Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Smart Bullet Steers in Midair and Follows Target to Hit Targets a Mile Away

Gun violence has incessantly plagued the African American community. In 1996, 29,183 males were killed by guns: 12,014 in homicides, 15,808 in suicides, 1,004 in unintentional deaths, and 357 in deaths of unknown intent. During the same time period, firearms were the second leading cause of death for African-American males aged five to 14, and the leading cause of death among African- American males aged 15 to 24. In 2007, the homicide rate for black male teens was 67.1 per 100,000, nearly 20 times higher than the rate for white males (3.4 per 100,000). Now there may be a new factor on the horizon that may increase these morbid rates of violence. Just over the two weeks in Chicago, 55 people were shot of which 10 were killed by gunshot wounds withing 50 hours. This past Thursday, 13 people were shot and2 dead in an six hour period in Chicago.

Two researchers from Sandia National Laboratories have created a four-inch bullet that can hit a target a mile away. With the use of laser points at the target, and an optical sensor on the bullet, it locks in and follows its target until it hits it. The 4-inch-long bullet has guidance and control electronics to steer its fins in midflight as it homes in on a target as well as little fins on the bullet keep it from spinning and help “steer” its path.

Continual course adjustment means the bullet can hit laser-designated targets at distances of more than a mile making it in essence a 50 caliber self-guided , miniaturized, low-budget guided missile. “It’s a bullet that can change its flight path so that it can more accurately hit a target at long range,” said Red Jones, one of the two researchers, in an interview with ABC News.

According to a press released distributed by the New Mexico company, the bullet is a prototype, and “engineering issues remain. The new bullet can make course corrections 30 times per second and will hit within eight inches of its target.

Sandia is run by the U.S. Department of Energy and operated by Lockheed Martin, says it is looking for commercial partners to develop the new bullet for mass production. Potential customers include the military and law enforcement.

The concern is will these type of bullets, like most weapons be used to mow down traditional targets, African American males or even worse, seep into the streets as most weapons and technologies for African American males to used them on each other. The fact today remains that Blacks are victimized by offenders armed with guns at higher rates than other ethnic groups and continue to be disproportionately victims of firearms homicide

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Post Racial & Why I dont Go to Movies

New Data from U.S. Department of Education Notes Racial Educational Inequities in Public Schools.

New data from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights reveal an unsettling observation about the nature of the U.S. Public Education system. In summary, findings suggest that African American and Latino students across the nation are far more likely to be suspended than white students – as well as be more likely to have lower and limited access to rigorous college-prep courses.

The study, which was conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) is a first-of-its kind and was designed to examine educational inequities around teacher experience, discipline and high school rigor. The data was collected from 72,000 schools serving 85 percent of the nation's students and revealed major disparities in the public school experiences of minority and white students.

For example, African-American students, particularly males, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers. Although African American students comprise just 18% of the sample, 35% of the students suspended once, and 39% of the students expelled were black. Findings also indicate that one in five African-American boys - and one in 10 African-American girls - was suspended from school during the study period, the 2009-10 school years. Meaning African-American students are 3-1/2 times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers. And 70 percent of students arrested or referred to law enforcement for disciplinary infractions are black or Latino.

The study also notes that nationally, students with disabilities are also more than twice as likely to be suspended as students without disabilities and that teachers in high-minority schools were paid $2,251 less per year than their colleagues in teaching in low-minority schools in the same district.

Academic opportunities also vary widely by race. Among high schools that serve predominately Latino and African-American students, just 29 percent offer a calculus class and only 40 percent offer physics. In some school districts, those numbers are even more glaring. In New York City, for instance, just 10 percent of the high schools with the highest black and Latino enrollment offer Algebra II.

The data breaks down the national data district by district and school by school. In addition, it examines racial disparities in r access to pre-kindergarten programs, success in Advanced Placement courses and the use of physical restraints on students with disabilities. One finding of note was that Just over a quarter of high-minority high schools offered Calculus, while over half of schools with the lowest black and Hispanic enrollment offered the course.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Classic: 5 Police Officers vs a law knowing Citizen


Carl Rowan once said, “There are two ways to circumvent or trample over a constitution…one way is to arouse public fear and hatred…the second way is to amass enough police or military power to force your will upon society.” This was decades before the election of President Obama and he said it in reference to a book that I read as an adolescent and greatly admired called The Choice: The Issue of Black Survival in America by Samuel Yette.

Written at the 1970s it addressed “the colonized colored people of the United States.” He referenced that black and white political leadership had rendered African Americans obsolete people, spoke of massive un-employment, big business of the prison-industrial-complex, and how black and white so-called liberal politicians avoided examining the fact that black was “unsightly in America.” Most importantly, he pointed out that Black elected leadership means nothing in the face of systemic racism because they are “powerless” and too incompetent to tackle the “arrogance of superiority” of racist American political machinery.

Seems that the same is true today. Although there is a person that looks like the African American community in that mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue, he appears powerless to address the ills of our community and continue the policies that have maintained political hegemony over people of color around the globe.

Recently the Obama Administration’s Justice Department attorney, via Douglas Letter suggested that no judge in this nation has authority to be “looking over the shoulder” of the Obama administration’s targeted-killing program. Yes, the present administration claims a right to kill American citizens without trial, notice, and or the chance to object legally to such within the purview of due process. In effect, the present administration has expanded the Bush administration’s “targeted killing” program to include Americans far from any war zone. In order to accomplish this, the administration is hiding behind state secrets – meaning they don’t even have to explain why the president has the right to kill Americans without trial. This position according to Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Pardiss Kebriae, “Would allow the executive unreviewable authority to target and kill any U.S. citizen it deems a suspect of terrorism anywhere.” In summary, if it is accepted that the U.S. government can label Americans as enemies of the state and kill them without due process they can kill anyone they desire anywhere for any reason.

