wonder how much CO2 will magically disappear if every source of fossil fuels were ended today. How might food get transported around the world, or homes heated, or lights for the darkness without the fuel? I question if CO2 levels will continue to rise when the world hits 7 billion people breathing and living.

I ponder the fact that if weather is cyclic for the planet, nothing we do will change the weather. I ponder how much of an effect the moon is having on weather patterns as it continues to slowly escape the orbit of the earth.

I have to consider whether or not the removal of every soldier in Iraq will stabilize that nation. I have to believe that anyone that can make a strategy to play any video game, from Resident Evil to The Sims, should be able to understand that if there is an absolute date set for the retreat of our troops, any enemies to our nation would just wait till that day to take serious action in that power vacuum. I consider the thought that if we retreat every child, brother, sister, mother, father and other person that has lost someone in this war will be an easy recruit for anyone blaming their loss and any other ills in Iraq on the retreating U.S. troops. I consider the reaction of every anti-American nation on the day the last solider leaves and Al Quida and other groups claim they forced America to run away from them; similar in the way Hamas has claimed they beat Israel in their recent conflict. I come to a conclusion that while the soldiers sent home will be safe from fighting a war away from home, this will only be temporary as some group or nation takes the retreat as a sign of cowardice and weakness and attacks the nation. I conclude that a citizen will be a larger target when traveling away from home as fear of reaction is lessened, and the thought of long-term action is minimized. I am lead to believe that this was the reason, at least in part, why the Twin Towers were attacked in the first place. Because the nation lacked the resolve to finish a fight.

I have to stop and consider that there is no direct connection between the 9/11 attack and the start of the war in Iraq. I understand that that point is moot though, as we are fighting in Iraq. It may not have been the war we should have fought, but it is the war we are fighting. And it will be a fight that will influence future terrorist attacks here at home and abroad in the future. Arguments about the start of the war are useless in resolving the war itself. Seems obvious.

Continued in part 2...

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

What's behind your mortgage rate - 3.22.2007.2

Continued from part 1...

The fact is that there is a massive bias out there that no one wants to address. In 2005, it was found that 71% that earned 153,000 dollars or more had high mortgage rates as opposed to 9.4%
of Whites. For Black Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans that earned between $92,000 and $132,000 (hardly a low income and indicating steady work habits I believe), 70% paid a high interest rate vs. 17% of Whites in the same bracket. You may wonder where these rates might be at, perhaps a small town in an isolated or economically challenged portion of the nation? Actually these are figures for the greater Boston area.

In fact the system is so skewed that when an experiment was conducted in that area with a White and an African American potential homebuyer the results were consistent to the above. The fact that the White homebuyer had a lower credit score and lower income, indicating greater risk which should guarantee a higher rate, had no reflection in the rate received. Does your face feel red, because mine feels like it was just slapped.

So given the unspoken fact that a minority citizen will be forced to pay a higher mortgage rate in the best of situations on average, it’s no surprise that many are facing the loss of their homes due to sub-prime mortgages today. That verges on the criminal if you ask me. Lenders are supposed to know better. They are supposed to evaluate the risks involved and the potential impact higher rates can have on the potential homeowner. They are supposed to follow one of the guiding principles of all investments – the ‘best man’ rule. That is essentially placing yourself in the clients position and acting in the best interest given the higher advantage the professional has versus the common person. While I have no doubt some have, the above data (that I have no doubt can easily be found and reproduced around the nation) indicates to me that many used this educated position to reap profit for themselves.

Yet not a word is mentioned on this. Millions are being systematically abused, stripped of funds they should have, stressed with the threat of losing the home their family lives in; and as a by-product contributing to the potential for severe economic consequences they may not fully understand. As regulators face Congress explaining why such bad loans were made, I have yet to hear one question to ask why there is such an extreme disparity. I have yet to hear why this situation was allowed to become so extreme.

And it won’t be asked. Because if it were Wall Street could not deny that they are ‘taking money from widows and orphans.”

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Was your home loan a good idea? - 3.22.2007.1

So everyone is scared about losing their homes, or the stock market crashing, because of the sub-prime loans made for years. Since the blip in the Dow Jones Index in February, and comments by Mr. Alan Greenspan, there has been constant news about the status of these loans that represent more than a million homes in the nation. And there is good reason to worry.

