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?"

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Countee Cullen, A Harlem Renaissance Poet

Countee Cullen (1903 - 1946)
Countee Cullen

Listen up. On this day, The Daddy is feeling Countee Cullen, who was born on May 30, 1903. He was a lyric poet influenced by English poet John Keats.

Cullen is tied to the Harlem Renaissance, that period of great outpouring of literature of black Americans. However, Cullen was different from many of the poets of that time like Langston Hughes in that he wrote in the traditional English style of poets like Keats and Shelley and was resistant to the modernist technique. And he considered poetry to be "raceless." Nonetheless, his best poems dealt with racial themes, such as "The Black Christ."

Cullen wrote a novel dealing with life in Harlem entitled, "One Way To Heaven." He also wrote sonnets and short lyrics. But his best works were in poems, especially poems that hit on themes that lie at the heart of African Americans existence.

His volumes of poetry include:

* Color,
* Copper Sun,
* The Black Christ, and
* On These I Stand

Perhaps Cullen is best known for the poem "Yet Do I Marvel."

Yet Do I Marvel

I doubt not God is good, well-meaning,
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind,
Why flesh that mirrors
Him must some day die,
Make plain the reason tortured
Tantalus Is baited by the fickle fruit,
If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus
To struggle up a never-ending stair.
Inscrutable His ways are, and immune
To catechism by a mind too strewn
With petty cares to slightly understand
What awful brain compels His awful hand.
Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:
To make a poet black, and bid him sing!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Buck O'Neal: your're the greatest

Buck O
Buck O'Neil
Buck O'Neil. Photo Credit: Buck O'Neil
"I copied (Shoeless Joe) Jackson's style because I thought he was the greatest hitter I had ever seen, the greatest natural hitter I ever saw. He's the guy who made me a hitter."
- Hall of Famer Babe Ruth
"If Satch Paige and I were pitching on the same team, we would cinch the pennant by July fourth and go fishing until World Series time."
--Dizzy Dean, pitcher

Listen up. The Daddy was over at the African American Registry, a site that confirms what he has always known but failed to accept: he is an idiot. Today, they made me feel like an idiot again when they told a brotha that on this day, May 28th, 1962, John began managing the Chicago Cubs. The Daddy didn't know any of this.

And guess what? O'Neal was the first black American to coach in the major leagues. The The Registry says he stayed with the Cubs until 1988, signing Hall of Famers and Lou Brock to their first contracts.

This was a great step up for African Americans. Later, black players like Larry Doby and Frank Robinson would become coaches as well. But, from The Daddy's perspective, this was not O'Neil's major contribution.
To find that out we need to know just a little of O'Neil's history.


O'Neil was a leading hitter and smooth-as-silk first baseman for the Kansas City Monarchs. Later he managed the team before moving on to become a scout for players for the majors for many years. And along the way, he came to know all the players and their families.

O'Neil led the Negro league in batting twice, hitting .345 in 1940 and .350 in 1946. He managed the Monarach, one of the league's top teams from 1948 to 1955. When needed, he played for them too.

O'Neil was hired by the Cubs as a part-time scout in 1953. He steered Ernie Banks, then the Monarchs' shortstop, to the Cubs. Hired as a full-time Cubs scout in 1955, he discovered not only Brock but also Lee Smith and Joe Carter. In May 1962, O'Neil became the first black man officially designated as a major league coach, but the Cubs used him purely in an instructional role.

Greatest contribution

O'Neil died at the age of 94, but he spent the last 10 years or more setting up this Hall of Fame and putting on strong footing before he died. He raised funds, painstakingly gathered the player's stories, their uniforms, their gloves and other items and put them on display so we get some sense of the Negro League and the proud players who hit and pitched in it. New York Times reporter Richard Bernstein put it this way:

O'Neil had been chairman of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., since its founding in 1997 and made scores of appearances to raise funds for it. He bore witness to the exploits of figures like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Cool Papa Bell, Oscar Charleston and Ray Dandridge. All of those players were inducted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown belatedly, their prime seasons in the Negro leagues coming in the years before Jackie Robinson broke the modern major league color barrier."

The Daddy is in stark amazement at what brothas had to do to play baseball, this great they loved; and he's grateful to O'Neil for helping us to understand the Negro League and its time.
The Daddy also appreciates the fact that the Creator allowed O'Neil to live 94 years to tell the story of the Negro League and to help preserve its history. As Hall of Famer Brock put it:

''Buck is a man God chose for this time. He has seen it all. He saw a transformation of people, of society, of a country. Somebody's got to be around to tell that story. I think he has been preserved for that purpose.''

But to O'Neil, in the final analysis, it was all about the love of the game. ''I've seen men lose 50 years in just a few hours. Baseball is better than sex. It is better than music, although I do believe jazz comes in a close second. It does fill you up.''

20th Century Baseball Chronicle
Year-By-Year History of major league Baseball
Copyright 1999, Publications International Ltd.
ISBN 0-7853-4074-2

Buck O'Neil Pioneer in Baseball, Negro League
Richard Goldstein, October 8, 2006

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor's experience? What about white guys like Alito?

"In Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama has found a Supreme Court nominee with the intellect of David Souter, whom she would succeed, and the outspokenness of Justice Antonin Scalia, the conservative with whom she would spar.

With a resume as a prosecutor, corporate lawyer, trial judge and appellate court judge, she'd bring a wealth of practical experience to the court. Her life experience as a Hispanic woman raised by a single mom in a South Bronx housing project would enrich the court's understanding of its impact on the lives of everyday Americans.

If not a perfect choice, she is an excellent one. Failing unexpected revelations, the Senate should confirm her this summer. --Mercury News editorial.

Listen up. The biggest argument the conservative right-wing is making against Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination for Supreme Court justice is that her experience as a Latina might adversely affect her outlook and decisions. Some even say that even considering her life as a Latina might make her a "judicial activist" or a "reverse racist." Funny thing: when Judge Samuel Alito said virtually the same thing-- that he would utilize his experiences-- no one paused to criticize him.

