Saturday, March 29, 2008

Anonymous questions Michael Vass - 3.29.2008.1

This is a reply to a comment found initially under Duane Dog Chapman, reposted to Rev. Manning - sad, vile, and trying to influence your vote - 3.28.2008.1, and commented on there. But as the latest comments seemed to completely diverge from the point of both posts I felt it deserved a post of it’s own.

I will quote from the latest commentary and then reply. Please go to the Rev Manning post to see the original comment.

“the reason I posted that article and link in the site, is because that I never knew either of these blogs existed and why would I?”

Well Anonymous, I will correct one thing. It seems that you commented under my Duane Dog Chapman post because you were unaware of the political blog. Fine.

Though I would have imagined that you would have noticed some of my references to VASS, and the links to it. Since you did not, I take the blame for that and will correct it. While many have found each blog from the other blog if you could not, others may not as well. And I will thank you for highlighting that.

“well, I posted the racial lineage of Obama which you call an attack? why is reminding you that Obama has only one grandparent that is African an attack?”

As for your comment being an attack – yes I do feel it was. You brought up a fact – that was unverified - that was not significant or relevant for the purpose, seemingly, to denigrate and/or weaken the opportunity and status of Senator Obama. Politically I do not agree with many of the proposals of Senator Obama, but I do not agree with attempts to dissuade vote from him on a basis of race.

His heritage is not a factor of his choosing nor of his ability to affect. His ancestry is whatever it is, and I have no problem calling him Black and/or the first Black President were he elected. I have no problem, nor do I believe it has any relevance, with his heritage and how it could affect his ability to lead America.

And I ask, why is mentioning Senator Obama’s lineage important in deciding his worth as a Presidential candidate? What benefit does this fact, which you provided no factual or credible link to, create or deny? And if it is important, I ask then what are the grandparents of Senator McCain and Senator Clinton?

As for why you would know of my blogs? Well obviously you found it. And you were looking for something that dealt with some aspect of Fox News that had reference to what I wrote about at Black Entertainment USA. You obviously read through at least one post, so I gained you attention. And you could easily have contacted me for questions or checked other posts as both are clearly posted.

But I would hope you found my blogs because I have insightful commentary on a range of issues, some you may agree with, and others you won’t. I would imagine that is why tens of thousands from over 100 countries read my blogs every month.

“and your 'black' this and 'black' that how would and do you react to and orginization that called itself White? why do you perpetuate the need to keep defining yourself by the color of your skin?”

As to dealing with organizations that were defined as “White XX”. I deal with it as every African American does. The more important fact you do not realize is that most organizations in America are de facto White XX. Look at movies and television. Look at most corporations. And so on. America is designed to emphasize the Whites in this society and minimize all other races. Being a minority in America is to deal with “White organizations” every day in almost every facet. To be aware of that and acknowledge it is just stating the obvious. But if you are not a person of color then I take it that this is just a given of life and not as obvious.

I do not perpetuate nor need to be defined as a Black Puerto Rican. I am a Man, and an American. But it would be foolish and a lie to say that American society, and some individuals, react to me in such a manner. Far too often I am seen first as a Black man, and in that visage all the baggage that is claimed under that title. I am often not treated equally or fairly solely on the basis of my skin. I have noted many occasions of this through the blogs. This is not done to separate myself, but to give others that never have these experiences a window into the world that does not affect or happen to them. And I am not unique in this point. Every African American I have ever known, without regard of color, education, sex, or location has had similar events and reactions.

Why does the media feel the need to perpetuate negative images of Black Americans? Why does the entertainment industry feel a need to ignore the existence of minorities in America, and when they do address our existence it is to promote the worst aspects of our cultures? Rap was a positive music genre that the music industry refused to acknowledge or support until the emergence of a then sub-genre ‘gangsta rap’. But the industry flooded the airwaves with that type of rap and suddenly proclaimed that rap was no longer a fad. Odd how it took more than a decade and the promotion of the worst aspects of a community to suddenly be accepted.

I must say that I find anonymous posts that are placed out of context as a comment on a completely separate post as cowardly. This one went to a completely separate blog, which I own, to make the comment. I suppose the thought was I wouldn’t notice. Surprise, I notice everything on my sites.

do something about your paranoia and shoulder chip..splinters in your head must be uncomfortable” [italics and bold as per the writer]

LOL. As for the chip on my shoulder, the splinters in my head, and my supposed paranoia – I just have to catch my breath from laughing. Yes I am very confident in what I write and say. I have a passion for what I believe and will defend my positions strongly. I am authoritative and I do not fear dissenting opinions. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Any person that writes a blog, especially on as topical a group of subjects as frequently as I do, should be both thick-skinned and confident. I believe that all writing presented to the public must be passionate and from the heart. Because there will be those that disagree, sometimes equally as passionately.

Debating issues that affect America is a positive. But it is only beneficial when the writers believe in what they are saying. When they provide a benefit to the reader and allow them to gain a new insight or confirm their convictions. That is part of the reason that I place so many links to sources of information, quotes, and video clips. So that I provide my readers with facts that they can read and ultimately gain their own perspective from. I may not be right, but you need to prove it to me because I’m not going to just take someone’s word that I am wrong.

After 40 years and many experiences here and abroad, I’ve earned my confidence. I’ve owned businesses, been homeless, swept floors, lived through earthquakes riots and a coup attempt. I’ve gone to college, had numerous friends jailed or killed, avoided drugs, and lived across the nation. I’ve been a Marine, and buried my father. If after all that and more I was not confident, then I would agree something is wrong with me.

But if you do not agree with my comments about your comment I can’t help you. If you disagree or think that I am wrong in a post, give reasons and back them up with a factual source (if possible). If you think there is a relevant point that needs to be made about a post, make the comment and state it. But be aware that I may not agree, and I will give reasons why.

Whether you believe it or not, I value every opinion and comment I get. I really do. Either because I learn something new or I get to highlight why I believe what I have written. And because I do get comments and am read across the world I make a point of being as credible and passionate as possible. Though that does not make me everyone’s cup of tea, and I don’t want to be.

I write from a Black Puerto Rican Male viewpoint. As such some will not like what I have to say on some issues. But it is a viewpoint that is not readily available via the mainstream media. And there are points that I feel need to be expressed and some that need to be challenged.

Your comment about Senator Obama’s lineage has nothing to do with his abilities or his attempt to become President. It is based in a racial reasoning to cause voters to vote against him on a superficial and irrelevant reasoning, in my opinion. Thus the comment was moved to where I though it more appropriate, and my comments were made. I stand by both decisions. You have not given me reason to change that reasoning – with the exception noted at the beginning of this comment.