From my perspective, it is recollective of the FBI counterintelligence programs designed to neutralize political dissidents (COINTELPRO). From 1956 to 1971, COINTELPRO efforts were broadly targeted against radical political organizations per the desire of J. Edgar Hoover, longtime Director of the FBI. More than 2000 COINTELPRO operations before the programs were officially discontinued in 1971. The FBI’s COINTELPRO program continually stretched its target list from real political targets to “the kid with a picket sign, and from the kid with the picket sign to the kid with the bumper sticker of the opposing candidate.

The goals according to official FBI documents were: 1. Prevent a coalition of militant black nationalist groups, 2. Prevent the rise of a messiah who could unify and electrify the militant nationalist movement ... Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael and Elijah Muhammad all aspire to this position, 3. Prevent violence on the part of black nationalist groups, 4. Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining respectability by discrediting them and 5. Prevent the long-range growth of militant Black Nationalist organizations, especially among youth. The target organizations" included groups such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), and the Nation of Islam (NOI). It was expressly directed against such leaders as Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokley Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, Maxwell Stanford, and Elijah Muhammad.
Anyone with an ounce of problem solving ability could see the parallels of what was implemented under J. Edgar Hoover via COINTELPRO and what the Obama administration has proposed with its targeted killing program. Like the FBI, many individuals were framed as the record confirmed and killed without due process. The same is consistent with the “targeted killing” efforts of this administration. Both trampled on liberty and due process and evinced the tendency of mission creep, even to the point of fabricating evidence to justify targeted assignation and incarceration as well as to try and gather public support. New laws support this giving approval for roving wiretaps in foreign intelligence investigations that are not focused or specific to a specific person, or the ability to seize business or other records in a presumptive terror investigation or threat (Patriot Act Section 215).

Regardless, both, especially the new Obama approach, give the President and Federal government a blank check to target and kill enemies of the state. It is far removed from our constitutional reality and more akin to what dictators have done throughout history. Not to mention sovereign immunity will not allow for any Obama administration official to be held liable, regardless of whom the U.S. government kills.

Yes indeed, COINTELPRO is back, revisited and there is a new Sheriff in town.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ethics Violations Racially Single out African Americans In Congress Disparately

Is it possible that the manner in which the congress polices itself is racist and singularly targets African American members disparately when compared to whites? Many in the Congressional Black caucus think so. To date nearly a third of current African American lawmakers in congress have been named in an ethics probe during their careers, according to research compiled by the National Journal review.

The question is why so many African-American members have been in the ethics violations and so few of any other races on Capitol Hill? Several reasons have been proposed. One is that African American politicians are being unfairly scrutinized. It has also been advanced that since many hold what are considered “safe” seats in congress, that they become too comfortable and forget to follow the ever changing standards for ethics in Washington. Last, it is speculated that another reason is due to a process that depends on outside information from watchdog groups like the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative watchdog group, who have their own agendas. Regardless the fact remains that African-Americans make up 10 percent of the House, but currently, five of the sitting six named lawmakers under review by the House Ethics Committee are African Americans.

At one period in 2009, seven lawmakers were known to be involved in formal House ethics inquiries; all were members of the Congressional Black Caucus. An eighth caucus member, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois, had also been under investigation, but his probe was held up temporarily when the Justice Department started an inquiry of its own.

Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr., a Missouri Democrat whose father was a founder of the black caucus, compared the secretive House Ethics Committee, and the newer Office of Congressional Ethics to an out of control police department. "Look at the fact that African-Americans make up about 12.5 percent of the total national population, but we are much higher in the percentages in prisons and on parole and under criminal investigation, and all that."

To date, just two members of Congress have been formally charged with ethics violations in recent years and have had to deal with public trials -- Reps. Charles Rangel of New York (censured) and Maxine Waters of California (investigation ongoing) and ironically they are both African Americans. There are no African-Americans in the Senate but the last one who was reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee in 2009 was Roland Burris of Illinois.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Aint No More Charles Hamilton Houston’s

Once upon a time there were activist warrior scholars who served the needs and protected African Americans against the onslaught of laws designed to subjugate, marginalize and mass incarcerate this population disproportionately to their representation and the occurrence of such crimes. Most of these involved rights proclaimed under the constitution and dealt with receiving an equal education.

As many know, during slavery, a slave was not allowed to learn to read; it was illegal. Whites didn't want black slaves to read and write because they might be encouraged to run away. In addition, People feared that slaves who could read would be more rebellious. At the time of the Civil War, only 1 or 2 percent of slaves were able to read and write meaning that Illiteracy was one of the worst handicaps of being a slave. In most cases, outside of having hands or tongues cut out or being blinded, death was the punishment for a slave learning to read.

To the slave, the ability to read and write meant freedom—if not actual, physical freedom, then intellectual freedom—to maintain relationships amongst family members separated by the slave trade. These men and women took great risks to empower themselves, and in some cases, achieved freedom. However after slavery a dark period emerged and well up into the 20th century, African Americans were still disenfranchised by the legal burden of obtaining an equal education. Charles Hamilton Houston was one of the bright lights of activism that addressed these social ills.

WEB Dubois wrote that “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” I would suspect that he would say that in the 21st century this would continue to be true but add something implicating the impact of the criminal justice system on the worsening of this problem. To put it plainly, it is like comedian Tony Rock stated, “People always say I act like I am afraid of the police, I am afraid of the police."

If there was a time in which our community need the aspiring efforts of a Charles Hamilton Houston it is now. Who was Charles Houston; well he was a lawyer, educator and a warrior. He was the man who devised and led the legal strategy leading to the end of legalized racial segregation in the United States. He also taught and mentored a generation of lawyers, including Thurgood Marshall, James Nabrit, Spottswood Robinson, and A. Leon Higginbotham. It was his work and effort that laid the legal groundwork that led to 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that made racial segregation in public primary and secondary schools unconstitutional.

He completed high school at the age of 15 and graduated from as one of six valedictorians from Amherst College in Massachusetts in 1915. After serving in World War I as a second lieutenant in field artillery and receiving an honorable discharge from the army, he enrolled at Harvard Law School in 1919 where he earned his Bachelor of Laws in 1922 and a doctorate in 1923. Truth be told, Houston, and not Barack Obama was the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review.

