Thursday, July 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday Presents - Mike Steele In The Hour Of Chaos

Former head of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, is trying to give Reince Priebus the business for not standing up to the racist bigotry of Donald Trump.  But there was a time when Steele was the head of the RNC, and had his own problems with a racist entertainer.  How did that turn out?  Well, Pepperidge Farms remembers, and so do I.


Part 2 of an ongoing series, "Mike Steele In The Hour of Chaos"... heh...

(This was the second of three pieces I wrote on Steele)

Pardon me, but I'm having way too much fun enjoying the Republican Party's circular firing squad open fire on each other. In a brief moment of leadership, RNC Chairman tried to wander off the plantation and actually declare that he, not Rush Limbaugh, is the de facto leader of the Republican Party. In an interview with DL Hughley (on Hughley's CNN show - which has been bad, from little I've seen... but this particular episode featured Public Enemy's Chuck D), Steele seemed to have grown a pair when he said:
"I'm the de facto leader of the Republican Party..."

He went on to say that Limbaugh's show is "incendiary" and "ugly", and that Rush was a mere entertainer.

Well, Rush didn't take it too well that one of his boys got downright uppity. Rush responded by saying this:
"So I am an entertainer and I have 20 million listeners because of my great song and dance routine... Michael Steele, you are head of the Republican National Committee. You are not head of the Republican party. Tens of millions of conservatives and Republicans have nothing to do with the Republican National Committee...and when you call them asking for money, they hang up on you." sentiments exactly... sentiments exactly...

Here is Steele's first chance to assert himself as the leader of the Republican Party, in name and in deed. Here is his chance to begin to reclaim the party, and rescue it from the neanderthals, the miscreants, the racists, and the troglodytes. Here is his chance to prove that the Republican Party is ready for a change, and ready to act in the best interests of the country, and not rely on petty partisan crapola. RNC Chairman Michael Steele, the floor is yours.
My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Steele said in a telephone interview. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.

Oh Mikey... Epic Fail on your part... falling on your face like that...

Steele goes on to say:
“I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren’t what I was thinking... It was one of those things where I thinking I was saying one thing, and it came out differently. What I was trying to say was a lot of people … want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he’s not."

“I’m not going to engage these guys and sit back and provide them the popcorn for a fight between me and Rush Limbaugh ...No such thing is going to happen. … I wasn’t trying to slam him or anything.”

“He brings a very important message to the American people to wake up and pay attention to what the administration is doing ...Number two, there are those out there who want to look at what he’s saying as incendiary and divisive and ugly. That’s what I was trying to say. It didn’t come out that way. … He does what he does best, which is provoke: He provokes thought, he provokes the left. And they’re clearly the ones who are most excited about him.”

Asked if he planned to apologize, Steele said: “I wasn’t trying to offend anybody. So, yeah, if he’s offended, I’d say: Look, I’m not in the business of hurting people’s feelings here. … My job is to try to bring us all together.”

And there it is. When Steele dares to wander too far from the plantation, we can count on Rush to execute his St. Ronald of Reagan Pimp Hand, to get Steele back into line. Make that money for Big Daddy Rush, Mikey... make that money. And don't let Rush catch you on some reckless eyeballin'... the GOPimp Hand will be back to remind you of your place.

Now... dance, boy.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

"I Want My Country Back" - Revisiting What Got Us Here

I wrote this back in 2009.  It's not that difficult to see where Dylann Roof got some of his ideas.  And my prayers continue to go out to all of the Emanuel AME Church family and community.

Now, let's fire up the Shut'cher Gobbige Mowf Wayback Machine...

It's the next great Battle Cry of the Stupid Conservative.

Sean Hannity

Glenn Beck

Katy Abrams (circled)

What do all of these people have in common? They, and others like them, have been complaining as loudly as they can that because of Barack Obama's Presidency and his daring to reform health care, he is transforming America in ways that make them sick. They have all been grabbing open mikes and shrieking into them that "This is not the America I grew up in!" These folks have corrupted legitimate town-hall discussions that the Democratic Party members are trying to sponsor. The very idea of health care reform for people who can't afford health care is so ghastly, so unimaginable, so downright heinous that it's just... just... it's just unamerican, that's what it is. At least, that's what the people who utter these sentiments would have you believe.

This post isn't about the merits of health care, or the pluses and minuses of the Single Payer Option. This post is about hatred. Violent, intense hatred that is bubbling its way to the surface... hatred that is formed in a cauldron of ignorance, boiling into a witches' brew of potential violence and unrest, being stirred by witches straight out of Shakespearean lore. What is it that have their collective panties in a huge bunch? Is it health care? Is it war? Is it the economy? None of the above, my friends. The thing that has angered up the blood of these people... the thing that has some white people feeling like America is being snatched from them (the irony of them complaining about America being taken from them is so rich that it oughta be poured on pancakes and served with cheese eggs and sausage or bacon... now I'm all hungry... but I digress)... the common denominator that has all of these people showing up at health care rallies carrying GUNS...

 these rallies... the common denominator is an African-American President of the United States.