If you wish to defend your reasoning, please do. If you wish to discuss my “paranoia” go ahead, as long as you refrain from vulgar or personally demeaning language. I am confident in my views and thick-skinned enough to take a few hits, but I would hope you can share a new insight with my readers and I so we can learn something different. If not, I’m ok as well.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Rev. Manning - sad, vile, and trying to influence your vote - 3.28.2008.1

Some things in life are just too wrong. It’s not enough that Rev. Wright has made wrong and questionable comments, creating a furor that can be encapsulated in the thought that ‘Obama is too black.’

Because of 10 second clips from a mere handful (5 or 6) sermons out of perhaps 1000 or more in 35 years, made by someone other than Senator Obama, the Senator is now considered radical. His actual voting record is ignored, as are the comments and speeches he has made. I don’t agree with many of his policies and I still think he is being railroaded. Because one pastor said that crack in the 80’s was fought by the government with a campaign slogan of the First Lady. Because he said Senator Clinton was never called the most ugly, denigrating, evil word in the English language that has no equivalent and that is exclusive to one race. Because he said some truthful comments that are not beneficial or conciliatory to Whites. [Let me note that not all comments are ones that I agree with or think are correct, but 90% of what I have found are.]

Because of that, Senator Obama is finally being seen in the manner that all the emails, rumors, allegations and direct slaps in the face that the Clinton campaign could muster. How proud Hillary must be. Having failed with the use of Barack Obama’s middle name and pictures of him in the native garb of African Elders while in Africa (which is common for traveling politicians).And with that pride must be the pride of the majority of Americans at seeing what it takes to win a nomination to become President. Imagine what would happen to become President.

But there are some that have opinions far too the other side. That Senator Obama is not Black enough. As if such a comment is possible or credible.

One such proponent is Rev. James David Manning. And in watching him live on Fox News, at 9:15pm on Hannity & Colmes, I must say he is a racist and bigot in the worst manner.

Rev. Manning stated that his objection to Senator Obama is because he is the union of an African and White parents. He admitted that he has never met the Senator, nor his parents. Yet that gave him no pause in calling the parents whores and trash. He cited Obama’s lie (or misspoken statement) about his parents meeting as the source of Obama’s first wrong doing. In total his only complaint were these to points.

It’s a harsh thing to see a man, especially one of a religious faith, so obsessed with false values. He was so bad as to cause Sean Hannity, a Republican and admitted non-Obama supporter, to directly and clearly defend Obama. He correctly stated that this was a personal attack and had nothing to do with politics. He questioned how any man of faith could blanket anyone as evil solely because of their birthright. And he was visibly disturbed by this message Rev. Manning is trying to spread.

But in checking around I see that Rev. Manning does not feel Obama is alone in being not Black enough. [And Manning believes that if you are not the result of 2 African American parents you are not Black, but some other thing which he implied is evil. Thus I and most African Americans would falter – I suspect that if he is the offspring of slaves he would not qualify either, but I’m sure that he has an excuse for that as do most bigots when faces with a schism in their warped logic.] The NAACP is not Black enough. Any African American that was able, through the efforts of their parents lives, to not be born poor does not understand being Black and implies they are not Black.

Rev. Manning believes there is an identity crisis in the Black community. Because many Blacks supported Bill Clinton. Because many African Americans support Obama. He feels that Blacks are being paid off to rig the Democratic nomination so that Hillary gets the nomination and Senator Obama gets the Vice-Presidential nomination, all arranged by Whites in Hollywood – as stated to John Gibson of Fox News Talk on March 20, 2008. In that same interview he proclaims how the Civil Rights Movement of the last 50 years was “terribly destructive since the death of Dr. King”. This can be found at

But to really understand the anger and bile of Rev. Manning you need to see the following video.

Now perhaps it is me, a man that Manning would call a “good Negro”, but I think Manning is a racist ass. He fears any man with an education, that believe in things that he does not, that is not as dark as him, nor fits his view of the world. In fact he sounds an awful lot like various White supremacists and a certain Nazi leader.

But I am not a “good Negro”. I am proud to be an educated successful Black Puerto Rican. I have never been in jail [which I would like to know why Manning was - and Malcolm X was incarcerated because he was a criminal at the time. A fact he admitted and never tried to glorify] nor do I feel a need to be. I don’t kiss anyone’s ass, least of all his. And I don’t think that living beyond his limited view is the only way to be African American.

If not being Black enough means not living up to the stereotypes of BET, the music industry, and dim-witted fools fearful of any change since 1865, I’m ok with that and glad Obama doesn’t qualify either. If not being Black enough means not fitting into the Rev. Manning’s of the world view on parentage, need for poverty, lack of education, need for incarceration, and lack of a strong will I will do without.

Manning may have the right to say whatever he wishes, but thankfully we have the right not to listen now that we know what he thinks. We have the right to vote (which Manning may no longer have depending on his conviction) and if it is based in the actions, records and apparent capabilities of a candidate then we should vote for them. We should not let racist, mindless babbling wrapped in a cloak of religion dictate our choices for us.

I reject the vile comments of any person, especially those of religious leaders interjecting themselves as politicians. I dispute and reject the comments of Rev. Manning. I find him vile and reprehensible. I find nothing in his own words, found in my own research, that I agree with. I can only hope that his particular brand of poison does not lend itself to the problems in the Democratic nomination process.

Religious leaders may be essential for spiritual direction, but few have ever shown themselves to be effective leaders of anyone. In America we elect our leaders because of what we believe they will do. Don’t give up that right to anyone else. Learn the facts for yourself. Make a choice. Be involved because the result will involve and affect you regardless or age, race, religion or gender.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

The lighter side of politics

Well here is a video that I thought was great. It takes several of the most recent issues plaguing the Democratic Presidential candidates and skewers them. Sometimes you just need to take a break from the serious stuff.

Jay Leno did a great job of this, and if I could find it on Youtube I’d use that. But I found it here. It’s the best I could find at the moment.

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Focus on the issues of the 2008 Presidential election - 3.27.2008.1

So I’ve been quite busy in the past week creating 40 blogs and a few search engines for a client of mine. It would seem the timing was perfect as there has really been nothing new in the political news. Every candidate seems to be stuck in the mire of the problems from a week or 2 ago.

