Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Race in America - legal imbalance

So I have recently discussed race in America, specifically the inequality of law enforcement and punishment (at Black Entertainment USA and here). Sean Bell, Wesley Snipes, Megan Williams, the Jena 6 and others are but a tip of the iceberg of failure in some aspect of the legal system. From the failure to prosecute, failure to convict, the rush to presume and proclaim guilt, and the retroactively excessive and (in my opinion) abusive sentencing there is nothing that is balanced about Justice in America.

Now add to that a case I have read about today. By the way, if you are African American and live in Texas, especially Dallas, don’t ever get arrested. Because there is a real chance you will get convicted and in the worst case you will be sentenced to death. Such is the case of James Lee Woodard.

James Lee Woodard is an innocent man, wrongly convicted of murder in 1981. It has taken 27 years and the efforts of the Innocence Project to provide him a DNA test proving his innocence. And if you wonder why he had to wait for them, it’s because the legal system willfully ignored him. Mr. Woodard filed 6 writs with appeals courts and 2 requests for the DNA tests (that would eventually free him). Instead of considering his pleas he was labeled a writ abuser and ignored.

Imagine that. You are innocent, and your request to be proven so is brushed off as annoying chatter.

There was a study by the Justice Department (A Broken System: Error Rates in Capital Cases, 1973-1995) that stated in 22 years there was no proof of a wrongly executed person. Yet 500 were executed in that time frame. Mr. Woodard was convicted in that timeframe. So if he was never given a DNA test, and executed the DOJ would have still claimed no error. Thus the question must be asked, how many have been denied a DNA test and executed wrongly?

Why is the DNA so important? Why is this such an abomination of justice? Because Mr. Woodard was convicted by 2 witnesses – of which one recanted their testimony in court documents and the other is stated as being completely unreliable (now). And Mr. Woodard is not alone.

In Texas 31 people have been found innocent by DNA testing. 18 were convicted in Dallas alone. Both of these are national highs. How many have not been heard because they have claimed their innocence too much? Because the ears of the Justice system close quickly. Especially when the fact is that Blacks, nationwide, are more likely to be convicted of a violent crime than any other racial group in the nation.

In a culture that is rife with cases where African American males are repeatedly targeted for senseless murders by law enforcement officers, and the legal system is prone to handing out the harshest penalties, can we afford to have closed ears? How often do we hear of Black men, convicted by eyewitnesses that are wrong or knowingly guessing and legal procedures that are unbalanced, being released after decades of incarceration?

What about cases like Genarlow Wilson, a young Black youth convicted to 10 years in a case that even the most jaded would call overly excessive. What about Wesley Snipes who was given the harshest possible sentence to make up for the fact the Government failed to get a conviction on felony charges – that a jury of his peers found him innocent of. What about a judge penalizing witnesses for the prosecution for their dress code and attitude by absolving the defendants of guilt without the benefit of a jury or the defendants testifying (the Sean Bell case).

Like politics today, where issues are abandoned in pursuit of the character of individuals not up for election, where is the justice?

America has issues. Many want to hide their heads in the sand or stick fingers in their ears rather than deal with the uncomfortable truth. America is as biased and racist as it was in 1950 or 1860. We just dress it up better.

So what can we do? What is possible for the public? Everything.

Write to your Congressional representative and Senator. Have your friends and family, your schools and classmates, your job and co-workers write. Post up blogs, and speak at community events. Be involved in your community and vocal at public discussions. Write a blog or make a website. Act.

Because if you are waiting for someone to act on your behalf you may wind up like the person in a joke I once heard:

“There is this guy in his house. He hears on TV that a flood is coming and he should evacuate. He prays to God to save him and goes about his day at home. The flood waters start to reach his house when a police officer drives up and tries to get him to leave with him. The man refuses saying – I’m a good man. I pray to God and have strong faith. God will save me.

The waters continue to rise and fill the 1st floor of his 2 story house. A man in a row boat comes up and begs the man to get in. He refuses again saying – I follow my faith. I love God, and pray often. I have faith, God will save me.

The floodwaters rise further and the man is forced to his roof. A helicopter comes by and pleads with the man to grab a ladder and fly off with them. Adamant the man stays shouting – I prayed to God and he will save me! I have faith!

The man dies from drowning in the flood. In heaven he sees God. He asks God why he didn’t save him.

God says, “You are a good man. You have strong faith and lived well. I heard your prayers. So I sent you a cop in a car, a guy in a rowboat, and a helicopter. What more did you want me to do?”

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Presidential candidates and the media - lost focus hurts America's future

With less than a week to go before the next set of Democratic Primaries, the media driven effect of Rev. Wright continues to weigh upon Senator Obama. Even as I write this, he is denouncing the comments made yesterday by Rev. Wright to the National Press Club. Amazing how things change.

A year ago Senator Obama was considered a joke. Pundits and the media basically ignored him as the believed there was no real candidate for the Democratic Party beyond Senator Clinton. At the same time emails were circulating the internet (some at the promotion of members of the Clinton campaign) declaring that Senator Obama was a Muslim and/or secret terrorist.

Today there is a new fervor about Senator Obama being a Christian. The fact that his pastor has several unconventional views is now the focus. And the media and pundits are wondering if he can gain the Democratic nomination as they place the views of a religious leader not running for any political office on Senator Obama.

Today the major news media is upset that Senator Obama has not been fully vetted as has Senator Clinton and McCain. Of course Clinton and McCain have been in the ublic eye for decades, so obviously more is known about them. And the major news media completely fails to notice that it was their job to investigate Senator Obama when he announced his election hopes rather than to laugh him off. Thus we have the pot calling the kettle black.

Of course there are a few things that are being missed today as they were a year ago.

There has been no real discussion about the decades long anti-war proponent Hillary Clinton’s ascertion that she tried to join the military (either the Army or Marines depending on the version of the story being told).

There has been no real focus on the lies that have been told to the American public. Some may have felt that the Clinton’s were accomplished liars, but over the last month Hillary Clinton has been proven to be a liar. From invisible snipers and unseen terror in video tapes of Bosnia, and peace talk treaties during tea parties in Ireland Senator Clinton is a proven liar. How does that make her any more trustworthy or beneficial to the American public than what opponents decry about President Bush?

There has been no real discussion of the involvement of a known criminal in the Clinton campaign. Lest some forget, the Clinton campaign took and tried to hold onto $1 million stolen and donated to them from Norman Hsu. He was a criminal fugitive that was a high ranking donation bundler for Senator Clinton. Or is that not important? And if it isn’t why is Rezco?

Senator McCain, since winning the Republican nomination, has gone silent. He is amassing funds and peppering the middle of the nation with reminders of his military career and years of experience. But he is not being challenged on his plans about exiting the war in Iraq (minus the military bases like those we have left in other former warzones like South Viet Nam, Germany, Japan, and so on). Little is being said of his self-professed ignorance on the economy, at a time when oil prices are creating a new plateau at levels never before seen and more people fear for their jobs than in the past 25 years.

As the Presidential race devolves into a question of race and to a lesser extent gender the real issues that most Americans actually care about are being ignored by the media. What about national security, illegal immigrants, the legal system and such?

I doubt that so many Americans suddenly forgot about these issues. I doubt that the most important issue in America is the vetting of Rev. Wright – a figure that has been shown to have no influence on the political decisions of any of the candidates. And if this association is so important, why have we not heard of the investigation into Senator McCain’s pastor? (We can’t do this for Senator Clinton as she is not a member of any church since her husband left the Oval Office)

The issues following Senator Obama’s run has been consistently everything but politics. His appearing in native garb while on a trip overseas (which is a common political practice), his full name, the degree of Blackness he maintains (as if there is an official level or list to check off), his religious belief, people he has known in his life (with some searching back to his kindergarten days), the fact he has interracial parents.

Can anyone name another President that has had the same questions asked of them? Or even a candidate?

Seriously, the media has focused on the least important issues in this Presidential race so far. Questions that no White male candidate has ever been asked are important today. Name 3 President’s middle names, if you can or even 3 candidates from this year. Name 3 pastors of anyone who was running for the Presidency this year. Name the heritage of 3 of the candidates racial heritages form this year. Name any friends that any of the candidates had that were questionable or have been in trouble with the law – from over a decade ago.

I doubt anyone can answer those things. So if they aren’t important for any other candidate, why are they important for Senator Obama. And for those that would say they aren’t important because they haven’t been reported on – how do you know? No one has checked so are you sure?

So given all this what am I left with? That America is being disserved. We are not dealing with the issues that are important for the nation. Therefore we will not have the best choices for President and may get a President that will not benefit the nation.

Think about it. If we focus on the least important facts about a potential President, we will possibly elect a President that we have no idea will do in office. That means the critical choices facing America in this next Presidency, issues that will affect the nation and world for decades to come, issues that will affect your children, student loans, job, and ability to own a home will be in the hands of someone you never asked important questions of.

The major media may not care, but I do. Thus I have followed and written about all the candidates since 2005. Search and learn, because once you vote you can’t take it back.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Rev Wright speaks before the National Press Club

The following is the full transcript of Rev. Wright speaking before the National Press Club on April 28, 2008. I advise anyone with a question on this man to read all of what he has said here, as well as listening to the full sermons that have been used as 10 second, 2-3 word polispeak soundbites against him.

