Sunday, October 24, 2010

Open Season on Muslims

Whether Summer, Winter, Spring, or Fall, apparently any season is a season to openly crack on Muslims and still be in the mainstream of political thought and discourse in the United States of America. Nearly 10 years since the horrendous attacks of September 11, 2001, the rage and discriminatory feelings towards the ENTIRE Muslim faith, and not just the extremist violent wing, don't seem to have dissipated one iota and may even be on the increase. The climate of intolerance towards all Muslims seems to be socially acceptable in all circles. One would expect these thoughts to be acceptable in right-wing circles but  apparently these thoughts have permeated liberal circles as well as is evident by recent happenings.

Well-known and respected journalist and analyst Juan Williams of NPR and Fox News (how's that for serving 2 distinctly different masters), was recently fired from NPR as a result of comments he made on Fox's popular O'Reilly Factor program. Juan apparently felt very comfortable expressing the uneasy feelings that he has whenever he is in an airport and sees someone dressed in traditional Muslim garb (you know, since all Muslims are apparently terrorists). To put the comments of the lone liberal voice of reason of Fox News in its proper perspective, Williams said the following in a discussion with Fox's Bill O'Reilly.

"Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot,” Williams said. “You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."
The left-leaning NPR reacted swiftly and fired Williams shortly after the comments circulated throughout the mainstream media and blogosphere. In light of this firing, many have jumped to Williams defense, including Williams himself, by claiming that  this amounts to "censorship" and "political correctness gone wild". Really Juan ? REALLY ? As a black man, you more than any other should fully realize the dangers of associating the actions of a few with the whole. Do the actions of Crips & Bloods gang-banging in South Central Los Angeles in ANY WAY reflect on you as a man and a professional ? OF COURSE NOT !! Juan, I wonder what your reaction would've been if another notable journalist and analyst had said:
"You know Bill, I'm no racist. I have several black friends and even had one at my house last night. But I tell you, when I'm at a red light and see them standing there with their hats on backwards and their baggy jeans on, I get worried. I get nervous"
THAT my friend is the EXACT equivalent of what you just said. I don't doubt that many people feel this way about Muslims and also about black people but that doesn't mean that it is OK to OPENLY and comfortably express these thoughts especially as an influential thought leader in the media spotlight. You expressing those feelings and being defended by people in both liberal and conservative circles, makes others feel quite justified in the similar feelings that they have.

As was quite evident during the passionate debate regarding whether or not an Islamic Community Center should be allowed to be built within a few blocks of Ground Zero, there is a climate of intolerance, hatred, and discrimination towards not only the extremist wing of Islam but towards the large majority of Moderate Muslims that represent a religion of Peace. It is disturbing how widely accepted these discriminatory views are. As a black man, I know VERY WELL what it is like to have the actions of a few cloud the perception of the whole. That is NEVER a good thing and voices of tolerance should speak out against such expressions, feelings, and voices of intolerance WHEREVER they exist.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Voted Today ... Did You ?

As one who was born in another country and has only being eligible to vote in the US for less than a decade, I make it a point to vote in every single election. It actually behooves me that a nation as powerful as the United States has such a poor record of voter participation in elections as especially as important as the one that we'll face in only a few weeks will be. And yet, people will continue to bitch, whine, and complain about everything under the sun as if failing to realize that we all have the ability to influence the direction of the country.

I heard a statistic lately that stated that the US ranks 139th of 172 democracies around the world in average voter participation. In Presidential Elections, when US voter participation is generally the highest, the US averages a voter turnout rate of a mere 54%. That means that, on average, as you sit in traffic watching hundreds of cars pass by or as you sit at your favorite sporting event or movie, then about 1 out of every 2 people you see decided that they have better things to do than to participate in electing the very people that will represent them in local, state, and national government and will make decisions that WILL affect their lives. And the minute that the roads in their neighborhood aren't fixed, gas prices soar sky high, or their job gets outsourced overseas, then 2 out of every 2 of those people will be the FIRST ONES to complain.