There is the problem of Senator Obama with Rev. Wright. This is not going to go away, and you can bet on it being an issue in the general election. I’ve already said that this is really not something I think that should be such an issue. In reviewing some of the video that Rev. Wright had used against him, much of what he said was not untrue or offensive. It was just not nice to White Americans or the Government.

Now I know that there is now news that Rev. Wright has written pro-Hamas comments. I have yet to read this. But, sight unseen, I would guess that like the highly selective 10 second clips used to attack the reverend there is a high probability that these comments may be few in number, and contain a high percentage of truth. That is not to say I agree with all of what he says, just that the 30 seconds of coverage the news media is giving to Rev. Wright is highly biased. As many who have read my Black Entertainment USA blog know, I believe that a medium that purposefully minimized the existence and representation of all non-whites to roughly 2% of their population – mostly in a negative exposure – is biased.

But again I ask the real question that the news media seems to avoid as they inject race into this Presidential election. Does the voting record of Senator Obama reflect the negatives that the news media is focusing on? In my research the answer is no. In fact, Senator Obama’s voting record is nearly identical to Senator Clinton’s. So there seems to be no reason to be any more or less for Senator Obama than before this publicly reviewed relation to a former Marine, clergyman, and activist for the poor, lesbian/gay, and African Americans.

As for Senator Clinton, well she is still a liar. And she is still caught in the fact that her trip to Bosnia was a direct lie. A person can misspeak about a date or time, a name or place, even how well someone reacts in a situation. But saying you are being shot at and that you and your child were essentially racing for your life is a life-altering event that no one would forget. Like being in the Northridge earthquake.

Here is an example. I liked in California and was in the Northridge quake. My home was roughly 5 miles away from the epicenter. I may be misspeaking the distance to the center. But when I tell you that the quake started like a jackhammer going off at your feet, and then grew to feel and sound like a freight train inches away from your face – that is a description of a life-altering event. I may misspeak how long the initial quake lasted, which felt like 5 minutes at the time, but I and describing a life-altering event that every 3 minutes on the minute the quake had an aftershock. And the fact that I and 2 other friends were so afraid that slamming a door shut caused us to jump for about 2 days after the fact is confirmable by at least 6 people, and in no way is exclusive. That is a life-altering event. Senator Clinton lied.

But I am not surprised. And it is important. Unlike the separation of Senator Obama and Rev. Wright – as seen in his actual voting record – Senator Clinton lied to the nation repeatedly (at least 3 xs). She has sought sympathy and endearment. She is trying to create courage and importance. And it is all just a false façade to gain votes.

Just as her lie about affecting the Ireland Peace Talks was proven false, so has video about Bosnia proven her a liar. And Sinbad broke the story, not the news media that would have let the story stand if he did not publicly challenge her.

Now there are many reasons to vote for or against any candidate. I’ve detailed many over the past 2 years on all the candidates. But there are a few things that I think everyone can agree are not qualities wanted in a potential President.

We do not want a President that is a criminal nor aids and abets a criminal. So far as has been proven only one candidate has done this. Senator Clinton. The criminal was Norman Hsu, whom she took $1 million from to aid her campaign and struggled to avoid giving back to his victim (the money was stolen – which were separate new charges for Hsu).

We do not want a President that lies to the American public. Senator McCain may make momentary mistakes between the name of Iran and Iraq – which every person discussing the 2 has done in conversation, Senator Obama may not have been at every one of the sermons that Rev. Wright made (3x a week for 20 years). Maybe hearing a rant against the nation (like the ones made by Jerry Falwell after 9/11) or against a group of people (like the claims about AIDS made by Pat Robertson) is not something someone would want to admit – like being caught cheating on a wife. But to stand in front of the American people and to repeatedly and directly lie is wrong.

When President Bush stated America needed to remove the weapons of mass destruction he lied (to some degree) and that has created huge resentment in America and at least some of the Democrats. When former-President Bill Clinton stated under oath and on television broadcasts to the nation that he did not have sexual relations with Monika Lewinsky he lied. And when Senator Hillary Clinton made up events in Ireland and Bosnia she has lied about her ability, courage, and experience. If a Republican, Democrat or Independent was upset and livid about the first 2 events and wished they could take back their vote from those 2 Presidents – why would any voter elect a potential candidate that has proven a willingness to repeatedly and unabashedly lie to America??

We do not want a President that will take our money and/or waste it. No one likes to pay taxes. Nor does anyone I know enjoy watching their money go to individuals that do nothing deserving of those tax dollars being spent on them. Yet in an economy that is obviously troubled (at the least) Senator Clinton and Senator Obama have voted to increase taxes for those making $31,850 or more. This increase does not account for creating a universal socialized healthcare system (which will cost taxpayers and individuals more), the wars in Iraq or Iran, or the mortgage crisis. So imagine that as jobs become harder to get, in an economic slowdown where fewer new jobs will be created, more taxes will be imposed on taxpayers and small businesses.

Imagine what will happen if all the social programs that Democrats wish to put in place become fact, and wages go up, while there is less income available to pay bills and smaller businesses that cannot afford the taxes or employee wages go out of business – firing even more people.

These are the issues that face the next President. And there are more issues, like education for our kids, the number of illegal aliens in the nation, and security of our homes. That is where the focus should be for this election. Instead we are hearing about the comments of a non-elected official, momentary misquotes in a live conversation, and ignoring the breadth and depth of lies.

Well I have at least another 40 blogs to create. So I will be a bit slow on posts, by no means am I forgetting to write. Maybe by my birthday, in a week and a half, the news media will focus on the important facts.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Beginning to move on from Rev Wright - 3.24.2008.1

As the nation moves on to the news of Bill Richardson endorsing Senator Obama in a move to probably get a nod at the Vice-Presidential I want to step back. The fact is that Senator Obama needs the change of direction to be nominated, but the issue is too important to fade.

The immediate anger that was expressed across the media, and the nation via poll results, makes it clear that America has issues with people of color. When a couple of words, spoken by someone other than Senator Obama, creates a furor it is obvious why. And let’s get the facts straight.

Rev. Wright was a pastor for 35 years. He has made perhaps thousands of sermons in that time, each perhaps 1 or 2 hours long. But the media was able to find roughly 5 sermons, and within those sermons 1 or 2 snippets of 10 seconds each, to crucify the entirety of his career. And what was so objectionable in those 10 seconds of commentary without context? That America is run by White Americans, that Senator Clinton has never been called the N-word, that American government did nothing to retard crack until the drug spilled over to White neighborhoods, and so on. In effect, many got angry over hearing truthful comments – and to be fair there were a couple of 2 second blurbs that were a bit harsher that I did not agree with, from my own research.