Also keep in mind that Rev. Wright is not a politician, is not running for any elected office, and in 20 years has not been shown to have affected or influenced a single public office decision made by Senator Barack Obama. Therefore any conclusions made in reference to the candidacy of Senator Obama should be separate of Rev. Wright, or at least involve the full comments of what he has said, in my opinion.

THE REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT JR.: Over the next few days, prominent scholars of the African-American religious tradition from several different disciplines — theologians, church historians, ethicists, professors of the Hebrew bible, homiletics, hermeneutics, and historians of religions — those scholars will join in with sociologists, political analysts, local church pastors, and denominational officials to examine the African-American religious experience and its historical, theological and political context.

The workshops, the panel discussions, and the symposium will go into much more intricate detail about this unknown phenomenon of the black church –


– than I have time to go into in the few moments that we have to share together. And I would invite you to spend the next two days getting to know just a little bit about a religious tradition that is as old as and, in some instances, older than this country.

And this is a country which houses this religious tradition that we all love and a country that some of us have served. It is a tradition that is, in some ways, like Ralph Ellison’s the “Invisible Man.”

It has been right here in our midst and on our shoulders since the 1600s, but it was, has been, and, in far too many instances, still is invisible to the dominant culture, in terms of its rich history, its incredible legacy, and its multiple meanings.

The black religious experience is a tradition that, at one point in American history, was actually called the “invisible institution,” as it was forced underground by the Black Codes.

The Black Codes prohibited the gathering of more than two black people without a white person being present to monitor the conversation, the content, and the mood of any discourse between persons of African descent in this country.

Africans did not stop worshipping because of the Black Codes. Africans did not stop gathering for inspiration and information and for encouragement and for hope in the midst of discouraging and seemingly hopeless circumstances. They just gathered out of the eyesight and the earshot of those who defined them as less than human.

They became, in other words, invisible in and invisible to the eyes of the dominant culture. They gathered to worship in brush arbors, sometimes called hush arbors, where the slaveholders, slave patrols, and Uncle Toms couldn’t hear nobody pray.

From the 1700s in North America, with the founding of the first legally recognized independent black congregations, through the end of the Civil War, and the passing of the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America, the black religious experience was informed by, enriched by, expanded by, challenged by, shaped by, and influenced by the influx of Africans from the other two Americas and the Africans brought in to this country from the Caribbean, plus the Africans who were called “fresh blacks” by the slave-traders, those Africans who had not been through the seasoning process of the middle passage in the Caribbean colonies, those Africans on the sea coast islands off of Georgia and South Carolina, the Gullah — we say in English “Gullah,” those of us in the black community say “Geechee” — those people brought into the black religious experience a flavor that other seasoned Africans could not bring.

It is those various streams of the black religious experience which will be addressed in summary form over the next two days, streams which require full courses at the university and graduate- school level, and cannot be fully addressed in a two-day symposium, and streams which tragically remain invisible in a dominant culture which knows nothing about those whom Langston Hughes calls “the darker brother and sister.”

It is all of those streams that make up this multilayered and rich tapestry of the black religious experience. And I stand before you to open up this two-day symposium with the hope that this most recent attack on the black church is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright; it is an attack on the black church.


As the vice president told you, that applause comes from not the working press.

The most recent attack on the black church, it is our hope that this just might mean that the reality of the African-American church will no longer be invisible.

Maybe now, as an honest dialogue about race in this country begins, a dialogue called for by Senator Obama and a dialogue to begin in the United Church of Christ among 5,700 congregations in just a few weeks, maybe now, as that dialogue begins, the religious tradition that has kept hope alive for people struggling to survive in countless hopeless situation, maybe that religious tradition will be understood, celebrated, and even embraced by a nation that seems not to have noticed why 11 o’clock on Sunday morning has been called the most segregated hour in America.
We have known since 1787 that it is the most segregated hour. Maybe now we can begin to understand why it is the most segregated hour.

And maybe now we can begin to take steps to move the black religious tradition from the status of invisible to the status of invaluable, not just for some black people in this country, but for all the people in this country.

Maybe this dialogue on race, an honest dialogue that does not engage in denial or superficial platitudes, maybe this dialogue on race can move the people of faith in this country from various stages of alienation and marginalization to the exciting possibility of reconciliation.

That is my hope, as I open up this two-day symposium. And I open it as a pastor and a professor who comes from a long tradition of what I call the prophetic theology of the black church.

Now, in the 1960s, the term “liberation theology” began to gain currency with the writings and the teachings of preachers, pastors, priests, and professors from Latin America. Their theology was done from the underside.

Their viewpoint was not from the top down or from a set of teachings which undergirded imperialism. Their viewpoints, rather, were from the bottom up, the thoughts and understandings of God, the faith, religion and the Bible from those whose lives were ground, under, mangled and destroyed by the ruling classes or the oppressors.
Liberation theology started in and started from a different place. It started from the vantage point of the oppressed.

In the late 1960s, when Dr. James Cone’s powerful books burst onto the scene, the term “black liberation theology” began to be used. I do not in any way disagree with Dr. Cone, nor do I in any way diminish the inimitable and incomparable contributions that he has made and that he continues to make to the field of theology. Jim, incidentally, is a personal friend of mine.

I call our faith tradition, however, the prophetic tradition of the black church, because I take its origins back past Jim Cone, past the sermons and songs of Africans in bondage in the transatlantic slave trade. I take it back past the problem of Western ideology and notions of white supremacy.

I take and trace the theology of the black church back to the prophets in the Hebrew Bible and to its last prophet, in my tradition, the one we call Jesus of Nazareth.

The prophetic tradition of the black church has its roots in Isaiah, the 61st chapter, where God says the prophet is to preach the gospel to the poor and to set at liberty those who are held captive. Liberating the captives also liberates who are holding them captive.
It frees the captives and it frees the captors. It frees the oppressed and it frees the oppressors.
The prophetic theology of the black church, during the days of chattel slavery, was a theology of liberation. It was preached to set free those who were held in bondage spiritually, psychologically, and sometimes physically. And it was practiced to set the slaveholders free from the notion that they could define other human beings or confine a soul set free by the power of the gospel.

The prophetic theology of the black church during the days of segregation, Jim Crow, lynching, and the separate-but-equal fantasy was a theology of liberation.

It was preached to set African-Americans free from the notion of second-class citizenship, which was the law of the land. And it was practiced to set free misguided and miseducated Americans from the notion that they were actually superior to other Americans based on the color of their skin.

The prophetic theology of the black church in our day is preached to set African-Americans and all other Americans free from the misconceived notion that different means deficient.

Being different does not mean one is deficient. It simply means one is different, like snowflakes, like the diversity that God loves. Black music is different from European and European music. It is not deficient; it is just different.

Black worship is different from European and European-American worship. It is not deficient; it is just different.

Black preaching is different from European and European-American preaching. It is not deficient; it is just different. It is not bombastic; it is not controversial; it’s different.

Those of you who can’t see on C-SPAN, we had one or two working press clap along with the non-working press.


Black learning styles are different from European and European- American learning styles. They are not deficient; they are just different.

This principle of “different does not mean deficient” is at the heart of the prophetic theology of the black church. It is a theology of liberation.

The prophetic theology of the black church is not only a theology of liberation; it is also a theology of transformation, which is also rooted in Isaiah 61, the text from which Jesus preached in his inaugural message, as recorded by Luke.

When you read the entire passage from either Isaiah 61 or Luke 4 and do not try to understand the passage or the content of the passage in the context of a sound bite, what you see is God’s desire for a radical change in a social order that has gone sour.

God’s desire is for positive, meaningful and permanent change. God does not want one people seeing themselves as superior to other people. God does not want the powerless masses, the poor, the widows, the marginalized, and those underserved by the powerful few to stay locked into sick systems which treat some in the society as being more equal than others in that same society.

God’s desire is for positive change, transformation, real change, not cosmetic change, transformation, radical change or a change that makes a permanent difference, transformation. God’s desire is for transformation, changed lives, changed minds, changed laws, changed social orders, and changed hearts in a changed world.

This principle of transformation is at the heart of the prophetic theology of the black church. These two foci of liberation and transformation have been at the very core of the black religious experience from the days of David Walker, Harriet Tubman, Richard Allen, Jarena Lee, Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, and Sojourner Truth, through the days of Adam Clayton Powell, Ida B. Wells, Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Barbara Jordan, Cornell West, and Fanny Lou Hamer.

These two foci of liberation and transformation have been at the very core of the United Church of Christ since its predecessor denomination, the Congregational Church of New England, came to the moral defense and paid for the legal defense of the Mende people aboard the slave ship Amistad, since the days when the United Church of Christ fought against slavery, played an active role in the underground railroad, and set up over 500 schools for the Africans who were freed from slavery in 1865.

And these two foci remain at the core of the teachings of the United Church of Christ, as it has fought against apartheid in South Africa and racism in the United States of America ever since the union which formed the United Church of Christ in 1957.

These two foci of liberation and transformation have also been at the very core and the congregation of Trinity United Church of Christ since it was founded in 1961. And these foci have been the bedrock of our preaching and practice for the past 36 years.

Our congregation, as you heard in the introduction, took a stand against apartheid when the government of our country was supporting the racist regime of the African government in South Africa.