These people want us to believe that they're being good, patriotic citizens who are exercising their rights to free speech. To them, I say "Shet'cher gobbige mowf!" The fact is that I don't care who you are, or where you're from, you bring a gun as a SHOW OF FORCE. You bring a gun if you feel SERIOUSLY THREATENED, and not just because a liberal President wants to make sure that an unemployed person won't go bankrupt because they have to go to the doctor. The person on the right was carrying a sign quoting Thomas Jefferson. The quote is pictured here:

Now, on the surface, a quote from Thomas Jefferson is downright patriotic. But the ominous undertone of this sign is getting everyone's attention. You see, this quote is very popular among the right-wing militias. It was also on a t-shirt worn by Timothy McVeigh. Some things may be coincidence. This, however, isn't one of them. A man coming to protest health care sponsored by the President by carrying a gun and a sign with a slogan favored by a domestic terrorist? Sheer coincidence? Right, and I have some oceanfront property in Chicago that I'm willing to unload, cheap.

Back to the original point here, these people are angry that a Black man has gotten way past uppity to the point where he is taking America away from them. These people lament about the America they grew up in... you mean the America with attack dogs and firehoses turned on Black people, Black churches bombed with horrifying regularity, lynchings being as commonplace as church meetings? You mean the America where women were seen at their best when they were barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen? The election of President Obama appears to be the crowning moment of privileged white people's tenuous grip on America. They want to go back to the days of "Pleasantville" and "Andy Griffith", and they want ALL of us to believe that America was better then.

Ask Emmit Till about that America. Ask Malcolm X. Ask Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Ask the four little girls who were attending church in Alabama. Ask the thousands who became the "Strange Fruit" that Billie Holliday sang about.

What's that? You CAN'T? Gee, I wonder why. After all, they were just as much a part of "that America" as the images of "Happy Days" and drive-thru diners. The horrors of violence for the sake of keeping the status quo is just about as American as apple pie.

It seems that the election of President Obama has gotten these racists to be bolder about their racism. It began to rear its ugly head during the campaign (there are plenty of videos of Palin/McCain supporters spewing their ugliness in the form of "kill him" and "terrorist"). And as Obama continues to move forward in his Presidency, the cute little whispers by the neo-cons have become all-out rallying cries. They feel that the President isn't a U.S. citizen. They feel that he is secretly a Muslim... or a practitioner of Liberation Theology. "Their America" now has a Black man as a commander-in-chief, and they are scared. They are angry. And as these rallies (again, HEALTH CARE REFORM rallies) demonstrate just how mad they are. Mad enough to accuse the President of ushering in a terrible wave of socialism. Mad enough to say "Heil Hitler" to a Jewish man who was supporting Israel's nationalized health care. Mad enough to shout that their country is being taken away.

Mad enough to carry loaded weapons to a health care rally.

Now, when Bush was President, the Left gave him a lot of "Hitler" grief. But I think that the difference between the Left and the Right is that the Right has more elected officials and serious media sponsors to support, promote, and disseminate the dangerous propaganda that's polluting political discourse. When you have elected officials, people like Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, and industry lobbyists all working together to undermine the efforts of the President and paint him as an enemy of the people or some sort of exotic foreign outsider causing trouble, things can only get worse. Very tragically worse.

Just think... with the last administration, people got arrested for wearing ANTI-BUSH T-SHIRTS. Now, you have protesters coming into the picture armed and ready for a fight... even if they have to be the ones that start it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Let's Ban A.P. History! (Or, The Perils Of Whitewashing American History)

On a Facebook discussion about Oklahoma looking to ban A.P. History, a person suggested that every country has blood on its hands, as a precursor to the old-fashioned "American Exceptionalism" argument.  I then said, jokingly, "Is this the part where we should be thankful for the horrors of the TransAtlantic Slave Trade?"  

She responded with this:

// Ty, are you personally better off because your ancestors where brought here in a slave ship? That's only for you to answer. I know I'm better off because my ancestors escaped disease, tyranny and persecution from their homeland. However we got here, we are here now.

I think the real question is today; Are you personally better off than your relatives in the home of your ancestors? What would your answer be? //

And this was my answer:

I'm going to attempt to answer this as objectively as possible, without snark or sarcasm.

Your phrase about your ancestors ESCAPING disease, tyranny, and disease should tell you about the fundamental differences in our perspectives, and why the study of REAL, unbiased history is important. Your ancestors ESCAPED tyranny. MINE were brought INTO tyranny. Everything in this country that my ancestors and forefathers have, we fought for, tooth and nail, and shed blood, sweat, and tears.

As a Black man and as a Christian, I am often confronted with the over-simplification of being "thankful" for slavery. Pet Negro Apologists like Jesse Lee Peterson try to minimize the horrors that my ancestors were subjected to in the belly of the slave ships. They want the white Conservatives that they are trying to appease to believe that it was simply a "mere inconvenience" that our people were stuffed into the hulls of slave ships, because after all, they got a free cruise out of the deal. You think I'm exaggerating, but I've heard Black conservatives say terrifyingly similar things.

