TALK TO THE DADDY
Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"
Friday, May 30, 2008
Body of War is a documentary produced by Phil Donohue and directed by Ellen Spiro. It’s a poignant, sad tale about Tomas Young, about his day-to-day struggle to do all the things we take for granted: Eat, rise out of bed, perform natural bodily functions.
You may not know teen throb Justin Timberlake or talk-show mogul Oprah Winfrey. But you know Tomas. Tomas is a normal young kid who loves rock and roll. He was a typical single male who hung out in bars and listened to rock and roll. Now, he’s a paralyzed vet who struggles to live another day.
Tomas joined the Armed forces to serve his country after 911. Like many others, he was transferred from Afghanistan to the war in Iraq where, in less than one week on duty there, he was shot just below his neck and suffered a devastating wound for life. But that’s not the end of the documentary.
This brave young kid, who could have been your son, or brother, or the boy down the street just a few months after the high school prom, continued to fight by speaking out against the Iraqi war. The last thing I heard was that he has fallen into a coma and his mother, Cathy, says they are trying to keep him awake and talking a few hours a day.
Well wishing can be sent to:
Tomas Young - patient
Saint Luke's Hospital
Kansas City, MO 64111
You know: instead of throwing away money and wasting time on the movie "Sex and the City," maybe you could do what the daddy did: go to pbs.org, to Moyer’s Journal, and watch a video about a courageous American vet and a kid you already know.
WTF? No violence. No fisticuffs. No Saturday night specials. No buildings firebombed. No chase scenes. And no plot (Not that a good plot was ever that important to you). Oh, and BTW, no Sistahs either. Sorry, fellas. So who do you think this movie was made for?
But seriously, this movie is not to be taken seriously. It's light weight stuff about four neurotic women and how they've moved on since their show ended on tv. One is getting married, which gives her the excuse to try on a lot of clothes. The other three have settled into boring relationships, which gives them the excuse to meet the woman getting married, dress up in the coolest rags as they walk the streets of Manhattan, wine and dine in fabulous New York restaurants, and just hang out with each other, just be...neurotic together. White privilege has its place, I guess.
Fellas, if there ever was a time to put your foot down, to say you don't want to go to a movie, and to say you really want to renew some relationship of your own with the guys at your favorite watering hole, this is it.
The daddy will see you there.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
sitting in his living room in his comfortable home. But he remembers when it wasn't always so. He remembers when he first came to Minneapolis, Minnesota and washed dishes at a local restaurant for food and a place to stay. And then, like a slap upside the head, the words of Chicago blues guitarist Mighty Joe Young (He played for R&B great Tyrone Davis and was also a side man to blues greats Jimmie Dawkins and Otis Rush, respectively) rises up from some place deep within his soul; and the daddy begins to sing:
"Nothing in my pocket but the bottom.
More than I can say for my shoe.
Speaking of the blues I got em.
That's all I can afford to lose.
You know I need,
yes, I need someone.
Oh, before you reach the end.
You, too, might need a friend."
To shake this feeling, the daddy goes for a walk and...BAM!...gets hit again like Toni Soprano whacks a mafia underling on a late Sunday night, deep in some dark woods, somewhere outside New Jersey. This time it's Lurrie Bell singing a slow blues with a heavy backbeat and a bitter-sweet tone of resignation, asking someone but no one in particular:
"What can a poor man do
you know, when the blues keeps following around?
What can a poor man do you know,
you know when the blues keeps following him around?
Get him a pint a liquor
sit and drink it on down.
You know sometimes I feel
like drinking me some gasoline.
Oh, sometimes I feel
like drinking me some gasoline.
Striking me a match
and blow my fool self up in steam."
Let's face it: the daddy's got the blues, and, like an addict who has reached rock bottom, he just can't help hisself.
So what does a shaking addict do when he needs a fix? Call the nearest chemical dependency agency and say "I was wondering if you could provide me a little assistance?" Please. He goes to a drug dealer and then retires to the nearest dark alley to seek a little release, a little peace, with a vile of crack, the only God he knows.
So what did the daddy to do get his fix ? He went to a record shop and copped "Let's Talk About Love" by legendary blues guitar genius Lurrie Bell and sat in his own personal alley, his SUV, getting some cathartic release, if only for a day, from the blues that keeps following him around.
"Let's Talk About Love" is honest blues. There's not a lot of loud, fast playing tune that provides little time to breathe and take it all in. Lurrie takes his time and settles into a groove to play on the beat just the way his father, Carey Bell, a great harmonica player, used to do it in Muddy Water's band. In his playing, Lurrie takes clean breaks and steadily builds on a solo like a bricklayer building a house.
But this is not to say the brother doesn't rock. He gets you patting your feet, nodding your head, even dancing in the bathroom while brushing your teeth with several tunes spread appropriately throughout the CD. Whether a shuffle or down-and-out blues, Lurrie and his red Gibson moans and soars and screams inside a soulful backbeat that will make you feel it all over-- feel it to your bones.
But the daddy especially loves Lurrie's rhythm playing on "Why Am I Treated So Bad?" and his stirring solo on "Missing You;" And if you got a chance to see the December 2007 Living Blues magazine article on Lurrie Bell, you would understand why. You see that, besides alcohol, Lurrie battled a mental disease (schizophrenia) as well. And just when he was getting over it, just when this genius of the blues guitar was starting to wield his axe all over Chicago again, his loving partner and then his mentoring father died. So suddenly he's left to take care of his child and his life alone. And the sound of his red Gibson tells you that the blues still follows him around-- that it's been a struggle, that it still is a struggle.
