Monday, December 27, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Listening to President Obama discount President Karzai's anti-US comments was like listening to the Wizard of Oz tell Dorothy and her motley group of malcontents to "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

Obama was speaking at a NATO press conference, assuring America and its allies that Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, asked America to stay in Afghanistan for four more years. (Is this how Obama reneges on his pledge to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in blaming Karzai?) He must think we are all stupid. He must think we have no televisions, no newspapers - that we cannot read and see and hear for ourselves what people around the world are saying.

Karzai asked America to "tone down your presence in Afghanistan." He asked America to stop your night raids on Afghan homes." He asked America to stop killing innocent Afghan civilians." He asked America to "leave."

We heard that. What we did not hear was the sound of Karzai's arm being twisted behind that "curtain" - perhaps part of a good cop - bad cop routine where America tells Karzai, "My dear, dear friend...if you don't watch your mouth, you will be the ones leaving, long before us."

Afghanistan is becoming an American farce acted out on the world stage. And it is our precious sons and daughters who are caught in the crossfire.

On the other side, there is the Taliban - sons of the Mujahideen, who fierce resistance to foreign occupation is legend. these men will fight forever. On the other side is the Afghan soldiers and police. Their loyalty to Karzai is tepid, at best; their loyalty to Obama's cause is non-existent. They are the ones most likely to shoot our sons in the back on their way to joining their Taliban brethren in his struggle against the invader.

"Four more years," Mr. Obama? You wish. At this rate, there will be only two more years of you, (six more of Karzai), and 1,000 more of the Afghan fighter.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Who Needs a Baby to Hold?

A recent study found that people who bully others do less bullying after they have held a baby. On the same CNN show, "Parker-Spitzer", that asked about "American Exceptionalism", (see my previous post), the co-host asked their guests "Who needs a baby to hold?"

The same guest who could not zero in on the source of "American Exceptionalism", again went down swinging.

"Glenn Beck needs a baby to hold, and...oh, Bill O'Reilly." Another guest threw in Nancy Pelosi's name. Okay, all bad actors, I suppose. But, again, they miss the uprights. The question is not "Who is a bully?" Too many people fit that mold; perhaps we all do at some point in our lives, having bullied classmates, younger siblings, even small animals. The question is "Who?" I offer two entities: American needs a baby to hold. Who has been a bigger bully than the nation whose favorite boasts is: "We are taking nothing off the table."

We talk about our kids bullying in school when, on the world stage, we exude the notion that might makes right. (Bullies live by that principle.) America is the bully supreme.

And on whom do we beat? Like all bullies, we beat on the those smaller than ourselves. We bombed Iraq after it invaded our friend, Kuwait. We attached Grenada. We invaded Panama. We bombed Serbia, Libya, Afghanistan, the Sudan, and then bombed Iraq, again.

Funny that we did not bomb Russia after they invaded our friend, Georgia. Neither did we bomb China when they captured one of America's most sophisticated jets. That happened in 2000. We took "bombing" off the table then, and waited patiently while China took its own sweet time before sending our aircraft back to us in pieces.

Speaking of "Taking nothing off the table": Doesn't that sound illegal? Doesn't that suggest that we will do anything; even violate international law to get our way? Isn't that the same mantra the terrorists live by? Nothing is off the table. Isn't that whey we despise them so, because they might do anything?

President Obama has since modified that position, insisting that "torture is off the table." I doubt that it is. We may not torture within our formal framework, but we will outsource such work to places like Egypt, Poland, Bulgaria, and other "black sites" where people can get away with murder. (We torture when we buy torture).

Bullying is in our blood. We think it keeps us safe. Of course, it does not; it only keeps us busy.

Now two of the planet's great bullies have squared off on the world stage. (They need a baby bad). Dare w give each one to hold.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

American Exceptionalism

One night, Kathleen Parker and Eliot Spitzer of CNN's Parker-Spitzer posed this question to their guests: "When you hear the words 'American Exceptionalism', what do you think of?"

To a man, and to a woman, each guest spoke of the American people – their resilience, their diversity. One guest spoke of America's freedoms – of speech, religion, etc. They all made good points, except...many nations on Earth have freedom of expression. And all of the world's peoples are resilient; many far more resilient than we, having to daily endure drought, famine, and pestilence.

As for diversity: The Congo, alone a nation of 60 million people, has over 200 distinct ethnic groups. And what about England, that cornerstone of Western civilization where the most common name for boys born in 2010 is Muhammad. Try that for diversity, America.

No, where the United States exceeds all nations in exceptionalism is in the land, itself. From "sea to shining sea," America has more grand vistas, more fertile farmland, and more square miles of habitable space than any other nation on earth.

One needs only to drive across this country - something i did in the 1983 - to see for himself the extent of America's bounty. It inspires. You certainly marvel at the Spirit of those early pioneers who pushed handcarts and Conestoga wagons over mountains and across rivers. But peoples have moved like that for millennia. Imagine the hardships the first Americans endured as they crossed Siberia and the treacherous land bridge that is now the Bering Straits to get here.