He fought to end legalized discrimination and, in particular, the "separate but equal" doctrine accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896 in Plessy v. Ferguson. He proceeded step by step and from 1935 to 1940, he successfully argued several cases using this strategy, including Murray v. Maryland, (1936) which resulted in the desegregation of the University of Maryland's Law School and Missouri ex rel Gaines v. Canada, another case that Houston argued before the Supreme Court, declared that the scholarships Missouri offered to African Americans to attend out-of-state graduate schools did not constitute equal admission. In the end, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the admission of a black student to the Law School at the University of Missouri (1938).

Thurgood Marshall took over where Houston left of as NAACP's Special Counsel. In Smith v. Allwright, Marshall successfully challenged "white primaries," which prevented African Americans from voting in several southern states. In Morgan v. Virginia (1946), Marshall won a case in which the Supreme Court struck down a state law that enforced segregation on buses and trains that were interstate carriers. In 1948 he won Shelley v Kraemer, which ended the enforcement of racially restrictive covenants, a practice that barred blacks from purchasing homes in white neighborhoods. In 1950, he won cases that struck down Texas and Oklahoma laws requiring segregated graduate schools in Sweatt v. Painter and McLaurin v. Oklahoma. “In those cases, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment required those states to admit black students to their graduate and professional schools.”

Houston's said “A lawyer's either a social engineer or he's a parasite on society," the formers whose goal was to focus on "bettering conditions of the underprivileged citizens." Like I said in the intro we do not have any more of these types in Law. They say we have Obama, but he went for the presidency making one wonder which he would be according to the reasoning of Mr. Houston. We have growing evidence that the current administration will not address these issues. Travon Martin aside, there is a history of injustice deserving our attention. The store clerk, who shot Michael Haynes II in the back and murdered him apparently during a dispute over the price of condoms, The Georgia business owner onto John McNeil, in jail for shooting Brian Epp, who trespassed onto his Cobb County, Georgia property in December 2005 while waving a box cutter and threatened McNeil's son, after being asked to leave his property multiple times before firing in self-defense. Not to mention the countless unknown cases that railroad black men under the guise of justice.

What is required is what Houston and Marshall did: a structured plan to address the legal burden of what leads to the disproportionate mass incarceration of African Americans. Today such an approach would have to tackle several current legal opinions:

Swain v. Alabama, 380 U.S. 202 (1965): Robert Swain, nineteen, year old black male, was indicted, tried and convicted of raping a white woman in Talladega County, Alabama, and received the death sentence. There had been five African Americans on the grand jury panel of thirty-three, two of whom served on the grand jury which indicted Swain. Of those in the county eligible for jury selection for grand and petit juries, 26% are Negroes, while the jury panels since 1953 have averaged 10% to 15% African Americans. Of the eight on the venire, two were exempt, and six were peremptorily struck by the prosecutor. The court held that: A defendant in a criminal case is not constitutionally entitled to a proportionate number of his race on the trial jury or the jury panel and that purposeful racial discrimination is not satisfactorily established by showing only that an identifiable group has been underrepresented by as much as 10%. The courts conclusion was that there is no evidence in this case that the jury commissioners applied different jury selection standards as between people based on race.

Purkett v. Elem (94-802), 514 U.S. 765 (1995): During jury selection, he objected to the prosecutor's use of peremptory challenges to strike two black men from the jury panel, an objection arguably based on Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). The prosecutor explained his strikes: "I struck [juror] number twenty two because of his long hair. He had long curly hair. He had the longest hair of anybody on the panel by far. He appeared to not be a good juror for that fact…I don't like the way they looked, with the way the hair is cut, both of them. And the mustaches and the beards look suspicious to me." The Supreme Court upheld this was valid.

Then there are Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986) and United States v. Armstrong (95-157), 517 U.S. 456 (1996) among others. Like I said, we cannot depend on the current administration to do anything albeit in his book “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama admitted his drug use and how it could have derailed his future. The president is quick to say he is against the disparity in the criminal justice system yet his actions prove otherwise. His first Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel increase funding for Clintons "COPS ON THE BEAT" program in 2007 when he co-sponsored the COPS Improvements Act of 2007 - Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to make grants for public safety and community policing programs (COPS ON THE BEAT or COPS program). Although Clinton claimed that this program was impactful in decreasing crime, a GAO report indicated if any reduction occurred in violent crimes it was barely 1 percent at a cost of $8 billion. Moreover, Worrall & Kovandzic (2007) showed that COPS spending had little to no effect on crime.

Two more suspect members of the team include Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder. Biden has always been in the led of the war on drugs, on everything from marijuana to steroids. He even wrote the legislation that created the position of a national "Drug Czar", and his Anti-Drug Proliferation Act provides 20-year prison sentences for folk who throw parties in their home if drug use occurs. In addition, he was a proponent of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in 1994, which allocated substantial funds for construction of new prisons, established boot camps for delinquent minors, and brought the death penalty for crimes related to drug dealing. Biden’s 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill included a provision allowing for the federal execution of drug kingpins, asserting that drug-related offenses were equivalent to, or worse than murder.

Eric Holder is no better than Biden or Emanuel. Holder, a former D.C. prosecutor, and the chief law enforcement officer in the U.S., complained that prosecuting the banking executives who caused the 2008 global financial crisis and subsequent deep recession was too difficult. But he is all game for marijuana. As U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., Eric Holder sought to raise marijuana penalties and restore mandatory minimum penalties for drug crimes. His plan was to set minimum sentences of 18 months for first-time convicted drug dealers, 36 months for the second time and 72 months for every conviction thereafter.