Then you say "However we got here, we are here now" which completely whitewashes (no pun intended) how we GOT here. Part of "however we got here" included the slavemasters, the government, and even the Pope using the faith that I profess (Christianity) as a tool of subjugation and dehumanization. Would you tell the Native Americans "we are here now" when they were here before ANY of us? "However we got here" included a United States Supreme Court justice say, from the bench, that a Black man does not have any rights that white people are obligated to recognize. "However we got here" includes a long and bloody history of lynchings for such crimes as looking at white women and voting. "However we got here" included the bombing of a Black church, killing four little girls. "However we got here" included the assassinations of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and scores of others. "However we got here" included segregated facilities. "However we got here" included firehoses and police dogs turned on Black people for fighting for HUMAN RIGHTS. "However we got here" included the obliteration of prosperous Black communities like Rosewood and Black Wall Street (something that, when I was in school, wasn't taught).

Then you ask if I am better off that my relatives in the home of my ancestors. This is a question that attempts to over-simplify the historical significance, and it attempts to say (at least to me) that the ends justified the means. Oh, we have a Black President now, so sorry about that whole Jim Crow thing... we good, right? Hey, we have Colin Powell and Condeleeza Rice! That makes up for the midnight rides of the Ku Klux Klan, right? Going back to the Native Americans, would you ask them if they are better off now than they were before we (collectively) took their homeland and wiped out their people? You're basically asking if the recipients of genocide would be better off as a RESULT of that genocide.

And to answer your question, I don't know if I would be better off than my relatives in Africa... because I don't know who my "people" are. A lot of us don't have the luxury of tracing our genealogy back to when they graced this country's shore. That's because back then, a lot of us were treated as cargo. As property. As objects. As inventory. Remember, families were broken up if a slave master wanted a young buck male for field work, but another master wanted a "little nigger wench" to warm his bed at night.

This... ALL of this is why people are upset that conservatives want to rewrite American History to emphasize just how great the founding fathers were, and to ignore the bloodshed and sacrifices that it took to get us to this point. If we want to learn about American History, we need to learn all of it, and learn it ACCURATELY. When conservatives want to act as if this country was founded as a Christian one (which it wasn't, and can be proven both historically and Biblically), we owe it to EVERY drop of blood dropped to assure that EVERY story gets told CORRECTLY, warts and all. There's no direct lineage from Moses to Jesus Christ to St. Ronald of Reagan, despite what Republicans try to tell us. If we can celebrate D-Day, and think solemnly of Pearl Harbor and 9/11, then we can also celebrate EVERY nation's contribution to this country, and how people from different backgrounds succeeded not BECAUSE of America, but IN SPITE of her.


tl;dr:  Every vote counts, because if you don't vote, you let the winners write the history books, and write you right out of them, because 'Murika.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy MLK Day, Dinesh D'Souza...

Dinesh D'Souza is a reprehensible toad, a liar, a propaganda specialist, and a convicted felon, convicted of voter fraud.

I may be a convicted felon, and it may be due to voter fraud, but I still know what's best for 'Murika...

 Today, we honor the legacy and memory of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  D'Souza, who couldn't resist an opportunity to try to co-opt the legacy of Dr. King, posted a picture to his Facebook page, with the caption saying:

How I wish we had a Martin Luther King today instead of thugs and scam-artists like Sharpton, Jackson, Holder—and Obama.
The legacy of Dr. King is something that I hold near and dear.  I refused to let this piece of tripe pass without offering my humble opinion.  On his wall, I posted:
Oh no you don't. Dr. King fought AGAINST some of the things that your ilk look to preserve. Remember that before Dr. King was assassinated, he was lending his support to PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS in Memphis, Tennessee. So, are you going to tell me that you and your type are suddenly in favor of worker rights and public sector unions? You and your ilk love to cherry-pick your favorite part of Dr. King's iconic "I Have A Dream Speech", just so that you can bastardize your favorite part about the "content of one's character." It's too bad that you are so manipulative and short-sighted in your quest to claim Dr. King as one of your own that you fail to listen to the ENTIRE speech, as well as other brilliant speeches and writings by the eminent Dr. King.

Do you think that Dr. King would be in favor of the suppression of voter rights that took place after the decimation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965? Do you think that Dr. King would support the idea of the wealthy not paying their fair share of income taxes? Do you think that Dr. King would march in support of robbing the public sector of basic social services? Do you think that Dr. King would villainize the poor as "moochers and takers"? For the love of God, stop it. You make me sick.

And does someone who is now known as a CONVICTED FELON for VOTER FRAUD really want to throw stones about who may or may not be a SCAM ARTIST?! Instead of trying to co-opt the legacy of Dr. King for your own self-serving needs, you should be spending time thanking God that you're not posting from a prison cell while waiting for Fleece Johnson to trade you for a pack of cigarettes.