Once they made their way down into what would become the "continental US", they could not have known that they have discovered the "Goldilocks Zone." It is that special place between "too-cold Canada" and "too hot Mexico," uniquely separated from much of the world's madness by two great oceans. It is there they lit a fire and warmed it up for the rest of us - this land that is "just right."

Yes we are exceptional people, but only when we are humbly thanking God for this exceptional piece of ground.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hu's On First?

Watching President Obama and his pathetic attempts to work with the Republicans in congress reminds me of what Churchill said of Chamberlain, et al, prior to the start of World War II: "They had a choice between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor; they will have war."

If Obama were to body slam Boehner and put Mitch McConnell in a headlock, it would not be such a bad thing. The Chinese would take notice. Mostly, Americans would be heartened. We would think, "Yes, things are going to be all right."

Alas, that will not happen. Though bloodied in the mid-terms, Obama - ever the gentleman - has already come out with a hand extended in friendship, only to get his toes stomped. They will slam him into the turnbuckles next. (That's how the Republicans fight.)

The other day, Forbes magazine named President Obama the second-most powerful man on Earth. It may be the first time an American president has not held the top spot. That position, according to Forbes, goes to Chinese president, Hu Jintao, (pronounced "Who?"). Base on "what?" To be fair, he does command a billion intelligent and energetic people; (not to mention that he is Obama's banker.)

That aside, the United States still has a gross national product (GDP) four times that of China's. Our military budget dwarfs China's ten times over.

Forbes is being cute. They appear to be sizing up Obama based on his body language rather than the normal levers of power that govern such proclamations.

This is further evidence of Obama's dwindling stature: That a conservative magazine would squeeze an American president between a Chinese named "Hu" and a Saudi king.

Hey dude, ever heard of a drop kick?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saving the Unpatriotic Penny

Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase, "A penny saved is a penny earned." Generations of Americans since have lived by that guiding principle. As children growing up in the 50's and 60's, we were taught religiously to save, save, save.

We saved our summer earnings so that we could buy new clothes for the school year. We saved throughout the fall so that we could buy gifts at Christmas. We saved all winter so that come spring we could buy that spanking new used car. and it worked. We never went into debt, and we got most of the things we dearly wanted.

Now America has ditched that discipline. "Spend," they say. "Buy, buy, buy." (It's "bye, bye," all right. we are throwing it all out the window).

The other day, CNBC's Kudlow asked Robert Reich, popular economist from the Clinton Administration, "How do we get out of this economic crisis?" Reich replied, "We must get people spending." In the absence of a Ben Franklin, this is what we are stuck with - quasi-gurus who think a penny saved is an unpatriotic penny selfishly sitting.

Isn't it strange that none of these experts ever talk about lowering prices to achieve economic stability? (The U.S. has lost its competitive edge because of the high costs of its goods, not because we don't spend enough money.) We can see for ourselves that much of America's goods are completely over-priced, including the exorbitant wages/per hour paid workers who do less and less each day. (And the less they do, the less they want to do. "Just pay me," they are beginning to say.)

Time to re-configure "Getting ahead." Instead of hiring one man at $25 an hour, hire two at $12.50, or better yet, three at $8.25. That way, an employer can produce three times the product at the same cost, which will allow him to sell his product at a third of the price, which will make for a three-fold increase in the number of people nationally and worldwide who are able to afford his goods.

On its face, this may look like a simple answer to a complex problem. But it could well be an answer made complex by pride to a problem made simply by necessity.

This isn't it a beauty contest, folks. This is life. The prize goes to those communities, and nations, who families survive.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Les Desagreable

When "The View" guest, Bill O'Reilly, accused Muslims of killing American on 9-11, he inflamed such passions that co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg stormed off the set. Even as the dust of their exit still swirled in the air, Barbara Walters, grande dame of "The View", screamed to her audience, "What you have seen here should not have happened!" Days later, Howie Kurtz, host of "Reliable Sources", flatly stated, "Walking off in a huff doesn't solve anything."

Funny that we did not hear these admonitions when American diplomats walked out during Iranian president Ahmadinejad's recent speech to the United Nations in New York.

In fact, it has become customary for Americans to "walk off in a huff" whenever the likes of Chavez, Ahmadinejad, or any other leader disagreeable to American policy addresses a world body. American media figures even suggest proudly that we continue to do so.

What message do we send to America's youth and to young people worldwide with these recurrent pictures of petulance?

Time someone reminded our so-called "diplomats" of what the word diplomacy means. Time our leaders practice discipline and restraint rather than embrace rudeness at the first convenient moment. Time for adults everywhere to refrain from childish tantrums the instant other become disagreeable.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Manner of Man Art Thou?

On a night in July 2010, rebel soldiers entered a village in the northeastern region of the Congo and raped 250 women and young girls. When they finished, they slithered back in the jungle virtually unpunished.

Two months later, a UN delegation went to the village to investigate this incident of mass rapes. The village women told their horrible stories beneath a thatched roof. Nowhere in their pitiable accounts was there mention of dead village men, (nor of dead rebel soldiers). How can that be? How can there be a tale of 250 raped women, and not a corresponding tale of 250 dead men who had tried to protect them?