Funny thing how these conservatives forget that, when put together, both Alito and Sotomayor said essentially the same thing--that, though utilizing their experiences, they would also continue to assess or evaluate their personal assumptions in applying the law.

At Alito's confirmation hearing in 2005, when Sen. Cogburn asked him to say something about himself, about Alito the person, Alito clearly spoke on behalf of considering his life experiences in making decisions:

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Judge Samuel Alito's Nomination to the Supreme Court

U.S. SENATOR TOM COBURN (R-OK): Can you comment just about Sam Alito, and what he cares about, and let us see a little bit of your heart and what's important to you in life?

ALITO: Senator, I tried to in my opening statement, I tried to provide a little picture of who I am as a human being and how my background and my experiences have shaped me and brought me to this point.

ALITO: I don't come from an affluent background or a privileged background. My parents were both quite poor when they were growing up.

And I know about their experiences and I didn't experience those things. I don't take credit for anything that they did or anything that they overcame.

But I think that children learn a lot from their parents and they learn from what the parents say. But I think they learn a lot more from what the parents do and from what they take from the stories of their parents lives.

And that's why I went into that in my opening statement. Because when a case comes before me involving, let's say, someone who is an immigrant -- and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases -- I can't help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn't that long ago when they were in that position.

And so it's my job to apply the law. It's not my job to change the law or to bend the law to achieve any result.

But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, "You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country."

When I have cases involving children, I can't help but think of my own children and think about my children being treated in the way that children may be treated in the case that's before me.

And that goes down the line. When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account. When I have a case involving someone who's been subjected to discrimination because of disability, I have to think of people who I've known and admire very greatly who've had disabilities, and I've watched them struggle to overcome the barriers that society puts up often just because it doesn't think of what it's doing -- the barriers that it puts up to them.

So those are some of the experiences that have shaped me as a person.

COBURN: Thank you.

Mr. Chairman, I think I'll yield back the balance of my time at this time, and if I have additional questions, get them in the next round.

SPECTER: Thank you very much, Senator Coburn.

In "A Latina Judge's Voice," the speech from which Sotomayor is quoted totally out of text, Sotomayor also said she will utilize her experience as a Latina but says that she, too, will evaluate or reevaluate her assumptions that spring from her experiences in applying the law:

"Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate."

Does this sound like a judge who would likely have her experience cause her to be a "judicial activist" and try to make law? Does this sound like a racist judge?

Funny thing how ambitious, fearmongering politicians trying to appeal to the right wing of the Republican party like former congressman Newt Gingrich conveniently forget to make us aware of the above quote in Sotomayor's speech. Could it be that this dance of selective amnesia has more to do with their efforts to regain office or sell books than a highly qualified and fair-minded judges attempt to become the a justice on the highest court in the land?

While the right wing is reaching for straws to criticize Sotomayor, many others are more balanced in their assessment. Here's what The Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) had to say:

Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) applauds President Obama’s historic nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court. While CAC’s review of Judge Sotomayor’s record is continuing, we already know that she is a brilliant lawyer who is committed to ruling based on the Constitution and the law, not on her own personal political views. As Judge Sotomayor herself stated in a recent dissenting opinion: “The duty of a judge is to follow the law, not to question its plain terms.”

The next Supreme Court Justice will have a critical voice in important decisions involving the Constitution’s text, history and core principles. She will help decide cases regarding constitutional rights and liberties and constitutional challenges to laws that matter to the lives of everyday Americans -- including cases involving voting rights, pay equity, and health, safety, and the environment. In Judge Sotomayor, we believe President Obama has found a nominee who will help ensure that the Constitution and laws are faithfully applied and remain true to their intended purpose as guardians of our rights, liberties, and equality."

Judge Sonia Sotomayor is smart, and she has a great legal mind. She is a judge in the mold of Judge Souter. But unlike Souter, she will be outspoken, challenging Justice Scalia. She will make a great Supreme Court justice. And The Prez, who made history as the first African American president, will make history again by putting her on the bench. This will be his legacy. But, by doing the right thing for her, he is also doing the right thing for himself and the democratic party: securing his reelection as Prez in 2012.

Funny how that works, huh?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Judge Sotomayor's nomination: What's it all about

"Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed"
--Mao Tse-tung
"Once all struggle is grasped, all miracles are possible."
-- Mao Tse-tung

Listen up. A long-time friend just phoned and asked me what The Prez' nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor was all about. What's her story? Is she qualified? Will she be a good judge on the court? Will she make a difference on the court?

What's her story?

It's a great story, a perfect story for America and for The Prez. She only grew out of a project in New York (where she was diagnosed as diabetic at the age of 8 and where her dad died at the age of 9) to become summan cum laude (That's best in the class, folks) at Princeton and a Judge on the federal bench of New York. How baaad was she? So baaad that a Republican president (George Bush 41) appointed to a district court and a Democratic president (President Clinton). All along the way, she kept developing a reputation as a an intelligent quick study and a sharp legal mind.

Is she qualified?

In these times, filled with divisiveness in Washington, draped with Republican acting like everyday is "Get Obama Day" day, do you The Prez would pick someone who wasn't? Besides attending two of America's best schools (Yale and Princeton), she graduated at the top of her class, served as editor of the Yale Law Journal), worked five years as a prosecutor in the Manhattan District office, developed a successful private practice; and that's just for starters. She was appointed to the federal court by President Georg Bush 41 in 1992.

Her qualification is not even an issue. But politics is. The fact that she is a woman, a person of color, and just be might be empathetic enough to side with the poor and the middle class against corporate America is.

Will she be a good Judge on the Supreme Court?

Yes. She will vote on the side of gay rights, the right of women to control their own bodies, and against discrimination. However, whether she will side on ordinary Americans against the state is questionable. On that score, she tends to be more conservative and sides with the state. But overall, she will be good for the average American.