Then Senator Obama was forced to respond. Though the media did not provide coverage of what was said by the pastors of Senator McCain, Senator Clinton, or any other elected official. Not even the most recent and current comments. Because they were fine – at least we are lead to believe so in the absence of coverage.

So Senator Obama made a speech about race. And it was a good one. And the nation was astounded, it would seem, that the Civil Rights movement did not resolve every issue for people of color any more than the Equal Rights movement for women resolved issues of pay or treatment. And as the conversation continued it was warped.

I have already had several personal conversations where the actual words of Rev. Wright or Senator Obama have been misquoted towards a more racial bent. Some are angry at what they chose to hear, and not what was said. And the Clinton campaign delighted as they finally achieved a goal they have struggled to employ for months. The polling for Senator Obama dropped.

Then Senator Obama made a reference to “a typical White person”. Oh, the outrage. How dare he lump White Americans like this. I mean the fact that television and movies are dominated, as they always have been, with these amorphous amalglamations of society is not important. The fact that across the country people of color can tell the same exact kinds of stories of racism, prejudice and hate is not important. The fact that the deaths and beatings of people like Diallo and Bell are so similar to deaths and beatings in California like Rodney King is just a coincidence I suppose. Actual acts against me personally based on race are just an oddity, though I cannot count the number of people of color that have had the same experiences across the nation over the last 40 years.

Nope, it is just a horrible thing to point out truth in America. And responses like this one are seen

“Poor guy – whose middle name and lack of executive experience we’re never supposed to mention, and who was not aware of the insane, anti-American, racist rantings of his spiritual advisor of 20 years – now blabbering incoherently about “typical white persons,” simply needed a little shut-eye.

Perhaps Sen. Trent Lott was tired when – at Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party in 2002 – he paid Thurmond an innocuous off-the-cuff compliment by mentioning the aging senator’s run for the presidency more than a half century earlier.

“When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him,” Lott said. “We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

Lott’s statement meant absolutely nothing. It carried no weight. It wasn’t meant to. It was simply an innocent “attaboy” for an old man who was at the end of his career and nearing the end of life.”

This was in response to the typical white person comment of Senator Obama. The above quoted writer is obviously upset. And a bit obfuscating of the truth.

The reason that Senator Obama’s middle name is an issue is that – 1. none of the other middle names of candidates are ever used, 2. His name is used in a manner to imply and provoke fear in those less educated and more prejudicial in America.

The experience issue is commented about constantly. By and about both Democratic candidates. Neither has experience. And every one mentions it.

As for Rev. Wright, he is far from insane (just like Jerry Falwell, Robert Grant, or Pat Robertson), was American enough to fight in the Marines, and never made a disparaging comment about race or gender to my knowledge. That fact was apparent when Greta van Sister of Fox News was challenged to find racist comments while in an interview with Rev. Sharp ton, and 24 hours later was incapable of doing so.

And the comparison fails with the comments supporting the Senator best know for his racist stance for the last half of the last century. Sen. Strom Thurmond’s Presidential bid was hardly nothing or innocent. It was an attempt to support and reinforce segregation. That is a historical fact (which the writer touches on briefly) as is the fact that Sen. Thurmond changed his stance after privately coming to terms with his illegitimate Black daughter.

The point is that America wants to hide its head in the sand, and deny any negative about race in current days (let alone the past). This is the real 3rd rail of American politics, and potentially Senator Obama’s biggest hurdle.

Is it important that Gov. Richardson endorses and/or joins Sen. Obama on a Presidential ticket? Sure, because it’s about race. Getting Hispanic/Latinos to be active in his campaign. Because the Clinton campaign assumes they are already going to get those votes, as they assumed they would get the Black, White male, and college educated vote. But if you say that this vote is about race, prepare to be shunned.

Because I cannot tell you how many of the “typical White people” that I know who have come to me and are upset about Senator Obama’s comment and Rev. Wright. How often they misquote both, and how few actually ever heard of Rev. Wright before the mishmash of videoclips. Nor can I tell you how many of these same people cannot understand the privilege and advantage they enjoy simply because of the color of their skin. But I can tell you, that long before this current debate over my 40 years of life, maybe 10% of these same people have confided in me that they do act in exactly the same manner as Obama’s grandmother from time to time. It’s just the fact that it’s being brought into the light that is the problem I suppose.

So let’s do this. Accept that race is a continuing issue in America. It has been since the 1619 and it has not ended though the degree and manner has changed. And because of that White Americans are not the shining images that movies and television wishes to portray. Equally people of color are not without fault either, and they are not the images of poverty, violence and anger that television, movies and the news media try to convey to the world.

Given that, this election should not be about the race or gender of the candidates. It’s about what is best for America. Issues like oil dependency, pollution, Social Security, mortgages, the economy, jobs and others are all colorblind. Only the best choice for America will resolve even some of these issues.

If we focus only on the least important factor of the candidates, we may lose as a nation. So vote, not for your race or gender, but for the best choice for America. And if that vote is for a non-White male, so what. America is neither one color (no matter what the media portrays) nor gender. If we remember that we remember that we are the greatest nation in the world because of that fact.

Vote and keep America great. Vote and pick the best choice for the nation’s path to the future.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Full speech of Senator Obama - 319.2008.1

There are so many things I could say about Senator Obama's speech, and the response that the news media has had to it. But rather than do that, At least for now, I will provide you the full speech so you can see more than just the 15 second soundbite the media provides. It's short soundbites that got this whole situation started.

"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins."

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rev. Wright, Senator Obama, and the media

Wow. The media has finally gotten something that they have been waiting over a year for, and they are feasting. I’ve rarely seen such a universal and demostrative move by all the major media in the same direction.

Of course this is all about Rev. Wright, the former pastor of Senator Obama. It is the first time that there has been an issue placed against Senator Obama that has stuck, and there is no question this is not going to be let go. I’m sure Senator Clinton is gleeful.

Regarless on how you feel about the Democratic Party or candidates, you have you see that right now the media is jumping on this like white on rice. I have seen more 5 and 10 second clips of Reverend Jeremiah Wright than any other single issue ever. And in fairness, no one can be represented in 5 or 10 second clips of conversation. Thats a fact no matter what those 10 seconds of conversation discuss.

I will add that I have reviewed a full 3 minutes of one of the sermons that Rev. Wright made and has been used often in news media. And in that 3 minutes there was roughly 15 seconds of material that was questionable and worthy of refutation. Of course review of one piece of controversial material is hardly a means of making a conclusion. But neither is the multiple 10 second clips without context, though media would like to portray that.