Where were the men of the village that terrible night? Did they jump under their beds, or did they flee into the night and hide in the bush?

These unsophisticated village men cannot be expected to protect their families from Ebola, or some other strange and powerful force they do not understand. But they must be men enough to protect their families from other men, or at least die trying.

We understand the rebel soldiers who committed those unspeakable acts - they are animals. What we do not understand is husbands and fathers who do not serve up their very lives to stop them.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What's Wrong with "Choice" America?

The other day, President Obama stated: "Homosexuality is not a choice."

How does he know? Certainly, many homosexuals are born with a natural attraction to the same sex. But jut as many may simply be curious, and choose to experience homosexuality out of a sense of adventure, or rebellion; even disdain for the opposite sex.

If there is nothing wrong with homosexuality - as we say - then in a free society - as we profess to have - "choice" must be as viable a reason for doing something as anything else.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Sunset

There before your golden ember
I could easily remember
Gloulish-faced trick-or-treaters dancing
Behind great bags and hopes a'prancing
On the eve of start November

Pumpkins sodden as they were
Original reasons now a blur
With faces carved in frightful laughter
Down from under the harvest gathered
To strew the way with garish mirth

Yet there in Mama's kitchen stands
A cook who's baking pies by hand
No trick could muscle such a treat
Of golden brown and spicy sweet
She's made it known her pumpkin's plans.

And long October's night in walking
Toward a town were bravely stalking
Three autumn youth forsook the rest
In hopes their bounty would be the best
The fear of silence would stoke the talking.

Afar a howl is suddenly heard
Against the other's limbs they gird
A rustle, scratch, and frantic beat
That trips the other's toes to feet
It's just the owl - October's bird.

A raucous laughter surely followed
The afore-felt stomach swiftly swallowed
By visions of werewolves suddenly loosed
And fresh wolfbane and slashing tooth
Three tales of stardom now drilled hollow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Old Folks

When I was a boy growing up in rural Newaygo county, I would visit old people. Sometimes, I would perform chores for them, after which I would sit and listen to them talk. When there were no chores, I simply sat and listened to them talk.

People would ask me why I spent so much time with so many different old people. I remember remarking once, "They're nice." Looking back, I repeat: "They were the nicest people I've ever met."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bullying: Crime, or Rite of Passage?

Have a bullying problem? What we could use is more real father. With more "real fathers" there would be less talk of bullying, and indeed, less bullying. (Real fathers are the answer to many ills.) Real fathers are an immediate and lasting source of confidence in a child. The bullied child is most often the least confident child, and therefore, most bully-able. The bully, too, lacks confidence.

But even more "real fathers" will not end bullying; neither, will made-for-TV productions like the recently got-up "Anti-Bullying" campaign whose motto is, "Love is Louder." Nice, cute - won't work.

Bullying is a fact of life. Animals use it in their struggles to perpetuate their species. We do the same thing. Boys will bully boys whom either stand in their way of mating, or whom, by bullying they will enhance their chances. Girls, too, bully girls whom they instinctively sense is a threat to their reproductive chances. In other words, children who bully often do not know why they do it, except that it feels natural.

Of course, we humans must always strive to elevate ourselves above our baser instincts. (try telling that to a child).

Bullying could simply be a right of passage that serves a purpose. Being bullied teaches a child to devise survival strategies, like avoidance, or negotiating with, and outsmarting bullies; it teaches children the need, and art, of forming alliances.

No one wants their child to be bullied. But, at some point, we all have been there. Sometimes, we were even bullied by our friends, by our spouse, by our own brothers and sisters. Hey, tall plants bully short plants. C'est la vie!

Friday, October 15, 2010

One Encounter at a Time

Emotions are a dangerous thing. The always want to be satisfied. They only care about themselves.

Recently, Larry King hosted a show on CNN entitled, "Can Inmates Be Reformed?" The real question is, "Can they control their emotions?" Once that question is posed, however, then every man and woman on earth falls under similar suspicion.

Prison is about control. When men do not control their emotions, they commit crimes. When men can not exert self-control, the State assumes responsibility.

I am in prison because I did not control my anger. Other are here because they did not control their greeds, their lusts, their envies. Many more will follow...for the same damned reasons.

Now, when a man comes up for parole, they may ask him, "Are you reformed? Reformed? What the hell is that? A better question would be: "Have you achieved self-control?" Of course, the inmate will answer, "Yes." And though the words may sound hollow, they have significance - they convey a consciousness of the need to control their emotions. After that, it is a matter of proof.

In that way, we all become like the alcoholic who must prove his sobriety daily - free men and inmates, alike. We must prove every moment, and every day of our lives - one moment at a time, one day at a time, one encounter at a time - that we have discipline and self-control. We are reformed only when we are finally and absolutely convinced of the dangers inherent in our emotions, and our need to control them.

Don't Cry, Mr. Obama

Emotions can be a wonderful and dangerous thing. They feed our passions and it is our passions that get us into trouble. Witness Clinton with Lewinsky, Bush with Saddam—(he tried to kill my daddy), and Reagan with Iran-Contra.