Our congregation stood in solidarity with the peasants in El Salvador and Nicaragua, while our government, through Ollie North and the Iran-Contra scandal, was supporting the Contras, who were killing the peasants and the Miskito Indians in those two countries.
Our congregation sent 35 men and women through accredited seminaries to earn their master of divinity degrees, with an additional 40 currently being enrolled in seminary, while building two senior citizen housing complexes and running two child care programs for the poor, the unemployed, the low-income parents on the south side of Chicago for the past 30 years.

Our congregation feeds over 5,000 homeless and needy families every year, while our government cuts food stamps and spends billions fighting in an unjust war in Iraq.


Our congregation has sent dozens of boys and girls to fight in the Vietnam War, the first Gulf War, and the present two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. My goddaughter’s unit just arrived in Iraq this week, while those who call me unpatriotic have used their positions of privilege to avoid military service, while sending — (APPLAUSE)
– while sending over 4,000 American boys and girls of every race to die over a lie.


Our congregation has had an HIV-AIDS ministry for over two decades. Our congregation has awarded over $1 million to graduating high school seniors going into college and an additional $500,000 to the United Negro College Fund, and the six HBCUs related to the United Church of Christ, while advocating for health care for the uninsured, workers’ rights for those forbidden to form unions, and fighting the unjust sentencing system which has sent black men and women to prison for longer terms for possession of crack cocaine than white men and women have to serve for the possession of powder cocaine.

Our congregation has had a prison ministry for 30 years, a drug and alcohol recovery ministry for 20 years, a full service program for senior citizens, and 22 different ministries for the youth of our church, from pre-school through high school, all proceeding from the starting point of liberation and transformation, a prophetic theology which presumes God’s desire for changed minds, changed laws, changed social orders, changed lives, changed hearts in a changed world.

The prophetic theology of the black church is a theology of liberation; it is a theology of transformation; and it is ultimately a theology of reconciliation.

The Apostle Paul said, “Be ye reconciled one to another, even as God was in Christ reconciling the world to God’s self.”

God does not desire for us, as children of God, to be at war with each other, to see each other as superior or inferior, to hate each other, abuse each other, misuse each other, define each other, or put each other down.

God wants us reconciled, one to another. And that third principle in the prophetic theology of the black church is also and has always been at the heart of the black church experience in North America.

When Richard Allen and Absalom Jones were dragged out of St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, during the same year, 1787, when the Constitution was framed in Philadelphia, for daring to kneel at the altar next to white worshippers, they founded the Free African Society and they welcomed white members into their congregation to show that reconciliation was the goal, not retaliation.

Absalom Jones became the rector of the St. Thomas Anglican Church in 1781, and St. Thomas welcomed white Anglicans in the spirit of reconciliation.

Richard Allen became the founding pastor of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the motto of the AME Church has always been, “God our father, man our brother, and Christ our redeemer.” The word “man” included men and women of all races back in 1787 and 1792, in the spirit of reconciliation.

The black church’s role in the fight for equality and justice, from the 1700s up until 2008, has always had as its core the nonnegotiable doctrine of reconciliation, children of God repenting for past sins against each other.

Jim Wallis says America’s sin of racism has never even been confessed, much less repented for. Repenting for past sins against each other and being reconciled to one other — Jim Wallis is white, by the way –


– being reconciled to one another, because of the love of God, who made all of us in God’s image.

Reconciliation, the years have taught me, is where the hardest work is found for those of us in the Christian faith, however, because it means some critical thinking and some re-examination of faulty assumptions when using the paradigm of Dr. William Augustus Jones.

Dr. Jones, in his book, God in the ghetto, argues quite accurately that one’s theology, how I see God, determines one’s anthropology, how I see humans, and one’s anthropology then determines one’s sociology, how I order my society.

Now, the implications from the outside are obvious. If I see God as male, if I see God as white male, if I see God as superior, as God over us and not Immanuel, which means “God with us,” if I see God as mean, vengeful, authoritarian, sexist, or misogynist, then I see humans through that lens.

My theological lens shapes my anthropological lens. And as a result, white males are superior; all others are inferior.

And I order my society where I can worship God on Sunday morning wearing a black clergy robe and kill others on Sunday evening wearing a white Klan robe. I can have laws which favor whites over blacks in America or South Africa. I can construct a theology of apartheid in the Africana church (ph) and a theology of white supremacy in the North American or Germanic church.

The implications from the outset are obvious, but then the complicated work is left to be done, as you dig deeper into the constructs, which tradition, habit, and hermeneutics put on your plate.

To say “I am a Christian” is not enough. Why? Because the Christianity of the slaveholder is not the Christianity of the slave. The God to whom the slaveholders pray as they ride on the decks of the slave ship is not the God to whom the enslaved are praying as they ride beneath the decks on that slave ship.

How we are seeing God, our theology, is not the same. And what we both mean when we say “I am a Christian” is not the same thing. The prophetic theology of the black church has always seen and still sees all of God’s children as sisters and brothers, equals who need reconciliation, who need to be reconciled as equals in order for us to walk together into the future which God has prepared for us.

Reconciliation does not mean that blacks become whites or whites become blacks and Hispanics become Asian or that Asians become Europeans.

Reconciliation means we embrace our individual rich histories, all of them. We retain who we are as persons of different cultures, while acknowledging that those of other cultures are not superior or inferior to us. They are just different from us.

We root out any teaching of superiority, inferiority, hatred, or prejudice.

And we recognize for the first time in modern history in the West that the other who stands before us with a different color of skin, a different texture of hair, different music, different preaching styles, and different dance moves, that other is one of God’s children just as we are, no better, no worse, prone to error and in need of forgiveness, just as we are.

Only then will liberation, transformation, and reconciliation become realities and cease being ever elusive ideals.

Thank you for having me in your midst this morning.


MODERATOR: We do want to get in our questions. Thank you. Thank you, everybody.
I do want to repeat again, for those of you watching us on C- SPAN, that we do have a number of guests here today. And so the applause and the comments that you hear from the audience are not necessarily those of the working press, who are mostly in the balconies.

You have said that the media have taken you out of context. Can you explain what you meant in a sermon shortly after 9/11 when you said the United States had brought the terrorist attacks on itself? Quote, “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”
WRIGHT: Have you heard the whole sermon? Have you heard the whole sermon?
MODERATOR: I heard most of it.

WRIGHT: No, no, the whole sermon, yes or no? No, you haven’t heard the whole sermon? That nullifies that question.

Well, let me try to respond in a non-bombastic way. If you heard the whole sermon, first of all, you heard that I was quoting the ambassador from Iraq. That’s number one.

But, number two, to quote the Bible, “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatsoever you sow, that you also shall reap.” Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you. Those are biblical principles, not Jeremiah Wright bombastic, divisive principles.


MODERATOR: Some critics have said that your sermons are unpatriotic. How do you feel about America and about being an American?

WRIGHT: I feel that those citizens who say that have never heard my sermons, nor do they know me. They are unfair accusations taken from sound bites and that which is looped over and over again on certain channels.

I served six years in the military. Does that make me patriotic? How many years did Cheney serve?


MODERATOR: Please, I ask you to keep your comments and your applause to a minimum so that we can work in as many questions as possible.

Senator Obama has — shh, please. We’re trying to ask as many questions as possible today, so if you can keep your applause to a minimum.

Senator Obama has tried to explain away some of your most contentious comments and has distanced himself from you. It’s clear that many people in his campaign consider you a detriment. In that context, why are you speaking out now?

WRIGHT: On November the 5th and on January 21st, I’ll still be a pastor. As I said, this is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright. It has nothing to do with Senator Obama. It is an attack on the black church launched by people who know nothing about the African-American religious tradition.

And why am I speaking out now? In our community, we have something called playing the dozens. If you think I’m going to let you talk about my mama and her religious tradition, and my daddy and his religious tradition, and my grandma, you’ve got another thing coming.

MODERATOR: What is your relationship with Louis Farrakhan? Do you agree with and respect his views, including his most racially divisive views?

WRIGHT: As I said on the Bill Moyers’ show, one of our news channels keeps playing a news clip from 20 years ago when Louis said 20 years ago that Zionism, not Judaism, was a gutter religion.

And he was talking about the same thing United Nations resolutions say, the same thing now that President Carter is being vilified for, and Bishop Tutu is being vilified for. And everybody wants to paint me as if I’m anti-Semitic because of what Louis Farrakhan said 20 years ago.

I believe that people of all faiths have to work together in this country if we’re going to build a future for our children, whether those people are — just as Michelle and Barack don’t agree on everything, Raymond (ph) and I don’t agree on everything, Louis and I don’t agree on everything, most of you all don’t agree — you get two people in the same room, you’ve got three opinions.

So what I think about him, as I’ve said on Bill Moyers and it got edited out, how many other African-Americans or European-Americans do you know that can get one million people together on the mall? He is one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century. That’s what I think about him.

I’ve said, as I said on Bill Moyers, when Louis Farrakhan speaks, it’s like E.F. Hutton speaks, all black America listens. Whether they agree with him or not, they listen.
Now, I am not going to put down Louis Farrakhan anymore than Mandela would put down Fidel Castro. Do you remember that Ted Koppel show, where Ted wanted Mandela to put down Castro because Castro was our enemy? And he said, “You don’t tell me who my enemies are. You don’t tell me who my friends are.”

Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains. He did not put me in slavery. And he didn’t make me this color.

MODERATOR: What is your motivation for characterizing Senator Obama’s response to you as, quote, “what a politician had to say”? What do you mean by that?

WRIGHT: What I mean is what several of my white friends and several of my white, Jewish friends have written me and said to me. They’ve said, “You’re a Christian. You understand forgiveness. We both know that, if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected.”

Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls, Huffington, whoever’s doing the polls. Preachers say what they say because they’re pastors. They have a different person to whom they’re accountable.
As I said, whether he gets elected or not, I’m still going to have to be answerable to God November 5th and January 21st. That’s what I mean. I do what pastors do. He does what politicians do.

I am not running for office. I am hoping to be vice president.


MODERATOR: In light of your widely quoted comment damning America, do you think you owe the American people an apology? If not, do you think that America is still damned in the eyes of God?

WRIGHT: The governmental leaders, those — as I said to Barack Obama, my member — I am a pastor, he’s a member. I’m not a spiritual mentor, guru. I’m his pastor.
And I said to Barack Obama, last year, “If you get elected, November the 5th, I’m coming after you, because you’ll be representing a government whose policies grind under people.” All right? It’s about policy, not the American people.

And if you saw the Bill Moyers show, I was talking about — although it got edited out — you know, that’s biblical. God doesn’t bless everything. God condemns something — and d-e-m-n, “demn,” is where we get the word “damn.” God damns some practices.
And there is no excuse for the things that the government, not the American people, have done. That doesn’t make me not like America or unpatriotic.

So in Jesus — when Jesus says, “Not only you brood of vipers” — now, he’s playing the dozens, because he’s talking about their mamas. To say “brood” means your mother is an asp, a-s-p. Should we put Jesus out of the congregation?

When Jesus says, “You’ll be brought down to Hell,” that’s not — that’s bombastic, divisive speech. Maybe we ought to take Jesus out of this Christian faith.

No. What I said about and what I think about and what — again, until I can’t — until racism and slavery are confessed and asked for forgiveness — have we asked the Japanese to forgive us? We have never as a country, the policymakers — in fact, Clinton almost got in trouble because he almost apologized at Gorialan (ph). We have never apologized as a country.

Britain has apologized to Africans, but this country’s leaders have refused to apologize. So until that apology comes, I’m not going to keep stepping on your foot and asking you, “Does this hurt? Do you forgive me for stepping on your foot?” if I’m still stepping on your foot.

Understand that? Capiche?

MODERATOR: Senator Obama has been in your congregation for 20 years, yet you were not invited to his announcement of his presidential candidacy in Illinois. And in the most recent presidential debate in Pennsylvania, he said he had denounced you. Are you disappointed that Senator Obama has chosen to walk away from you?

WRIGHT: Whoever wrote that question doesn’t read or watch the news. He did not denounce me. He distanced himself from some of my remarks, like most of you, never having heard the sermon. All right?

Now, what was the rest of your question? Because I got confused in — the person who wrote it hadn’t –

MODERATOR: Were you disappointed that he distanced himself?

WRIGHT: He didn’t distance himself. He had to distance himself, because he’s a politician, from what the media was saying I had said, which was anti-American. He said I didn’t offer any words of hope. How would he know? He never heard the rest of the sermon. You never heard it.

I offered words of hope. I offered reconciliation. I offered restoration in that sermon, but nobody heard the sermon. They just heard this little sound bite of a sermon.
That was not the whole question. There was something else in the first part of the question that I wanted to address.

Oh, I was not invited because that was a political event. Let me say again: I’m his pastor. As a political event, who started it off? Senator Dick Durbin. I started it off downstairs with him, his wife, and children in prayer. That’s what pastors do.

So I started it off in prayer. When he went out into the public, that wasn’t about prayer. That wasn’t about pastor-member. Pastor- member took place downstairs. What took place upstairs was political.

So that’s how I feel about that. He did, as I’ve said, what politicians do. This is a political event. He wasn’t announcing, “I’m saved, sanctified, and feel the holy ghost.” He was announcing, “I’m running for president of the United States.”

MODERATOR: You just mentioned that Senator Obama hadn’t heard many of your sermons. Does that mean he’s not much of a churchgoer? Or does he doze off in the pews?

WRIGHT: I just wanted to see — that’s your question. That’s your question. He goes to church about as much as you do. What did your pastor preach on last week? You don’t know? OK.

MODERATOR: In your sermon, you said the government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. So I ask you: Do you honestly believe your statement and those words?

WRIGHT: Have you read Horowitz’s book, “Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola,” whoever wrote that question? Have you read “Medical Apartheid”? You’ve read it?

(UNKNOWN): Do you honestly believe that (OFF-MIKE)

WRIGHT: Oh, are you — is that one of the reporters?

MODERATOR: No questions –


WRIGHT: No questions from the floor. I read different things. As I said to my members, if you haven’t read things, then you can’t — based on this Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything.

In fact, in fact, in fact, one of the — one of the responses to what Saddam Hussein had in terms of biological warfare was a non- question, because all we had to do was check the sales records. We sold him those biological weapons that he was using against his own people.

So any time a government can put together biological warfare to kill people, and then get angry when those people use what we sold them, yes, I believe we are capable.

MODERATOR: You have likened Israeli policies to apartheid and its treatment of Palestinians with Native Americans. Can you explain your views on Israel?

WRIGHT: Where did I liken them to that? Whoever wrote the question, tell me where I likened them.

Jimmy Carter called it apartheid. Jeremiah Wright didn’t liken anything to anything. My position on Israel is that Israel has a right to exist, that Israelis have a right to exist, as I said, reconciled one to another.

Have you read the Link? Do you read the Link, Americans for Middle Eastern Understanding, where Palestinians and Israelis need to sit down and talk to each other and work out a solution where their children can grow in a world together, and not be talking about killing each other, that that is not God’s will?

My position is that the Israel and the people of Israel be the people of God who are worrying about reconciliation and who are trying to do what God wants for God’s people, which is reconciliation.

MODERATOR: In your understanding of Christianity, does God love the white racists in the same way he loves the oppressed black American?

WRIGHT: John 3:16, Jesus said it much better than I could ever say it, “for God so loved the world.” World is white, black, Iraqi, Darfurian, Sudanese, Zulu, Coschia (ph). God loves all of God’s children, because all of God’s children are made in God’s image.

MODERATOR: Can you elaborate on your comparison of the Roman soldiers who killed Jesus to the U.S. Marine Corps? Do you still believe that is an appropriate comparison and why?

WRIGHT: One of the things that will be covered at the symposium over the next two days is biblical history, which many of the working press are unfamiliar with.

In biblical history, there’s not one word written in the Bible between Genesis and Revelations that was not written under one of six different kinds of oppression, Egyptian oppression, Assyrian oppression, Persian oppression, Greek oppression, Roman oppression, Babylonian oppression.

The Roman oppression is the period in which Jesus is born. And comparing imperialism that was going on in Luke, imperialism was going on when Caesar Augustus sent out a decree that the whole world should be taxed. They weren’t in charge of the world. It sounds like some other governments I know.

That, yes, I can compare that. We have troops stationed all over the world, just like Rome had troops stationed all over the world, because we run the world. That notion of imperialism is not the message of the gospel of the prince of peace, nor of God, who loves the world.

MODERATOR: Former President Bill Clinton has been widely criticized in this campaign. Many African-Americans think he has said things aimed at defining Senator Obama as the black candidate. What do you think of President Clinton’s comments, particularly those before the South Carolina primary?

WRIGHT: I don’t think anything about them. I came here to talk about prophetic theology of the black church. I’m not talking about candidates or their positions or their feelings or what they have to say to get elected.

MODERATOR: Well, OK, we’ll give you a church question. Please explain how the black church and the white church can reconcile.

WRIGHT: Well, there are many white churches and white persons who are members of churches and clergy and denominations who have already taken great steps in terms of reconciliation.

In the underground railroad, it was the white church that played the largest role in getting Africans out of slavery. In setting up almost all 40 of the HBCUs, it was the white church that sent missionaries into the south.

As I mentioned in my presentation, our denomination all by itself set up over 500 of those schools. You know them today as Howard University, Fisk, LeMoyne-Owen, Tougaloo, Dillard University, Howard University.

So they’ve done — Morehouse, Morehouse. Don’t forget Moorhouse, Spelman — that white Christians have been trying for a long time to reconcile, that for other white Christians to understand that we must be reconciled is to understand the injustice that was done to a people, as we raped the continent, brought those people here, built our country, and then defined them as less than human.

And more Christians, more of us working together, not just white Christians, but whites and blacks of every faith, ecumenically working together.

Father Flagger (ph), by the way, he might be one of the one –


– models out what it means to be reconciled as brothers and sisters in Christ and brothers and sisters made in the image of God.

MODERATOR: You said there is a lack of understanding by people of other backgrounds of the African-American church. What are some of those misunderstandings? And how would you purport to fix them, particularly when some of your comments are found to be offensive by white churches?

WRIGHT: Carter Godwin Woodson, about 80 years ago, wrote a book entitled “The Miseducation.” I would try to fix it starting at the educational level in the grammar schools, as Dr. Asa Hilliard did in his infusion curriculum, starting at the grammar schools, to tell our children this story and to tell our children the true story.