Will she make a difference on the Supreme Court?

Yes. First, she will provide some good company for Ruth Ginsberg, the only other woman on the court. Second, her vote will help to deal with the gigantic difference between liberals and conservatives on the Supreme Court, which is dominated by Scalia. However, labels like liberal and may not fit very well. True liberals on the court were Justice Stephen Bryer and Thurgood Marshall. Those type are not on the Supreme Court. The so- called liberal are like Justice Souter, a moderate. They don't speak with especially strong voices on issues. Sotomayor comes out of this mold. Still, her voice is needed, and she will make a difference.

What is this all about?

It's all about judicial politics, the fight to realign the Supreme Court from an oppressive institution ruled by white boys appointed by politicians aligned to corporations and oppressive Republicans administrations to a more balanced Supreme Court that more represents America.

Something that is little noted is that this fight is at its highest at the appellate level, where The Prez and his administration is busying itself trying to appoint women and people of color to the appellate judgeships and thereby grovide them the experience to be more qualified to become Supreme Court justices in the future.
Sotomayor will motivate those judges to solid work at the level so they can get to work with Sotomayor on the highest court in the land.

Because she has is highly qualified, because she has demonstrated a great legal mind, and because she is the first hispanic Supreme Court nominee, it will be difficult for Republicans to keep her from being confirmed. Here is how Sen. Schumer from New York put it:

"In addition to having more overall judicial experience than anyone confirmed for the court in the past 70 years, Sotomayor will bring an important perspective to the court as both a woman and a Latina. Her life story, which has taken her from a public housing project in the Bronx to the finest schools in the county and a distinguished legal career, is beyond compelling. It will give the court some needed understanding of how ordinary Americans live. Her outstanding legal mind, and her compelling life experience, is just the combination this court needs in its next justice. Given her track record of excellence and moderation, and her life story, it’s going to be very hard for any senator, Republican or Democrat, to vote against her."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remember the fallen, those standing too

"That's what it takes to be a hero: a little bit of gem of innocence inside you that makes you want to believe that there still exist a right and a wrong, that decency will somehow triumph in the end."

Listen up. It's Memorial Day, the day of all days day to remember the fallen, kneel in prayer to honor those soldiers who physically are no longer with us on earth but who, in memory and spirit, yet hold a special place in the center of our hearts.

It is a time to
honor those who fought bravely and died by enemy fire. It is a time to honor those who died by accident while carrying out their mission. And it is time to honor those who died by friendly fire like Pat Tillman (pictured below) but whose life and death was intentionally exploited and mishandled by the military. And it is a time to honor the women in the military like PFC LaVena Johnson who died at the hands of a fellow officer from sexual assault, rape and death to cover it up. They all loved their country and made the supreme sacrifice to keep us free.

It is a time to stand not only for the fallen yesterday but for those still standing today. They need our help. They need attention for physical injuries that sometimes take a long time to heal; and they need attention for psychological injuries that may last a lifetime.

They need help in ad
justing back to another type of life, a life where they sometimes feel no one seems to need or care about them once they are out of uniform.

The Daddy says kneel to honor the fallen and stand with veterans and help them improve their lives at home and abroad. Here's what you can do:

* Write President Obama and urge him to to lessen the red tape so our soldiers can get service more quickly, especially for PTSD;

* Fight for better services for veterans in your communities. Veterans make up a large segment of the homeless and unemployed in this country. Some even live under bridges;

* Fight for services that assist soldiers as families. Sadly, many veterans returning home have to deal not only with their experience abroad but experiences at home that came about as a result of their mission abroad as the loss of their job, increased financial debt, a worsened credit rating, tension with their wives, husbands, and estrangement from their own children, and an American population that doesn't have a clue about what they've through; and

* Remember our brave soldiers not only on Memorial Day but throughout the year.

This is a poem by Rev. Connie Gibbs from The United Methodist Church in Virginia. The Daddy hopes Reverend will not mind him using it on this Memorial Day.
by Rev. Connie Gibbs (copyright, 2003)

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,
or white,

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.

Friday, May 22, 2009

This holiday The Daddy misses home, sense of community

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say."
--Anais Nin

"Home is the place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to."
-- John Ed Pierce.
"A house is made with walls and beams. A home is built with love and dreams."

Listen up. The Memorial Day weekend has come. It's a holiday, and all holidays remind The Daddy of home. The Daddy can't get there this holiday. Like the dead leaves and tree branches lingering on the edges of the roof of his house, there's just too much hanging. But a brotha misses home like a cub misses his momma panda or a kid misses a Georgia p
each hanging ripe, yellow, sweet and low on the vine.

Ever miss the place where you were born or the place where you were raised, or the place you call home, no matter where you live now?

Listen, this Memorial holiday, The Daddy would like to write a frivolous post that's easy on the mind, something light and in good cheer. After all, it's a holiday weekend, right? But he can't. You see, a brotha is thinking of Atlanta, his adopted home: home where his mommy gave him and his young male crew cookies when he rushed
home from school, opening the kitchen screen door with a fury, yelling almost at the top of his lungs, "Any cookies, momma?"

Home where, if he didn't like the liver momma was cooking for dinner, he could a
lways eat chicken at a friend's house a few houses down the street; Home where even the neighborhood drunk looked out for him by cursing at him when we wandered too far away from his home and by keeping him entertained telling crazy and violent, shoot-em up war stories...

Home where canning peaches, tomatoes and just about everything else was a community affair, with the women working, gossiping and singing along to James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding or Sam Cooke on the radio...

Home where talking ebonics wasn't a behavior evoking embarassment but an affirming statement of identity, a collective recognition of who we were as a people.

When The Daddy thinks of Atlanta, Georgia, he thinks of attending concerts, or hanging around a small cafe near his house and some friendly neighbor buying him a cold coca cola.