Fortunately, for Obama, he has no such passions. The fact alone should keep his presidency relatively scandal free. Unfortunately, that fact, too, could doom his presidency to an uncommon sterility.

There was concern about all of those years Obama spent in Jeremiah Wright’s south side Chicago church, being exposed to “liberation theology” as Glenn Beck puts it. Not to worry. Obama is virtually unscathed by his years in Wright’s church. That was much more of a cultural experience—i.e., educational—than emotional and transformative.

Obama is unique in that way: he absorbs information like a sponge, but seems to remain unaffected by the clutter of its emotions. That is rare among African-Americans. For we are emotional lot—those emotions forged in the fires of slavery, and then banged repeatedly against the anvil that is Americas grand mosaic.

The other day, Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, while addressing his fellow countrymen, began to cry over the state of his war-torn nation. I was touched. And I wondered, in the face of such fierce death and destruction—whether suffered or meted out—that more leaders don’t cry, even our own pragmatic and dispassionate Obama.

Then I thought, no. Obama may be Vulcan. And as we know from watching Star Trek’s unflappable Mr. Spock, a crying jag could kill him.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bailouts...or Bust?

President Obama has spent more money in his first 500 days in office than any other human being has spent in the history of money. The sums are not only staggering, they are staggering squared.

Some say he had no choice—the economy was crashing down around us. He had to bail out the banks, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the car companies and AIG…and, oh yeah, how about the 26 billion dollar bill he signed just the other day to bail out state governments that couldn't manage their budgets?

No bailout is good—they reek of rewards for bad business practices. Nonetheless, some of them must be a necessary evil, I suppose. The problem comes with a full embrace of the concept, as though what is wrong is also fair.

If there must be a bailout, to make it palatable, it should be accompanied by an excruciating pain for everyone, so that no one—not the government, not the recipient, not the average ”Joe”—can think of another bailout without experiencing severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.

The problem with Obama’s bailouts is that they are painless; they offer no balance—no austerity on the other hand, no sacrifice. We are simply spending money, which sounds too much like fun.

What eats at Americans most about these bailouts is that they are not earned. That goes against our grain. Our work ethic may be dulled, but we still hold by this creed: Anybody can spend a buck. The real man is the one who earns it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In Honor of Woodland Park

On Saturday, August 7, 2010 Woodland Park, MI was designated an historical marker in the state of Michigan. In honor of his home town Larry wrote a song entitled, "Marching As One, Woodland Park." Congratulations to Woodland Park and all those who made her their home!

The old bowed tree in front of The Breeze
Where we tested our leap and our mettle
Sitting the tracks with the sun at our backs
Remembering the days, how they settled

Bid whist games when the rains came
The runs too muddy for sledding
Long, country days, we had it our way
And knew just where we were heading...

Marching as one
Woodland Park
Through a land called "Home"
Woodland Park
Through the woods of our birth
That sweet patch of Earth
Where we grew straight and strong

Singing our song
About the woods we would roam
Whether dusty dirt roads
Or blackberry lodes
It's where we belonged
Marching as one
Marching as one
Marching as one...

The back roads know of the heartaches
And promises written in the sand
They know of secrets that only time will tell
Of enchanted nights hand in hand

We praise above for these woods we love
Its moonlit nights on the beach
For the flowers that bloom in its April room
And memories that make us complete...

Marching as one
Woodland Park
Through a land called "Home"
Woodland Park
Through the woods of our birth
That sweet patch of Earth
Where we grew straight and strong

Singing our song
About the woods we would roam
Whether dusty dirt roads
Or blackberry lodes
It's where we belonged

Coming on strong
Thinking 'bout those we've known
All the people who've stayed
Or just came and played
They made this a home

Oh, the people we've known
How their spirits have flown
Come on back inside
This door's open wide
It's always your home

Marching as one
Through a land called "Home"
Through the good and the bad
The sound and the mad
What a place to belong

Marching as one
Through a land called "Home"
Through the good and the bad
The sound and the mad
What a place to belong..

Monday, August 2, 2010

Twitter This

With all of the e-mails and facebook, the i-phones, i-pads, and i-pods, you would think we would have grown closer to one another. But we haven’t; we are further apart.

This great technology boom has been a bust in real terms. We are no better at running our businesses, at trading our goods, nor at employing our people.

We put fancy computers into our schools, but our children are no smarter. They learn how to “Search” and “Insert,” but they don’t learn how to read and write. They can twitter, but they can’t spell. We will spend $500 for a computer for each student when all they really need is a book, pencil, and a piece of paper…oh and some discipline. They need to learn how to sit still and listen.

Most of all, these technological wonders have not strengthened our relationship with the people who matter most in our lives. Moreover, I offer that we have weakened our relationships—undermined the very soul of all relationships: trust.

Instead of having faith in our last conversation before our children go off to school and our spouses go off to work, we seek the continuous assurance that text messages provide. We are more dependant than ever, and less free.

If I were in the world, I would ban all visitors from bringing cell phones into my home. If you came with one, you would have to check it at the door, or leave. As you leave, I would suggest that you would go home and turn the cell phone off. Then listen to the most unique and beautiful sound of all—the sound of your family.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Oil Upon the Waters

We call ourselves “a nation of laws.” But our laws are weak and subject to the whims of those who wield power.