On the other hand, his honest soul searching and truth-telling with his voice and with his amening on that Gibson is one of the reasons the daddy sometimes turns away from other music and listens to nothing but the blues for months.
Poet Sterling Plump said of Bell:
"He speaks scared chords
a guitar screams in his
eyes. Because he is some
one shot out of a shot
gun house by white
lightning that makes him
He is a part of speech
therapy we master
to speak sanity"
Has the blues ever followed you around?
Note: This is an article that readers asked
me to repost.
On Saturday, the Rules Committe of the Democratic National Committee will meet to determine the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegation. This meeting is occuring because democrats from both states foolishly and intentionally went against their party rules and moved up the date of their primaries. Barack Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan and, in Florida, their Governor, a Republican, persuaded democrats to move up the date. Now, when democratic leaders decide to heed the words of a Republican over their democratic leadership, you know they're inviting sanctions from party leadership and deservedly so.
Into the fray steps Senator Clinton who says all the votes from Michigan and Florida should be counted. Of course she only started to fight for the "enfranchisement" of Michigan and Florida voters after she realized she needed to use their votes to claim she has won the most popular vote and therefore should be the democratic nominee for the U.S. presidency. Harold Meyerson, executive editor of American Prospect, and columnist for the Washington Post, shakes out the nonsense of Senator Clinton's phony claims.
By HAROLD MEYERSON
Last update: May 28, 2008
On Saturday, when the Rules Committee of the Democratic National Committee meets to determine the fate of Florida and Michigan's delegations to this summer's convention, it will have some company. A group of Hillary Clinton supporters has announced it will demonstrate outside.
That Clinton has impassioned supporters, many of whom link her candidacy to the feminist cause, hardly qualifies as news. And it's certainly true that along the campaign trail Clinton has encountered some outrageously sexist treatment. But somehow, a number of Clinton supporters have come to identify the seating of Michigan and Florida with the causes of democracy and feminism -- an equation that makes a mockery of democracy and feminism.
Clinton herself is largely responsible for this absurdity. Over the past couple of weeks, she has equated the seating of the two delegations with African-Americans' struggle for suffrage in the Jim Crow South, and with the efforts of the democratic forces in Zimbabwe to get a fair count of the votes in their presidential election.
The Clintonistas who have called Saturday's demonstration make it sound as if they'll be marching in Selma in support of a universal right to vote. The DNC, says one of their websites, "must honor our core democratic principles and enfranchise the people of Michigan and Florida."
Had Florida and Michigan conducted their primaries the way other states did -- that is, in accord with the very clear calendar laid down by the DNC well before the primaries began -- then Clinton's marchers would be utterly justified in their claims. But when the two states flouted those rules by moving their primaries outside the prescribed time frame, the DNC decreed that their primaries would not count and enjoined all presidential candidates from campaigning in those states. Obama and John Edwards complied by removing their names from the Michigan ballot. Clinton did not.
Seating Michigan in full would validate the kind of one-candidate election (well, 1.03, to give Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd and Mike Gravel, who also remained on the ballot, their due) that is more common in autocracies than democracies. It would mean rewarding the one serious candidate who didn't remove her name from the ballot when all her rivals, in deference to the national party rules, did just that.
What's particularly outrageous is that the Clinton campaign supported the calendar -- and the sanctions against Michigan and Florida -- until Clinton won those states and needed to have their delegations seated.
Not a single Clinton campaign official or DNC Rules Committee member, much less the candidate herself, said at the time that the sanctions imposed on Florida or Michigan were in any way an affront to democratic values. The threat that these rules posed to our fundamental beliefs was discovered only ex post facto -- the facto in question being Clinton's current need to seat the delegations whose seatings she had opposed when she thought she'd cruise to the nomination.
Clinton's supporters have every right to demonstrate, but their larger cause is neither democracy nor feminism; it's situational ethics. To insist otherwise is to degrade democracy and turn feminism into the last refuge of scoundrels.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
t could also be called childish, irresponsible and counterproductive — and, since the demise of the Soviet Union, even insane. Absent the threat of communist expansionism, the refusal by successive American presidents to engage with Cuba has not even a fig leaf’s worth of rationale to cover its naked illogic. Other than providing Fidel Castro with a convenient antagonist to help him whip up nationalist fervor on the island — and thus prolong his rule — the U.S. trade embargo and other sanctions have accomplished precisely nothing."
Okay, Barack, you say you are for "change people can believe in." Cool. Now, easing restrictions on travel and sending money would mean a lot to Cuban Americans and their families. But wouldn't getting rid of the embargo be an even greater change for everyone concerned? Wouldn't it take away the Castro regime's use of the U.S. as an excuse for not changing its bad economic policies decades ago? And wouldn't it open up fully a new a outlet for U.S. businesses, especially agriculture, autos and technology?
Look, the daddy knows you have to play politics with Cuban Americans who still haven't gotten over the fact that their land, homes and positions with the dictatorial Batista regime, but can't you take a new look at the embargo policy? With a new guy, Raul, in charge, don't you think the time is ripe? Sure, Raul is Castro's brother and is almost as old as he, but he has already begun discussing some changes (however small) in a short period of time, such as allowing cell phones, automobile purchases and private businesses.