All I am saying is that we cannot wait for Obama, even if he is a black president with a past of self-admitted weed and drug use to protect the average black man on the street who are disproportionately targeted by the drug war and court system, to help us. We need another brave group of legal minds like Houston and Marshall to adeptly and shrewdly dismantle the new laws of modern Jim Crow. If either were living today, they would probable say the same about mass incarceration as Houston did education. “This fight for equality of educational opportunity (was) not an isolated struggle. All our struggles must tie in together and support one another. . . We must remain on the alert and push the struggle farther with all our might.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How Obama and Black Politicians Have Reinvented the Negro

Politicians of African descent in America, in concert with the non-concern of their voting constituency have reinvented the Negro, or better yet made the Negro retro chic. What do I mean by this? Well from an etymological perspective, the word Negro is Spanish for black. The Spanish language comes from Latin, which has its origins in Classical Greek. The word Negro is derived from the Greek root word necro, meaning dead. It was a reference to the state of mind for millions of Africans. Politicians thrive and live on the fact that folk are negro as opposed to self determined individuals with the ability to reason and problem solve, thus ensuring their hold in politics. But what they fail to understand that if they truly want to deal with the economic plight of African Americans, they need to face the fact that economic improvement cannot be accomplished within the context of mass incarceration and the environment of the criminal justice arena that foster incessant Jim Crow-like practices. For the same dynamic that led to Jim Crow after the Civil war and emancipation proclamation has led to the present day mass incarceration of African Americans.

Just as slavery, Jim Crow and today’s focus on mass incarceration operates within the context of a system of institutions, policies and laws that function in concert to subordinate and disenfranchise a select group of folk defined mostly on race. Until our political figure heads address this and make this connection, nothing economically will improve in areas with high concentrations of African Americans. Only difference is the type of laws. There used to be “vagrancy laws,” “eye rape,” or “insulting gestures,” that could serve to keep newly freed African American men and former slaves in check. Now they have new names under the war on drugs such as “stop and frisk.” Even the way in which we were incarcerated during the era of the Jim Crow period are similar – to date all white jury’s convict black men for crimes that whites would never be take to trial for. Could you imagine white folks being prosecuted for marijuana possession offenses at the rate young African Americans are today? No because white politicians would change the laws.

More clearly defined, the way the prison and justice industrial complex operates is merely a continuation of the maintained of Eurocentric power and hegemony by changing the rules and names of those rules. In theory the 13th amendment abolished slavery, but it was always accepted by law that slavery still was an acceptable punishment for crime. As it is today, for the way in which law and order is mandated politically today, the only sure result is the arbitrary arrest of African Americans disproportionately to their numbers in the nation and according to the crimes.

If our elected officials from the Executive branch to or local level truly are interested in addressing the economic woes of our community, then they must deal and address mass incarceration and the disparate manner in which the criminal justice system is designed to race-neutrally target African Americans. If they do not, not only do they ignore the math involved in economic revitalization, but are equal in action to a George Wallace who stood in front of Schools in the segregated south blocking the entry of African Americans. We have to have our elected figures address the unconstitutionality of the obviation of our collective 4th amendment rights and fight “stop and frisk” laws and court sanctioned “race-neutral” racial profiling.

Prison is used to force African Americans into a system and existence of oppression and control today as Jim Crow and slavery were employed centuries ago. It is a direct result of the conservative position observed in the Jim Crow period in which they perceived that special laws (abolition of slavery) moved blacks ahead of them in position and standing. This was unacceptable so Jim Craw laws and the black codes were developed and designed to keep poor and uneducated blacks in a permanent subordinate political and economic position for it is their argument, from Goldwater, to Nixon to Regan to Santorum that poverty is caused by black culture.

Our present coteries of African American politicians hide behind the illusion of progress, especially economic progress in terms of the idolatry of having an African America President. Unfortunately their delusional states prevent them from comprehending that there cannot be any real economic progress in our communities if those locked up behind bars and ostracized from the community are not included in the poverty or unemployment statistics. To do so is saying our political representatives are no better than the slave masters and house Negroes and Klansman who maintained hegemony via legal and violent subjugation and marginalization. Thus what we confront via this legal mode of operandi is a caste system equal to that propounded by the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws, for what we faced then in practice and outcome is no different than what we encounter today through our extant criminal justice system’s convention of mass incarceration.

Why? Well first, after the assassinations of King and Malcolm, the civil rights movement stagnated. This was during a period of a rise in conservatism that centered on animosity of the recent and quick gains of Africa Americans. In addition, it was a time in which African American, especially males were not need to sharecrop the fields and technology was replacing low wage jobs unskilled and uneducated African Americans typically received. It was the start in the disproportionate rise in black unemployment, which conveniently happened on the heels of Regan and Clinton’s war on drugs, which made unemployment even worse.

The simple reality is that there is no such thing as a color blind society and that nothing is race neutral as the Justice system would like for us to accept. Please explain to me the difference between hiding behind a white sheet and a badge? To assert such is like asking me to view the world as green, when I see blue skies and black asphalt. I could prove and state that I only see green but the reality is that I see more. Yes the Negro has been reinvented by our present power hungry corpus of black elitist politicians. Before we had poll tax, literacy test and felon disenfranchisement – these were staples of the Jim Crow legal system. However then, we had warrior activist and scholar politicians who were not afraid to voice support for the people if it meant losing their political clout. Today we have marijuana possession laws, stop and frisk, and felon disenfranchisement – staples of mass incarceration under the auspice of fighting a war on drugs. Only thing different is that we have a lot more cowards in leadership lining their pockets than before. Strange, Obama and black politicians quick to say Republicans are at “WAR WITH WOMEN” over the contraception issue, but run like scared dogs with their tails between their legs before they will say there is a “WAR ON BLACK MEN.” Strange, President Obama can call to comfort a Georgetown Law Student who was called a slut but not the parents of Travon Martin.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Introduction to O-bushian Nationalism 101

A decade later and we are still in Afghanistan. Those on the campaign trail for the GOP nomination are pontificating out the sides of their necks, John McCain is inveighing nonsense and the Obama administration is taking hits left and right – and rightly so. I have expressed my view on the US occupation of the central Asian nation eve prior to Obama, but clearly to no avail. I regrettably do not have the ears of the President or media pundits. And God knows I would love to hear urban radio adduce such a discussion with clarity. However, it seems that discussions on the photographs of Whitney Houston in her coffin, her nineteen year old daughter and wondering whether or not Chris Brown and Rihanna will get back together are more important conversations to have in our communities. Not to mention any topic that panders to the absolute support and defense of President Obama regardless of the cost or reality.