There is another set of laws, however—the laws of physics. They rule the very universe. They are the same laws from which we find that “oil and water do not mix.” Still, we pour oil upon the waters.

The Gulf region is blessed with sprawling beaches, scenic vistas, and abundant fisheries. It also has oil beneath its great waters. In fact, oil revenue accounts for well over a third of Louisiana’s economy. Tourism and fishing fairly round out the rest. Interestingly, fishing and tourism easily go hand-in-hand. Oil, on its best day, is incompatible with both. On its worst day, as we plainly see, it is a death sentence to the other two. Still, the Gulf coast people want that oil. Tell them oil is incompatible with fine beaches and abundant fisheries, and you breach one of their favorite laws—the one that says they can have their cake and eat it, too.

There are no innocents in this Gulf debacle, (except for the fishies.) We all have a part in this nightmare—Dems, Republicans, oil companies and us plain old everyday greedy Americans. Oil is big money. That’s how we like our money…big. When President Obama tried to levy a moratorium on off-shore drilling, the Gulf coast people screamed. They want their oil.

These people have played a willing game of Russian roulette. Now that the chamber has discharged, they look about as though they had no idea it was loaded. They had gone to the casino with the rent money, and lost. Now they want their money back. And they will get it.

Today it is fashionable to pity the people of the Gulf. Obama convinced BP to set aside $20 billion escrow account for them. Larry king held a telethon—raised $1.8 million for those “harmed by the spill.” How nice. People getting paid for the ocean they despoiled.

This $20 billion escrow account is obscene—a grab bag, the likes of which this world has never witnessed. As this piece goes to print, lawyers across America are filing into “How-to” seminars, and coming out touting their abilities to not only get at that money, but to follow up the “big-grab” with lawsuits if they don’t “grab” enough.

There is one group, “Hands Across The Sands”—people from all 50 states and 35 nations in hand-holding solidarity—hoping to stave off any further off shore drilling. Against the immense weight o greed in this country, they just as soon hope to hold back the tides.

A snapshot of what they are up against will crystallize in the moment the victim petitioners light into that $20 billion pot of gold. It will be a feeding frenzy. There will be blood.

Meanwhile, the oil continues to pour into the Gulf waters. On the 60th day of the oil onslaught, the Louisiana legislature called for a day of prayer—one that will end the gusher and save their precious shores. (Now they think of their shores.)

Interestingly, they pray to God to stop the oil when conceivably it is the same God who all along had protected their shores from that same oil—burying it as he had millions of years ago beneath a mile of ocean and two miles of bedrock. It was the people of the Gulf who cheered on BP, spurred as they were by vision of plum jobs, big-spending oil workers, and lucrative contracts. They willed BP to be relentless, and so BP was, until it had punched a hole three miles down and struck black gold. Now they want God to re-seal the seabed.

Sorry, folks, it just ain’t that easy, now that you have a tiger by the tail.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Naked Prey

In the 60’s movie, “The Naked Prey” - set in colonial Africa - a Brit on safari shoots at something big swimming in the river. When asked what it was, he replies, “ I don’t know. But whatever it was it’s dead now.

Today, America conducts a drone war in the tribal areas of Pakistan. These unmanned drones target people from high up in the sky and obliterate them with precision-guided missiles.

A month ago, the Obama administration announced that it had killed M. Mehsud, a top Taliban commander, in another such strike in the tribal areas. Followed the self-congratulatory pats on the back.

Now it turns out that Mehsud is not dead after all. Seems he was spotted the other day, alive and well, in those same tribal region .

So, who did we kill in that drone strike? Apparently, we do not know. All we know for certain is that whoever it was, he’s dead now.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Time to Condemn Slavery, And Those Who Loved It

“No people have ever fought so valiantly for so wrong a cause.” --Ulysses S. Grant, upon accepting Lee’s surrender at Appomattox

Virginia’s governor, Bob McDonald, has declared April, “Confederate Appreciation Month.” Though he failed to mention slavery in his initial declaration, he hopes to honor those who died to defend it. Among Americans, there was a scant outcry.

America has always tried to look away whenever the south acted out. We continue that practice today, as though we pity them still, and wish to leave them dignity where there is none.

Slavery was a cancer. The confederacy’s very reason for being was to insure that cancer survived, and spread. All other efforts to make more of the Confederacy—to separate it from its purpose—are blatant attempts at deception, and exercises in denial. Whenever we seek to placate the South by catering to its precious Confederacy, we keep the cancer alive.

Now is the time for a resolution declaring the enslavement of African-Americans a Crime Against Humanity. Such a resolution is completely overdue.

Time to revive the spirit of the 60’s—not just the 1960’s, when African-Americans rose up to realize their finest hour—but even the 1860’s, when Abraham Lincoln threw down the gauntlet—issued the Emancipation Proclamation—and drove this nation to make a hard right turn.

Time to end all pretenses that the ante bellum South was anything more than a renegade province that waged a 200-year reign of terror against a defenseless and innocent people.