Barack, getting rid of the U.S. embargo on Cuba would be a change the daddy could believe in. Why? It's a stupid policy. Just ask Eugene.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
May 27, 2008
This makes it clear, because the DNC has consistently used this very language over the last few months, that whitosphere bloggers and the DNC consider Black and Latino bloggers to be "niche communities" whose writing is only of interest "to specific communities" but not to the Party in general. And that color-aroused ideation explains why white bloggers believe it is appropriate for them to arrogate and entire class of privileges to themselves while denying them to everyone else: because they consider Blacks to be a "niche" audience that is not "of interest" beyond "specific communities." That is, Blacks' issues are of interest only to Blacks themselves.
Clearly, the belief that Blacks and women and Latinos are a "niche" is not based on a numerical reality, since Blacks and Latinos and women together are 70% of the Democratic Party. The belief that Blacks and Latinos and women and gays, separate and in combination, are a "niche" is founded in the white male supremacy paradigm. This is the same paradigm that permitted white males to be a sociological and political majority under the South Africa Apartheid system even though they were outnumbered by Black South Africans by a factor of 5:1.
If you are not addressing white males' issues from a white male perspective, then you are a "niche", no matter how many there are of you demographically. Under the white male supremacy paradigm, white males are NEVER a niche no matter how few they relative to the overall population. Under the white male supremacy paradigm, in a country of ten million even one white man constitutes a "mainstream majority of one" while 9,999,999 women, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, gays and lesbians are nothing but "niche issues of interest to specific communities."
So, the DNC state blogging v. general blogging pools are not merely a declaration of where Blacks and Latinos can sit at the Democratic National Convention. They are the declaration and institutionalization of the subservient and client-state role that whitosphere pseudo-progressives believe Black people and Latinos should have in our Democratic Party, now and more so in the future.
This is why we must never concede that white bloggers have a right to usurp and arrogate for themselves rights that the rest of us will not enjoy. Every system of apartheid has a starting day, and the intended opening day of the new and institutionalized Democratic Party apartheid is the first day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. When we think of Jim Crow and the exclusion of Blacks from the Democratic Party, Blacks, Latinos, women gays and lesbians say what the Jews say when they reflect on the Holocaust: "Never Again!"
Now, the white bloggers and the DNC insist that our strong language turns them off and makes them more resistant to our demands for justice, to our demands for an end to color-based apartheid. But we know that the unless we used strong and determined language, the media would not cover this issue at all, and then white bloggers would continue to ignore the issue as surely as YearlyWhitosphere will be virtually all-white again this year.
Whitosphere bloggers and the DNC insist that the near-total exclusion of Black and Latino blogs from the floor pool was accidental and not by design. And yet they also acknowledge, tellingly, that they have always conceived of the general pool as their intended ghetto for "niche issues of interest to specific [non-white male] communities." How did they know they would need a special ghetto, away from the floor, for "niche . . . communities" unless they were planning from the very beginning to exclude "niche . . . communities" from seating on the floor of the conference?
Now, Aaron Myers insists to us, incredibly, that the floor blogging and general pool blogging will be separate but equal. Where have we heard that lie before?
Because we have courageously stood up to whitosphere bloggers and the Democratic National Committee and denounced their color-based discrimination and apartheid ideology, the national press is covering this issue and pressuring the DNC to desegregate the floor blogging pool.
We must not concede that white bloggers will enjoy ANYTHING that Black and Latino bloggers will not. We will not use the "kitchen entrance," even if they insist that the very same food is served in the kitchen. We will not be relegated to the "Black Bathrooms" even if they promise us that the Black bathrooms are identical to the white ones. Because we've tried that and shed our blood when we discovered that it simply does not work: When whites divide the resources, separate is never equal.
Monday, May 26, 2008
THE DADDY WILL REMEMBER
To follow through, the daddy is going to do this post on war, something about which you don’t want to read and show a couple of pictures your government doesn’t want you to see. But fear not. He’ll keep it short and bittersweet.
No, the daddy won't have you read long arguments against an illegal, pre-emptive war. But he will suggest a few talking points to hone. Here are a few of the more important ones:
- The US invasion and occupation was unnecessary;
- It killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and caused even more to be displaced in other countries;
- It caused deeper divisions among ethnic groups;
- It caused the death of more than 4,000 US soldiers and psychologically damaged thousands more, perhaps for life;
- It distracted us from capturing the number one terrorist (Osama Bin Laden) and his crazies (Al Queda) in Afghanistan and near the Pakistani border, and, indeed, served as recruiting tool and perhaps made Al Queda stronger;
- It reconfigured power politics of the Middle East, transferring that power from the
USto ; Iran
- It is destroying untold numbers of US military families (something folks seemed to have forgotten on Memorial Day); and
- It transferred to
Iraqand financial and human resources needed to provide healthcare, jobs, education, affordable housing and greater safety at home. Afghanistan
From the Church of England:
"Lord, we pray fervently for the people of Iraq
facing the horror of a full-scale war,
and for those people who may be called upon to fight.
Help us to persuade world leaders to continue negotiations.
Help all of us: individuals, nations, governments and world leaders
to remember --
the unnecessary loss of life for millions of innocent people,
the scale of human suffering that war brings,
the right of Iraqi people to determine their own future,
the gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity
that are committed in the name of war,
nobody has total power over any country or its people but God alone.
Let us be open to God's words in our forthcoming decisions and try not
to be God ourselves."
We pause on this Memorial Day, a brief moment in time,
To bring close to our hearts those memories we hold so dear
Of the men and women before us who unselfishly put their dreams, their lives on the line.