When it comes to the importance of voting, my guess is that either half the population doesn't know, doesn't care, or doesn't believe that their ONE VOTE will actually make a difference. Practically speaking, it is rare that ONE SINGLE VOTE swings an election one way or another. However, if 10 people have the attitude that "well it's only one vote", and those 10 people each convince 10 of their friends to do the same, who then each tell 10 of their friends and also convince them not to vote, that quickly adds up to 1,000 votes which WILL swing an election one way or another.

There is a tremendous amount at stake in the upcoming election and it is quite saddening to see that many of those who came out in droves to bring about a change in the direction of the nation in 2008, have thrown up their hands and are thinking about sitting out this election cause their change has not come fast enough. REAL CHANGE takes time, takes more than 1 election cycle, and is only achieved from the GROUND UP as citizens of this representative democracy fight day in and day out, from election to election, to push their agenda and force those who represent them in government to bring about policies that represent the way that they view the world. So in this coming election, make sure that YOU VOTE and then call 10 friends, and ask them to call 10 friends, who will then call 10 friends, and make sure that they ALL VOTE.

Oh and after you hang up the phone, call them back and say "oh the way, make sure you VOTE DEMOCRAT !!"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

USA, Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Christine O'Donnell ? One Doesn't Belong !!

Ahhhhh ... Christine O'Donnell, Republican Tea Party candidate for Senate in Delaware is the gift that keeps on giving as she continues to say the most wildly absurd stuff and not blink an eye in the process. To add to the list of "I used to dabble in witchcraft back in the day" (I mean, after all, WHO DIDN'T?), "There are mice with perfectly functioning human brains in them", "I have classified information that China is trying to take over the US", the wicked witch of the east jumped on her sailing broom and pulled one out of big black hat last night and managed to rewrite history.

In a nationally televised debate on CNN last night versus Democrat Chris Coons, Ms. O'Donnell proved why anyone taking her Senate candidacy seriously should SERIOUSLY seek psychological counseling. As the debate shifted to the topic of US foreign policy and the ongoing wars, Ms. O'Donnell offered this lil nugget of wisdom:
"Well if you remember when we (the US) were fighting the Soviets over there in Afghanistan in the '80s and '90s, we did not finish the job, so now we have a responsibility to finish the job".
Screeeech !! DJ-rewind !! Pull-up !! Come again !! HUH ? WTF ? The US and the Soviet Union, the 2 Super Powers of the 80's, engaged in a winner-take-all war at a "neutral stadium" in Afghanistan during the 80's and 90's and I MISSED IT ??  Perhaps I didn't pay my cable bill for a decade or more but that is BREAKING NEWS to me. I assume the witch-lady was probably referring to the decade-long war that the Soviet Union fought versus Afghanistan during the 80s but unless they were all disguised in fake beards and mustaches, there was not a single US army, navy, air force, or marine member on site during that war ... but WHO AM I to question the witch lady. I don't have frequent flyer broom miles.

Over the course of the night as the candidates debated issues ranging from the US economy, federal deficit, healthcare, China, foreign policy, Supreme Court decisions, and more, it was abundantly clear that Ms. O'Donnell, as pleasant as she may be, simply does not belong on this stage.

She is an interesting political figure who will likely sell a whole lotta books, make megabucks off speeches and such, given the new national spotlight that she is now under, but to put decisions that affect the lives of real people (not mice with human brains) into her hands is just simply irresponsible. But what else should we expect from the Republican party ? They are the same ones that gave us the utterly dim bulb Mrs. Sarah "I can see Russia from my house" Palin and tried to sell us on her being a heartbeat away from the Presidency. She managed to parlay her 15 minutes and months of fame into mega millions with books, TV contracts, and speeches. That same future awaits Christine which ain't too bad. Now scurry away and fly off on your lil broom and go make your millions. Just don't put our future in your hands ...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Favre GIVETH ... and the Favre TAKETH Away !!