Time to admit that the confederacy was nothing more than a last ditch attempt to save slavery—to defend to the death the most vile system devised by man.

Time to condemn slavery once and for all, and to condemn those who loved it.

Just as Lincoln’s Proclamation ended all Southern hopes of England, or any other foreign power siding with the South, so a “Crimes” resolution will end all future attempts to glorify that which is officially an abomination.

Today, we can end all doubt as to where we, as a united nation, stand. No senator or representative will do it for us. If they would, then they would have done it 150 years ago, or some other time between then and now. Most have neither the will to brave those political winds, nor the vision to see what is an absolute and just imperative if this nation is to move forward as one.

You join me in offering this transformative resolution to the American People. Let Congress join us. We can do it. It is time.

The system of slavery inflicted upon the African-American people, primarily practiced in the southern states of America during the 18th and 19th centuries, shall henceforth and forever be declared a Crime Against Humanity.

All parties in support of said system, e.g., the Confederacy, et al, shall be deemed complicit in these crimes and unworthy of any and all further recognition except that recognition be wholly within the confines of its association with slavery, and the object of this resolution.

Signatories to this Resolution include:

Larry R. Carter, et al

Monday, May 3, 2010

Who Does He Think He Is?

Karzai. That’s who. What does that mean? We are not sure.

Karzai is supposed to be America’s No. 1 partner in our fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Sometimes, he is. Then there are other times, like when he recently invited Iran’s Ahmadinejad to Afghanistan. After receiving the “red carpet treatment”, Ahmadinejad delivered a fiery anti-American speech, with Karzai standing by his side. He followed up that visit by accusing America and its allies of rigging the last Afghan election—ironically, the same election that gave Karzai another four years in power.

Karzai then traveled to Kandahar, the province believed to be the Taliban stronghold—the same province against which American forces are planning a major offensive. There, he assured tribal leaders that no such operation will take place without their consent.

Then, the stunner of all: Karzai threatened that if American officials did not stop rigging elections and then bugging him about corruption, he might join the Taliban.

What’s going on with our “partner”? Perhaps he read Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue. Could be he is “going rogue,” himself.

Maybe Karzai is seeking to add iron to his Afghan bonafides. After all, when his fellow countrymen were facing down the great Russian army back in the 70’s, Karzai went missing. Does he fancy himself “facing down” the great American arm today?

Time for America to come home. Let Karzai be Karzai. Let him entertain his fantasies without another one of our precious sons dying for them.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Need to be A Better Man

During his press conference at the Master's on Monday, Tiger Woods looked out over the room full of media and said, "I need to be a better man."

It is something we all should say, if not every day, then at least once with sincerity.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Release the Crazies

Today, some Republicans have become what many of the South’s confederates became after their defeat in the Civil War. They, too, could not accept defeat, and the changes defeat wrought. They turned to terrorism.

Led by one of the great cavalry officers of the Confederacy, Nathan Bedford Forrest, they donned masks and terrorized the most vulnerable of Americans—the former slaves.

These people who vandalize Democratic offices today and threaten the families of congressmen and senators are no less criminal than were Bedford’s hooded Klan. Just because they are not blowing up churches and killing little black girls does not exempt their acts from being called “terrorism.” Terrorists sow fear. That is precisely what these people hope to wreak upon those who have defeated them.

So, who is leading them today?—The likes of Neugebauer who screamed “baby killer” on the House floor, and Minority Leader Boehner who declared Congressman Driehaus “ a dead man” for voting in favor of the health-care bill.

Then there is Rush Limbaugh who, the day after the health-care bill passed, told his listeners, “It is your turn to do whatever it takes to defend your freedom and your country.”

These messages are cloaked in double entendre to mask culpability, much like the Klan were cloaked in white to mask their dark intentions. Yet, they are clearly martial, these missives, designed to rally—not the entire body politic, but enough “crazies” to get at the fabric that is the bedrock of this nation’s tranquility.

These people remind us that our history with terrorism did not begin in the deserts of Arabia. It was birthed in America—nourished by the refusal of the vanquished to accept the terms of defeat.

Friday, April 2, 2010

What Debt Ceiling? The Sky's the Limit

Watching the U.S. economy, with its great deficits and diminishing work ethic, is like watching a huge heavenly body on a great collision course. Because of its immense girth it appears to move so slowly as to not be moving at all. (So unlike the small Greek economy that hurtles like a comet to it impact.) We move steadily, nonetheless, and much faster than we think. It is our growing debt that powers us I this fashion.

The alternative to this rush to destiny is to tighten our belts—pay our debts and live closer to our means. But that would propose “hard work”, and we like it easy.

That is why we created a debt ceiling in the first place—to give us some “playing room.” It also exists to remind us when to stop accumulating debt, and when to start paying it down. The problem with that: We raise the ceiling regularly, and more frequently all of the time. (Debt is like that. The more you achieve, the quicker you achieve more.) Republicans raised the debt ceiling four times under Bush. Obama has raised it in his first year—from twelve to the present thirteen trillion dollars.

Trillions. We must not know what “ceilings” mean. (Ceilings exist so that things don’t go through the roof!) For us, they exist to advance the illusion of fiscal responsibility without being responsible at all.