Where danger lay as a stalker,
waiting to take away each breath, while the soldier
plowed with determination the furrows of death.
We must remember, we must, you and I,
those special heroes who chose to fly,
to fly the skies of blue that turned as dark as the midnight sky,
Their wings began to shudder as smoke choked their breath away,
And hope gave way to the resignation, "Today, I'm going to die."
Treading the waters so deep and wide,
Men and women continued on their mission,
For God and country, their hearts would abide.
Surprised by attacks with brutal disregard for human life,
they fought to the end, knowing that life and limb would be lost,
whether of self or friend.
Yes by land, by sea, and in the skies,
they fought for our land,
they fought for freedom so that you and I might stand,
Stand for what is right, for what is good and true,
fight that we might say without fear, "God loves you."
Yes, we must remember, for freedom is not cheap,
or lives and limbs were lost so that we might keep,
All the things that we can have and all the things we can do,
Like cars and boats and a house with a roof,
Like going to church without fear,
and reading the Bible where we find the truth,
The truth of knowing that whether we are red, yellow, black,
We are all God's children and we need to learn to love one another as God first loved us.
For if there is to be peace on earth,
where all men and women are free,
it must begin with each and all of us,
let it begin with you and me.
Woodland United Methodist Church, Virginia
Let us pray:
Jewish Prayer for Peace
Come let us go up the mountain of
the Lord, that we may walk the
paths of the Most High.
And we shall beat our swords into ploughshares,
and our spears into pruning hooks.
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation--
neither shall they learn war any more.
And none shall be afraid, for the mouth of the
Lord of Hosts has spoke
Sunday, May 25, 2008
--April 5, 1967
(This is the speech where Dr. King stated that America was "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," meaning in 1967)
"Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor."
Excerpt from Senator Robert Kennedy, speaking to a crowd of Blacks, giving
them the news that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot and was dead.
by Robert Kennedy
-- April 4, 1968
"...we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times.
My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: "Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
(Interrupted by applause)
So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, yeah that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love - a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke. We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past. And we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land."
Let us pray:
In the name of Allah,
the beneficent, the merciful.
Praise be to the Lord of the
Universe who has created us and
made us into tribes and nations,
That we may know each other, not that
we may despise each other.
If the enemy incline towards peace, do
thou also incline towards peace, and
trust God, for the Lord is the one that
heareth and knoweth all things.
And the servants of God,
Most Gracious are those who walk on
the Earth in humility, and when we
address them, we say "PEACE."
| || |
Saturday, May 24, 2008
taken notice of wars, but
what are wars but politics transformed
from chronic to acute and bloody?
Say whatever you want. Do whatever you like, but on this day, two days before Memorial Day, a time of remembrance of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, and those who will be paying the price in the future, the daddy is not discussing US political campaigns and their by now all-too-familiar ugliness. He's not posting about an illegal, pre-emptive war that never should have started in the first place. And he's definitely not writing about political candidates who used their vote for the Iraq war to show that they're as tough as any other senator or congress person on war or terrorism.
Today, he is thinking about two poets; and he's in prayer.
He's thinking of Pablo Neruda 1904-1973), that devoted Chilean who served his country for so many years as consulate and ambassador from 1970 to 1973. He remembers that Neruda was a wise man and a great poet. He remembers that, when friend and Chilean composer Acario Catapos died, Neruda honored him with an elegant, one-sentence eulogy:
We deliver into the shadows
A brilliant human being
Who gave us a star everyday.
The daddy is thinking of Neruda as not only a representative of his country but a servant of peace. In "Memoirs" (Cinfeso Que He Vivido: Memorias), he wrote:
Poetry is an act of peace.
Peace goes into the making of a poet
As flour goes into the making of bread.
The daddy is thinking of the Oxford-trained English poet W.H. Auden, who was influenced by Thomas Hardy, William Black, Robert Frost and Emily Dickenson. He is thinking about the notion of evil, a recurring theme in Auden's work. He remembers him saying that, to find evil, you needn't travel to some distant land; you needn't look at anyone you perceive to be different. You need only look at yourself and those around you:
Evil is unspectacular and always
human, and shares our bed and
eats at our own table.
I and the people know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done,
Do evil in return.
A Memorial Day Prayer
By Rev. Nancy S. Taylor
Old South Church in
Boylston & Dartmouth Streets at the Copley
Almighty God, our heavenly Mother and Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; we give thanks for all who have laid down their lives in the service of their country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence.
Grateful in heart thy people turn to thee, O God of all humankind. Give us wisdom and strength to save our land from greed and corruption; from pride and presumption; from tyrants and misrule. Deliver us from war and the menace of war. Give to our leaders wisdom and to our people patience, that together they may achieve a better law, a purer life, a more abundant opportunity for all. Grant unto our land to be numbered among he peacemakers and become a hope to the oppressed. Give her the desire to promote honor and humanity throughout the earth, that in liberty and self-restraint, in charity and gentleness, she may be worthy of her origin and of thy favor.
O Thou in whose hands are the hearts of thy creatures; shed abroad thy peace upon the world. By the might of thy Holy Spirit quench the pride, quell the anger, and cast out the greed which cause person to strive against person, and tribe against tribe, and nation against nation. Lead all nations in the ways of mutual help and good will and hasten the time when no evil deeds shall defile thy glorious creation; through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Peace to one and all,
Friday, May 23, 2008
No, on this day, on the eve of Memorial Day, a day of remembrance of those men and women who paid the ultimate price, and those who continue to sacrifice, the daddy won't talk but will silently pray:
- For the sad Iraqi people, who had family members killed, their homes and communities destroyed;
- For our brave but misled soldiers to stay alive, to come home as soon as possible and try to deal with a psychologically devastating travail;
- For our elected leaders who voted for war and continued to vote for the funding of that war; and for any US citizen who say they will vote for them again.