That’s how I go about fixing it, because until you know the true story, then you’re reacting to my words and not to the truth.

MODERATOR: Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but through me.” Do you believe this? And do you think Islam is a way to salvation?

WRIGHT: Jesus also said, “Other sheep have I who are not of this fold.”


MODERATOR: Do you think people of other races would feel welcome at your church?

WRIGHT: Yes. We have members of other races in our church. We have Hispanics. We have Caribbean. We have South Americans. We have whites.

The conference minister — please understand the United Church of Christ is a predominantly white demonstration. Again, some of you do not know United Church of Christ, just found out about liberation theology, just found out about United Church of Christ, the conference minister, Dr. Jane Fisler Hoffman, a white woman, and her husband, not only are members of the congregation, but on her last Sunday before taking the assignment as the interim conference minister of California, Southern California Conference of the United Church of Christ, a white woman stood in our pulpit and said, “I am unashamedly African.”


MODERATOR: You first gained media attention, significant media attention for your sermons several weeks ago. Why did you wait so long before giving the public your side of the sound bite story?

WRIGHT: As I said to Bill Moyers — and he also edited this one out — because of my mother’s advice to me. My mother’s advice was being seen all over the corporate media channels, and it’s a paraphrase of the Book of Proverbs, where it is better to be quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

The media was making a fool out of itself, because it knew nothing about our tradition. And so I decided to let them make a fool as long as they wanted to and then take the advice of Paul Laurence Dunbar, “Lies, lies, bless the lord. Don’t you know the days are broad?”

Don’t make me come across this room. I had to come across the room, because they start — understand, when you’re talking about my mama, once again, and talking about my faith tradition, once again, how long do you let somebody talk about your faith tradition before you speak up and say something in defense of — this is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright.

Once again, let me say it again. This is an attack on the black church. And I cannot as a minister of the gospel allow the significant part of our history — most African-Americans and most European-Americans, most Hispanic-Americans, half the names I called in my presentation they’ve never heard of, because they don’t know anything at all about our tradition.

And to lift up those — they would have died in vain had I just kept quiet longer and longer and longer and longer. As I said, this is an attack on the black church. It is not about Obama, McCain, Hillary, Bill, Chelsea. This is about the black church.
This is about Barbara Jordan. This is about Fanny Lou Hamer. This is about my grandmamma.

MODERATOR: Do you think it is God’s will that Senator Obama be president?

WRIGHT: I said I would offer myself for candidacy for vice president. I have not offered myself for candidacy of God. I can’t presume to know what God would want.
In my tradition, however, what everybody has been saying to me as it pertains to the candidacy is what God has for you is for you. If God intends for Mr. Obama to the president, then no white racists, no political pundit, no speech, nothing can get in the way, because God will do what God wants to do.

MODERATOR: OK, we are almost out of time. But before asking the last question, we have a couple of matters to take care of.

First of all, let me remind you of our future speakers. This afternoon, we have Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association, who is discussing trading up movies in the global marketplace. On May 2nd, Bobby Jindal, the governor of the state of Louisiana, will discuss bold reform that works. On May 7th, we have Glenn Tilton, CEO, United Airlines, and board member of the American transport association.
Second, I would like to present our guest with the official centennial mug and — it’s brand new.

WRIGHT: Thank you. Thank you.

MODERATOR: You’re welcome. And we’ve got one more question for you.


We’re going to end with a joke. Chris Rock joked, “Of course Reverend Wright’s an angry 75-year-old black man. All 75-year-old black men are angry.” Is that funny? Is that true? Is it unfortunate? What do you think?

WRIGHT: I think it’s just like the media. I’m not 75.


MODERATOR: I’d like to thank you all for coming today.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

An ev ening of politics and words in Binghamton New York

I had the most interesting experience the other day. This experience leads me to ask a few questions. The first is whether the age of a Black person in any way influences their ability and/or propensity to use the N-word? The second is what rule or unspoken law mandates that African Americans must vote for a Democratic candidate?

What happened is that I was out having a drink with friends. Now realize that I am in Binghamton, an area with approximately 3% Black population. So when a White guy came up to me and started to have a conversation, that I wasn’t really paying attention to, that somehow hit on the fact that he would not use the N-word – but his Black friend would – I wasn’t too shocked. Out here I often hear random Whites discuss with me how they feel about racial issues, and invariably they have a need to impress upon me the fact that they are not racists.

Of course I stated my position. That the N-word is a vile word and no one of any race has a right or need to use this term. And at that moment his Black friend, who I will call Eric, popped up and mentioned that I was wrong. Eric’s assertion was that he had every right to use the N-word, because he is Black. When I said I am no less so and disagree, he was put off. He then felt the need to try to set me in place by letting me know he was 43 and born in 1964. To this I informed him that I was 40, born in ’68, and saw no way that age applied.

Now in my eyes there is no way to justify the use of this term. Those of us born during the Civil Rights Movement never endured any of the hardship of those few that were in the Marches and having sit-ins. That is not to say that the 70’s and early 80’s were without incident (or even today). But I don’t compare it to the 1920’s or 1950’s. So being in the 40’s has no meaning to me. Of course someone alive from 1865 would have a better argument, as would anyone in their 80’s. The first because of experience, the second because of due respect for their age.

Am I wrong? Does the meaning of this vile word change at all when spoke by someone with a darker skin than a lighter one? To me there is no difference in being punched by a person with darker or lighter skin, so there is no difference in the use of this word.

Now a bit later in the evening, Eric was leaving and felt the need to walk over to me. There were 3 Black people in this bar and that was a lot. Though Eric made on effort to speak with the Black woman that was there. His comment was

“Hey fellow Black man, you have a good night. And did you vote?”

When I mentioned yes I was asked if it was for Senator Obama. I did not. I was asked if it was for Senator Clinton, with a bit of surprise and disapproval. I did not. He then asked with more than a bit of incredulity “Senator McCain?”

Yes I did.

This then lead to the question of why I did so. My response was why shouldn’t I. I was then told that he was a Republican. When I bypassed that obvious fact and asked why I should vote for a Democrat Eric then proceeded to inform me that he is 43, a homeowner, a business owner, and formerly worked as a senior executive. When I reminded him of my age, and mentioned that my casual attire did not reflect my personal success, he agreed that we both did were not reflecting our success in our attire that moment.

Again I pressed the question of what Democrats have done for the nation and African Americans in the past 20 or even 40 years? I was then told that I was deluded, sold-out, and without common sense. Eric then walked away.

At no point was I given a reason why I should vote for a Democrat. The unspoken comment was that since I was Black I owe Senator Obama a vote, as well as any Democrat. Now I am 40, a business owner, soon to be a homeowner, successful in my current and prior careers for over 2 decades. None of either of our personal successes were derived from anything other than our own drive and actions. So where is the reason to change my vote?

I hate when anyone presumes or attempts to belittle my reasons for doing something, based solely on my skin color. Especially when they don’t have any counter-reasoning for me. Had Eric tried to ask me a question or give me a reason I could have discussed this with him. As you my readers know, I’m hardly a novice in covering the political environment.

So am I wrong? Do I owe Senator Obama my vote? Is being Black an obligation to vote one way or another? If so why?

I really want to hear the other side of this. The side that Eric was too busy trying to obscure with his personal successes to bother to credibly offer.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Will Senator Hillary Clinton denounce Bill Clinton?

In yet another display of racial insensitivity and polarizing commentary we have former President Bill Clinton making statements yesterday and today. Now I want to make something clear up front, that every pundit I have read so far has avoided on this latest issue (and which could be applied to previous ones).

If the comments of Bill Clinton, husband of Senator Hillary Clinton, have no influence or connection to the actions and policies of Hillary how can the words and/or association of Rev. Wright – former pastor to Senator Obama – be relevant to Barack?

Former President Bill Clinton said in South Carolina

More recently he said

He goes on to say (which I have not been able to locate on Youtube) in the same comment

CLINTON: "… And, you know, do I regret saying it? No. Do I regret that it was used that way? I certainly do. But you really gotta go something to try to portray me as a racist."

INTERVIER: “OK. Well thank you very much, Mr. President.”

CLINTON: “Thank you. I hope everybody will go out to vote tomorrow. Buh-bye… I don’t think I can take any sh#& from anybody on that, do you?
[The bold is my emphasis]

And then covered it with

So who exactly is using race as a weapon and a tool of polispeak in this Democratic nomination race?

And Senator Hillary Clinton has yet to be asked the following questions:

  • Do you renounce and reject the comments of your husband?

  • Does your husband have influence on the way you make decisions?

  • Do you think your spouse’s comments accurately reflect the way you see America?

These questions were certainly asked of Senator Obama about his wife and Rev. Wright. So why has no pundit or reporter asked her this?

The Democratic Presidential nomination race has long ago devolved into a question of character and associations. The actual issues important to liberals and Democrats haven’t been spoken about in a month or so. That being a given, I ask why is the polispeak game not being played equally when the weight and importance given to what a former President is normally covered extensively? Why is the former President making comments, on behalf of Senator Clinton, where he is looking to avoid “take any sh#&”? Does that not imply the statements are merely being made to get a certain spin, and not the truth?

This may have come out too late for the Pennsylvania Primary, but it is not too late for future primaries and the Democratic Convention. Be assured that if Superdelegates ignore these words and select Senator Clinton I will be mentioning this constantly up to the election. Because, former-President Clinton, I have reviewed the question and comments you made. And I’ve come to my own conclusion.