As teaser rates on mortgages are replaced my adjustable rates, many over 3 points higher than the market rate, late and missed payments are growing. Forclosures are growing and banking institutions of all sizes face drops in profit or worse as the year progresses. The ramifications go on and on. Virtually any nightly news will catch you up on all of this. Of course there are a few ‘minor’ things that are being left out.

By minor I mean minority, and when I say left out I mean overlooked. It’s a situation that is a blatant abuse, in my opinion, that is obvious to anyone that can count to 100. Now I’m sure you are wondering what I am talking about. You didn’t hear anything like this on the evening news, or your favorite cable news channel. That’s because the markets hate to mention an abuse that targets the poor, uneducated, and minorities. It’s like investing money for an elderly widow(er), take their money and you will get sued and lose guaranteed.

Specifically I mean that many sub-prime lenders swooped in on African Americans and Hispanics worse than vulture investors. This isn’t an opinion, though it’s not wholesale fact. I’ll explain.

It’s known, though not officially acknowledged, that an African American or Hispanic will virtually always be given a higher mortgage rate than a White person. To quote Mr. Jim Campen of the University of Massachusetts, “Blacks and Latinos have lower incomes and less wealth, less steady employment and lower credit ratings, so a completely neutral and fair credit-rating system would still give a higher percentage of subprime loans to minorities.”

The statement assumes that both groups are being given higher rates currently, and that the system is unfair or hardly neutral, which Mr. Campen does admit. It relies on the statistics of the census rather than individual data. It’s a great excuse to overlook what sub-prime lenders have done. It gives credibility to why a Black American is 3.8 times more likely to have a higher rate than a White, and 3.6 times more likely for Hispanic/Latinos.

That is both ludicrous and insulting. I am not a general statistic. I deserve better than an assumption that I cannot maintain a job, or that I will be paid less than another man, especially when being considered for a piece of the “American dream.” Loan originators are supposed to evaluate the person, based on the factual data before them. Mr. Campen’s statement seems to clearly state that this doesn’t happen, and you might imagine my shock being underwhelming by this.

Continued in part 2...

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Final part, History Channel threats to the world - 3.19.2007.3

Continued from Part 2...

Now is there more carbon dioxide in the air than 3 centuries ago, yes. Have temperatures gone up in recent decades? Yes. Are the 2 connected? Maybe, maybe not. We don’t know enough to be able to tell. Too many things are involved factors. The moon has been steadily moving away from the Earth, changing tides and weather patterns. The number of lifeforms on the planet has increased and changed the pattern of congregation, increasing localized temperatures and gaseous concentrations. Erosion and construction have changed the face of the planet, changing wind patterns and waterflows. Beyond these things there is the fact that the cycles of the Earth are unknown to us. You may have noticed that there has been no mention of the change of the magnetic polarity of the planet. This is believed to have changed several times over several thousand years and possibly connected to several ice ages. Yes there have been several ice ages. Oh, did I leave out tectonic shifting of the continents?

The point is that there is no factual knowledge, but lots of hype. Reducing carbon emissions can’t hurt, but to scream how this will end the world in a decade or 2 is irresponsible at the best. Five years from now we may find that the weather is not changing, or that it was due to sunspots. That’s how science works.

To say that this is the biggest threat to the planet is merely political hype. I’m tired of hearing about it. Plant some more trees and shrubs and get over it. Let’s focus on the serious problems nuclear weapons and biological irresponsibility. Osama bin Laden or the next wacko with a purpose can cause the immediate death of millions or more. Worry about that. Maybe an asteroid.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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History Channel and world end - 3.19.2007.2

Continued from Part 1...

The scarier thought is that there will be an accident that creates a plague to make the Black Death (bubonic plague) look like having sniffles. The odds of this are massively increasing each day if you ask me. If you wonder how, it’s simple. Cloning and genetically modified foods and animals.

We don’t understand the basic DNA strand. We have no idea what everything does, or how they are connected. Yet we are actively changing aspects of these chains to create effects we think we want. Scientists may feel very strongly about how correct they are, but they felt just as strong about the world being flat or eggs being bad for you. Science is never written in stone, and we constantly find out that things we absolutely knew a year ago are completely wrong. In the meantime there is an immense volume of things we don’t even know enough to guess about.