A Memorial Day Prayer
by Rev. Dick Kozelka (ret), First Congregational Church of Minnesota
Creator of years, of centuries,
Lord of whatever is beyond time,
Maker of all species and master of all history --
How shall we speak to you
from our smallness and inconsequence?
Except that you have called us to worship you
in spirit and in truth;
You have dignified us with loves and loyalties;
You have lifted us up with your lovingkindnesses.
Therefore we are bold to come before you without groveling
[though we sometimes feel that low]
and without fear
[though we are often anxious].
We sing with spirit and pray with courage
because you have dignified us;
You have redeemed us from the aimlessness
of things' going meaninglessly well.
God, lift the hearts of those
for whom this holiday is not just diversion,
but painful memory and continued deprivation.
Bless those whose dear ones have died
needlessly, wastefully [as it seems]
in accident or misadventure.
We remember with compassion those who have died
serving their countries
in the futility of combat.
There is none of us but must come to bereavement and separation,
when all the answers we are offered
fail the question death asks of each of us.
We believe that you will provide for us
as others have been provided with the fulfillment of
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
Thursday, May 22, 2008
No, the daddy never met him. Never got to see him, But, as a kid, the daddy belonged to the religious sect that he made into a powerful national force in the United States, The Nation of Islam. It was an institution with which to be reckoned n the 1960's.
No, the daddy was no leader in the group. In fact, the daddy was kicked out of the group for reading Minister Malcolm's book, "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." You see, the daddy was a kid and didn't know about this war going on inside the Nation of Islam between the brothers and sisters who were loyal to late Honorable Elijah Muhammad and those who were loyal to Minister Malcolm, even though Minister Malcolm was dead by that time. But after finishing the book, after speaking to present and former members from both sides, the daddy lost faith in the leadership of The Nation of Islam, never asked to be reinstated, and left the organization for good.
Why? Because brothers and sister told him something that he could not ignore or wish away: that Minister Malcolm was too honest, too committed to black people, and too disappointed in the immoral behavior of the late Honorable Elijah Muhammad, his mentor and substitute father, to keep his mouth shut about the corruption and immorality going on at the top levels of the Nation of Islam at that time-- that Minister Malcolm had to die, because he was too dedicated and knew too much. I left, because I believed them.
And that's why the daddy is being lazy today, sitting here thinking about Minister Malcolm: about the courage it takes to go against your own people, your own organization, your own disciples (whom you groomed to be leaders, whom you knew would order that you be killed) and, worst of all, your own mentor who, in effect, was your father. But, ultimately, the daddy is thinking about something even more important than political betrayal; he's thinking about the potency of legacy.
The daddy is thinking that to kill a great leader can be an oppressor's worst mistake. Why? Because the great leader becomes a martyr and is elevated to even greater heights. The leader's spirit floats into the air and hovers just above the heads of the oppressed and, when the time is right, shimmers down like golden sun rays on a clear, summer's day. That's when the martyrs become more valuable in death than in life, when, ironically, martyrs take on new lives and live in the hearts of future Minister Malcolm's for generations.
That's why the daddy is sitting here thinking about some things that Minister Malcolm said in the 1960's that still resonates with him today:
* That "education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it;"
* That "The political philosophy of black nationalism means that the black man should control the politics and the politicians in his own community;"
* That "The economic philosophy of black nationalism only means that our people need to re-educated into the importance of controlling the economy of the community in which they live;"
* That "Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods or tactics or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free human in this society;" and
* That "Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression."
It's feeling nice and warm in the house. But the daddy thinks he'll take a walk outside, where it's warmer still. Maybe the daddy will look up in the sky...and think about Minister Malcolm.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime,
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up.
And hope and history rhyme."
--from "The Cure for Troy," quoted by Ted Sorenson
1. Did you hear Senator Clinton's speech last night? Celebrating her victory in Kentucky? She said she will continue the campaign. That was expected. But did you see her falsely claim that she has more popular votes than Sen. Obama? Of course, she's counting Florida, whose numbers don't count, and Michigan, where Obama wasn't even on the ballot. Sticking this campaign out til the end may enhance Senator Clinton's resume as fighter. It may also support those who see her tendency to exaggerate or lie to win, such as the day she lived in Bosnia under sniper fire, when the cameras showed her calmly walking down a rap with a little girl waiting to give her flowers and to sing her a song.
2. Yes, by securing a majority of pledged delegates, presidential candidate Obama moved closer to securing the democratic nomination for the presidency. But did you notice what he didn't say? He didn't say, "I got the pledged delegates, I got the popular votes, I got the superdelegates. So,baby, it's all over but the crying for Hillary and her people!" No. He was humble and deferential. There are two reasons for this, one political and one personal.
The political reason is that he simply doesn't want to alienate Clinton's supporters. He knows that, despite blaming the media for the way Senator Clinton was treated, despite claiming that Obama is a sexist, Obama knows that most of her supporters will vote for him in the general. And he's right. Research shows that Americans who say they will not vote for a candidate from their own party in a primary almost always vote for that candidate from their party in the general. Obama knows that Clinton supporters will be no different. He was only trying to ensure that as many as possible vote in the general.