He remembers an older, fat black woman who knew his mom or his dad, feeding him chicken, red beans and rice, and telling him he couldn't leave the table until he had finished everything on his plate.

He remembers the older women, white and black, who called him "honey" with genuine affection and who sometimes pulled his head into their bosoms, stroked his head, hugged his face and called him "honey chile."

He remembers the faces of teachers who lived in his neighborhood, who walked with him to school and sometimes fed him cereal
(Kellogg Corn Flakes) in the faculty lounge.

A brotha hates to say it, but he even remembers policemen, white and black, who would yell at him and his crew for being late for school, who would threaten to haul us off to jail if we were late again. ..

The Daddy misses a period of time and place when he lived in neighborhoods where, in a myriad of ways, people lived community, where community was defined not by geographical boundaries so much as by real people who looked out for family and everyone else.

For The Daddy and for a lot of us, that community is gone, even in cities like Atlanta. Today, some people don't want to get to know their neighbors or, for that matter, the family next door. The working theory is that getting to know your neighbor could be bad for your health. It could get you robbed, raped or killed.

On the other hand, it makes the communities of the past and our fond memories of them even sweeter. And like small streams from a river, The Daddy can still see traces of those communities. He can still see people helping each other fix cars, mothers feeding kids occasionally coming into a momma's kitchen for cookies after school, an older teenager helping a lady get groceries out of a car.

And The Daddy can still hear music that speaks of his beloved Georgia, that reminds him of a time when blacks breathed community every night and everyday, when we didn't just have Georgia on our minds. We lived Georgia all the time. We smelled sweet peaches lining the boundaries of our home in the backyard, whiffed a scent of sweet Georgia pine, looked out for each other, and never went to bed at night without saying our prayers and ending with
"Amen" .

This Memorial weekend, The Daddy will have a couple of cold ones with friends at the neighborhood watering hole. He'll hang for a minute with the brothas at the coffee shop on Sunday. He may even drop into a friend's house on Monday to have some collard greens and sweet potatoes. But beneath the broad smile, he'll have a deep hole in the center of his heart that may never be filled. A brotha misses home, misses community...The Daddy has too many dreams to remember.

Ever miss home during a holiday? Ever listen to a song that bring tears to your eyes and makes you think of home?

Got dreams to remember?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thanks for standing up for Troy Davis

Listen up. Today The Daddy is feeling all those who participated in the May 19th Global Day of Action for Troy Davis. Thank you standing up for Troy Davis, for American justice, for a country that does not kill human beings in your name. Thanks Sojourners Place, Electronic Village, African American Political Pundit, Eddie Griffith, Intersection of Madness and Reality, Zebra Sounds, On the Black Hand Side, Black on Campus, Ancestral Energies, A Slant Truth, Afro Spear Think Tank, Blues Historian, and countless others who blogged for Troy as well. And thanks to Somebodies Friend, MP, and others who, after reading my blog, wrote letters to Gov. Perdue or emailed Troy to let him know they are still with him.

Your protest was part of a world-wide struggle. People protested in 48 states and on 5 continents for clemency for Troy Davis. It was great, but obviously the fight is not over.

On May 19th, Troy's lawyers filed what they characterized as a "last-ditch" appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Lawyers for Davis say that executing Davis without a "full and fair hearing in which he could make a truly persuasive demonstration that he is actually innocent."

One of Davis lawyers says that they've been "astonished by how focused the courts are on finality and not on getting it right."

The Daddy says good luck with the appeal and thanks to those who will continue the fight.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

To hear the birds and smell the roses once again

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."
--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, The Daddy could write about Michael Steele, HNIC of the Republic National Committee: how this shoe shine boy (when not playing slave catcher), spits all over himself and the American people for a party that hates him, his people, and any hint of genuine progress for America.

Today, The Daddy could write about President Obama: how his recent flip flops on publishing torture photos and waffling on getting rid of the Don’t Ask Don’t tell military policy is beginning to make Oba ma Kool-Aid Drinkers spit out his drink and shout “No, he didn’t!” instead of “Yes, we can!” But, no, The Daddy has something more important to write about, something he cannot get out of his mind.

This early morning, with dew still on the leaves, The Daddy got out of bed, made coffee, and sipped it out on his patio. Then, with java still in hand, he strolled leisurely around his backyard, walking on fresh green grass, listening to the birds and smelling the flowers.
Then the image of a round, speckled-faced Troy Davis came into his mind--This almost nerdy looking guy who, had he not been arrested and convicted, could have been a smart lawyer defending someone in court, who could have been sitting behind a desk as someone’s community librarian, or who could have been a neighbor walking around his own backyard just before getting ready for work.

This is the same Troy Davis whose life was shot back into ultimate survival mode when the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to hear his case, pleading technical issues like Troy not filing his appeal papers on time years ago, knowing that the state of Georgia did not provide him a lawyer to make him aware of his rights and to help him to file the papers anyway.
Larry Cox, executive director for the U.S. segment of Amnesty International, put it this way:

"Today's decision is an affront to basic human rights and demonstrates that legal technicalities have become a dangerous excuse to undermine justice. Yet again the courts are placing procedural obstacles over the critical issue of innocence, and, by extension, the value of human life. The bar for admitting evidence has been raised to such a level that no one arguing his innocence would be able jump that hurdle."

This is the same Troy Davis who, if the state of Georgia has its way, will be executed for a crime he probably never committed, a crime with no weapon found, no evidence connecting him to the crime, and where 7 of the 9 witnesses who, under police intimidation, originally said Troy Davis did the crime, have now recanted their stories. Indeed, some have pointed to one of the two remaining so-called eyewitnesses, saying he did the crime.

This is the same Troy Davis who not only has already spent 17 years for a crime he probably didn’t commit, but who will die out of a few state judge’s choice to value state technicalities such as the time he first filed for appeal over a human being’s life and some white Georgians view that some man—no, some black man—must die for the killing of a white off-duty police officer—even if he is innocent.