Stop me if you've heard this before. "With under 2 minutes to go in the game, Brett Favre threw a costly interception leading to his team's defeat." !! If I only had a dollar for every time future Hall of Fame Quarterback Brett Favre snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a bad interception in crunch time, well, I'd have the type of money Brett signed with the Minnesota Vikings for at the beginning of this year. Last night, the old man did it AGAIN , with a chance to tie or even win a crucial Monday Night Football matchup against the New York Jets, Favre reverted to throwing to people dressed in a different uniform , and costing the Vikings  an opportunity for a much needed victory.

Look (copyright Barack Obama), nobody with any credible amount of football knowledge will argue against the fact that Brett Favre is one of the greatest QBs that the NFL has ever seen and he holds records that will likely never ever be touched as the old man continues to suit up at age 41. However, for a QB as accomplished and as experienced as there has ever been, Favre throws WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too many interceptions at crucial moments in a game, that unfortunately will be a part of his legacy when he hangs up his cleats and quits playing on his 75th birthday. Whether in a Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, or Minnesota Vikings uniform, we can all recollect a costly interception thrown at the most inopportune of times that led to his team's defeat. Last year, a crucial interception towards the end of regulation of the Minnesota vs New Orleans NFC Championship game, paved the way for the WHO DAT NATION to get to and ultimately win the Super Bowl. (I guess some good did come out of that costly pick)

Brett has and always has had a gunslinger's mentality that he WILL make something out of nothing and that has brought mega success for his teams throughout the years. However, that tendency can often come back to bite him in the arse when it's often best to opt for the safe conservative play. Prior to last night's game ending interception, Favre had rallied the Vikings back from a previously uninspiring performance with 3 perfectly thrown TD passes in the 2nd half to give them a shot at the victory. It was that sort of play that makes him one of the all time greats. However, as is far too often the case, he ended his team's chances with a beautifully thrown TD pass to the WRONG TEAM. Once again, the old gunslinger GAVE his team and their fans hope of an exhilarating victory but in an instant,  TOOK away that hope with a game clinching interception. It is unfortunately the price of signing the old gunslinger; he giveth... then he taketh away !!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cowboys vs. Titans ... Is it possible for BOTH TEAMS to lose ?

As we approach another fun-filled football weekend, I've got quite the dilemma on my hands. The Texas Longhorns are off this Saturday (actually they've been off all year, but they're NOT PLAYING this weekend) so I can enjoy a peaceful Saturday without breaking any more TVs and punching holes in any more walls. However, my 2 most hated teams in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys (the most loved and most hated team in the league) and the Tennessee Titans (formerly our beloved Houston Oilers that bailed on us and we still have scorned lover syndrome) face off this Sunday in the "Who Do I Hate More Bowl". This is gonna be a tough one.

Let's rationalize this. The Cowboys spanked my Houston Texans pretty good a few weeks ago and I've had to listen to caca from the INFAMOUS Cowboy fans and EVERYBODY knows how annoying they can be. Then there are the Titans fans. Where do I start ? Let me get this straight (from the perspective of fans of the former Houston Oiler fans who STILL consider the Titans to be "our team"), your ex-girlfriend (the Houston Oilers) cheated on you and left you for a dude who lives in Tennessee (the Tennessee Titans), and almost 15 YEARS LATER you've forgiven her and STILL want her back ? I simply don't get it.

So I'm left with 1 of 2 choices, neither of which is palpable. (1)Root for the Cowboys who aren't even in the Texans Conference meaning that win would be more or less meaningless for the Texans playoff hopes ... BUT then would have to hear Cowboy fans.(2) Root for the Titans who ARE in the Texans division, but SOLELY for the joy of seeing the Cowboys fall to a 1-3 start and have a frontrow seat as owner Jerry Jones goes into meltdown mode and starts whacking people, Tony Soprano style.