I won't let any Republican/conservative try to co-opt the legacy of Dr. King, just to claim that he was one of their very own.  Not on my watch.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Attacking False Equivalencies, Part 1 - Why Don't They Protest In Their Own Neighborhoods?

The Ferguson grand jury no-billed an indictment on Officer Darren Wilson.  And immediately, the protests began.  As with anything race-related in this country, whenever something happens, someone always comes up with a false equivalency.

First, let's look at the definition.
False equivalence is a logical fallacy which describes a situation where there is a logical and apparent equivalence, but when in fact there is none.
The first false equivalency that I want to explore is "Why don't Black people protest when other Black people are killed?"  You also hear things like "Where's Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton?", and we'll get to those later.

Whenever there are nationwide protests over some sort of malfeasance (usually in the form of a civil rights violation), someone ALWAYS asks about protests in the Black neighborhoods.  And most on the Right usually, and smugly assume that there ARE no protests in the Black neighborhoods, because no one cares about Black neighborhoods unless there's a white person involved.

Let's dispel this myth right now.

First, let's look at the tragic death of Hadiya Pendleton.  When she was murdered, she wasn't killed by a rogue cop, or a racist.  She wasn't a victim of Chicago's Finest, or the Boys in blue.  She was a victim of gang violence.  There was community outrage, and this story received the attention of President Obama (Pendleton had just performed with her drum majorette corps as part of President Obama's second inauguration).  And yes, there was plenty of community outrage about it.

Then, there's the story of Blair Holt.  This young man was killed on a CTA bus, by a gang-banger.  Again, no cops took this young man's life, and the community was still outraged.  The killer is serving a 100-year sentence for cutting this man's life short.

These are just the prominent stories that make national headlines.  Whenever there is a shooting, the people in the community ARE angry.  They ARE outraged.  It's obscene to act as if the people in these neighborhoods are just twiddling their thumbs when young lives are snuffed out.  Just because it doesn't make the news, or just because the Right-wing bobbleheads aren't blabbing about it, doesn't mean that people aren't angry.

Because they are.

When it comes to local outrage that rarely makes national headlines, there is really one name that shuts the entire argument down.  That name is Father Michael Pfleger, of the Faith Community of St. Sabina.  This man is always on the front lines, making calls to action when violence rears his ugly head.  If I were Catholic, he'd be my priest.  If you peruse his Facebook page, you will see commentary after commentary about how violence is tearing this community apart.  You will see invitations to fellowship.  You will see him call the media out about flooding the cities with stories of ISIS and what have you, with little to no mention about shootings that take place on a given weekend.

Yes, local people are angry about violence in the community.  And yes, we don't need "permission" to march or protest, and we don't necessarily need the spotlight.  I know this because I participated in one such march, assembled by the Roseland Christian Reformed Church.  We marched around a few blocks in Roseland, and the march ended at a shooting victim's house.  Other churches were there, as well.  One of the things that I distinctly remember was how some of the Roseland residents (my community, by the way) giving us thumbs-up and cheering us on as we marched for community pride in an effort to take the streets back. 

These responses are not isolated incidents, and I'm quite sure that they are not limited to just the Chicago area.  People are angry, and people are looking for answers.  And yes, people are angry and looking for answers when the violence comes from within the community.

So, from this point forward, you can kindly shut'cher gobbige mowf if you think that police brutality or civil rights violations are the only times that people in our communities make their voices heard.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday Presents: The Rebirth Of A Nation -- The RNC Propaganda Piece Disguised As A Tribute Video

Note:  This was written in September, 2008.  This was in response to the GOP snuff film disguised as a tribute to 9/11.

Propaganda. It's defined as "A concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of large numbers of people." To add a little bit to the context of what I will discuss, I will take it one step further.

Hate Propaganda. It's defined as "...the systematic dissemination of doctrine, rumour or selected information to promote or injure a particular race, color, ethnicity, religion or national origin."

The Republican Party just finished their National Convention, in which John S. McCain and Sarah Palin were officially nominated as the Republican candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. Now, there is much to be said about McCain, Palin, how she was picked, whether or not McCain is ready, whether or not Palin is qualified, etc. ad nauseum. But this isn't about those two, specifically. This is about a piece of propaganda that aired during the Convention. The piece was propaganda on the same level as D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation." If you're not aware of the film, it was basically a recruitment film for the Ku Klux Klan. Don't believe me?
This is the poster.

So yes, "The Birth of a Nation" is not exactly progressive in it's approach to race relations. What does this film have to do with the Republican National Convention's "Tribute To 9/11 Video"? Absolutely everything. If you wish, you can click here to see it in its entirety. The link also has journalism's Prophet of Rage, Keith Olbermann apologizing on behalf of his network. Olbermann may have one of his patented Special Commentaries about this, but I decided that I couldn't wait for Olbermann to express what I was feeling. Let's begin.