This is the same Troy Davis who not only can't grab a cup of coffee and walk around his backyard; he can't even leave his cell.
A number of bloggers have been asking that you fight for Troy Davis. Two of the leading bloggers to ask you to do so have been SJP over at Sojourner’s Place and the Villager over at Electronic Village. Along with Amnesty International, they have helped to keep this issue and Troy Davis alive. They made you aware of Troy’s plight and updated you every step of the way in this ever-winding twist of injustice. Now, The Daddy is joining SJP, the Villager and many others to blog for Troy, for justice…for an America that does not sanction the killing of human beings.

The Daddy is blogging to say don’t give up; you still have time; and, for your sake as well as his, keep up the fight. And here’s what you can do:

1. E-mail or fax Gov. Perdue’s office. Go to this Amnesty International’s site ( It has an email or fax letter you can use to send to the governor asking him to support clemency for Troy Davis.

2. Phone Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GADP) at: (404)876-6113. Let them know you are with them all the way in this fight against the death penalty; and

3. E-mail Troy to let him know that, no matter what, you will stay in the fight, that you will continue the fight against the death penalty, and that, through this fight, he will always be remembered. You can reach him at:

Listen, wouldn’t it be a great day if Troy, like The Daddy, wakes up one morning, takes his cup of java out to his backyard and just walks around on green grass, listening to the birds and smelling the roses once again?

Wouldn’t that be something?
Note 1: The latest on Troy from the Atlanta Journal Constitution is that his lawyers will file a "last-ditch" appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Troy. They say "Davis' new evidence eviscerates the state's case against him. Despite substantial new evidence of his innocence, no court has ever held a hearing to assess the scores of new witness that show Mr. Davis is innocent. " They say to carry out the execution without"...a full and fair hearing in which he could make a truly persuasive demonstration that he is actually innocent is unconstitutional ."

Note 2: There will be a rally for Troy today that will be organized by Amnesty International.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Otis Redding and dreams to remember

“Here I am at 24 years old, with 3 kids, and I don’t know what to do with my life.”
--Zelma Redding, Dreams to Remember
“When Otis died, the driving force was gone. And then when Martin Luther King got killed [four months later], the friendliness went out of Memphis.”

--Wayne Jackson

Listen up. The daddy's favorite R&B performer is Otis Redding. Yes, James Brown is Soul Brotha#1, but the Big O is soul personified. Redding came out of the projects of Macon, Georgia and a baptist church nearby to groove and move people all over the world-- to stir us so deeply, to make us want to clap hands, get out on the floor, dance real close and shout, "Sing it, Otis!

Redding put all of himself into every note of his songs; and all of himself went into us. He didn't merely touch our heart. He buried himself deep within the recesses of our soul. And we found ourselves saying, "I just wanna another day. Please, let me have just one more day to bathe in the hot, sweet soul of the Big O!"

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stax Records, Stax released Dreams to Remember: The Legacy of Otis Redding. The DVD features 90 minutes of pure, adulterated and soulful performances of Redding. Some of the hits performed on the DVD include:
* "Pain In My Heart," * "I Can't Turn You Loose," * "I've Been Loving You Too Long," * "Sitting on the dock of the bay"
* "Respect,"
* "Try a little tenderness," * "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," and a host of others.

Those final two performances-- "Try A Little Tenderness" and "Respect"-- were taped at a local Cleveland television show less than 24 hours before Otis' death.

Between the incredible performances, Dreams to Remember provides 40 minutes of interviews with people who were there to witness Redding's transformation from unknown singer straight out of the projects to hitmaker all over the world. These interviews do more than provide tidbits about a singer's life. They capture Redding's development from singer to artist, from soulful sound to hit machine, and from public life of a great artist to private life of a great family man.

The interviews also show how the Big O's overarching presence, boundless energy, and incredible creativity meld perfectly with young studio musicians at Stax like guitarist Steve Cropper, Booker T, Isaac Hayes, and Wayne Jackson to make hit after hit. The interview with Cropper is especially notable, since he co-wrote virtually everyone of Redding's hits. Also notable is the talk with Zelma Redding, the Big O's wife, who was left to take care of three children after Redding and his band (The Barkays) crashed into a lake in Wisconsin.

In the interviews with Jim Stewart, the founder of Stax Records and Zelma, you can sense who Redding really was as an R&B star but also as a person: a great individual artist but also a loving husband and nurturing father. Yes, Otis was not only a soulful singer, good songwriter and bandleader but a committed family man.

Sadly, a part of the interviews speak of the demise of Stax. Wayne Jackson, studio musician who played trumpet on most of Otis’ recordings, still appeared shaken after 40 years when talking about the Big O's death. He said something happened to Stax when Otis died:

“When Otis died, the driving force was gone. And then when Martin Luther King got killed [four months later], the friendliness went out of Memphis.”

Most of all, Dreams To Remember: The Legacy of Otis Redding is about those incredible live performances. Altogether, it pays a fitting tribute to an amazing artist and perhaps an even greater person. And thanks to his talent, The Daddy and millions of his fans will continue to have dreams to remember.

What's your favorite Otis Redding song?

Friday, May 15, 2009

The death penalty, what some say, what do you say?

"As one whose husband and mother-in-law have both died the victims of murder assassination, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses. An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the taking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by legalized murder."
-- Coretta Scott King

I know something about killing. I don't like killing. And I don't think a state honors life by turning around and sanctioning killing. --John Kerry, 1996

Government can’t be trusted to control its own bureaucrats or collect taxes equitably or fill a pothole, much less decide which of its citizens to kill. --Helen Prejean, "Dead Man Walking"

How come life in prison doesn't mean life? Until it does, we're not ready to do away with the death penalty. Stop thinking in terms of "punishment" for a minute and think in terms of safeguarding innocent people from incorrigible murderers. -- JesseVentura, "I Ain't Got Time to Bleed"

What do you think?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Where do you want to travel this summer?