What I am seeing is something that Senator Clinton has been attempting to do since November of 2007. Making the Democratic nomination a matter of race, and banking on the fear of African Americans to ensure a win.

The Clinton campaign has approached this through multiple means, from rumor emails to photos of Obama in a native African garb. In each case she and her campaign have been shown for what they were doing. Race baiting and using deplorable tactics to fuel her raw ambition for power.

This is differnt though. It’s an independent source, and a lot of them. Yet the question is how much of what Rev. Wright says is really wrong, or different than what African Americans (or just all Americans) think.

As I have stated, Hillary Clinton, and former-President Bill Clinton, don’t know what it is to be poor and Black. They have not had cabs refuse to carry them or been called the most disgusting, insulting, and derogatory terms in the english language. They have never been called traitors to their race while being called too aligned with their race. And every video clip of Rev. Wright saying so is just factual, if a bit uncomfortable to White voters.

But comments stating that the America created and spread AIDS, or that we caused the attacks on 9/11 are blatantly wrong. They are deplorable and insulting. Most importantly they are wrong.

But does any of this have anything to do with Senator Obama’s politics? I have yet to see a connection made between the objectionable comments of Rev. Wright and a pattern of voting by Senator Obama. In the frenzy to finally have a negative that can be used against Obama, no media source has shown a connection that makes this a valid concern. I find this no better than what was done against Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith.

Show me the connection. Show me where religion intersects with politics and I will call for any politician to be removed. Especially if those remarks infringe on the rights of an American citizen. But at the moment there is only video clips that last 10 seconds.

Senator Obama has served on the Illinois State Senate, and was elected to the federal Senate. Rev. Wright has been a pastor for 20 years. I’ve heard no connection to problems with the pastor up until about a week ago.

I have heard that Rev. Wright was in the lead against Apartheid when few were willing. I’ve heard he was an advocate of gays. I’ve heard he’s done many positives. So in combination with his negative remarks I take him to be just human and flamboyant. But I have yet to find him influential. But I can name several White Christian pastors and preachers that are more flamboyant, vocal, political, and questionable that are not given this same treatment.

Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell are but a few of many popular names that have been promoting political ideals and laws since at least the mid-1980’s. Several have made scandalous statements repeatedly. And Republican candidates are loathe to confront or refute their comments lest they lose these votes. Yet I have never noted a day filled with videoclips of portions of their sermons.

I am not standing up for Rev. Wright. But I am noting the diametrically opposed manner in which he his suddenly being treated and Senator Obama along with him. And I have to question why, after over a year of campaigning and 2 decades of sermons, is there such a furor now? What suddenly changed that every media station is suddenly learning this information that Chicago and Illionois have know for years. That have been available since the day Senator Obama announced his run for the Presidency?

The only reason I see is the most sad and deplorable. This sudden focus and negative attention is because Senator Obama stands on the threashold of running for President, and because he is Black many are getting scared.

I knew America is still racist in areas and in legal matters, but I thought this was still fair game. It would seem I and many were wrong.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Looking at the Dow Jones Index and the economy - 3.14.2008.3

As the Dow Jones Index tumbles again, down some 200 points today, I had to look back on some of the things I’ve said recently. I can’t say I am surprised at the condition of the market, nor the outlook being discussed now. On reflecting I found that I mentioned many of these things back in November 2007.

“The Fed's huge new credit facility, announced on Tuesday, "can help in a rather small way ... but the underlying risks will remain with the institutions that borrow from the Fed, and this does nothing to change their capital," National Bureau of Economic Research President Martin Feldstein noted.

And I stated.

“I had a friend recently ask me what I thought would be happening to the economy, and my answer was it’s going to get bad. Perhaps recession bad. And I added that the current group of Democratic candidates may only make it worse.

I say this because of several factors. Not the least of which are, the housing crisis, the financial sector, the cost of oil, and potential tax ramifications based on the current plans announced by candidates.”

Perhaps I was too general. Maybe I could have been more clear.

“One broker, whom I respect and consider quite sharp [even when I disagree], had an interesting comment on my predictions. I believe that the move to junk rating of ACA, the probable $6 - 12 billion loss at JP Morgan [significantly higher than expected], eventual losses from Citigroup - which reinsures itself, oil breaking $100 a barrel, and the multiple overseas investments will all hit the market in mid-January 2008. Thus I think a move to 11,000 is more than probable.”

Maybe if could have seen what would be the effects

“The facts are that China and India need gold. Even in a global slowdown their demand has increased pressure on supply. Recession and inflation fears and a lagging stock market in the United States have not diminished though they are not leading world headlines this moment. Oil prices are foreseeable going to continue higher and place more pressure on world economies, especially if OPEC cuts production rates as expected. And the prospect of a Democratic President in America is generally seen as a negative for the stock market, further spurring a move to gold to hedge investments.”

Fine, all that having been said at points in the past, what do I have to say now?

We need to see the stock market crash. Seriously it needs to drop to my target of 11,000 I called for in 2007. And every single action by the Fed and Congress to stop this will only create a bigger and longer lasting problem.

At the moment the Government is trying to create an artificial floor for the market. The reason is to give investors a false sense of hope and a bit of political momentum. Neither is worth the problem it is creating. The Fed has reacted too slowly and in moderation thus not correcting any of the liquidity issues. Huge rate cuts may look impressive, but since they don’t have an effect for months if not a year, the short-term effect is windowdressing. A series of stagard smaller cuts (started far earlier) over a period of time is far more effective.

Injecting money into the pockets of citizens is also a waste of money. The momentum and problems are not with people failing to buy things, it’s with the cost of the things being purchased. If oil costs are up 40% then there is just that much less to spend in a discrectionary manner.

Giving people money in the middle of chaos means that the money will either go to pay immediate bills or stashed away for the possible immediate need to pay a bill. Rather, let the emotion and the weakness in the market play out and then give the stimulus. Otherwise you are throwing money down a drain hoping it will eventually clog if you dump enough. And we are weakening the dollar in the process, which hurts the very economy we are trying to fix.

The financials are not done with the mortgage crisis. Some would like to divert attention from this, but the fact is that we are still in the crisis. And a great number of people will lose their homes. The housing market will have it’s crash, which is long overdue, and credit will be harder to get. All of which is normal.

For too long people have had too much credit without any security to back it on. A full generation of young adults have grown up thinking that this was the norm. We need this correction to get back to reality.