Think of it as Russian Roulette, with genes instead of bullets. Nature has spent millions of years to create the right genetic structure, without short term or long-term negative effects. In the last 20 years humans have decided we know better and are messing with what nature has in place. We don’t know what the floor of the ocean looks like, we don’t know when oil in the ground will be used up, we can’t even tell what the weather will be locally with any guarantee. Yet genetically manipulated plants and animals are ok for consumption because our governments say so. (That’s the same governments that can’t balance a budget and regularly mismanage everything they touch – like the post office) So if you think about it, some uber-scientist trying to make a better cow or wheat have a very reasonable chance of making a disease completely without knowledge as a by-product or accident.

But none of these are the #1 issue facing us.

Nope the worst thing facing man today is global warming, or also called global climate change. This is just political garbage. This part of the show had a nice comment by Al Gore, and clips from his movie. They even took a couple of shots at Fox News reporters for questioning if global warming exists. That’s political, not science.

The fact is we have no idea what is going on with the environment. None. Beyond about 1-200 years ago we have no records of the weather. There were none to be had. What was the weather in 1542? No idea is known as fact. General guesses are made based on what was written and what we can understand in the ground, but that’s only a guess. 50,000 years ago? Forget it. Pure guesses based on what we can find. It may be presented as fact but we have no better idea than what killed the dinosaurs. Matter of fact we have better ideas of how many types of dinosaurs existed than the weather.

Continued in Part 3...

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How might the Earth end - 3.19.2007.1

I was just watching a program on the History Channel, Last Days On Earth, which mentions the 7 most deadly events that can end life on Earth as we know it. It’s quite interesting. The order in which the events are listed is kind of funny, in that the most political is the most likely. If you ask me, that’s just bull.

Think about it. The chance of the Earth being struck by a large space-born mass is incalculable. The reason being we have no idea what is happening in space. Seriously. There is maybe 1% of the sky being watched at any particular sky on any given day. Not a heck of a lot. If something is coming at us, we wouldn’t even see it, unless we got really lucky and it was really close.

But even if we did, there is virtually nothing we could do about it. Hollywood movies aside, the reality is that we have nothing that could stop a space-born body. Between the mass and speed that an object might have, nuclear missiles would be little better than throwing a pebble at a howitzer shell and expecting it to be deflected or stopped. Any other solution is a pipedream or far outside our current capabilities. Several ideas, like placing a solar parachute to slow/change the trajectory or landing on the object is beyond the technology we have today. In addition it is so severely under-funded that it’s infessible. Suffice to say that a planet killer (an object about 6 miles in dimensions which is not particularly big at all) continues to be exactly that.

A black hole is just not a reality. While they exist and move in space they are noticeable in effect and by sight. They stand out and are incredibly hard to miss. Even with the limited resources we have, it would be noticed. Were one to be close enough to affect the planet, there is nothing we can do about it and death would follow in a decade or less.

The main events leading to our demise are man-made. Or so we are lead to believe. The chance of nuclear war is virtually assured. The ability to make smaller and deadlier weapons, while maintaining the weapons already created, ensures that someone will start to use these weapons. Add to that fact the thought that machines made decades ago maintain many of these weapons, and over time all machines fail. So either by accident or by purpose nuclear weapons are going to change the world.

While nukes are an eventual problem, an unforeseen problem is genetic manipulation. Unlike the plagues of the past, the future problems are most likely going to be man-made. This may be due to a directed action, or through lack of knowledge. The direct action is some madman making disease XYZ and letting it loose. There are more than enough people with the knowledge and facilities available to do so. It’s surprisingly easy enough, microbiology and genetics are taught at virtually every 4-year college and textbooks on the subject are available in every library and the internet. IF anyone thinks someone isn’t working on this now, wake up. Whether its a fanatic or a government agency, dozens of biological weapons have existed since WWI and the number is just growing. Eventually one of them will get out.

Continued in part 2...

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Letter from the President of M V Consulting, Inc.

I’m happy to say that M V Consulting, Inc. has been growing at a substantial pace. The blogs, Black Entertainment USA and VASS, have been gaining new visitors every month and repeat visitors are checking back to the site more often than ever. Visits to the online store at cafepress/nova68 have gone up exponentially. Even the new corporate website has already gained traction in a few search engines after only being live for a week.

I thank you, my visitors for this. It is your patronage and support that has made this success happen.

I realize that with this success and growth there is a price though. That price is my re-doubled efforts to provide posts and content on a daily basis, that is of interest to you. It’s no small task, and I admit that some days I just can’t find items worth writing about or don’t have the time to do so. But I have a solution to this difficulty.

I have heard from several individuals in the past that had an interest in providing posts and content for the various blog sites. I mention to those individuals and others that may be interested that I will be accepting contributions for the blogs.