Listen up. The Daddy wants to ask you a question: Aren't you tired of the same routine, getting up in the morning and going to work and coming home in the evening, eating dinner and dozing off to lame jokes by either Leno or Letterman?

Aren't you sick and tired of being sick and tired of The Prez trying to fix the economy and 8 years of absolutely terrible foreign policy only to be harassed and strangled by right-wing Republicans whose physical features and dinosaur politics seem older than Moses' sermon on the mount?

Don't you think that even Ray Charles on heroin or Steven Wonder with braids shielding his eyes can see that you need to call a moratorium on all life as routine, all politics as b.s., and all stress and strain of go-get-em city life and get away?

But where do you want to travel this summer?

Well, The Daddy wants to go to Ireland or Ghana. But, most of all, he wants to go back to Madrid, Spain, He was a few years ago; and a brotha couldn't believe how well he was treated and how comfortable he felt there.

First, wherever he went, he was given a smile that seemed genuine.

Second, he was treated as a person, not a stereotype based on "other" preconceptions--as in possible robber, rapist, thug or Negro who is "an exception to your race."

Third, the police looked out for him (unbelievable to The Daddy). They were concerned about pick pockets and protected him and other tourists from them. He heard that the government looks out for the tourist-- tries to make sure it's a good experience, so they'll come back. Still, it was some good looking out.

Fourth, they laughed at his attempt to speak Espano but, in the end, thought a brotha was at least trying. And they often patted him on the back as he was leaving their establish, saying in espano' "Thanks for visiting. Come back again."

As The Daddy was leaving Madrid, as the airplane was reving up to take him back to the U.S., he penned this travel poem to say thanks to the people of Madrid who made him feel so comfortable as a tourist and so respected as a man:


Goodbye, Madrid


Old, restored building, and columns soaring
to blue skies capped with domes and horses and
bells that toll for me


Young girls, quick teens, sweet teens with smooth faces like
a baby's bottom, with small abs and be-jeweled navels above
jeans clinging tightly to bone hips and moist places and
attired like strippers from red-light districts but smiles like
cinnamon and a charm so innocent you want to
buy them ice cream and
send them home to mother


Old men and women, goodbye, loving couple, holding
hands while strolling narrow, crowded streets
watchful as she shifts her shawl, smiling between
taps from his cane.



Liana Cafe, goodbye cafe owner on narrow street off
Plaza Mayor, wearing smudged apron, clear eyes and a
broad smile, jesting
The Daddy's espano' is "worse than your Mr. Bush," slapping

a brotha's broad shoulders into a narrow street, saying
"Gracias! Gracias! Gracias, por su visita!"

Banker, short and balding and eyes deep-set eyes who
bank closed, unlocked the front door to apologize, to
,"Come back next morning. I assist you."
(Won't happen in US!).


Goodbye, Madrid
Good friends with deep-set but nice warm eyes and
open hearts

Goodbye. The Daddy's home awaits a tired but sated traveler
with strolling feet swollen but low spirits lifted and
heart soothed


Where do you want to travel this summer?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fight for what you know is right, fight for Troy Davis

On Supreme Court Justice Stephens being against the death penalty:
"The problems of the unfair imposition of the death penalty, the possibility of error, and the weakness of retribution as a rationale for executions, Stevens writes, now lead him to conclude from his own expereience that the death penalty represents “the pointless and needless extinction of life with only marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purposes. A penalty with such negligible returns to the State [is] patently excessive and cruel and unusual punishment violative of the Eighth Amendment.” (Much of Stevens' formulation is drawn from the late Justice Byron White's concurring opinion in Furman v. Georgia.)
--from The Blog of Legal Times (BLT, April 6 , 2008)

Listen up. On May 19th, The Daddy is joining a number of folks to blog for Troy Davis freedom. But there are other important things to do. To get a better idea, start with Amnesty International, a fine organization that has been keeping this issue alive for some time. They say:

"If you had 30 days left to fight for your life, wouldn't you want to know that you had thousands of people standing in your corner?

Troy Davis' 30-day stay of execution is about to expire. That's why we're asking everybody to come out strong on May 19th – a day marked in human rights calendars across the world as the Global Day of Action for Troy Davis.

That day, every person can help make a difference by participating in any kind of activity, event or creative action that calls attention to Troy Davis' case. Whether you're holding a "Text TROY to 90999" sign on a busy street or organizing your local Amnesty chapter to hold a public demonstration, now is the time to shine a light on this injustice."

Here is a site to go to learn how to send a letter or fax to Georgia Gov. Perdue to commute the sentence of Troy Davis: (

For more info about the death penalty, check out the website of Georgians for an alternative to the death penalty (GFADP) at: (

For more detailed information about the death penalty and why it should no longer exist in America, check out The National Coalition Against the Death Penalty at:

The great essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The object of study is not knowledge but action." Get informed. Fight for justice. Fight for what you know is right. Fight for Troy Davis.
Fight for Troy Davis.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

PFC LaVena Johnson and gender-based violence in the military

Dr. John H. Johnson, PHD of Florrisant and LaVena's father, said color photos and other Army documents under the Freedom of Information Act confirmed his worst fears.

“Our worst fears were substantiated when we started going through information from the Army."

He said the pictures and documents from the incident proved that his daughter had been brutalized - raped, beaten, shot and set on fire.

"Someone poured lye in her vagina to destroy evidence," her father said. "Her body was dumped in a dirty, filthy contractor's tent."

Listen up. The Daddy is still feeling the case of PFC LaVena Johnson, a beautiful and smart black woman from a fine family. She was a high school honor student who played the violin and participated in volunteer efforts in her community. She could have been your daughter, If she had been, you would have been very, very proud. And you would have been very proud when she told you that she wanted to join the army to serve her country. But while serving her country, she was attacked and killed, and possibly raped, by someone in her own ranks. And as if that's not bad enough, the top military brass did everything it could to hide what happened to her family. Remember: this is about more than PFC Johnson. It's about gender-based violence against women by men who are supposed to have the women's back, to guard a fellow soldier's life as they would guard their own life.