The piece is supposed to be a "Tribute To 9/11."

See? It says it right there: "9/11 Video Tribute."

The house lights dim, and an ominous piano sets the stage for what we're about to see. So, how does this Tribute To 9/11 begin? Of course, it should begin with showing the courageous efforts of First Responders, the police, the military, and common everyday citizens showing remarkable courage in the face of an unforeseen catastrophe. That's what a tribute's supposed to be, right? Well, THIS piece of propaganda filth begins with...
A shot from the Iran Hostage Crisis. The ominous Narrator of Doom tells us "The first attack occurred in Iran... 444 days America held hostage."

Stop right there. My first reaction was that, as usual, the Republicans in this God-awful administration are tying together pieces that have nothing to do with each other. I first thought "What does the Iran Hostage Crisis have to do with 9/11?" If you said "nothing", then you get a silver star. However, if you dig a little deeper, you'll see that this video is designed to anger up the blood against Iran, who is on President Bush's "Axis of Evil." Pretty sneaky, sis. They are reminding us about how we were attacked by Al Qaeda by opening with images of Iranians holding Americans hostage. In other words, the Right is hammering the point home that Iranians are bad, too. The Republican Party sets the tone by tying an event from 1981 to the United States being attacked on 9/11. It's clever in its wickedness.

They move on from there to show all sorts of shots of terrorists rallying against the country, including this one:
...and the narrator reminds us that those big bad terrorists have been always pushing our buttons. The attack on the USS Cole is pictured, but the attack on U.S. troops in Beirut was oddly missing. My speculation is that since this attack happened under the watch of President and Patron Saint Ronald Reagan, it would undermine the current theme of this film. Even if it's not the case, it's strangely odd that an attack that killed 241 American servicemen was not featured as part of how "the terrorists" have been picking on poor ol' U.S.A. A shot of this terrorist is also featured in the video: remember him, right? Osama bin Laden? The guy who actually ORCHESTRATED 9/11?!? The guy who is still making "Death To America" mixtapes in the caves of Afghanistan and/or Pakistan? Moving on...

Then, we get to the meat of this propaganda sammich.

Clips from the destruction of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are shown over... and over... and over again.
Is it really a tribute to show horrific catastrophes over and over again? That's not a tribute, to me. That's like showing a tribute to police officers by airing footage of them being killed in action, or showing a tribute to firemen by watching a burning structure collapse on them and entomb them. What's next? A tribute to Hiroshima by showing mushroom clouds and the entire region being vaporized? A tribute to JFK by showing the assassin's bullet ripping his skull open? The Ominous Narrator chimes in on the attacks, and accompanies the footage by saying "...and kill us, they did. This time, on American soil. The date was September 11. 9/11." To bring the point home, the Evil Narrator of Doom also reminds the good citizens of the Republican Party of some more points, that need to be analyzed and dissected before it's swallowed whole like the poison it is.

Quote: "This enemy sworn to our destruction has been at war with us for decades. This we now know."
Analysis: For one, "decades" is a bit of a stretch, especially in the context of this video. The video opens with the Iran Hostage Crisis, which is about as far from 9/11 on every aspect as President Bush is from competence as a President. Remember, Al Qaeda is NOT based in Iran, and there wasn't even such a thing AS Al-Qaeda when the U.S. hostages were taken. Furthermore, it should be noted that the U.S. hostages were freed in the absolutely scandalous Iran-Contra Affair, in which "members of the Executive Branch (of the United States Government) sold weapons to Iran in exchange for hostages." It's not only disingenuous to paint Obama's ideas as appeasement, but it's downright hypocritical, seeing as how the Republicans TRADED WEAPONS WITH OUR "ENEMY."

The "decades" line is also a lie because the first public reference to Al Qaeda occurred in 1998, under an Executive Order from Bill Clinton, two weeks after the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Furthermore, the first attack involving Osama bin Laden occurred around 1992, when bin Laden attacked a hotel.

This "decades" line is a propaganda piece because it lumps any Islamic faction that has anything to do with enmity of the U.S. into one lump of "Islamofascist terrorism." This video fans the flames of xenophobia wrapped in the comfortable blanket of Old Glory. It fails to underscore the differences between the Iranians that held the U.S. hostage, Al Qaeda, and Iraq. It also misleads the average person into ignoring how Americans' own actions precluded the Iranian Hostage Crisis and the attack on 9/11.

"We know this now" is another problematic phrase, because it misleads the average person into believing that we were blindsided and 'poor old Uncle Sam' was minding its own business when the bad guys attacked. But the Iranian Hostage Crisis...
...was seen by many as a blow against U.S. influence in Iran and its support of the recently fallen Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who had been restored to power by a CIA-funded coup in 1953 and who had recently been allowed into the United States for cancer treatment.
Furthermore, a little research into Al Qaeda shows that its origin started as a result of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, that began in 1978. At the time, and leading into the 1980's, the Soviet Union was the big bully on the global block. And the U.S., wanting to stop the spread of Communism, did its part by funding the mujahedeen and the Taliban through Pakistan. So, once again, the U.S. sowed the seeds of terrorism by funding groups that would eventually turn on her. But the U.S. has yet to reap the whirlwind.