Want lower oil prices? Develop new sources of energy. Not because it’s an ecological thing to do, or because of some nightmare dreamed up based on barely enough information to make an estimate on. We need to do it because it will create jobs that can’t be exported, will lower dependance on oil, and infuse the economy with cash. It also means that the equity structure of the market will change, several blue chips will lose value and new ones will be created. Such is a dynamic market, which we don’t have now.

Gold will strike my target of $125 and oil $1125 this year. And they will both do so far faster than I expected if we continue to weaken the dollar and fix they symptoms and not the problem. Loss is part of an investment, as is long-term gain based on fundementals. To try to prevent one prevents the other.

This will feel bad, and unemployment may hit, gasp, 8%. 30 years ago that was a massive win. And it’s not a bad thing. If we aren’t throwing money at the public because they aren’t as comfortable as they were 5 years ago. If politicians had balls they would say this. Social entitlements should only be for those in need, not thouse that need to want.

The end of the 1st quarter will be another round of write-off for financials. And the market will continue to flounder as they try to stabilize their losses. At least one major financial will fail (actually will be forced to merge because they are too big to fail). And at 11,000 the market will stabilize and slowly rise. Growth will begin at that point at a moderate and unimpressive 1% or 7% in the market.

If gold moves as I expect, and the Government stops wasting money in stimulus plans, then there will be a sale in the commodity and an influx in the market. If wind and solar get a few positive laws there will be a spur in that arena and oil will drop slightly after hitting my target. IF taxes are increased, as was voted on yesterday, then the problem will extend into 2009 3rd quarter.

Patience, calm and paying attention to the underlying fundementals will do investors and homeowners more good than cutting rates and suggesting purchases of new Ipods that people can’t afford to have anyway. Shifting energy plans away from ethanol, which is driving up food prices and thus inflation, is also smart.

What will I do with my $600 from the Government stimulus plan? Leave it in the bank until I have a bigger purchase item I need for my business. I’ve already cleared my debt, and keep minimal revolving credit. My investments are balanced and long-term so the current moves don’t faze me. Unlike the Governments rush to do something – even if they have no idea what to rush and do, I have a plan and that allows me to sit and wait to see what happens.

So now you have my thoughts. I’ve factored in the lower refining levels due to the accident earlier this year. I’ve factored in the lesser supply of gold from South Africa, and the Olympics in China. I’ve looked at the real estate market, and the Dow Jones. So until the Dow hits 11,000 (plus minus 100 points or so – I’m not that good) oil and gold rise further and we enter the 3rd quarter it’s just time to accept the pain. But I’m sure this being an election year all of that will get mucked up by political ambitions.

We shall see.

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$31,850 is the new definition of rich

How rich do you feel if you are making $31,850 or more?

If you are like most families and individuals in America, I imagine that you don’t. In fact I would say most would feel relatively poor. Not because of a lack of luxury items or failing in a competition with the Jones’ but because of a scarcity of essentials and a knowledge that loss of everything is possible.

Americans in the middle class don’t feel rich because they are the ones losing their homes to the mortgage crisis. They are the ones incapable of affording better colleges (or sometimes any college) for their children. They are the families most often without healthcare coverage and unable to afford medical costs.

And they are the ones that are going to feel even worse if Democrats, and the Presidential candidates Senator Clinton and Senator Obama, get their way. I don’t say this because of some ideal, or dedication to the Republican Party. I say this because that is exactly what they are voting for.

“Senators voted 52-47 to reject a move to extend tax cuts for middle- and higher-income taxpayers, investors and people inheriting businesses and big estates.”


“Obama and Clinton both promise to reverse Bush's tax cuts for wealthier taxpayers, but the Democratic budget they'll be voting for would allow income tax rates to go up on individuals making as little as $31,850 and couples earning $63,700 or more.”

So, if you make $31,850 or more you may not feel like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett but you are going to get taxed like them.

This is not a surprise because for all the statements by Democrats that running scared from Iraq will turn the economy around, and their implication that universal healthcare is the same thing as free health care the facts are that more money will come out of our pockets to pay for it all. Your pocket, whether or not any of the things you will be paying for will provide a single benefit for you or those you know.

This is what a Democratic President will provide. Some may believe that this is a small price to pay. Some may believe that all businesses should pay more in taxes. And some may believe that terrorists and those hostile to the existence of America will give up their fights just because we turn our backs.

But I believe that increasing the taxes that the middle-class and businesses pay will not improve the economy. I believe that giving money TO problems rather than spending money to FIX the problems is foolish. I believe that turning your back on a bar fight will get your head cracked open from a chair smashed upon it. I believe that nothing is free, and some things are too expensive to be worthwhile.

The Democratic candidates have marched across America saying they will only tax the rich. They have said that they will only affect big business. They have said that they will make America safer. All are great things. But the facts of their actions indicate they are lying if not confused.

“Under both Democratic plans, tax rates would increase by 3 percentage points for each of the 25 percent, 28 percent and 33 percent brackets. At present, the 25 percent bracket begins at $31,850 for individuals and $63,700 for married couples. The 35 percent bracket on incomes over $349,700 would jump to 39.6 percent.”

So here is the big question for the up-coming election. If you aren’t rich at $31,850 and the Democrats are going to increase your taxes, what other plan proposed by them is equally skewed to your disadvantage?

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Is Rev. Wright a reason not to vote for Senator Obama?

So there has been a large amount of controversy of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. There has been criticism of his comments, his travels and those he has associated with. And that has transferred itself to Senator Obama.

Not a lot is known about Rev. Wright. I’ve only recently heard of the man, and even more recently about the comments he has made in his sermons. For me that is because I don’t equate religion with politics. They have nothing to do with each other, though many confuse that and believe one must equate to the other.

Of course I have yet to hear any of the sermons of the religious leaders of the churches of Senator McCain, Senator Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, President Bush, or anyone else. In fact the only other religions and sermons that were questioned so far in this Presidential election race have been Mike Huckabee, who is a Minister and too religious (with a firm stance on only Christianity as the backbone of his political views) for the majority of America, and Mitt Romney was attacked for his Mormon beliefs. Thus one would conclude that any non-Protestant religious belief in American politics is considered bad, unless it’s taken to a fanatical level.

But moving that observation aside, what has Rev. Wright actually said? What is so racist and Anti-American? I really wanted to know.

Now the following is not the most in-depth coverage of Rev. Wright. I do not claim it covers all of his comments or beliefs. I have never spoken to the Reverend, so I have no way of evaluating these comments. But I will tell you what I think after you see the video clip.