I suggest that you copy this and send it to you loacal superdelegate if you agree. Because I at least feel that all candidates should be held to the same standards, and I really want to hear how Senator Clinton would answer these questions.

Don’t you?

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Friday, April 18, 2008

ABC Pennsylvania debate disservice to voters and America

So after the ABC Democratic Presidential debate we are left with less useful information on the candidates and their plans for the nation. Many have made comments about the fact that it took 63 minutes before the first question of substance occurred. I believe George Stephanopolis stated

‘Perhaps the most important question on the minds of voters is the economy…’

The most important question on our minds, yet asked 16th for the debate. Obviously ABC felt that style is more important in this Presidential election, and I would say most of the media agrees.

Since the first presentation by Fox News of the highly edited controversial comments of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, there has been little in the way of issues covered on the Democratic race. Discussion of hot topics about huge Liberal and Democrat issues like the war in Iraq, unions, illegal aliens, and the aforementioned economy were all essentially avoided. The Democratic race has devolved into a mud-slinging, name calling match of who is more likable or a pissing match over what minority is more in need of being the first to run for President.

Now I do agree that if it can be shown that the actions of Senator Obama have been, or are being, affected by Rev. Wright it is a problem. I agree that pittances of the comments by Rev. Wright are objectionable. I have no problem with Rev. Wright, now in retirement, moving into a $1 million home, that home being on a golf course, or that the location is predominantly White as some, notably Bill O’Reilly, seem to have issue with. Rev. Wright spent 30+ years building a successful and strong church. His retirement reflects that, and I don’t know why some feel that a Black man loses their credibility, or the weight of prejudice, because they become successful leave the cities and enjoy the fruit of their labor. But that is a subject for another post. Essentially there has been nothing that connects the voting or comments of Senator Obama to Rev. Wright so it is a non-issue for the election.

I also agree that Senator Clinton’s lies about her political influence and experience are important. Lying to the American public is more than a character issue; it is a vital indication of the potential actions of the Commander-and-Chief in 2009. Bosnia is not a misspoken comment, but a blatant lie made to buy votes – proven a fraud by 1st hand witnesses and video tape of the event. The actual negotiators of the Ireland peace process debunked any attempt to grab headlines due to her serving tea outside of the actual talks. This is a real issue because of the lengths used to obfuscate the truth and gain political advantage.

But these are not issues that demand 2 weeks of attention. How many U.S. Presidents never wore a lapel pin during wars, and yet served America with honor and pride? How many Presidents grew up with, and/or knew less than immaculately impeccable people? How many Presidents made more or less money, gave more or less to charity, were older or younger than competitors, or had religious figures and/or friends that made comments some portion of this nation objected to?

Now consider this. How many Presidents have raised taxes during difficult economic times, and how often has that plan worked? How many Presidents allowed America to run from a battle, and what has been the long-term effect on America from that decision? How many Presidents have failed to act on illegal drugs entering the nation, failing to fund education, allowed divisions based on race or religion; and what has been the popularity, effect on the nation, and response from the world?

Those are questions we need to hear answers to. Listening to politicians’ polispeak their way out of media generated snafus could be fun, if it were not for the fact that in avoiding real issues we endanger America. That doesn’t matter if you are Conservative, Liberal, Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian. The lack of choice and facts limits the options for voters and therefore America.

If I want to be entertained, there are a boggling number of venues on the idiot box that will gladly sap away my brain cells as fat deposits melt me into a chair. Even if I want to get political parodic commentary and polispeak spin I need only reach for my remote, or type up youtube.

Pennsylvania voters have an obligation to the nation, one that but be paid in full on the 22nd. They must ignore the people not in the race. They must avoid the ratings oriented media. They need to look at the actual issues the nation faces and vote for whomever they believe has the best answer for America. Anything less, anything altered because of a personal bias based on race, gender, or regional preferences is un-American and a disservice to the nation.

The news media is a media outlet first. They want to get ratings, and every news organization on television regularly edits, modifies, and ignores newsworthy stories solely with the goal of ratings in mind. That can be easily proven by numerous stories I have covered that they have ignored or glossed over in the past 3 years. If you don’t believe it just look at the cover of TIME magazine.

Photo found at http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mark-finkelstein/2008/04/17/time-tramples-iwo-jima-photo-push-its-war-global-warming

I have spent over a year covering various aspects of the Democrats, Republicans, and issues in this Presidential election. I am not alone in that. But unlike the major news media, I am not doing this because I expect to get a greater share of the internet audience, it’s because I believe we all deserve a better America. And if anyone in Pennsylvania votes without that in their mind, they are wasting a right that untold numbers of Americans over centuries have died for.

Freedom is not free; making a vote based on the issues is the least one can do as payment.

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The real effect of the mortgage crisis on a real person

Looking over the housing markets, and considering the negative sentiment out, I decided that this was a good time to purchase a new home. Rates are 5.875% fixed and many home prices are depressed currently. And I’m not alone in my decision to pick up some property. So I wanted to share my experience so far, and at the end of this post I have 2 questions for you my reader.

Many who have good to excellent credit ratings, and available cash are out looking for a new home or a first time buy. But don’t believe this is exactly a buyers market. Even in a dying economy that is the Binghamton New York experience, home prices have held firm if not risen up. In fact I would say that prices over the last 6 months have risen about $3,000 on median. Because many like myself are entering this troubled market.

Still there are bargains to be found. I am looking into a couple as this is being written, and is part of the reason why I have not been writing as much as normal for both of my blogs. [Of course having built and set up over 100 blogs in the past 2 months, the deal with TV One, and working out a deal with an upcoming magazine are factors as well.]

Part of the process in getting a home is the mortgage pre-approval process. For those that are unfamiliar this is the initial amount that you may be able to get a mortgage for, the loan rate, and all other terms you might run into. It is affected by your credit rating - heavily, cash on hand, and income as per taxes filed.

Now without giving away too much of my finances (some points I will deliberately extrapolate on – so the figures on income and pricing are inaccurate but the situation and rates are accurate) I will make you aware of what the world is like for me. You can decide if my skin tone and last name are factors or not.

My first stop in the process was my local bank, NBT, which I have had accounts with for several years. I believe I had 1 check bounce in the entire time I was with the bank, and that was because of a bank error in depositing funds into the proper account. I also know and speak with a couple of managers on a regular basis. Thus you can say my relationship with the bank is favorable to friendly.

I initially was given an indication that my pre-qual rate would easily be what I had asked for. My credit rating is 750 (after rebuilding my credit after a career change in 2001) with at least one agency ranking me at 766. That is considered good to excellent. It would normally grant a lower credit rating as I am a low risk. I also have no long-term debt. Thus the initial loan rate mentioned was 6.11%. I have a witness to this.

I was rather pleased.

But after looking at several homes, and having requests from the bank for additional tax records for my corporation and myself – which I provided promptly – I received my pre-approval line. 7.11% and a reduction in the dollar loan amount of 27% [ie. if I asked for $100,000 they approved $73,000]. But I was assured that this is not accurate and I could be approved for more if I found a home in the range I was initially looking. Though no mention was made of what interest rate would go with this higher loan dollar amount.

Now I am insulted. I went from a very good interest rate and a decent yet highly affordable mortgage (fixed rate 30 years) to a bad rate – 1% higher than initially suggested and documented and 1.235% higher than the national rate – and a dollar bracket that provided access to homes far inferior to what I had wanted.

I will add that I have an income that surpasses the local area average, in excess of 2x’s, and never had a bankruptcy. There was a surplus of cash in my bank account - as there has been for over a year - that easily surpassed the 3% required for the loan by the bank. I have been operating my business for 2 years, and have been in the field of work for over 7 as an independent consultant. I have never been sued and was a successful stockbroker for roughly a decade.

I believe the increase in rate and decrease in dollar loan amount is insulting. I was given a reasoning that my credit report had bad notations (which I have reviewed for well over a year and cannot find), I have inadequate cash reserves (which I noted above), I do not make enough money for what I was requesting (which I and the initial loan officer determined I had far in excess for the amount requested beyond the local area average), and I failed to have enough funds to meet the 3% closing requirement (which I had in excess of 7% sitting in the bank).

Now what factor could be the reason for the change? What could motivate such an extreme reaction?

The loan officer that questioned me, and needed additional documents, never met me. He did speak to me (getting my last name wrong a couple of times). So what changed? Could it be that my actual last name (which is Spanish and yes Vass is a registered alias I use for business to avoid racial prejudices since I was a stockbroker) was too ethnic? Was it that my income too far exceeded the income of most of the 3% African American population in this area – as well as exceeding the White population income average.

Obviously I went on to seek out a separate mortgage loan via a broker that is Hispanic, and the brother of a friend. My preference was not his background but that I knew his brother whom I speak with regularly.

It has been over a week since placing my documentation with him. He is quite successful in getting mortgage loans, and owns his own brokerage. He too had high expectations for my loan. His opinion was that my dollar loan amount was very reasonable and in my affordability range. He could not understand why a bank I had been doing business with for years could not provide me a better rate, which he believes will be in the 6.4 – 6.6% range. Based on my cash on hand he believe that he might be able to get that percentage down to 6.25% (obviously the difference [from 5.875%] is for his own operating profit, which I do not begrudge him. This is business after all and we aren’t doing this to not make a profit).