Hmmm ...  what's a guy to do ? GOT IT !! A nice 3-3 tie after regulation and overtime with BOTH teams missing FGs in overtime thereby prolonging the agony and heightening the frustration. That would equally suck for both teams and that's ALL GOOD with me :-)


Cowboy & Titan H8R !!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ignore Bob Woodward ... He's just selling books !!

In "WTF" news this week, notable journalist Bob Woodward of  "Watergate" fame, came out (no not like that) and said that there is the possibility of a "Barack Obama - Hillary Clinton" ticket in 2012. Hiding behind the infamous "sources say" disclaimer, Woodward recently said it was "on the table" for Hillary Clinton to replace Joe Biden on the 2012 Democratic Presidential ticket. WTF Bob ?? Can we get through the midterm election in a few weeks first before stirring up the pot of division once again in the Democratic party ?

Although the White House, Hillary associates, and Hillary herself have discredited this story as being ludicrous and as one source puts it, "the dumbest thing I've ever heard.", Woodward still holds on to the "I wouldn't eliminate it" as a possibility disclaimer. Well, HELL, I wouldn't eliminate me defeating Jamaican 100 meter World Record holder Usain Bolt in a footrace either, but it's NOT EXACTLY LIKELY to happen.

The only thing that I can conclude from this WTF, out of left-field supposition is that Bob is simply trying to sell books. With the release of his new book , Obama's Wars (you know, the 2 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that Obama himself STARTED ),  concerning the division among the Civilian and Military leadership about strategy for the 2 ongoing Middle East wars, Mr. Woodward has been all over the tube doing all sorts of interviews and what would get people talking more than more "Obama-Clinton" drama, after their historic and divisive Democratic Primary fight a couple years ago ? Not that Bob exactly needs the publicity and the extra $$ that it's bound to bring in, but in regard to talk of a "Barack-Hillary" Presidential ticket, I'll simply say "Ignore Bob ... He's just selling books !!"

Monday, October 4, 2010

ONE NATION ... Got our GROOVE Back

In what was built up to liberal antidote to the supposed right-wing exuberance to change Washington back to the bad ole Bush Days, an estimated 175,000 devotees, Democrats, and supporters of the progressive cause gathered on the Washington Mall on Saturday, October 2nd for the "One Nation Working Together" rally. With both mainstream and right-wing media outlets all but guaranteeing the demise of the Democratic Party come November, it was extremely encouraging to see such a large turnout of liberal voters marching, shouting, and chanting enthusiastically about issues such as saving the middle class, jobs, jobs, jobs, education, healthcare, immigration reform and other issues central to the progressive cause.
For the One Nation rally, the morale of the story was this. We, the representatives of the progressive cause in America, have worked entirely too hard to begin tilting the country in a progressive direction to give up the fight now. Though the Democratic party contains a wide tent with a wide variety of views which often result in bitter intra-party squabbles, one thing we must agree on is that it would be absolute LUNACY to drop the ball now, lose momentum, and put the Republicans back in control of either house of Congress. Though many of us liberals may not have gotten all that we want thus far from Obama and the Democratic Congress, and often felt as if our loud progressive voice has not been heard on issues such as comprehensive immigration reform, we must continue the fight and continue grassroots efforts to push the the conversation in Washington in the progressive direction.
If you believe the polls, the Democratic voting base has been asleep at the wheel and lost a bit of their mojo. Voter apathy from the Democratic base could very well put the progressive cause on life support. However, one thing that the One Nation rally pointed out LOUD & CLEAR, progressives are FINALLY waking up to the cause and realizing that there is still a whole lot at stake and we can't quit the game at halftime. There is still a whole lot to fight for and this rally was instrumental in getting that point across. Quite simply, this rally Got our Groove Back and we the progressive force are NOW on the move. All together now, WE ARE ONE NATION UNDER A GROOVE ... getting down for MORE THAN just for the  funk of it.