The personal reason is that Obama doesn't appear to be a mean-spirited politician who would unnecessarily make another person, even a candidate of a mean-spirited campaign adversary like Clinton, look small. He appears to be genuine about the notion of pulling all Americans together. This is at least, in part, the reason he was deferential to Senator Clinton last night, saying she has run a tough campaign, that she has, in his words, "shattered myths and broken barriers and changed the America for my daughters and your daughters."
This characteristic is one of the reasons he has won a majority of the pledged delegates, has superdelegates endorsing him in droves, and will probably be the next president of the United States-- In Obama, people see more they don't see a power-grabbing, self-self-serving politician, they see the positive attributes of a good leader, a good man.
3. Did you hear that Ted Sorensen, John Kennedy's adviser and speechwriter, endorsed Obama. He said great leaders rarely come along in one's lifetime. He said he's seen two
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Clinton lost in her bid to be the democratic nominee for president of the United States. This piece was written by organizer and blogger Francis at francisholland.blogspot.com I find his emphasis on the color-arousing behavior of Senator Clinton as a key reason she lost to be very interesting.
Why Blacks Voted FOR Obama, Why Blacks Voted AGAINST Clinton
Clinton would have won if she had just held onto half of the Black vote, and she entered the race with 80% to 90% of the Black vote.
There are a lot of reasons that Clinton lost the Black vote, and you'd have to divide these reasons into two lists that are not the same: (a) the reasons Blacks voted FOR Obama and (b) the reasons Blacks voted AGAINST Clinton.
Let's look at the reasons Blacks voted FOR Obama:
1). He's obviously a genius intellect,
2). He's a US Senator with the institutional position from which to run for president,
3). Whites voted for Obama first, in Iowa and New Hampshire, which meant that Obama had a real chance to win if Blacks switched support from Clinton to Obama,
4). Obama ran a very principled and directed campaign with a very positive message of hope and change,
5). Obama said, "This is our time for change," which was a subtle enough message that it was Blacks' time to pull together and do something as one.
6). The same Black bloggers and Black online organizations that organized the Jena March also called on Blacks to go to the polls and vote for Barack Obama.
Now, let's look at just a few of the reasons why Blacks voted AGAINST Clinton, in no particular order:
1) Clinton failed to understand, in spite of warnings that she received, that Blacks would identify with Obama and would feel insulted every time Obama was insulted,
2). Clinton engaged in a horde of color-arousal strategies intended to convince Blacks and whites not to believe in or vote for Obama because of his skin color, each of which strategies infuriated Blacks and caused us to identify more strongly with his struggle against Hillary,
3). When Hillary's people told Iowans that Obama was a Muslim, we realized that argument could be used against any of us, and so Clinton really must never have felt any real solidarity with Black American,
4). When Clinton suggested that America's only Black member of the US Congress should be suspected of having been a drug dealer, we realized that was based on his skin color, which meant ALL Black people who had ever used marijuana should be suspected of having been a drug dealer. This was the first time ANY presidential candidate had been so accused and it was clearly based on skin color, since no information was ever offered to support this accusation,
5). Clinton's attempts to convince Blacks not to vote for Obama were inept, whether they came from white surrogates or Black surrogates. These efforts were all based on Obama's skin color instead of any substantive aspect of Obama's plan for America.
6). Even though most of us agreed that Clinton had more experience, we were willing to overlook this when Obama became viable AND we became furious with Clinton for trying to color arouse the public against Black people.
7). In South Carolina, Bill Clinton's comparison to Jesse Jackson demeaned Obama ON THE BASIS OF SKIN COLOR. If Bill had instead compared Obama to Gary Hart, with Gary Hart's "New Ideas", that would have been much more effective, both with Blacks and with whites.
8). The more Blacks heard Clinton argue against Obama, the more convinced we became that we would never vote for Clinton, but instead that we would vote AGAINST her. Even those of us who were not completely convinced about Obama nonetheless became completely convinced AGAINST Clinton by what she said. She would have gotten more Black votes if she had said nothing about Obama at all, or if she had argued against him using traditional arguments that were not aroused by Obama's skin color.
For white politicians, the message is to give Black competitors the respect to run against them the way you would run against any white candidate. This way, you can win white votes while keeping your Black base.
Instead, Clinton proved that she was unscrupulous and would use the Southern Strategy nationwide before even trying others at her disposal. Good riddance to her!
Sexism and Privilege: Parsing Gender and Politics in the Clinton Campaign
I was all set to write a post about how some feminist support of Hillary Clinton seems contrary to principles of female equality. I get the sense, in some Clintonistas' breathless defense of the candidate, that she is a delicate flower than needs protecting from male colleagues, the media and other women who simply don't understand her, and that her actions don't deserve the scrutiny that those of male candidates receive.
That is not equality.
Hillary Clinton's supporters too often cast her as a victim, all the better to champion the "she's a fighter" narrative. After all, a fighter who has nothing to fight against is just surly and combative.
Remember when, early in the race, in a "bloody" debate, Clinton stood as the front runner, while the other Democratic candidates tried to knock her off her game? That is what opponents who are behind try to do in politics--take out the front runner. And all of Clinton's opponents "attacked" her respectfully with valid points about policy. (Unlike some of the attacks the Clinton camp would later launch against Barack Obama) Clinton was tough, but it was not her best debate performance. Well, c'est la vie. That is how the political cookie crumbles. Sometimes you perform win, sometimes you lose and come back to fight another day. That's fair. Or no, maybe not. Following the debate, the Clinton camp and many of her supporters bemoaned the Dem "boys" ganging up on the lone "girl."