What is debt, anyway, but a promise to pay? Yet, I get the impression that we have no intention of paying down this mountain of debt. Rather I think we will build on it some more, and build, and marvel at it because it is there.

Sure, it will be like contemplating a voyage to another star system. We might consider such a trip—play with the numbers, (the light years and such), but we are not serious; we do not truly plan to go there. We only contemplate it out of amusement—because we know it exists “out there,” in a proximity to us, however inaccessible. But we are no more serious about mounting that expedition than we are about mounting this debt.

So, why not “raise the ceiling”—make that mountain all the more insurmountable? That way, we can look at it with even greater awe, and fantasize endlessly without fear of ever having to go there and pay that terrible price.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where Eyes Cannot See, Hearts Cannot Feel

Four days after the earthquake, a Haitian woman woke up on the operating table to find her leg had been amputated. she looked up at the doctor and said, "I have no way to pay for this."

We have underestimated these people. Now, at least, I hope we can see.

Haiti is African-American - it is a true slice of Africa in the heart of the Americas. Call it "Africa-West," if you will, for that is what it is - not just in the way the women carry the bundles on their heads, a charming picture right out of Ghana or Mozambique - but that it mirrors the true dysfunctionality of the African nations, and in a lot of ways, their quaint and curious self-assurance.

Haiti was born a slave colony in 1691. After 100 years of French rule, the slaves revolted, and defeated Napoleon's army. In 1804, the victors established the independent state of Haiti. the only nation on Earth founded by slaves, it would take another 58 years before the US formally recognized Haiti in 1862.

Today we look at Haiti's devastated capital, Port-au-Prince, and are filled with incredible doubt: "Rebuild that?"

We can. We rebuilt Atlanta and Richmond after the Civil War. It was the US, with its Marshall Plan, that helped to rebuild the great cities of Europe after World War II - London and Berlin, Warsaw and Cologne. We rebuilt Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Haiti's Leogene and Port-au-Prince can be rebuilt; they must be rebuilt. We should have done it long ago, except we could not see.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Missing "Dad"

When I saw Tiger Woods standing there, apologizing to the world, I saw a man in need of his father. That's right. Tiger does not need apologies, he does not need rehab, and he does not Oprah. Tiger needs Big Earl.

Tiger Woods is all bollixed-up now. If his father was alive, this spectacle that has played out over the past three months - culminating in last week's pathetic apology - would never have happened. Tiger may have committed the same indiscretions, but when it all "hit the fan," Big Earl would have told Tiger: "Apologize to your wife, your children, and your mother. Then, get back on tour and kick some butt." That is what Tiger needed to hear, and that is exactly what Tiger would have done had his father been alive. But his father is dead, and instead of a strong male voice when he needed it most, Tiger has heard a lot of female whisperings.

More and more, we downplay the value of fathers in this society. (We do it at the country's peril.) And men become more confused. In their confusion, they feminize themselves. That is certainly a shame. When this "feminization" confuses our sons, it becomes a tragedy.

There is nothing wrong with men being sensitive. It signals that they are more alert. But let the women be female. (They are better at it.) Besides, there are enough real women in America. What this country needs is more real men.

Now Tiger has lost his balance, and his father is no longer there to get him "centered." It is nature's way that we are all fatherless soon. The question becomes: Have you been fathered - have you been guarded by a man that has always had your back? And when that father is gone, do you remember to "man up" like he "manned up" for you, literally from day one? Or is his voice drowned in the confusion?

Time to man up, Tiger. And you, President Obama - you appear to be missing your father, too

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Palm Writer

I must be a closet Palin fan. I have always liked her conservative values - that good old time religion - but when she went to the crib notes written across her hand, that took it over the top.

There is a charm there - a play right out of my grade school past. Nothing fancy, nothing phony; just pure Palin trying to make ends meet.

It was a special moment in 21st century American politics. At a time when we are bombarded with, and overwhelmed by technology, she goes to the old standby - notes written across the palm of her hand. Brilliant! I'm coming out.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

We Don't Even Have a Sword!

An American army unit, while passing through an Afghan village, stopped to ask a local for help. After being peppered with a slew of questions about the Taliban, the poor villager cried out: “You have your tanks and planes. If you can’t defeat them with all of that, how do you expect us to help you? We don’t even have a sword!”

A sword. These are the people we bring our great army against- -a medieval lot of goat herders, cobblers, and metal smiths.

Now President Obama plans to escalate the war against these people. He tells America, “We will finish the job.”

No, Mr. President, you will finish nothing in Afghanistan. You have neither the power nor the moral authority.

This is what will happen: You will send the most advanced army on Earth against a poor and illiterate people. You will kill many of them- -men, women, and children- -and then you will leave. And the Afghan winds will blow over your tracks, and the Afghan rains will wash all trace of America away. All that will remain of America in Afghanistan will be what is told in the history books.

The Afghans will write their history. They will speak of the brief moment when the Russians interfered in their lives, and then again when the Americans interfered.