Trouble began to brew according to this account:
Following the Soviet Union's withdrawal from Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 had put the country of Saudi Arabia and its ruling House of Saud at risk as Saudi's most valuable oil fields (Hama) were within easy striking distance of Iraqi forces in Kuwait,[60] and Saddam's call to pan-Arab/Islamism could potentially rally internal dissent. In the face of a seemingly massive Iraqi military presence, Saudi Arabia's own forces were well armed but far outnumbered. Bin Laden offered the services of his mujahedeen to King Fahd to protect Saudi Arabia from the Iraqi army. The Saudi monarch refused bin Laden's offer, opting instead to allow U.S. and allied forces to deploy on Saudi territory.[61]
The deployment angered Bin Laden, as he believed the presence of foreign troops in the "land of the two mosques" (Mecca and Medina) profaned sacred soil. After speaking publicly against the Saudi government for harboring American troops, he was quickly forced into exile to Sudan and on April 9, 1994 his Saudi citizenship was revoked.[62] His family publicly disowned him. There is controversy over whether and to what extent he continued to garner support from members of his family and/or the Saudi government.[63]

There's no need to get into further detail about the events that led to the attack on the World Trade Centers, but bear in mind something else: The Bush Administration had an explicit warning from the Clinton Administration about bin Laden's plans. The Bush Administration did nothing. Absolutely NOTHING. Research will also prove that the line from the film where the Evil Narrator says "It is a war we never chose to fight ...for too long, we looked the other way" is equally misleading. We only looked the other way after we interfered in matters that were none of our concern. We kicked the kerosene lamp onto a bundle of hay and we looked the other way when the structure burned to the ground. We lit the short fuse on a catastrophic bomb, and looked the other way when the bomb exploded. We looked the other way, like a bully would after wreaking havoc. We then feign surprise when the people we bully decide to fight back. "We never chose to fight"? Hardly. We chose to interfere. We chose to sow poisonous seeds, and we can't take it when we reap cataclysmic fruit.

And lest you forget just how low the Republicans will go in order to tug at the heartstrings of the simple minded, the film includes graphic photos like this:
What better way to show just how horrific the events of 9/11 were, than to show blood-stained signs where people were looking for loved ones or paying tribute? To say that this is in bad taste only marks the tip of the iceberg at my disgust for the Republicans. Again, would they show a tribute to a cop by showing a bullet-riddled uniform of a cop killed in a hail of gunfire? Of course not. But there is no problem with them including blood-stained images as a reminder of just how horrific and terrible the attacks were.

The video ends with this image:...and Darth Narrator saying "...the enemy is wrong. This is a war America will win. And we'll have a president that knows how. And... we will never let it happen... again."

Yes, to make sure that you're completely sold on the War on Terror, the propaganda spinmeisters end with footage of the World Trade Center, pre-9/11. And the Darth Narrator's screed underscores the necessity to understand the concept of cause and effect, actions and consequences. "We'll have a president that knows how"... the thinly-veiled implication is that Barack Obama's Presidency will give rise to more attacks on U.S. soil, and that the U.S. will surrender in the War on Terror. First of all, a war on a "belief" or "action" can't be won. You can have victory against Al Qaeda or any other group that's an enemy, but to win a war on "terror", you have to make sure that "terror" is destroyed across the globe. It is utterly impossible to do this, especially with this hamfisted approach to foreign policy.

For example, this criminally negligent administration decided to fight the war on terror (tm) by first circumventing the Constitution of the United States. The congressmen and Senators abdicated their ability to keep the President in check, by giving him the authority to invade Iraq. And as we all know, Iraq has been a complete disaster, even while Republicans crow about the success of "the surge." But what has toppling Saddam Hussein done, but create a power vacuum filled by Al Qaeda insurgents - who HAD NO PRESENCE IN IRAQ PRIOR TO THE U.S. INVASION - who then continued in their civil war. And while we were busy declaring "Mission Accomplished", the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan (remember them?) has been not-so-quietly regaining strength.

"We'll have a president that know how"? Oh, you mean the same future President that declared the following:
How would American troops be greeted? "I believe...that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators." (March 20, 2003)
Did Saddam Hussein have a nuclear program that posed an imminent threat to the United States? "Saddam Hussein is on a crash course to construct a nuclear weapon." ( October 10, 2002)
Will a war with Iraq be long or short? "This conflict is... going to be relatively short." (March 23, 2003)
How is the war going? "I would argue that the next three to six months will be critical." (September 10, 2003)
How is it going (almost two months later, from the war's "greatest critic")? "I think the initial phases of [the war] were so spectacularly successful that it took us all by surprise." (October 31, 2003)
Is this war really necessary? "Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war." (August 30, 2004)
How is it going? (Recurring question for the war's "greatest critic") "We will probably see significant progress in the next six months to a year." (December 4, 2005)
Will the President's "surge" of troops into Baghdad and surrounding areas that the senator had been calling for finally make the difference? "We can know fairly well [whether the surge is working] in a few months." (February 4, 2007)
The same future President that knows how to win a war will be the same future President that declared that Iraq was safe by walking the streets of Baghdad... without mentioning the soldiers, helicopters, and gunships that accompanied him on his leisurely stroll. THIS is the man that the Republicans say "knows how to win." And his second-in-command is a woman whose "foreign policy experience" includes living in Alaska, because it's so close to Russia.