The debate is still churning in feminist circles, where some women’s activists said she had every right to invoke sexism and gender stereotypes as a defense on the campaign trail — and predicted that this tactic will prove effective against fellow Democrats and against a Republican, if she is the general election nominee.It really does go beyond logic. Clinton, because she is a woman, should not withstand political attacks that surely would be visited upon her if she were male. Isn't that just a little, well, sexist?
“It goes beyond logic — it’s a gut response,” Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said of the spectacle of Clinton onstage confronting seven male rivals and two male moderators at a debate in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Smeal, who has endorsed Clinton, compared the debate scene to the congressional grilling of Anita Hill when she challenged Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination in 1991.
“Every woman — it was just so visceral — that panel was all male,” Smeal recalled. “It didn’t matter almost what was being said. It [was] a visceral gut reaction, and I think that’s what you’re seeing here again.”
And now there is all this flap about NARAL Pro-choice America's endorsement of Barack Obama. It seems to me that the advocacy group is doing what all good progressives who want to see a Democrat in the White House come next January should do. In the name of unity and likely to ensure a voice in a future administration, NARAL is getting behind the presumptive nominee--the person who is ahead in delegates, the popular vote, states won and superdelegates, and who has a strong pro-choice record. But many female Clinton supporters don't see it that way. NARAL's endorsement is BETRAYAL!
A woman in this comment thread said:
I cannot believe how socially irresponsible this organization is. How can you possibly think that your advocating for women when you make a decision that could divide the women’s movement for years to come? I am so fundamentally repulsed by your decision. I am absolutely stunned at how thoughtless and irresponsible your decision making is regarding this matter. The founders of the women’s movement everywhere suffer a serious set back today when their own sisters attempt to destroy them. If you think that this is going to help our cause, you are clueless. I can’t believe you’ll cut your throats and those of all the women out there who have supported you, including Senator Clinton, just to get on the bandwagon of the male candidate who has no personal insight whatsoever what it feels like to have the federal government regulate his body. How dare you attempt to destroy what so many of us have worked so hard to create. The founders of the women's movement roll in their graves today. I never thought I would see the day when an organization, founded by women for women, actually had the chance to support the most qualified candidate for president and SHE happened to be a women and yet, they chose the male for no justifiable reason whatsoever. I'm speechless. This has already been a rough week for women in that Obama supporter Steven Cohen assaulted Hillary with his violent rhetoric and then this. Wow, what a sad week for women in this country.You see, NARAL's endorsement was yet another attack on Hillary. Note the use of inflammatory language like "assaulted" and "violent." Those who do not fully support Clinton are abusers. This really is identity politics at its worse. It obscures discussion of the very real sexism that has occurred in this campaign, along with the heinous racism (some of it stoked by Clinton herself). And it makes mockery of the very real ways women around the world are abused, intimidated and oppressed.
The course of Hillary Clinton's campaign makes me uncomfortable as a woman, who was raised by both of my parents to believe that I could do anything, but never told that, when competing in a male-dominated world, I should be treated with delicacy. And it makes me uncomfortable as an African American, because what I also see hiding behind the idea of Hillary Clinton as the wronged woman is privilege and entitlement. There is this idea that Clinton is owed the presidential spot. It is her time. Obama is just a potential affirmative action hire, unqualified and slick, poised to steal what is hers.
The spot in which Hillary Clinton finds herself could not possibly be of her own making. She cannot be losing because her campaign thought the Democratic race would be a coronation and failed to plan for anything past Super Tuesday. She cannot be losing because her campaign rejected Howard Dean's 50-state strategy that is working so well for Obama. She cannot be losing because her campaign has employed the very Rovian tactics that progressives have been decrying throughout these long, dark eight years. She cannot be losing because by employing Nixon's "southern strategy," she and her surrogates alienated one of the Democrats most loyal voting blocs: black Americans, who initially favored her over her opponent. She cannot be losing because she simply failed to strike while the iron was hot--back in 2004, when so many people wanted her to run her to run for the presidency. She could have taken Bush to school in a way that Kerry did not. But she waited. And a new political star emerged. Sometimes that happens. It's not sexism. It's life.
No, too many Clinton supporters will tell you that Hillary is losing because everyone and everything is just so unfair because she is a woman. And no one mentions that if their places were reversed--if Clinton was the one ahead by all common metrics and Obama (or Edwards or Richardson or any of the original male candidates) was behind by no matter how small a margin--we would be talking about the rampaging male ego, how the boys club refuses to let a woman win, how sexism is tearing the party asunder, how unfair it is that the Democratic male candidate will not step aside for the good of the party. That the Democratic Party has not more forcefully called for Hillary to step down reflects her privilege.
Anyway, I was all set to write this post, but then I read Stephen Daugherty's diary at Daily Kos, titled "Is it feminist to portray Hillary as a victim?". And he pretty much said what I wanted to say, but perhaps more eloquently. Now, some will discount this diary, because it is written by a man. But I do not.
Here is an excerpt of Daugherty's essay:
Some folks view critiques of her bare-knuckles style of campaigning as an attempt to penalize her for being un-ladylike. Some may think that way, but I don't think most Americans think that way, especially given her culturally conservative base. If anybody would have a problem with Hillary having sharp elbows, it would be them.