The most recent article The Daddy read was the brilliant piece by Gregg Reese in Our Weekly. To get the background and come up to speed, check out Reese's article. Check it out:

By Gregg Reese
OW Contributor

This past July marked the three year anniversary of the death of Pvt. LaVena Johnson from what has been termed “non-combat related injuries” during the ongoing Iraqi War. Since then, her family has refused to accept the Army’s official conclusion that her demise was a suicide, allegedly as a result of depression following her contracting a sexually transmitted disease from a boyfriend who has yet to be identified.

The transition of the American military into a co-ed fighting force has brought with it the growing pains expected in such a large undertaking, along the way producing such notable service humiliations as the Navy Tail-hook scandal of 1991, sexual assaults at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1996, and the Air Force Academy in 2003.

In each episode’s aftermath, extensive remedial programs about sexual harassment and rape hot lines have been employed to augment the changing role of women in the armed services, but nonetheless failing to prevent tragedies like that of Pvt. Johnson.
In spite of these innovations, complaints by servicewomen concerning misconduct by their male counterparts have continued, especially during the Iraqi War, now in its seventh year. In an after shock of the now infamous Abu Ghraib prisoner of war abuses, its commander (former) General Janis Karpinski, revealed that female soldiers under her command had died from dehydration since they refrained from consuming liquids at night, fearing they would be raped by male soldiers en route to out of the way and poorly lit latrines–military word for toilets. ( report–January 2006, Military hides cause of women soldeirs’ death, by Marjorie Cohn.)

Joint Base Balad is Iraq’s largest base with 20,000 plus troops within its confines. The post resembles a small city with its own newspaper, and such conveniences as a Subway sandwich shop, a Popeyes Chicken Restaurant, a Pizza Hut, a 24-hour Burger King, and a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream store, in addition to the Post Exchange (PX), giving concrete evidence of the Pentagon’s plans for long range involvement in this part of the world.

This and other large military compounds in Iraq are saturated with electric generators used to produce energy to sustain these conveniences and the mission in general. This equipment in turn generates so much noise that a woman’s screams of distress are likely to be drowned out at night. Female soldiers resort to traveling in groups and carrying knives for protection against their own brothers in arms.

What is known by her father is that after going off duty, Johnson, an African American native of Florissant, Missouri, went to the PX with members of her unit where she bought a soft drink, M&Ms, and lip balm with a debit card—which has not been recovered—on July 19, 2005. She then left this group to join some friends to go jogging. She never met them, and was not seen again until her body was discovered the next day in a burning tent during the early morning.

Just a few days shy of her 20th birthday, Johnson’s body was found mutilated with a broken nose, black eye, and some corrosive liquid applied to her genital area. Despite the initial assessment of homicide by Army investigators—most likely based on the presence of abrasions and bruises all over her body, burns to the right side of her torso, and a pair of gloves that had been glued to her charred hands—the chain of command reversed their view and ruled her death a suicide by self-inflected gunshot wound through her mouth, presumably by the M-16 rifle issued to her and found next to her body along with an aerosol can that may have been used as an accelerant to burn her body and set the tent on fire.
Oddly, though her corpse was burnt, the clothing she’d donned to exercise in was untouched by the fire, and the bullet that killed her was never recovered.

The quest for closure

Johnson has been described by her family and teachers as an honors student who played the violin in her high school orchestra, and was committed to charity and volunteer work. Before her enlistment she was roundly dissuaded from joining the Army by family members and educators alike. Her MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) was in supply, but mission requirements moved her into a communications enclave, with the unexpected bonus of being able to call home nearly every day. According to her father, she enjoyed an especially close bond with her family, particularly her sister LaKesha, just two years younger.

The deceased soldier’s father, Dr. John Johnson–a psychologist, has worked as a counselor with at-risk individuals and service members returning from the Vietnam War with substance abuse issues, and as such, has years of experience treating people in a clinical setting. Neither he nor any of the other family members recall LaVena showing any signs of depression or suicidal ideation. Because of this, as well as the numerous irregularities observed in the investigation, the Johnson family has strived to bring their daughter’s case before congressional and senate review.

Dr. Johnson talked at length with Our Weekly via telephone about the events surrounding LaVena’s demise that convinced him that a cover up was being perpetrated. Particularly vexing was the scenario involving a 5’ 1” tall female being able to position a 40” long rifle with the muzzle in her mouth and squeezing the trigger. Additionally, he noted the similarities between his daughter’s death and a young Caucasian soldier billeted in Iraqi whose death was determined a suicide, Texas native Tina Priest..

Pfc. Priest was found in her room 11 days after filing rape accusations against a fellow soldier. Like Pvt. Johnson, Priest was 20 years old and stood approximately five feet tall, making it difficult to execute the self-inflicted gunshot wound said to be the cause of her death. Army officials have subsequently suggested she discharged the weapon with her toe.

Dr. Johnson has spoken by telephone to Priest’s mother on two separate occasions and believes the parallels linking these separate events suggest a pattern of deviance practiced by those in the hierarchy administrating Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The autopsy for Pvt. Johnson was performed at Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base, the principal site for handling the remains of fallen service members on the east coast. Forensic analysis was done in the Army’s Criminal Investigation Laboratory at Fort Gillem, Georgia. It ruled that LaVena Johnson died as a result of a gunshot to the head, with all other factors pertinent to the case was determined to be inconclusive.

Her family was quick to dispute these findings. And with the assistance of Congressman William Lacy Clay Jr., (D.-Mo.), and the utilization of the Freedom of Information Act, Johnson’s family procured a CD/ROM containing the data from the investigation, and received an audience with the special agents/forensics experts involved. A petition with 12,000 signatures was presented to both the House of Representatives and Senate Armed Services Committees.