First I need to address the assassination recently carried out by a US solider (Robert Bales) in the heart of the region. Since the event, I have only heard sentiments of justification of his behavior, namely that he must have been mentally ill. I agree. But what strikes me as bazaar was that no such acceptance of mental illness (which is obvious to me) was ever pronounced for Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist who allegedly opened fire inside Fort Hood in Texas killing thirteen people and wounding 30 people. Any who.

To properly understand our central Asian foreign policy, a brief history of our approach to foreign policy philosophy is in order. After World War II, the significance of American exceptionalism supported and justified our interventionist policies. Basically, that as the “cosmic policeman”, righteousness of our nationalism evinced the position that only the U.S. was the last best hope of mankind and the world. This was code for American aspirations of hegemony over much of the world and defined overtly that democratic globalism rather than the national interest of the United States were the central issues at heart when considering the utility of military intervention. As if our self-proclaimed moral righteousness was eugenically paramount over pragmatism.

Although the Cold War mentality was supposedly over, it continued to exist and it legacy revamped, via a conservative movement that pursued no strategic alternatives in our foreign other than military action. That leads us to present day Iraq and Afghanistan. First, we fail to recognize our approach to borders versus the people is setting us for failure. Until we deal with such as a Pashtun issue, we will continue to run around like a chicken with its head cut off. The region is occupied by what history would call the Scythians or the Saka, those folks who live on the land from the Black sea to china. This is where most of our concern is presently and our presence is cloaked under the guise of wanting a stable democratic government fin the region albeit facts assert that the characteristics required for the formulation of such governments are not existent in Afghanistan or Iraq.

This however has not stopped Bush or Obama for attempting to produce such an outcome. Even Bill Clinton, who supposedly was a progressive, had the same approach to foreign policy in Central Asia. All three have never provided any well defined objectives other than perpetual peace through the dream of a universal democratic order on the American model. This desire to see American political structure manifest in other regions is a consequence of our historical imperialistic and colonial roots and is no different under Obama as it was Bush. Look at Yemen for example. It is really just another open ended war designed to make us look good and feel good. But all it accomplishes is to add more debt and more ant-American sentiment in the region. Before this there was Iraq, a nation of only 24 million that was destroyed by U.S. military power with a 12-year U.S.-led economic embargo prior to the war and daily bombing which our Air Force destroyed most of Iraq’s water purification plants and sewage systems, resulting in the deaths of more than 500,000 children from water-borne disease and lack of medicines alone. And all to protect the people and bring about peace through democracy. One thing we were able to accomplish was to increase the presence of Shia death squads that inflicted untold violent acts on Sunnis. Paul Wolfowitz, said that invading Iraq would cost a mere $40 billion and would be paid for by taking over its oil.

Post-Saddam Iraq will not be a pro-Western model of democratic stability. In particularly under the autocratic rule of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, It will be a quasi-democratic state with a strong pro-Iranian orientation. Likewise in Pakistan, we will be left with a corrupt and ineffectual government run by President Hamid Karzai where the Taliban remains at full strength and growing. Was this what was our desire for producing a democracy under of the US model in a pursuit for universal peace?

I can’t answer this, but I will assume the answer is no or else we would have not entered Libya. I mean, it too was based on humanitarian principles, to defend the civilian population based on the “responsibility to protect” doctrine that was used to justify Libya. Strange since it is used selectively – not for Syria or the Sudan. Especially given that such an argument is more valid for Syria and the Sudan than it did in the case of Libya. Assad’s and Umar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir’s militaries have killed way more people compared to just a few hundred deaths at the time of NATO’s intervention against Gaddafi.

Fact is just as the Neoconservatives in the Bush administration, Obama is on a similar crusade to transform the Middle East. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have hidden the cost of our current Central Asian interventions from the American people by refusing to pay for it through taxes. Both continue the post-cold war legacy of the quest for universal democratic order based on the American democratic model and the desire to transform the Middle East and central Asia. The question is how are American interest defined in these military interventions outside of emotional terms? It is as if we have not received the memo.

Remember it was Hillary Clinton’s State Department who suggested that Egypt appeared stable and opposition forces would not topple Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship. WRONG and what we do know after elections is that a democratic Egyptian government won’t be pro-U.S.

This is the definition of O-bushian nationalism. It means we spend trillions of dollars and the lives of thousands for the purposes of accomplishing nothing but establishing and entrenched hatred for America across the Muslim world with nations being more dangerous than when our troops first arrived. And all for merely not wanting to show weakness politically, for wanting to develop a stable democratic government without the request of the occupied nation with merely a threat on our emotions called terror and no US interest involved.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fact: Health Insurance Doesn't Equal Better Health Care

Soon, very soon the SCOTUS will hear arguments for and against President Obama’s Health Care Law. The central target of debate will be the “minimum coverage requirement.” Most folk call it the “individual mandate.” Opponents assert that by requiring or mandating by law for people to have to buy a service or product such as insurance may lead to laws that will allow the government to make folk purchase anything.

When I first read the 2300 plus page proposal some call “Obamacare,” I did not read anything that really served to improve health outcomes. It did and still doesn’t include dental or eye care, which I find bazaar. Also, if anything is essential for improved health care it is nutrition (food) more so than having insurance.