Now when I as a Black Puerto Rican Republican business owner listen to this clip I have several thoughts. I am reminded of growing up in the Bronx, a place I love. I am reminded of growing up the oldest of 4 children (with another younger brother and sister via my father’s second marriage). I thought back to my time as an alter boy and upbringing as a Catholic. I considered my prior 4 businesses that failed and my time living homeless in California – sleeping on the steps of the church on Orange in Hollywood. And lastly I see this video clip via 40 year old eyes that have also successfully guided hundreds through the stock market as a broker.

So when I take all that into consideration, I have trouble finding fault with most of what the Rev. Wright says.

In the first 13 seconds there is no question of the truth. None. With 2% of all major characters on television and movies being non-White, with all the major music executives being White, with the emphasis of the media on promotion of negative stereotypes of African Americans (especially if we are Men) I cannot fault his assertion.

From seconds 21 – 42 there again is no question. Jesus was Black (hair of wool and skin of bronze are not White or European traits). The Romans were White and did rule the land.

From seconds 53 – 1:35 again there is no question. Politics in America have been exclusively run by rich, White men. Only one President has been Catholic. None have been different from the mold, and few politicians are exceptions of that. And every exception has only occurred in the past 40 years, most in the last 15.

Senator Hillary Clinton has never been poor to my knowledge of her life. I know she would get a cab in New York City, one of the most integrated cities in America, at least an hour before I could. I’ve had cabs pass me to pick up a shabbily dressed White person 15 feet past me. I’ve had police stop the car I was in because the driver was Asian, and 2 White men were sitting in the back; I’ve had police stop the car I was in because 2 Black men were in suits in a nice car as drivers passed us at 80 miles an hour. I’ve had police draw guns on me as I walked down a lit college town street in New Brunswick NJ while they were looking for a White male with blonde hair of my height and similar clothing (the description was being repeated over the police radio and I could hear it as the officers were asking for my I.D. with guns drawn).

Seconds 1:37 – 2:12 are true. Hillary never had to deal with that kind of life. She has never been called the N-word, and no other word in the English language is as offensive or powerful. There is no equivalent in its meaning or its insult. None.

There is no question that Blacks in America have had to be better than the average person in America to get to the same results. There is no question bias and prejudices have existed and continue to exist. The mere fact that laws have been created (and poorly enforced) to address this is proof enough of that.

There is proof that students of color get graded lower than Whites. There have been studies proving that students with non-traditional names (especially those associated to African Americans) receive lower grades for exactly the same work.

Seconds 2:36 – 2:41 are possibly troubling. Just because a person is White, rich and American does not make them the enemy of an African American. There were rich and poor Whites standing up in the Civil Rights Movement. There are Whites voting for Obama right now. I’ve encountered many Whites that have helped and befriended me throughout my life. I’ve had mentors since before I was in high school that have been White. Race and economic status are not reason enough to consider anyone positive or negative. That is racist and untrue.

Seconds 2:48 – 2:51 are true. Senator Clinton has never had to endure criticism because of how White she may be. There is no question of preference or envy or bias from Whites against Whites because they are White. It’s a hurdle that no White ever has to jump, at least in America or in my experience.

Now that is one full video clip of Reverend Wright. There is little I would disagree with. Yet I know that a portion of this clip, all of 10 seconds, has been used to question the views of Reverend Wright. I know that a portion of this video you have seen in full, 3 minutes of a sermon of unknown length and content, is not that reflective of the whole. In fact I would have to say that 90% of it is true and without question.

So to say that this is reason to question the views of Rev. Wright and thus to question whether Senator Obama is worthy and can be trusted with the Presidency, is really a question by some White Americans on how comfortable they are about race and the past of America. It’s not comfortable speech, it is not favorable of the way some want to envision America’s past and present. But, at least this video is honest and true.

I have heard that Rev. Wright has claimed that the Government lied about why America needed to be in Iraq. That is true. There was neither connection to 9/11 nor weapons of mass destruction.

I have heard that he claims that the Government introduced HIV/AIDS into the gay and minority community. I disagree with that. While the Government has experimented on Blacks in the past (i.e. the Tuskegee experiments) that was massively and rightly criticized and ruled illegal. We learned never to do such things again, and I have yet to be shown reason to believe otherwise.

At the same time, the Government made no rush to learn about AIDS or its prevention or cure until after it affected straight White Americans. The same can be said of drugs. Until the children of politicians wound up on drugs, it was ignored and not a national problem. Such are the failures of our Government, and the opportunity of current and future politicians to correct and prevent from happening.

So in total I have to say this. While there are things that Rev. Wright has said or done that may make some question him, there are also many things he is blatantly honest about. From what I have seen, which is not much admittedly, he is predominantly correct, honest and without cause for alarm. Many religious figures involved with politics today are far more troubling in comparison. Thus attacks on him appear to be an excuse to not vote for Senator Obama.

But what do you think?

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Florida and Michigan: More at risk than Democratic nomination

America is a nation of rules. Rules and the ways that we break them. If we look at baseball, particularly the MLB, we have steroids and the homeruns that fans love. If we look at football we have videotaping and the Super Bowl that is the number one event year after year. In the most important event that happens once every 4 years, not the World Cup – which is phenomenal – nor the Olympic Games, we now have a similar situation.

By that I mean we have Michigan and Florida. The event is the Presidential election. The leader of the free world and unarguably the strongest nation in the world is an event everyone should pay attention to. It’s an event that affects everyone. And it is the one event where the rules have consequences that are irrevocable.

Yet Michigan and Florida, and by extension the Democratic Party, feel that the rules established are not applicable to them. There is no advocate of throwing out the rules greater than Senator Hillary Clinton.

Long before there was a nomination race, before there was chaos in the Democratic Party, and before the Clinton campaign decided to throw everything and the kitchen sink at Senator Obama all the potential candidates agreed with the Democratic Party in penalizing Michigan and Florida.

Those 2 states were told not to move their Primary dates. They were told that to do so would cost them their delegates. Everyone understood the outcome if they violated this. And they did it anyway.

But today, they want to be in the game. They are demanding to have their delegates re-instated. They are devising plans to re-do their votes and alter the current nomination race. And in doing so they are laughing at the votes of every Democrat that has voted in a primary so far, in my opinion.

If these states are allowed to ignore their penalty, why can’t any other state? Why can’t all the Democrats get to re-vote, and why can’t all the candidates that were involved earlier allowed to jump back into the race? If one rule is to be ignored, then what rule is valid?