This propaganda is "The Rebirth of a Nation", because it caters to the lowest common denominator of demonizing "radical Islam" by tying all Middle Eastern conflicts to the spectre of the Islamic boogeyman. Just as "The Birth of a Nation" demonstrated how the valiant knights in shining robes known as the Ku Klux Klan will save virtuous White women from the scourge of Black men, "The Rebirth of a Nation" will show how the valiant knights of the Conservative Republican Evangelical movement will save virtuous White Christian citizens from the scourge of Islam, and the scourge of a Black American man with a funny name running for President.

We know better, so we should do better. If we don't act to stop a Bush III Administration, we have to make sure that propaganda such as this is nipped in the bud. It's up to us to understand this video, as well as the election, for what it is... a chance to begin correcting the wrongs of this administration, and an opportunity to return us to credibility on the world stage. This is one Rebirth that we should not allow to happen.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Who Taught You To Hate The Poor?

With apologies to our Shining Black Prince, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, also known as Malcolm X.

You're fine, my brother.

I have been thinking about this for a long, long time.  Finally, it hit me.  That's why I'm paraphrasing Malcolm X's brilliant speech about self-hatred in the Black community to discuss the absolute hatred that some people have for the poor in this country.  It is beyond ridiculous, and it is the antithesis of the Christianity that I profess about, embrace, and preach about.

Who taught you how to hate the poor?  Who taught you that the poor were somehow sub-human, and not worthy of basic things, such as food, shelter, human dignity, and common decency?  Every now and then, the topic of drug-testing people who receive public assistance comes up.  The supporters of this measure rail on and on about how they are sick and tired of their tax dollars are funding a poor person's Cadillac, X-Box, and cocaine habit.  They INSIST that people receiving public assistance MUST prove themselves worthy of the government's generosity, and one of the ways to prove this is by taking a random drug test.  In one discussion, someone actually said that in his "hood", up to 90% of the people on public assistance were drug users.  Now, unless he lived on the set of "The Wire", I'm calling shenanigans on that claim.  

With regards to drug testing people on public assistance, we already have a model on which to base our observations.  We have the state of Florida.  Yep, good ol' Florida, the home of George Zimmerman, "Stand Your Ground", and the place where LeBron James took his talents.  Florida Gov. Voldermort Rick Scott implemented drug testing for people needing assistance in his state.  And to the surprise of no one ever, the results were less than stellar.  A heaping 2.6% of those tested failed the drug test, costing the state an additional $46,000 over the initial $118,000 that it cost to reimburse the people that tested negative.  The state of Utah had similar results.  

Look at me!  I'm a fiscal conservative!  I'll prove it by spending MORE money on tests!  Muah hah hah hah!!!

Even if the results kicked every drug user of the rolls of public assistance (which it didn't), there is a key element that the conservatives always refuse to address. 

FOLLOW THE MONEY.  In the case of Florida, as it turned out, the facilities that conducted the drug tests were owned by Gov. Scott, who then transferred the shares to a trust controlled by his wife.  Conflict of interest, you say?  Pshaw.  There's no conflict of interest when the governor of a state institutes a state-wide drug-testing program, and those tests are to be done at facilities basically owned by his wife.  Why would ANYONE think that there's a conflict of interest?  And of COURSE, it's fiscally responsible to directly benefit from a measure that costs the taxpayers money.  And it really shows that you're compassionate when you require that the poor pay for these tests out of pocket, only to be reimbursed if and when they test negative.

It would be a crying shame if your children didn't eat because you acted like you had something to hide.  Yep, a darned crying shame.  Your children will thank you for your pee.

Drug tests are just one way that the poor are treated with disrespect.  Conservatives act as if the poor are just a bunch of lazy bums, sitting on street corners, demanding handouts.  This sentiment played out during the 2012 Presidential election, when robot Mormon Republican candidate Willardham Mittington Romneyhilliard IV stated that he would never get 47% of the vote, because they are nothing but takers.  Obviously, this didn't sit well with the poor, the middle class, and anyone who has an iota of common sense and decency.  But the rich continue to latch on to this idea that if you're not as rich as a Limbaugh, a Hannity, or a Koch, you are somehow a taker and a leech on society.  They also believe that if you don't think the way they do, you too are a moocher.  Corpulent Gasbag Rush Limbaugh actually stated that the reason why President Obama won was that Romney couldn't compete with "Santa Claus."