This dissatisfaction also led her relatives to finance a second autopsy, this time by Dr. Michael A. Graham, medical examiner of the city of St. Louis and president of the National Association of Medical Examiners.

Dr. Johnson recalls that Dr. Graham charged $400 an hour for the three hour procedure, which was attended by another medical examiner; Dr. Mary E. Case, and a local T.V. crew from CBS affiliate KMOV. He also remembers Dr. Graham mentioning that a personal friend (Navy Lt. Cmdr. Edward Reedy) signed off on the original autopsy in Delaware. Dr. Graham’s autopsy came to the same conclusion, that the subject died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head, but otherwise was inconclusive.

More unresolved issues

Johnson and Priest represent just two of at least 41 deaths of female personnel who have succumbed to “non-combat” related injuries in the Middle Eastern theatre of combat, including African American Army Major Gloria D. Davis, who allegedly shot herself after being implicated in an $11 million bribery investigation involving a major defense contractor. Curiously, despite her possible complicity in governmental fraud, Davis was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, noted for its restrictive requirements for interment.

A theory of released aggression

In view of the fact that prostitution has been a fact of life among troops serving extended time garrisoned in Germany, Korea, Vietnam and other locals, surprisingly little has been documented on the practices of Coalition forces in Afganistan and Iraqi (see the article, The Sex Lives and Sexual Frustrations of U.S. troops in Iraq, by Stephen Soldz: Traditionally, military brass have “looked the other way,” favoring the oldest profession as a sexual release, providing the troops with a morale builder and a method to burn off excess aggression.

Perhaps it has been overshadowed by the well publicized corporate contracting scandals and wholesale mismanagement of the war at the highest levels of millitary and political supervision.

Given the longer war zone deployments and its connection to the increase in psychological problems experienced by recent veterans, it is tempting to attribute these increases in assaults to the effects of extended life in the “pressure cooker” environment of unconventional warfare with ill-defined objectives. (Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif), reports military rapes jumped 73 % from 2004 to 2006.)

In any case, it poses the question of how much combat stress has affected the behavior of troops stationed in the Middle East, and more specifically, the threat of rape within their ranks.

This issue has affected female civilian employees as well, the most notable being that of Jamie Leigh Jones, who was raped during her tenure as an administrative assistant for KRB in 2005. (KRB is a company that makes steel bars or rods used to reinforce concrete.) She has since filed a lawsuit against KRB, testified about her ordeal before Congress, and founded a non-profit advocacy agency for American government workers who have been victimized while working over seas (

Col. Ann Wright (Ret.-U.S. Army) has enjoyed a varied career during her tenure with the Adjuntant General’s Corps, and later as a diplomat with the State Department before tendering her resignation directly to Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2003. She became disillusioned (as have a large number of career officers of field rank and above), with her government’s foreign policy, specifically in the Middle East. Wright became acquainted with the Johnson family through her activity with the anti-war movement and specific concerns about violence against service women. This includes what she sees is a pattern of deaths and/or suicides as a result of “non-combat related injuries.”

During a telephone interview with Our Weekly, Col. Wright admitted she is mystified by the way the investigation and subsequent autopsies were conducted, and was notably perplexed that the second coroner’s verdict took eight months to reach the family of the deceased.
Concern about increased incidents of gender specific violence–perpetrated not only against Iraqis (civilians and insurgents), but also against military personnel–have been voiced by high profile figures such as Rep. Jane Harman and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), major proponents of House Congressional Resolution 397, which calls for increased inquiry and the prosecution of rape and sexual assault.

The specter of gender persecution casts an additional shadow over the Department of Defense’s “zero tolerance” policy, and a war that might already surpass the Vietnam conflict in its unpopularity. This in turn might raise the anxiety levels of Americans whose daughters, mothers, and wives are in the arena, civilian or military, and the ire of Muslim extremists who see this as another example of the secular corruption spawned by the Western infidels who threaten their existence.

While a good deal of information about the mystery surrounding her death may be found on the Internet, surprisingly few of the mainstream news agencies have provided in depth coverage. At the same time, military and governmental entities have alternately been unable or unwilling to reach substantial conclusions about what transpired that fateful evening in July of 2005.

The staff of Essence, the women’s magazine geared towards an African American readership, reportedly went through a lot of soul searching (since the Army is a major advertiser in that periodical) before running a 300 word article.

Chief Warrant Officer (CW5) Paul Hudson, a senior Army criminal supervisor and an organizer of the meeting between the Johnson family and the investigative team, was reportedly on leave and was unavailable to Our Weekly during the completion of this article.
Official Army spokesman Paul Boyce informed Our Weekly via phone that the death of Pvt. Johnson was thoroughly investigated and data shared with the decedent’s family. While the case is officially closed, any additional updates would be closely “reviewed and evaluated.”
Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo), and the Armed Services Committee he chairs have been sympathetic to the Johnson Family, but since the initial contact, in the words of Dr. Johnson, have “dropped the ball,” and apparently have yet to commit to a formal investigation.
Freshman Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), has gone on record to declare she and other law makers have “…gotta find the truth about what happened to this young lady. Her family deserves that at a minimum…” Maria Speiser, spokesperson for McCaskill responded to phone overtures by Our Weekly by explaining that the Senator’s office has a policy of not commenting on continuing investigations.

Meanwhile, the circumstances of LaVena Johnson’s death, while not widely covered in the United States, have attracted international media attention in large part due to the sway of the Internet and the aggressive commentary of individual bloggers there in. The Johnsons have notified Our Weekly of their plans to file a criminal lawsuit.

The deaths of Privates Johnson and Priest are just two of the sexually based crimes involving female personnel in the Middle Eastern and state-side, and both are among the myriad of scandals plaguing this polarizing conflict.

Those who wish to keep informed of further developments in this tragedy may do so by accessing, a Web site maintained by St. Louis writer and blogger Phillip Barron.