On occasion, I spoke with folks regarding the President’s efforts in an attempt to facilitate a cogent discussion of his plan and its desired outcome. However, no one I came across had ever read the bill and knew nothing of its specifics. I agree that something needs to be done; especially in economic terms and given that the disparities in health in the US in terms of race and ethnicity are in dire need of serious action and attention. Moreover, the US Medicare/Medicaid budget has ballooned by most estimates from $600 billion in 2008 to $740 billion in 2010. Not to mention that long term unemployed without unemployment benefits become eligible for Medicaid currently. It is estimated that the US spends 16 percent of its GDP on health care alone – two times more than Japan and 60 percent more than German, yet we are less healthy than either of these nations. At this rate, morbidity and mortality aside, more than half (my math) of the federal budget will account for health care by 2020.

The logic is infallible. Obama’s plan, issues concerning liberty and the individual mandate aside, is not a health plan, doesn’t address issues of increased cost or affects improved health care or better outcomes. To assert the supposition it does is like saying having auto insurance decreases accidents. It is not an issue of health insurance because our entire health care delivery system is what needs fixing. Ample data suggest that even if people have insurance it will not deal with core problems like the fact that Americans spend more than $700 billion each year, or 5 percent of gross domestic product, on medical services of no discernible value – that are unnecessary. As I stated, “insurance is not the same as health care.” Successful reforms in health delivery must target providing incentives for doctors and patients to control costs and experiment with alternative, more effective ways to deliver health care. The logic that it is the growing population of the uninsured that are driving health care costs higher is not true. More impactful are raising costs and a health insurance market in which the people will continue to be the victims as opposed to the benefactors.

Obama’s plan, albeit an effort more to fix the problem than the GOP, doesn’t deal with cost at all; it only assures insurance companies make more money. It doesn’t obviate or change present practices that allow health care providers to make more money for poor delivery practices. It provides no incentives for the issuance of quality care although research documents that inefficient medical practices, including of asking for unneeded procedures only result in providers making higher profits and poor health outcomes for patients. Nothing in the bill “mandates” that cost is provided up front to patients for procedures before application (like paying a plumber up front to do work without knows what work will be done or even if it is required to fix the problem.)

Maybe it should be expected that the health insurance lobby would win out over the people on Main Street. Most of the Law’s support outside of democrats comes from big time K street lobbyist. These include Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (which alone spent $26.1 million lobbying for Obamacare in 2009) and also paid for a multimillion dollar ad blitz in districts of potential swing Democrats to help secure passage and some of the largest health insurance providers in the country: UnitedHealth Group, WellPoint, Aetna, Humana and Cigna.

Ever since the healthcare debate began over a year ago, shares of Cigna, UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint have been up an average of 120%. When the bill passed and became law, health insurer’s stocks soared for Aetna (had a 52 week high) and Cigna (increased 375% compared to 46% for the stock market overall since November 2008). The same was true for Health provider corporations, seeing that just one day after the passage of the bill, shares of Health Management Associates, Tenet Healthcare and Community Health Systems all jumped 11%, 9%, and 6% respectively. But again, it only makes sense when America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) - a national political advocacy and trade association for the health insurance industry favored universal coverage and supported the law.

Like I said, I applaud the President’s attempt, but rational folks should know that we are still not addressing the problem of rising out of control health care cost, issues with Medicare or Medicaid eventually insolvency and improving healthcare outcomes for American citizens. If anything, the singular certainty is that insurance and hospital corporations will get richer while we get sicker. To date, The World Health Report 2000, Health Systems: Improving Performance, ranked the U.S. health care system 37th in the world.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Santorum’s Positions Reminiscent of Jim Crow

It is not farfetched for me to see Rick Santorum living in America some 160 years ago, comfortable in his conservatism appreciative and accepting of the status quo. Maybe this why he resonates so clearly with a large corpus of benighted lunatics that cherish his every word. No doubt, Santorum as his supports would be more comfortable and would prefer to live in a world in which African descendants were in bondage or subjugated by institutional laws and policies that kept us in our place. If not during the time of slavery, then certainly Jim Crow America would have suited him fine. Especially given what he said recently on the campaign rail in Mississippi and Alabama.

His persistent focus on social issues and so called “conservative” values is an attempt to show that he is connected with working class conservatives, especially those in the south, evangelicals and Tea baggers. This is why he always makes hidden remarks associated with the historic racist beliefs of his constituency. Santorum once said that America “was great before 1965″ . If you ask me, seeing that Jim Crow ended in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights act, it can be interpreted that America lost its greatness when Jim Crow ended.

I have written before that: “Historians tend to define Jim Crow and/or the period of Jim Crow as a systematic practice of discriminating against and segregating Black people in the America from the end of Reconstruction to the mid-20th century. More specifically, they tend to focus on the South when it was nationwide….Most or many historians like to start the period in the late 1890’s and like to over dramatize the importance of one man purchasing a single train ticket. In 1892, Homer Plessey bought a first-class railroad ticket. They say by doing such he broke the law since we were only allowed to ride only third class in his home state of Louisiana. You know, ye old separate railway accommodations for the races. To make a long story short, the Supreme Court heard, and rejected, Plessey’s challenge. This validated segregation in public facilities and engendered an atmosphere that promulgated even more restrictive Jim Crow laws.”

It is no wonder that many conservatives always desire to make the connect between themselves, Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, who in 1964 associated the civil rights movement with increased lawlessness in America and advised for the nation to get tougher on crime. This was a code phrase basically saying get tough on black folks; after all we were the only one struggling to gain what was proffered by the constitution in particular the thirteenth amendment. A struggle that did not end until Jim Crow was obviated.

Another example of Santorum’s embedded reference to racist political positions are his regular carps pertaining to the role state and federal governments play in running schools. Santorum says he wants to retrench hysterically the power of states and the federal government in public education. In the republican debate in Arizona, he went on the record saying, “Not only do I believe the federal government should get out of the education business, I think the state government should start to get out of the education business and put it back with the local and into the community." For the former senator, US schools are "factories" that are merely "anachronistic" residuals of a past age in American history.

What Santorum has forgotten, or has intentionally overlooked was the need and role of public education in correcting what had manifested as a result of slaver, Jim Crow and the Black Codes. It was under the auspices of the Freedmen’s Bureau created by President Lincoln after the end of the Civil War that aid was provided to former slaves, inclusive of education.