So if you want to submit a post for consideration please include your name, state, the full post (spell checked), all pertinent links, and a valid contact address. If your submission is accepted, you will be contacted to make you aware.

Please understand that all posts submitted and accepted by M V Consulting, Inc. will be our limited property. This means that any accepted piece can and may be reproduced in full or in part at the discretion of and for the benefit of M V Consulting, Inc. Full writing credit for any accepted content will be given to the contributing author, in a byline style. Sadly at this time, no fee will be paid for any submission that is accepted.

I look forward to your responses and interest.


Michael Vass
President – M V Consulting, Inc.
Author – Black Entertainment USA and VASS

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Conclusion on State of Geogia apology - 3.9.2007.3

Concluded from Part 2...

An example is that of Senator Hillary Clinton, which I quote from my previous post, Commenting on Sen. Hillary Clinton's Dr. Martin Luther King Day speech, “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.” Or in comments from Senator Obama mentioning that he is “home” in Selma. Or virtually any other politician during Black History Month, on Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, to humble or humiliate their opponents, or other noted dates of importance to Black Americans. Such comments belittle what was done, marginalizing the acts, and in my mind prove that the connection is real in the minds of all Americans. So why won’t politicians move forward and apologuize at least [other than those already noted]?

I have asked several in the current group of Presidential candidate hopefuls their position on this question. Not one has answered me. I ask all the Pesidential candidates now, will you support an apology from the government to African Americans for slavery and segregation and the various civil rights denials for more than 346 years?

I ask Mr. Hargrove, and Speaker Richardson, to provide me a sound and evidence supported argument that disputes my position. I ask them to show me how America has not benefited from slavery, how that is not connected to today, how there are not Americans alive right now that denied rights to Black Americans, and how the effects of more than 3 centuries of abuse and disrespect do not exist today.

Please help me with this effort. Pass this on to the above mentioned individuals, and every politician in the nation. Post this on the blogs of the candidates for President. Let’s hear exactly why they will not pursue at least an apology, and at best provide some form of reparation for the $9.7 – 24 trillion earned by slaves. Let them explain why they cannot seek forgiveness for the wholesale slaughter of Rosewood, the destruction of Tulsa’s Black neighborhoods in 1921, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, and segregation to name a few items.

I really look forward to their responses.

This is what I think, what do they think?

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The apology part 2 - 3.9.2007.2

continued from part 1...

But that is not the end of it. From 1865 to 1965 the American government actively pursued policies of denial of rights, Jim Crow laws, duplicity, separatism, inequality, and racism. Whether it was sub-standard education, restrictive laws, and misrepresentation in laws, miscarriages of justice, denial of existence or other acts of racism the fact that being an African American for 100 years meant that you were also a 3rd-class citizen is undisputed. Was that not true the Civil Rights Movement, and multiple laws enacted since 1965 would not now exist. An apology for this treatment and abuse is also required. And as to the question of connection to this, some 60 million Americans have lived through at least a portion of that time period [based on my estimate of Americans age 57 or older giving them 15 years or more life in a Jim Crow, segregation enabled American society]. There is a connection and that is a fact.

Now some may question my last statistic. Perhaps it is not perfect, but there is no question that those 57 or older lived in and benefited from the system that existed. Those 60 or older had the ability to vote and maintain the status quo. Those who were 15 in 1965 had been indoctrinated in the system that existed. That does not mean that everyone in that group acted in a manner that promoted the situation, but the fact is most did. If not then the changes that came afterwards would have happened far sooner. The challenges I’ve had to live through in my youth would not have existed. Change is slow and takes generations, but there is more than just one generation still alive today that lived through and actively promoted the pre-1965 environment in America. They benefited and are directly connected. That much is a fact.

I think that anyone can see that this is not an old, unconnected, long past issue. I am old enough to have felt some of the effects of the pre-1965 Civil Rights world. This is no long forgotten event to me. I believe that there are some 82 million other Americans that fall into the same time range and have had the chance at the same situations growing up to varying degrees. I submit that ~142 million Americans are more than enough people to make this a relevant and current issue. To say it isn’t is to be in denial of facts.

Yet given this relevancy, there are constant refusals to provide an apology. There are adamant arguments made to reject any concept of reparations. Yet no one wants to address the efforts towards reparations in the past, such as where the cry “Where are my 40 acres and a mule” come from. Almost no politician want to even whisper on this subject, with the noted exception of Representative John Conyers Jr. and the above mentioned Rep. Tyrone Brooks, yet they have no problem using the concept of Slavery to their advantage.

finished in Part 3...