But who taught YOU to hate the poor?  Who taught YOU to believe this hyper-partisan, self-serving garbage that the poor are nothing but takers?  My guess is that if you believe this way, you believe that you are one Republican election cycle away from the mystical, mythical unicorn people known as "job creators" opening their offshore jobs war chest, and giving great jobs to everyone.  It's the darned Democratic Party that's forcing the benevolent JOB CREATORS to offshore jobs when they're needed at home.  This argument trickles into raising the minimum wage.  Ironically enough, the same people who condemn the poor for being poor, the same people who act as if poverty is a lifestyle choice, these are the same ones that rail AGAINST a living wage.  It doesn't matter if a person is working their tail off at a minimum wage job, at a company that won't give them full-time hours as a cost-cutting measure (Yay, job creators!).  To the disillusioned people that aren't rich, it's a poor person's own fault if they are poor.  They just haven't applied themselves or gotten the proper education.  That's all fine and good, but what do you tell a person with a master's degree that has taken an entry-level job to make ends meet?  What do you say to the person with years of experience and the education to back it up, but can't find a job?  Who taught you to treat them as if they are lazy bums, wasting away their lives?

I have said it before, and I will say it again.  The people who hate the poor so much and the people who worry about tax costs when it comes to helping the poor, are flat out hypocrites.  It is absolutely hypocritical to rail against the cost of public assistance when you are silent on the tax breaks that billion-dollar companies receive.  It is hypocritical of you to demand accountability for the poor receiving benefits when you are silent regarding jobs being sent offshore.  And it is egregiously and criminally hypocritical to be angry that people receive "your tax dollars" for their benefits, but you don't say one tiny thing about companies like Walmart.  Walmart encourages its entry-level workers to apply for public assistance for their health care needs, effectively shifting the cost of their workers' health care to the taxpayers.  And it's not as if Walmart can't afford to pay its employees a decent wage or provide solid health insurance.  They are a BILLION-DOLLAR company and a corporate monster, laying waste to everything that crosses their path.  But people say NOTHING about Walmart and other companies socializing their health care costs while privatizing their profits.

The High Cost of Low Savings, indeed.

Who taught you to hate the poor?  That hatred certainly isn't Biblical, despite the fact that right-wing Evangelicals treat hating the poor as if it's Scripture.  If it were up to them, Jesus would only heal people if they proved that they were worthy of being healed.  And instead of turning over the tables of the money-lenders in the temple, Jesus would be right along with them, selling "I Was Baptized At The River Jordan and all I got was this lousy t-shirt" merchandise.  Let's go to the scripture that the conservatives love to pull when addressing their disdain for the poor.  2 Thessalonians 3:10 says:

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
Basically, you don't work, you don't eat.  Conservatives act as if everyone who receives public assistance is lazy, and they're just waiting around for their next gubmit handout.  And by quoting this Scripture, they attempt to justify their self-righteousness and their desire to keep the poor from receiving help.  When they quote this scripture, they automatically dismiss people who are working, and yet earn enough to still qualify for public assistance.  They are dismissing the people who CAN'T work, due to catastrophic illness or injury.  They dismiss people who are treating their job hunt as a full-time job, but just can't find work.  They would probably demand drug tests at soup kitchens, if they had their way.

"OK, your tests came back negative.  Enjoy your meal!"

Of course, this is the exact OPPOSITE of everything that Christ teaches.  First of all, it's incredibly condescending to assume that poor = lazy.  Second of all, this scripture does not condemn poverty, as the Apostle Paul is teaching against being idle.  He is teaching that believers should distance themselves from people who are idle and disruptive, and he is teaching that believers should distance themselves from busybodies.  It is bad hermeneutics to try to use this scripture as justification for looking down at the poor.  

But what DOES Jesus say about treating the poor?  I'm glad you asked.
For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.- Matthew 25:42-46
This is the Scripture that the conservatives and their ilk leave out when discussing the poor, legislation, things like unemployment benefits, care for the veterans, and so forth.  There's also another Scripture known as The Golden Rule, which teaches that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  If Republicans followed the teachings of CHRIST, instead of the teachings of Republican Jesus, we wouldn't even be here.
Taken from the Book of Reagan 3:16

Finally, people are constantly complaining that the poor are abusing the system.  This may be true, in that we are all humans, and ANY system is open for abuse.  Whether it's public assistance, the private sector, jobs, or politics, any system that exists is subject to abuse at some point.  But people who abuse the public assistance system are few and far between, and they should be treated accordingly.  Just as we would any other person that abuses whatever systems they're involved with.



Who taught you to hate the poor?  And why didn't they teach you to stop scapegoating the poor because it's easy to do so, and to focus your attention on the people that are actually setting this country on a path towards destruction?  Like the Koch Brothers, and the Tea Party?  After all, if there's ANYONE that deserves the wrath of the general public, it's them.