Before the Civil War, no southern state had a system of public education. Former slaves wanted to become educated but whites opposed the idea. By 1866 eleven colleges in southern states had been established for the education of freedmen. More than $5 million to set up schools for blacks which led to more than 90,000 former slaves being enrolled as students in public schools by 1865. So purport that by 1870, there where more than 1,000 schools for freedmen in the South. After this period, when white Democrats regained control of the southern political machine, they reduced funds available to fund public education passed Jim Crow laws in the 1890s that mandated legal segregation of public places.

But this is the hypocrisy of Rick Santorum. On the one hand he states he is misunderstood and that he is for all the people yet his attacks through hidden “white speak” states otherwise. In January 2011, Santorum, addressing President Obama’s denial of personhood to the unborn, stated he was confused of all people, for a “black man to say no, we’re going to decide who people are and who not people are.” Even more strange is that a child has never endured the historical oppression and subjugation proffered either by slavery or Jim Crow? Santorum also conveniently disremembers that black people were considered less than human and subjected to dehumanization since being brought to America against our will.

Rick Santorum is what is wrong with America and not just its politics. It is an overt hypocrisy that focuses on divisive rhetoric of race yet does not have the fortitude to personally admit this is the goal and objective for such inflammatory speech. Thus, it is not unexpected that in Iowa Santorum would boldly assert. “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better” through government aid” and at the same time even with video and audio documentation — conveniently ignoring that only 9 percent of Iowans on food stamps and deny repeatedly he ever made such a statement. He has even stated on Fox News that for Africa Americans "wedlock marriage is an institution... (that is) not desirable for African American males".

These comments are akin to the antiquated statements of David Hume who wrote, “I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There scarcely ever was a civilized nation of that complexion, nor even any individual, eminent either in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures amongst them, no arts, no sciences.” It is similar to the belief of Kant who once wrote that being black was “clear proof that” a man is “stupid.” Santorum ascribes to the belief of Abraham Lincoln who said “there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

Yes indeed, Santorum along with Romney and Gingrich and many in the GOP long to take America Back to the days before the civil rights act and the times of Jim Crow. Otherwise his white speak would have been something other than saying America “was great before 1965." Santorum knows as Lee Atwater once stated, "you start out in 1954 by saying, nigger,nigger,nigger. By 1968 you can't say nigger -- that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like states rights."

Wake up America, we cannot depend on the media to point out such and make critical observations based on the record. As black folk it seem that we are only occupied with politics simply to protect President Obama. We must be more involved than this because limiting ourselves to responsive behaviors and attending to whether Rihanna is getting back with Chris Brown or How much money Whitney Houston’s daughter going to get.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner is sponsoring bill that would mandate men see a sex therapist before getting Viagra.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Black and Illiterate: We Can't Read, But We sure Can Watch TV

Hypothetically, let us assume there is a young man who has just finished school, and he is attempting to decide where he will move on to for his personal professional development. In this process, he meets with several interesting entities, of which many offer him incentives to select their organization, for they see great talent and how he could add to their bottom line in being profitable. In some cases he is wined and dined and set up in expensive hotels with access to host who are female. In others he is given envelopes with money and in one case a backpack or briefcase filled with stacks of money. My question is what is this persons occupation and is it illegal?

A while back I wrote a piece describing the manner in which many African Americans do not take full advantage of social media. In addition I am frequently speaking out to bring attention to the fact that reading is slowly falling off among members in our community. Each time, I obtained vehement ridicule and slander for my assertions, especially when I assert that African Americans watch more television than they read; or that they use cell phones more than any other ethnic/racial population in the United States.

Now a new report has just been released confirming that Blacks watch and spend entirely too much time watching television. Nielsen’s latest State of the Media fact documents that in the second quarter of 2010, the amount of television viewing in the U.S. remains high suggesting that the average person watched more than 143 hours of television per month. African Americans indicated the highest rate of total TV usage, according to study released this past Wednesday.

Based on data collected In November 2010, African Americans used their TVs an average of 7 hours, 12 minutes each day — above the U.S. average of 5 hours, 11 minutes. In addition, African Americans reported using their DVD players and video game consoles more than average. In contrast, Asians watched TV the least, at just 3 hours and 14 minutes a day on average.

This in concert with African Americans being be among the most active users of the mobile web and . On average more than 1,300 a month, may eventually become a problem behavior. Many health problems are the direct result of lack of regular physical activity which African Americans report more than other ethnic racial groups including, Heart Attack, Stroke, Diabetes and High Blood pressure. Do not been mention obesity, for which we know the largest racial/ethnic disparity in obesity is between US-born black women and other ethnic population in America.

Reading is definitely a major concern. A recent study in Wisconsin noted that 91% of Black students are not reading proficiently by 4th grade. These were comparable to findings across the nation. According to the Schott Foundation for Public Education, only 41 percent of African American male youth graduate from high school in the United States and acording to the National Association of Educational Progress, nationally 69 percent of African American children canot read at grade level in the 4th grade compared to 29 percent among whites.

Maybe this is why Africa Americans (including women), albeit just 12% of the U.S. population comprise only 3.2% of lawyers, 3% of doctors, and less than 1% of architects. A strange phenomena when Africans Americans make up 85 percent of the NBA, 68 percent of the NFL and 98 percent of all rappers. This may be an additional sign that we as a community watch too much television and need to read more, for I am certain when they do see African American males, if they are young boys, they are not scientist or people reading books.

Reading as well as regular physical activity is essential for the development of a health mind, body and spirit. Let us move away from the televisions, go outside and pick up a book before it is too late.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Honor amongst Thieves

If one takes a serious look at the recent history of organizations like Lehman Brothers, Countrywide and most recently, MF Global, you start to wonder if what is defined as criminal behavior in the rest of the United States is the same for folks on Wall Street with straight line connections inside the belt way.