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What Georgia House Speaker Richardson should apologize for - 3.9.2007.1

Well here is a surprise and a disappointment all at once. The surprise comes from the fact that a Georgia lawmaker, Rep. Tyrone Brooks, has made a proposal for the state to apologize for slavery. Finally there is a renewed effort to make some kind of reparation for the centuries of abuse and mistreatment that was inflicted on African Americans. More importantly this is a real statement unlike the “regret” voiced by Virginia, The disappointment comes from the statements “I'm not sure what we ought to be apologizing for” voiced by Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson and others.

This is a sore subject for me. Ignorance and a refusal to acknowledge the factual past is infuriating. It is the main causes of why an apology at the least has never been made by the United States government to the millions of African Americans who’s ancestors were forcibly brought to this nation and treated worse than livestock. I am not alone in my thoughts in this issue, nor is it a new one. Perhaps the first call for reparations was in 1829, and there have been continuous efforts in the 178 years since that time.

Let me address the stupidity of the statements made by Speaker Richardson, and others including Mr. Frank Hargrove of Virginia. The argument goes that Americans today did nothing, and have no connection, involved with Slavery. This is the most obvious and persistent fallicy since perhaps ‘the world is flat’ or ‘the universe circles the earth.’

The fact is that since 1619 to 1865 African Americans were slaves. Those slaves were forced to work in plantations and fields, providing America with cotton, tobacco, and food crops, that created an economy that rivaled any nation in the world at that time. The economic power of the nation allowed the foundation of the nation to be formed and built upon. During this time slaves were used to also build the cities, roads, railroads and other forms of infrastructure that the nation grew upon. Without the efforts forced to be done over this 246 year period nothing that exists today would exist. That is a fact. It cannot be disputed.

The connection is obviously that without the unpaid, forced, demeaning work done by African slaves there would be no internet, highways, tobacco companies, skyscrapers, stock market, 37 states, or anything else we call America today. Everyone in this nation benefits from the 246 years that slavery existed in America and are thus connected to it. This is not a new view of causation or reasonable consequences. Similar arguments have been made and accepted in regard to the treatment of Native American Indians. Not only did they receive an apology various tribes have been given lands that are separate of U.S. jurisdiction and many visit the casinos on Indian reservations based on reparations to Native American Indians. Similar arguments were made against Germany and Switzerland in regard to their actions to the Holocaust, and both countries have made apologies and reparations long after the time of those that committed the acts. And we should not forget the apology and reparations made to the families of those Japanese Americans that were interred in camps during WWII. Again, these are facts. They cannot be disputed.

So in the first place, what we should be apologizing for (to answer Speaker Richardson and other of his mindset) is the labor, deaths, treatment and abduction of unknown millions of Africans over 246 years. I say unknown because while there are estimates that claim 4 million were slaves, records of African slaves were not accurately kept since they were considered on par with chairs. Those that do not wish to apologize should give up their houses, cars, clothes and money as each item they have and use that was created or exists in this nation is without question connected to the efforts made in the past, just as every law and right we have in this nation is connected to the Constitution and the American Revolution. That is a fact. It cannot be disputed.

Continued in part 2...

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Of Ms. Ann Coulter and others similar - 3.5.2007.1

Some days it’s hard to be a Republican, even without considering my heritage being Black and Latino/Hispanic. Of course I’m speaking of Ms. Ann Coulter. Her comments and actions are a clear example that like the Democratic Party there are clear divisions between what one member and another believes.

It’s a shame that the fanatical fringe get more coverage than anyone else. I don’t agree with Ms. Coulter about her religious beliefs. I have deep problems when anyone would advocate forced conversion to any religion because they believe it to be the true religion. There is no difference in that last sentence whether it is applied to fanatical Muslims, fanatical Christians or anyone else. That is not a representation of what this nation was built upon, the freedom to pursue religious beliefs without persecution. Those that like to pick and choose their quotes from whichever religious tome need to remember the passages they fail to quote.

Religion, for me, has no place in politics. There are separate in every respect. One is an individual choice, the other is a social responsibility. The responsibility is to do what is best for the city, state or nation regardless of individual beliefs. Those who have forgotten this are the ones that scream at individual actions like the swearing in of Rep. Ellison. Personally I understand that all humans are flawed and have finite knowledge; given that there is not one person that has ever lived on the planet that knows unequivocally what is the true religion. I do believe that there have been many that have understood and acted in the exactly appropriate manner politically for their respective government.