Why am I facing a delay? Because the bank has suspicions that I am hiding money. Because I own my own business the bank that the broker has gone to believes I may be laundering money. Now the United States Government, via the IRS, has had no problems with my finances. My income has been steady with a respectable increase to my top line revenue for years. Every dollar that comes in is documented, and every write-off is noted and within legal allocations. I do not make excessive amounts of money (Bill Gates, or even several stockbrokers I know, make significantly more), I am just a regular small business owner.

So what could be the reasons? My last name is the reason some friends have mentioned to me. I’m ethnic and not generic like Smith or Hannity, or O’Reilly. I am immediately identified as at least Hispanic, and noted on some government documents as Black and Puerto Rican. And I live in an area that is 95% White, and comparatively a small town. Not to mention that a high percentage of those in the mortgage crisis are African American and minorities – though why they were selected and focused into these one-time highly profitable (for the lender) loans is unknown (sort of).

What do you think? Can you imagine a reason why banks would have a problem loaning money to a low-risk, no debt, middle-class income, single, business owner, who normally pays taxes (no refunds for me) is in his affordability range and has never had a bankruptcy or problem with the IRS?

Do you think if I was White, with exactly the same conditions I would be treated the same?

Before you answer here is another fact. Less than 3 weeks before interest rates were lowered, and prior to my first loan query, I had a friend that was pre-approved for a mortgage up to 75% greater than what I asked for. They had a 750 credit report. They are a single parent. They make 50% of my own income. They had a gift provided to cover closing costs and down-payment (which I do not begrudge).They are almost 20 years my junior. And the final loan amount was for a home in the range I am seeking, with an interest rate of ~6.75% (closing after rates dropped).

The big difference between us? Besides the income, that I am a business owner and not an employee, my age, and that she is a parent is that she is a White woman.

And for those wondering what the big deal about an extra 1.235% is that over 30 years (which I can affordably pay off in 5-6 years) there is an extra $20 - $50,000 dollars in interest to be paid.

So now I ask, why do you think I have been treated as such so far? Is this something others are experiencing across the nation?

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Senator Obama "bitter", and the other Presidential candidates

So now we have the major news media jumping all over the words of Senator Obama. This time it’s in reference to his elitist comments about how small town voters across America seem to feel and are acting. While the comments are harsh, there is some truth in them.

“They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” Barack Obama

Having lived some 5 years no in a small town (that residents of the area consider a city for some reason) I have noticed that many are clinging and bitter. There is no question that in this town with approximately 6% non-whites and a large community of college students, there are bitter feelings. The average income is about $28,000 and jobs are scarce. Most jobs pay minimum wage, the downtown district is littered with empty buildings, and more than just a few homes are in disrepair even in the best neighborhoods.

There is a huge hunting community though, and there are an abundance of churches and church groups. The main activity outside of these events is drinking. In a recent article in the local paper there was a story (during Black History month) describing that one of the local major companies recruited new workers and when asked what the recreational activities were in the area they stated ‘there are a lot of bars’. Such is this small town in central New York, and that is better than the surrounding smaller towns and villages.

That says nothing of the rampant racism and prejudice. I have heard numerous stories from non-whites over the years, and experienced several myself. From failure to be served for over 15 minutes only to be skipped over to serve a White patron that walked up, to being called the N-word for speaking to a White person of the opposite sex, to having a drunk guy picking a fight – using the N-word to provoke the situation – and being told at the end that it was due to dressing better than those around [which happened to me]. Binghamton is a city dying for lack of good jobs, lack of foresight from the city council, and the failure of Senator Clinton to live up to her promise to generate 200,000 new jobs for upstate New York [in fact upstate New York has lost 30,000 jobs since she has been elected].

So is Senator Obama wrong in what he said? From what I have seen here and in the area, no. The citizenry is quite bitter and angry. They want to see less jobs going overseas, fewer immigrants keeping job wages down, and virtually hate anyone – especially of color – that is living here and doing better. Mind you that is not everyone here, but it is more than enough to make things uncomfortable is you walk into the wrong place on the wrong day.

But let’s consider this. If Senator Obama is out of touch or as Senator Clinton states

“I do not think he really gets it that people are looking for a president who stands up for you, and not looks down on you," said Hillary Clinton. "And after seven years of Americans feeling invisible to this president, President Bush, it is time that we leveled the playing field.”

Is Senator Clinton better?

Well we know as fact that she lied about being under sniper fire in Bosnia. Sinbad and videotaped footage of the event have proven that – thus it’s not a misspoken statement as the polispeak would have you believe. We know that she had no impact or input to the Ireland peace talks, those who did have told us about that lie as well.

We know that in the 7+ years that Senator Clinton has been representing New York State she has lied about new jobs, and her voting record reflects changing polls consistently. We know Senator Clinton is against guns, in speeches and votes. We know that the Clinton campaign has consistently and directly, in the form of Bill Clinton, used race as a factor in generating votes. The Clinton campaign has directly pandered gender as a solitary reason for votes. Is this “standing up” or “antipathy to people who aren’t like them”?

But perhaps most important is her connection to the people. Senator Clinton, along with former President Bill Clinton, made $109 million. They paid only $34 million in taxes. That may be a lot, but it is far less than the highest tax bracket so they took tax breaks available to them. They also donated $10 million to charity – the Clinton Library – in effect giving them a tax break and keeping the money. All from those that claim that the rich (which she obviously qualifies as) don’t pay enough in taxes and voted to increase the taxes paid of everyone making $31,850 or more (which I know none that would qualify this as rich).

Now both of the Democratic candidates have gone to good colleges and have law degrees. Senator Clinton spent her time after graduating on the board of Wal-Mart (which has fought unions – a big issue for Democrats) and being the wife of a rising political husband. Senator Obama spent his time working for the Chicago community and entering politics at the state level. Which sounds like it benefits the average guy more? Which sounds closer, since neither is similar, to the life average Joe lives?

Of course if we were to really be fair about this Senator McCain really stands out. While his wife does have wealth, he was a soldier. While he was an officer and a pilot, he did serve his nation at a time of war, and stood by his fellow soldiers while having years of torture. He has served the public for 25 years, longer than some of my readers have been alive. He has never lied about being shot at, nor has he made a donation to a charity he runs. He has not voted to raise taxes of those that are obviously in the middle class (though he did balk initially at giving them a tax cut). He is not known for looking down at anyone, though he is known for his temper. But he is also known for breaking party lines to make deals he feels benefit the American public – which the Democratic candidates have not done, ever.

So really, who sounds like they are looking down on the average American? Who is the least connected? Who has lied the least – or as the spin likes to say “misspoke”. Who has stood their ground and served the public the most, or in other word has experience?

Obviously for the Republicans that is Senator McCain. For the Democrats I leave the choice to you, based on the facts. And as for the election, well that is your choice. No matter what you believe, your vote makes a difference. If we all are involved, since we all will live with the results, then I believe we will get the best choice for America. But if not, there will be no way to explain the next 4 years in some polispeak spin of “misspoke” or “mistake”.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Facts, figures, and questions about how America votes

Looking forward to the April 22 primary in Pennsylvania I found some information that is troubling looking forward. There is no question that without a landslide of votes for Senator Hillary Clinton, in every Primary until the Democratic Convention, there is no way she can win the Democratic nomination without stealing super delegates. A super delegate decision is also sure to enrage Democrats backing either candidate.

And that’s where the rub comes in. Recently various news agencies and polling organizations have begun to ask voters how likely they are to back an opposing candidate that lost the nomination. And there is a massive difference, led by the fact of race.

For all the polispeak and posturing of Democrats and Liberals about supporting minority issues and representing African Americans in particular, the fact is that a significant portion of voters will vote for the White candidate or none at all. If that sounds bigoted, racist, prejudiced and anti-American I agree that it is.

Based on the primaries and caucuses that have occurred to date we can see certain trends and numbers.

Whites that find race important favor Clinton over Obama by 63% to 32%. Even those that said race was not a factor backed Clinton by 11%. Of this group of people 41% said they would only be satisfied if Clinton were the nominee.

Why is this critical? Because

“Pollsters have long expressed doubts about using polls to precisely gauge voters' feelings about the sensitive issue of race, concerned that some people give answers they think are socially acceptable.”

Or in my words, some of those polled are the quiet cowardly racists that try to stab Blacks in the back rather than being upfront and vocal about their small-minded nature.

Who are these people? What are they like?

“In the exit polls, whites saying they considered the candidate's race were likelier to be from the South and rural areas, less educated, lower earning and older. That's consistent with voting so far, in which Obama has done better among whites with more education and higher incomes, especially men.”

So in looking forward, assuming Senator Obama is the candidate the real question is how many Americans will be willing to vote for a Black candidate? It appears that there are more than enough White voters raised and believing in the Jim Crow, segregationist, prejudiced, stereotyped, illogical thoughts about race that was America’s norm until the mid-1980’s. And if you are younger than 40, yes before the mid-80’s there was a real and vastly different view of race. That view has not disappeared, nor changed significantly and the voting preferences abovementioned relate to that.