Last I understood theft was defined as “a criminal act in which property belonging to another is taken without that person's consent.” It refers to “all crimes in which a person intentionally and fraudulently takes personal property of another without permission or consent and with the intent to convert it to the taker's use.” If this is the case, why hasn’t the Obama Justice Department (to be consistent like the many administrations prior), ever prosecuted anyone know or documented to have run an establishment involved in for what my folk would call plain on stealing?

There are several levels of punishment ascribed to theft, most of which are based on the type and the value of the stolen property: the moist common being imprisonment. Grand theft is generally punishable by imprisonment in state prison. Petty theft is generally punishable by imprisonment in county jail. This is normally applied for thefts in value of $400 or more depending on the state. Embezzlement, which happens when an employee takes personal possession of money or property that was originally intended for their employer, as well as fraud which occurs when someone tricks a victim into voluntarily handing over money or property, are both forms of Grand theft.

In New York, grand theft is defined as larceny and specific statues are on the books(S 155.05). Larceny defined includes when “a person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof. It also includes “wrongful taking, obtaining or withholding of another`s property,” by trespassory taking, common law larceny by trick, embezzlement, or obtaining property by false pretenses.” If the aforementioned is the law then it should be asked why has no charge or charges ever been brought up against the likes of on Angelo Mozilo, Richard Fuld, or Joe Corzine by the Attorney General of the United States? It is not like there is no evidence or paper trail evident from their “obtaining property by false pretenses.”

Let us examine Angelo Mozilo, the former chairman and chief executive of Countrywide who was accused of insider trading. He was the focus of a Securities and Exchange Commission's fraud case also involving former CFO Eric P. Sieracki and two other executives and former President David Sambol. All were accused of misleading investors in the years 2005 through 2007 when it was acyualy on a path to bankruptcy when it was acquired in 2008 by Bank of America Corp. In 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Mozilo with securities fraud for deliberately misleading investors about the significant credit risks being taken in efforts to build and maintain the company's market share and additionally charged with insider trading for selling his Countrywide stock based on non-public information for nearly $140 million in profits.

As a consequence in 2010 Mozilo paid a record $22.5 million penalty to settle the charges that he misled investors as the subprime mortgage crisis emerged and was also permanently barred from ever again serving as an officer or director of a publicly traded company. He also agreed to $45 million in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains to settle the SEC’s disclosure violation and insider trading charges.

The second example deals with what happened to Richard Fuld, who was chief executive of Lehman Brothers when it went bankrupt. One of the strange issues with this that federal banking regulators were aware of all that was happening at Lehman Brothers months prior to its demise. Many believed that Fuld had sold $482 million worth of his Lehman stock between 2000 and 2007. Even a team of researchers at Harvard Law School noted that between 2000 and 2007, Fuld cashed in Lehman shares worth $461 million and received cash bonuses of $61.6 million. The question still remains, why did the Federal Reserve and US Treasury enable this process and still need to bail them out without charging Fuld with any criminal wrong doing? He had to know things his investors didn’t since he was able to cash in on Lehman Brothers stock before it true value was released to the public.

Lastly, there is former democratic Jon Corzine, the former Governor of the state of New Jersey from 2006 to 2010 and a five year member of the U.S. Senate prior to being the governor. Before that he was the former CEO of Goldman Sachs and after his life of politics he became them CEO of MF Global.

MF global has filed for bankruptcy over the past several periods due to what can only be described as “theft.” The way the company made money was by trading complex financial instruments called “repurchase agreements.” In the process (after losing a bundle of loot in guess wrong on these investments) the company reportedly “misplaced” over $1.2 billion from 36,000 customer accounts. Not to mention that the company under Corzine’s leadership took funds from customer that remained — to the tune of $700 million — to make up for the shortfall without their permission. Corzine and his folks informed congress that they didn’t know where all that $1.2 billion went (eventually $1.6 billion). In summary, in October 2011, before it entered bankruptcy proceedings, its executives took money from segregated customer accounts to prop up its rapidly collapsing business resulting in $1.6 billion is missing with virtually no chance that the full amount will ever be recovered.

Like Fuld and Mozilo, It’s not clear that the MF Global crooks will ever be prosecuted . It is more likely that he will not face any criminal charges although he committed criminal acts to the tune of 1.6 billion in theft. That is like stealing Cowboy stadium and not going to prison, or a hanger with 1 million U.S. Drones.

I cannot say why the Obama administration has not or appears to ferment limited if any desire to prosecute thieves of the likes listed above. Maybe it is the fear that prosecuting folks likes Fuld or Corzine will hurt his re-election. This past February, President Barack Obama's re-election campaign identified its top fundraisers including 61 people who each raised at least half a million dollars. Corzine, was a big fund-raiser for the president. In fact, Corzine was in the highest category for Obama fund raisers reporting that he had raised more than $500,000 for the campaign, most of which were collected at a $35,800 per ticket fundraiser that he hosted at his wife’s Fifth Avenue apartment in April 2010.

Richard Fuld is also a long-time Barack Obama along with dozens of other former Lehman Brothers Executives, such as John Rhea - (over $500,000) Co-Head of Lehman Bros. Global Investment Banking, and Mark Gilbert - (over $500,000) Lehman Brothers Senior Executive. I would even bet if some stuff hit the fan involving Goldman Sachs, there would be no investigation let alone criminal charges or penalties levied against their seeing that the executives of Goldman Sachs have contributed more than $691,000 to the Obama campaign.

I don’t ever suspect any criminals will be charged in America who steals billions. It actually reminds me of a saying I have heard over the years. It is either “there is even honor among thieves” or "there is no honor among thieves.” I guess it implies something iniquitous, that even corrupt or bad people sometimes have a sense of honor or integrity, or justice; or that thieves steal and that honor in this case means loyalty, suggesting that it is not good to disrupt the team. I guess in summation, regardless of the theft lying thieving bastards can trust each other and will never turn on their own kind, whether on Wall Street, inside the beltway, or democrat or republican.

NOTE-Correction, Christine Forester -never worked for Lehman Brothers (has been removed).