In the same vein the question of sexuality is without place in politics. Whether used as a joke or as an attack it has no relevance in the ability to live up to the social responsibility a government office requires. History is replete with individuals of a huge range of sexuality that many would find curious at the least [at least as they might comment publicly, though in private their response may be different]. The need to use such a matter as an attack implies to me a degree of insecurity and fear from the speaker of such a statement.

To allow such individuals to comment without reproach is to invite persecution and begin on a path that eventually leads to restriction of personal freedoms that is antithetical to the ideal this nation holds dear. I personally see little difference in comments like those made by kenneth eng, Rep. Goode, Ms. Coulter and Sen. Biden. They are all based in fear and ignorance, differing only in the degree of stupidity that the speaker has. This is how I see it.

I was once told that an individual that must resort to hurling epitaphs, slurs, and curses has too little knowledge to use another term. That such an individual is trapped by the smallness of their mind the expression of which is the limited words they have available to convey the thoughts in their minds. Language is the expression of thought vocalized, and the vocabulary used speaks volumes on the mind of the speaker. We see another case of this here.

But being a Republican, or Democrat for that matter, is more than a religious or sexual preference statement. It is wholly separate in fact. For me at least, my desire to see a set of goals that will best improve the nation as a whole has nothing to do with my sexuality or religion. For me at least those 2 items do not affect my decision for whom I vote. But I will be affected by examples of a small mind that seeks to lead the nation, via politicians and policies, in a direction that will not be of greatest benefit.

I’m still a Black Puerto Rican Republican. I’m also a man with a mind, and I’m American. Remember these things for yourself when you listen to those that would wish to guide the direction of the nation.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

The uneven hand of justice - 3.3.2007.1

I’m sure most have heard of the two 19 year-old girls that walked in and robbed a bank Thursday. It’s made the national news, and had lots of local coverage from what I gather. No weapons were used, and it now seems that it was at least in part an inside job as an employee of the bank has been arrested as well as the 2 girls.

What you may not have heard, and is not making major news is that the robbery is now being called a theft. You may say so what, but it makes a big difference. If it’s robbery of a bank then it’s a felon and that’s major time. If it’s theft then it’s a much lesser charge. I believe the difference is 10 – 15 years in jail time and having a record of a felony following you for the rest of your life. In essence the road is being paved to let these 2 girls walk away from this now high-profile crime with the equivalent of a slap on the wrist.

Now imagine if I made this robbery. I doubt whether or not I had an inside accomplice that the charge would be lessened to theft. I seriously doubt that the news media would regard my actions in the light-hearted manner in which these girls have been. There would have been an immediate man-hunt. Rumors of a hidden weapon used in the crime would be rampant. The community would be in arms about violence and the undisciplined youth of today. Allegations of drug use would pop up. And several media sources would call for my incarceration at the most extreme penalty of the law to make an example of me.

What is the difference? I’m not a teenage, white, woman. Does that change the crime? No. Does it affect what has happened? No. Does it affect how the legal system will be applied? Apparently it does.

This kind of unbalanced application of the law and penalties is something that every minority in the nation is aware of intimately. If it were 2 Latina/Hispanics, or Asians, or Black women nothing about this case would be similar. Stand back if it were 2 young girls that were Arab, Muslim, or looked like either of those. There would have been cries of terrorist connections and probably crowds of vigilantes roving the streets in pursuit of them.

I mentioned this story to two friends, a Black woman and her husband who is White. In telling them the story I left out the color of the 2 girls. When I asked what the charges should be they thought it was obvious that it was a felony. They were amazed when I said the charge was theft. The amount of money taken qualified for Grand Theft, which is a felony and it’s a bank even with an insider involved. The husband noted because of the insider it can be considered embezzlement. As they were bedazzled by this I told them the race of the women, and their reaction was swift and sharp. The whole thing was being washed away they stated. The fact that it was unbalanced application of the law made sense, once the race was known. Considering it was the Atlanta area they had assumed that the girls were Black.

Many may question why race is such an issue in America. Some argue that we have grown beyond the need to continue to fight racism. But events like this highlight the fact that the problems are persistent. We cannot expect anyone to believe that there isn’t a problem when the punishment for crimes are handed down on a sliding scale of justice.

This is what I think, What do you think?

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