But you can be seen as unsympathetic and mean-spirited independent of gender. You can also be seen as disloyal, on the basis of your actions. Lieberman's a good example. In critiquing the rhetoric of Obama supporters, one should consider the nature of the perceptions she has raised by continually consorting with media figures, rhetoric, and tactics more appropriate to the other side.
Lastly, we should consider the tensions and the anxieties generated by a contest which has long lead in, with Obama long known to be the likely winner.
Hillary's image problems have little to do with her gender, and to make them out to be gender-related is insulting to real feminism. To be equal in our society is to be held equally responsible for obnoxious behavior and self-expression. If you pander to the Right-Wing Media to attack fellow Democrats rather than stand up for the party, you should be held accountable. If you selfishly extend a contest you are unlikely to win, rather than conceding things to get the fight against your common enemies started earlier, people are going to get angry and frustrated with you.
The question for feminists raising the red card of porcine male chauvinism should be this: when they talk about other people, do they speak of those folks as an "us", or a "them"? Is the goal of feminism to preserve women as a separate block, politically, one that needs special treatment to get fair treatment, or is the goal of feminism to put men and women on equal footing, with equal rights and equal obligations? Read
Why Clinton Lost the Election
Robert Creamer, author of "Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win," and commentator at Huffington Post, wrote a fascinating piece on Sen. Hillary Clinton, providing 10 reasons why she lost an democratic nominee for the US presidency.
Creamer said Obama won because he assembled a strong team that worked well together, developed an all-state (as opposed to the Clinton's big-states) strategy, executed better with all the little stuff, the nuts-and-bolts organizing on the ground; did better fund raising, communicated more effectively by using one consistent message about change and hope, used message of unity and hope to trump transcend fear and anger, and, on the whole, communicated portrayed Obama as he is in real life: a smart, charming, communicative, level-headed, and compassionate family man.As for Sen. Clinton, she used a faulty big-state operational strategy, deployed an inappropriate political message (selling herself as a competent Washington insider at a time when America is begging for someone new, someone to make changes in Washington), and had no plan B past February 5.
Good analysis. But Creamer, you forgot one thing: Clinton's win at-all-cost mentality. To succeed in a man's world, Sen. Clinton had to be a fighter. Like a boxer running five miles a day, shadowboxing as she goes, she had to fight like hell to earn her place in the sun, her seat at the table in the senate, an all-boy's club if there ever was one.
To get there, she had to stay in fighting mode. She had to say to herself, "I'm not going to give up; I'm going to fight; and I'm going to win, no matter what it takes." Unfortunately, many women know this mentality all too well.
But at what point does a woman see the necessity to alter this mentality? Or can a woman sometimes move between fighter and peacemaker mode? Some would no doubt say yes. Others would no doubt say never-- not if you want to succeed, not if you want to break through the glass ceiling of a male-dominated society.
Maybe so. Maybe not. I think our society could very well be making a transition from a white male-ordered culture to something else-- something less definable yet more diverse in many ways. For instance, many a woman have left the corporate world and started their own businesses and, with it, started to change the rules and values in those particular institutions, one business at a time. Many men have chosen to work at home to be closer to their children or partner. And many fathers have chosen to raise their sons to be as free as possible from violent tv, movies and video games, guns and the other-as-enemy-mentality that got us into the amazingly stupid civil war called Iraq.
Maybe our society is catching up to those ideals it has long professed but never really manifested in practice to Senator Clinton or other oppressed classes: Ideals like equality, justice and democracy. But in the interim, when sex still sells and sexism (as in unequal women's pay for at least equal work to men) makes profit, is it really that difficult to understand why Senator Clinton wouldn't stay in a fighting mode? Why she wouldn't keep running , shadowboxing along the way, saying "I'm going to win no matter what it takes?" I didn't think so.
Nonetheless, that same win-at-all costs mentality that helped her to succeed, that got her to the senate, was, ultimately, the mentality that caused her demise in this campaign. It caused her to hire key advisors like Mark Penn, who presides over a consulting firm that counsels large corporations and governments on how to bust unions and whose man-the-torpedoes recommendations kept Senator Clinton from taking a breather, from showing voters the kind of person her closest friends swear she is (when she let's down the boxing gloves): a kind, compassionate and generous human being.
It caused her to portray herself to be as tough as any man, to be a warmonger if necessary at the precise time that Americans are desperately crying out for negotiations over pre-emptive war.
It caused her to sink to embarrassing depths of pandering: sitting at pubs with "ordinary Joes," throwing down shots of liquor and chasing it with a swig of beer; calling for an improbable and unworkable gas holiday; recalling her early Annie Oakley, gun-shooting days as a child in Scranton, Pennsylvania; and, worst of all, resorting to race-baiting against a member of her own party, a fellow colleague in the senate and a representative of a people who were her most loyal supporters (African Americans). Though she won the battle in Pennsylvania, she lost the respect of not only African American voters, but voters all across the country, including many white feminists who once sang her praises.
Some women will say that Senator Clinton is a fighter, that a woman must always stay in fighting mode to get what she wants. If true, that perhaps says more about our sexist society than a self-absorbed, power obsessed Hillary Clinton. But none of that can take away from the fact that it was her stop-at-nothing-throw-them- under-the-bus-if-necessary mentality that caused her to lose this democratic nomination.
But with a graceful exit extolling the virtues of party unity and the qualities that would make Obama the right president for our times, Hillary Clinton will live to fight again in 2012...if she can exit gracefully.
Update: For a different point of view, check out "Sexism and Privilege: parsing gender politics in the Clinton campaign" at whattamisaid.