Where is the leadership that should stand up and say we are a nation of rules and laws. That none are above this, and that all are held equally to these rules. Because to do otherwise is to favor one candidate over another and to invalidate the votes of the public.

Sour grapes, and a desire to feel important is not a reason to alter the outcome of what has happened. Political ambition and a desire for power is not a reason to manipulate the public. And in doing so once, a presidence is set to do it always. Thus we move from a Democracy to another form of government, paving a path to hell with supposed good intentions and the so called best interest of the people at heart.

Some Democrats are claiming that keeping the penalty in place is disenfranchising the public. A year ago there was no worry about that. Before the Primaries there was no problem with ignoring portions of the party in those states. No cries of unfairness rang out. Because there are rules and penalties.

But political favor and gain motivate the call for changing the playing field now. Any politician that says otherwise is a liar. This is a game for control, and the public is being used as pawns.

No matter the outcome of any action that includes the delegates of Michigan and Flotrida, you the public and voters will be used and manipulated.

That does not mean that you should not vote. It does mean that members of the Democratic Party should hold their representatives accountable. That you should make them aware that their power comes from you. That your vote is their ultimate power and anything that dilutes your power destroys them.

Mark my words, if the changes being proposed for Florida and Michigan come to pass America will be damaged. Whether that is felt immediately in this election, or in a future election I do not know. But it will happen.

Senator Clinton may need this kind of stunt, and may use her power to alter the situation, but that just makes me sure that she is unfit for the Presidency. If she, as a leader of the Democratic Party, cannot abide by rules she was involved in creating and agreed to then what in the world makes anyone think she will be willing to abide by any other law, rule, or decision of the nation? And how can a person without regard for anything but what they want, be trusted with the power of the most powerful and influential nation in the world?

Florida and Michigan may not like the penalties, and Senator Clinton may prefer a change for her benefit, but America is a nation of rules and laws. That is something that must be remembered, because unlike a game for entertainment the Presidency is about our lives and there is no instant replay to correct a bad call.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Preparing for the Pennsylvania Primary

For those in Pennsylvania that will be voting soon, think on this. Hillary did not go to Arkansas, where the Clintons had a long history in politics to be elected to Senate – she went to NY State. She won in part because she promised Upstate New York the creation of 200,000 jobs – in fact the area has lost 30,000 during her tenure.

Then ask yourself, what law has Senator Clinton passed? What cause has she championed and made change for? Not what has she made a speech about, but a real change or law. [Yes Senator Obama has done nothing as well, but he just got into the Senate, Hillary is in her 2nd term.]

Then ask yourself one last thing. Character is a major part of any American President. It factors into everything they do, and how they are perceived at home and internationally. Part of a persons character is judged by the company around and supporting that individual.

Around Senator Clinton we find:

  • Mayors that refuse to allow our soldiers returning from Iraq to enter their airport
  • A husband that lied to the entire nation and committed adultery
  • Support from an organization that insults our soldiers and their commitment to America
  • A 15 year fugitive from the law that provided her campaign $1 million of stolen money that they didn’t want to return
  • A Governor that violated his oath to the court and the people of his state, broke the law, embarrassed is family, created on his wife, and imperiled the smooth operations of his state
  • A business man that made his money on the back of promoting stereotypes about Blacks, objectified women, and stooped to making racial attacks about her opponent.

If you don’t know their names they are (in order) – Mayor Gavin Newsom, former-President Bill Clinton,, Norman Hsu, Eliot Spitzer, and Bob Johnson.

Do you really want to elect that type of person?

If so then vote for her. But if not, go out and make your voice heard clear. Vote whatever you believe, but be involved. If not you may be sorry for what you will have forced on you.

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Senator Hillary Clinton: Ireland and Sinbad tell the truth

In the past day events have unfolded to fuel the fire for those that question the supposed ‘experience’ of Senator Hillary Clinton. With these events, the probable loss in Mississippi, and the growing complaints of the public against the Clinton campaigns plans to assume the votes in Michigan and Florida, not to mention the potential of Super Delegates voting against the popular leader Senator Obama the Democratic Party is approaching chaos.

It started with the comments of David Trimble. He may not be a name many in the U.S. know, but in Ireland there is no question of who he is. He was a key figure in creating peace in Ireland, ending the terrorist attacks of the I.R.A.

Senator Hillary Clinton made a claim on national television that she “helped bring peace to Northern Ireland”. It was seen around the world, and those involved in the process were quick to correct the record.

"I don't know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill (Clinton) going around," Trimble said, adding, "I don't want to rain on the thing for her but being a cheerleader for something is slightly different from being a principal player," The Sunday Telegraph reported.

The 3 am call doesn’t seem as sure in the hands of Senator Clinton does it? Worse yet, she blatantly lied to the American public for your vote. She lied about what she did, and took credit for what her husband did. In writing that’s called plagarism.

If you think that was just an enthusiastic overstating of her actions accompanying the former-President Bill Clinton you may be thinking about her work in Bosnia. As was stated by Senator Clinton, it described as a harrowing international experience that makes her tested and ready to answer a 3 a.m. phone call.

That sounds impressive if you didn’t know that there were 2 other people with the Senator. And in the words of Sinbad, a comedian and one of those people with her in 1996,

“the "scariest" part of the trip was wondering where he'd eat next. "I think the only 'red-phone' moment was: 'Do we eat here or at the next place.'”

In fact he goes on to mention a very logical thought about how dangerous any of the places then-First Lady Clinton went to were,

“What kind of president would say, 'Hey, man, I can't go 'cause I might get shot so I'm going to send my wife...oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.'”

That tends to make sense. How pleased would the American people be if then-President Bill Clinton sent his wife into an active warzone and she died? How politically stupid would that be? At what point would the Secret Service be willing to allow her to be in that kind of danger?

So again it would seem that Senator Clinton has lied to the American public, and presented less reasons why we should believe that she has “35 years of experience” when she has never served more than 8 years (her current amount of time as NY Senator) in public office.

So I will ask this, do you want an inexperienced liar as the Democratic nominee and potentially President? Women, do you really want this woman to represent the best interests for you? African Americans, do you believe that she is looking out for our interests? Hispanic/Latinos, do you think she will live up to any of the claims she has made?

If you don’t believe me, just check the site and you will find the posts and links. Or search the net. These are all facts of what she has done, and my opinion. Remember, “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And Senator Clinton seems to be pretty far from innocent or clean to start.

If that doesn’t matter then get out there and vote for her. If it does, then definitely go out and make your vote count. Because the alternative appears to be a woman that will say anything to get a vote and become the most powerful person in America and I believe the world.

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