America’s story will be told on one page. No matter how many of our brave soldiers die there, no matter how we seek to glorify their sacrifices in our own books, they will merit only one page in the Book of Afghanistan. It will be a bloody page- -a tale of interference in the lives, the culture, and the history of the Afghan people.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Radical" or Just Plain "Ready"?

America is waging a war against people they pretend to not understand.

Recently, CNN featured this headline story: “What Turns Young Muslims Radical?” as though young Jews, Christians, and Hindus never turn “radical.”

Young men are the strong arm of all righteous (and un-righteous) movements. Just because they do not wait for formal declarations to go into action does not make them “radical.” They may simply see a cause bigger than themselves and feel compelled to be the first to lay their lives on the line.

When Kaiser Wilhelm was over-running Europe during World War I—even before America joined the war—young American men were traveling to Europe to fight the Germans. Before America’s Civil War, young Northerners called “Free-Soilers,” traveled to Kansas to fight (and sometimes kill) those who sought to extend slavery into the new territories.

Throughout history, young men of all faiths and nationalities have turned “radical” at the sight of perceived injustices against other human beings.

I myself as a young African-American, joined the front lines in the struggle against racism in America. My “militancy” crystallized in the late ‘60s when, at the age of 17, I fought in a race riot—up and down the halls of Baldwin High.

Where people care deeply, it is always their young men who rise up and show how much they care. This does not make anybody right or wrong; it only shows that we are all human.

Lincoln's Four Year Plan: Leave It All On The Floor

Barack Obama is fond of comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln. If not outwardly, then certainly there is an inner gleam when he thinks of the lanky senator from Illinois who became president. But there is more to Lincoln than being tall and lanky, and having come from humble beginnings: When he got his chance, Lincoln left it all on the floor.

Lincoln’s election to the presidency brought the nation to the brink of destruction. South Carolina immediately seceded from the Union, followed in swift order by the rest of the states that would comprise the Confederacy. The Fuse lit for the most explosive four years in America’s history. Lincoln never blinked.

Braving the winds of a perpetual storm, he learned war on the fly, even as he fought for the nation’s very survival. In his four years, 600,000 Americans died.

By the end of those four years, Lincoln had lost a son in the White House- -11- -year-old Willie- - his wife had gone mad, and he was left a gaunt and emaciated figure of his former self. He left it all on the floor. He won the war, he preserved the Union for us all, and then he died.

Barack Obama does not have to die, neither must he lose a precious daughter; Michelle need not go mad. But he does need to leave it all on the floor.

Mr. Obama: Think not about a second term. Conduct this term you have like it is your only term. Be a Lincoln. Do this, and you will get a second term, whether you want it or not- -whether you have the strength left to stand, or not. Do this for your country. Whether you know it or not, this is what you signed on for: To be a Lincoln; to leave it all on the Floor

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tear Down That Wall!

The other day, on CNN, I was adopting American parents place a gadget inot the hands of their newly-adopted Haitian child. The child - no older than four - soon became enmeshed in buttons, oblivious to the proud parents who stood over him.

A technological device is the last thing that child needs. (He's just a baby!) He has been through a great earthquake. His entire world came crashing down. He needs talking with, and walking with, and reading to.
There will be plenty of time for technology. There is a short window - those early years - during which a parent can build a special bond with his child. Those precious years must not be wasted forging an unholy bond between child and technology. Instead of allowing such a wall between ourselves and our children, we should be tearing it down.
Then, there was our president - the same day, on the same channel - standing behind two TelePrompTers as he addressed a grade school audience. (They are just babies!) If you can be human with them, who can you be human with?
On of the raps against President Obama is that he is emotionally detached. His inability to "feel the people's pain," as Clinton would put it, is exacerbated by his tendency to inject technology between him and the people.
Now, as a cost-cutting measure, he wants to put a freeze on executive staff pay. Are you serious? Freeze? With the kind of advice they have been giving him, he should be imposing a pay cut. (Do that we'll call it "even.")
The first thing his over-priced staff should have done was advise him against taking TelePrompTers into a school - any school. In fact, except for major speeches, get rid of the TeleprompTer altogether. Designed as aids, they have become barriers that mirror insecurity.
Technology. It is becoming less and less about people communicating with people, and more and more about technology, itself.
Time for someone with guts in this administration to stand up to our president and say, "Mr. Obama, tear down that wall!" And time for us to do the same.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Take a Hike!

The Democrats are so proud of their "filibuster-proof" majority in the Senate that they will crawl on their bellies to appease it.

Enough already! With behavior like that, they don't deserve a 60 vote majority. Better that they had 56 or 57 seats in the Senate, instead. At least, then...perhaps, they would stand up like men rather than cow to the likes of Landrieu and Lieberman.

And speaking of Lieberman: It is time Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, stripped the closet Republican of his committee chairmanships and told him to "Take a hike!"

And while he is at it, tell "Louisiana" Landrieu and "Nebraska" Nelson - who held the Senate vote on health care hostage for their own sakes - to do the same. The Democrats would be better off without them. They would certainly smell a lot better.

(Larry wrote this piece before the election of Scott Brown(R) to the Senate and ending the so-called "filibuster-proof" 60 vote majority for the Democrats in the Senate).