So while pundits will polispeak about the Iraq war – and how it was wrong that it started which is moot, the economy – where raising taxes is about as intelligent as suing the homeless, illegal aliens – which can’t even be referred to as such even though they have roken the law entering the nation, and many other real issues America must deal with; the real issue will be the one thing Senator Obama has avoided making a primary issue – race.

If Senator Obama is to win or lose the Presidential election due superior plans for the future of America then that is the will of America. But it seems impossible to say that while the question of voter prejudice is not only openly stated, but also hidden. Which leaves me with a thought.

No pundit or politician will address the fact that race relations remains the most critical, dividing, and divisive issue in America – 388 years after the first slave was sold and 143 years after their freedom was acknowledged and protected. There is no polispeak to spin this fact in a positive manner, and no one has the balls to stand up and be counted for really speaking on the issue.

So whether or not Senator Obama wins the Democratic nomination (which he should but could lose through super delegates) or the Presidential election, the problem and its effects will continue to prevent America from being as great as it can be. I have already stated my solutions in terms of reparations, an apology, and honest talk.

Given this, what do you propose? How do you feel? What is the answer?

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Approaching the Pennsylvania Primary

**Just a quick hello to all those visiting this site from TV One. I hope you enjoy the various posts and visit/comment often.**

So as we approach the next vote in the Democratic Primary process, little new events or information has been passed on to the public. With the Republican race over, Senator John McCain has begun to collect monies and release television commercials emphasizing his experience both as a Senator and military commander. On the Democratic side, substance has been replaced in part by hype obfuscating points that I find far more interesting.

Even today this malaise can be seen in the questions being posed to General Petraeus by the Senate Armed Services Committee. Democrats are pushing that the events in Iraq are not working, that there is no end in sight ever, that the war is unwinnable, and that the only solution is to run. Republicans are thanking the service and sacrifice given, acknowledgement of the benchmarks reached, understanding of the progress and stability that has been attained, and the outlook for a measured end of the conflict. Politics are clouding every fact, effectively using our soldiers as political tools in all the polispeak.

But the bigger issues that are not being discussed as much as they should include Senator McCain’s potential choice of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as Vice-President. Back in February I noted that she was at 10-1 odds for gaining the coveted position.

“I expect that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is the real favorite. She brings in some of the Black and women vote. And she is easily qualified for the position. I see the Democrats seriously troubled in trying to attack her on anything. My dream pick would be Colin Powell though.”

The implications of Secretary of State Rice as V-P are far reaching especially in terms of Iraq, Afghanistan, foreign relations, and the economy. Considering the emphasis on race relations lately, there is also the potential of improving the laws affecting African Americans. Women’s issues are also potentially on the forefront of change.

Glancing at the Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton dominates the landscape. Not that this is a good thing.

Besides the fact that Senator Clinton is trying to duck the fact that 3 senior campaign members are connected to pro-Columbia efforts (of which only Mark Penn has been fired for) which she publicly denounces, there are less emphasized issues as well. One big fact I have a problem with is the Clinton taxes.

The Clintons made $109 million, paid $34 million in taxes, and $10 million to charity.

Sounds nice until you pay attention to the details. The first is the fact that 34% is not the top tax bracket, meaning that the Clinton’s took many deductions. That is not important, except it is a major campaign point for the Democrats. That is that the “rich” – which I think $109 million qualifies as – do not pay enough in taxes. Yet rather than paying the full taxes, or giving the I.R.S. extra money as a gift, the Clinton’s paid less. So either the Clinton campaign is lying about wanting to take more money from the rich – but since she voted to increase taxes of everyone from $31,850 and above I doubt that, her money is excluded, or she only thinks that the money should be taken by certain people for certain needs of the government. That last reason is hardly Democratic, fair, or in the benefit of the public.

Add to this the fact that former-President Bill Clinton collected $191,000 a year as part of his retirement package as President. That’s tax-payer money being given (wasted) to a millionaire. And rather than denying the money, of not cashing the check, they kept it (and that money is not taxable as I recall). How many people that money might help is unknown, but even if it were to help just one family who do you think needs the money more.

Oh and by the way, the 10% given to charity (which is a write-off) is important too. Because according to at least Dick Morris – a former top political aide of the Clinton’s – every dime of that was given to the Clinton Library. Which is controlled by guess who, and thus usable in any manner they desire.

Like Bosnia, Ireland, and many other issues, it’s a lie and slap in the face of the American citizenry.

And now I come to Senator Obama. There really isn’t much new with him, except his friends. One is Rev. Wright, who continues to be attacked unfairly by the major media. Weeks later the questions and opinions of the polispeak compilation of 10 second clips from less than a handful of the over 1000 sermons made by Rev. Wright are cascading forth having ebbed only slightly. Thus the single most difficult obstacle to the nomination is visibly what it was invisibly a year ago, skin color. And this will be re-visited at some point and some degree if Senator Obama is nominated.

The other friend of note is a real concern in my opinion. That is the former Weatherman and ultra liberal. A self-admitted bomber of American citizens and soil. A declared friend of Senator Obama. That troubles me.

But the real question for him is only the one issue that he can do nothing about. His race. He is not Black enough for small minds like Rev. Manning and other racist bigots – in my opinion. He is too Black for the Clinton campaign and those with ears too gentle to hear honest commentary about race relations in America.

Sadly the real question should be is a Presidential candidate without experience what America needs during a time of war.

But not to worry. CNN, Fox News and the rest have spent the day covering General Petreaus being questioned in a manner to benefit the polispeak political aspirations of the various parties, ultimately at a cost to our soldiers. No matter what view you may have, this PT Barnum extravaganza fails them first and everyone second.

Just remember in the remaining primaries and the general election in November 2008, that the questions being avoided are perhaps the best reasons to vote and whom for.

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M V Consulting, Inc and TV One Announce Collaboration - Press Release

New York (PRWEB) April 8, 2008 -- M V Consulting, Inc. announced that its VASS (www.mvass.com) blog has been selected as part of TV One's online website focus on the 2008 Presidential election (www.tvoneonline.com/electionwatch2008.asp).

TV One, a national cable network targeting African American adults that is available in 43 million U.S. households, is seeking to provide voters of all ages with information and a wide range of viewpoints that will help them be motivated and involved with the upcoming Presidential election. To that end they have created a webpage of resources dedicated to the election including Delegate counts, links to voter registration, and commentary from political bloggers.

To that end VASS - the politically focused blog of M V Consulting, Inc. - has been selected as 1 of 2 blogs to be featured on this resource page. M V Consulting previously collaborated with TV One to provide live coverage of the Heartland Presidential Forum in December 2007. At that time VASS was selected as 1 of 5 blogs covering the event and providing commentary on the presidential nomination process.

Michael Vass, President of M V Consulting, Inc., stated,
"I am very happy to be working with TV One again. Our collaboration on the live coverage of the Heartland Presidential Forum was a positive experience with a direct effect on blog readers and potential Primary voters." Mr. Vass continued, "Our goal of increasing the awareness and number of voters in this election cycle is a shared goal with TV One. It is my firm belief that in motivating every American citizen to vote, America will benefit from electing the very best possible President and path for the nations future."

TV One Director of Digital Media, James Hill stated,
"Michael's insight made him an easy choice to be part of our Presidential forum event and an even easier choice when it came to our ongoing election coverage. He is a valued voice and one we thought necessary while tracking this historic time in American politics."

In addition to VASS, TV One is also working with Megan Cosby - author and founder of Polichicks Online (www.polichicksonline.com). The Polichicks Online site was also previously involved with the Heartland Presidential Forum in 2007.

"I'm thrilled that TV One is giving Polichicks Online a chance to expose the TV One audience to entertaining and informative election coverage. I hope that Polichicks Online's quick election updates - we dish just enough to get by at a cocktail party - will encourage even the busiest of people to follow the election and vote. I'm honored to be affiliated with TV One and in the company of TV One's other political blogger, Michael Vass."

About TV One:
Launched in January 2004, TV One (tvoneonline.com) serves 43.4 million households (Nielsen March 2008 estimate), offering a broad range of lifestyle and entertainment-oriented original programming, classic series, movies, fashion and music designed to entertain, inform and inspire a diverse audience of adult African American viewers. TV One's investors include Radio One [NASDAQ: ROIA and ROIAK; radio-one.com], the largest radio company that primarily targets African American and urban listeners; Comcast Corporation [NASDAQ: CMCSA and CMCSK; comcast.com], the leading cable television company in the country; The DirecTV Group; Constellation Ventures; Syndicated Communications; and Opportunity Capital Partners.

About M V Consulting, Inc. and Michael Vass:
Mr. Michael Vass is a former securities industry account executive of good standing; and currently works in the fields of investor relations, consultation on the internet, and social/political blog writing. He has served in the US Marine Corps Reserves, as well as worked and studied in such diverse fields as entertainment, communications, philosophy and chemistry. He has lived abroad, in Moscow and Tbilisi, as well as in various cities throughout the United States.

Mr. Vass is President of M V Consulting, Inc. a diversified private company that maintains divisions in search engine optimization, an online store, political and entertainment celebrity blogs.

It is the combinations of these unique experiences that have led Mr. Vass to the creation of M V Consulting, Inc. The Company owns Black Entertainment USA (www.blackentertainmentblog.com), VASS (mvass.com), a corporate website (www.vassconsult.com), and an online store (www.cafepress.com/nova68).

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