Monday, April 28, 2008

Addressing The Notion That Racism Exists In Our Societal Institutions

Part One: Science, Medicine and the U.S. Government

Recently some people became very angry at the suggestion by Reverend Jeremiah Wright (that “controversial” minister from Chicago) that the United States Government might have had something to do with the creation or spread of the AIDS virus. Apparently, this is a widely-held belief in the African American community. What makes African Americans think that this is such a racist society that they could think the U.S. Government would purposefully create a disease, like AIDS, and then spread it in poor communities?

Perhaps they are reading news stories like this:

Scientists using federal grants spread fertilizer made from human and industrial wastes on yards in poor, black neighborhoods to test whether it might protect children from lead poisoning in the soil. Families were assured the sludge was safe and were never told about any harmful ingredients…Nine low-income families in Baltimore row houses agreed to let researchers till the sewage sludge into their yards and plant new grass. In exchange, they were given food coupons as well as the free lawns as part of a study published in 2005 and funded by the Housing and Urban Development Department…Comparable research was conducted by the Agriculture Department and Environmental Protection Agency in a similarly poor, black neighborhood in East St. Louis, Ill.

The sludge, researchers said, put the children at less risk of brain or nerve damage from lead…(which) has been shown to cause brain damage among children who ate lead-based paint that had flaked off their homes.

HUD documents show the study's lead author, Mark Farfel, has pursued several other studies f lead contamination including the risks of exposure from urban housing demolitions and the vacant lots left behind…In 2001, Maryland's highest court chastised him, Kennedy Krieger and Johns Hopkins over a study bankrolled by EPA in which researchers testing low-cost ways to control lead hazards exposed more than 75 poor children to lead-based paint in partially renovated houses…The Maryland Court of Appeals likened the study to Nazi medical research on concentration camp prisoners, the U.S. government's 40-year Tuskegee study that denied treatment for syphilis to black men in order to study the illness and Japan's use of "plague bombs" in World War II to infect and study entire villages.”

Maybe that might make some folks suspect that the government does not have their best interests at heart. Maybe when they hear a story like that, African Americans feel like they are living in a racist society that values them more as lab rats than contributing members. Most of us have heard a little something about the Tuskegee study before (as was mentioned in the story above):

“For forty years between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These men…illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. Informed that they were being treated for “bad blood,” their doctors had no intention of curing them of syphilis at all.

The data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies of the men, and they were thus deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphilis—which can include tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death. “As I see it,” one of the doctors involved explained, “we have no further interest in these patients until they die.”

The sharecroppers' grossly disadvantaged lot in life made them easy to manipulate. Pleased at the prospect of free medical care—almost none of them had ever seen a doctor before—these unsophisticated and trusting men became the pawns in … “the longest nontherapeutic experiment on human beings in medical history.”

The study was meant to discover how syphilis affected blacks as opposed to whites—the theory being that whites experienced more neurological complications from syphilis, whereas blacks were more susceptible to cardiovascular damage. How this knowledge would have changed clinical treatment of syphilis is uncertain.

Although the PHS touted the study as one of great scientific merit, from the outset its actual benefits were hazy. It took almost forty years before someone involved in the study took a hard and honest look at the end results, reporting that “nothing learned will prevent, find, or cure a single case of infectious syphilis or bring us closer to our basic mission of controlling venereal disease in the United States.”

Okay, so that is two instances of the government doing “research” on black people. Does that substantiate a pattern of behavior against poor black people on the part of the government and the medical community? Let’s give the benefit of the doubt and say no. If you need further historical precedent for these sorts of government activities, read on.

1845 - 1849 J. Marion Sims, later hailed as the "father of gynecology," performs medical experiments on enslaved African women without anesthesia. These women would usually die of infection soon after surgery. Based on his belief that the movement of newborns' skull bones during protracted births causes trismus, he also uses a shoemaker's awl, a pointed tool shoemakers use to make holes in leather, to practice moving the skull bones of babies born to enslaved mothers (Brinker).

1915 Dr. Joseph Goldberger, under order of the U.S. Public Health Office, produces Pellagra, a debilitating disease that affects the central nervous system, in 12 Mississippi inmates to try to find a cure for the disease. One test subject later says that he had been through "a thousand hells." In 1935, after millions die from the disease, the director of the U.S Public Health Office would finally admit that officials had known that it was caused by a niacin deficiency for some time, but did nothing about it because it mostly affected poor African-Americans. During the Nuremberg Trials, Nazi doctors used this study to try to justify their medical experiments on concentration camp inmates (Greger; Cockburn and St. Clair, eds.).

1951 The U.S. Army secretly contaminates the Norfolk Naval Supply Center in Virginia and Washington, D.C.'s National Airport with a strain of bacteria chosen because African-Americans were believed to be more susceptible to it than Caucasians. The experiment causes food poisoning, respiratory problems and blood poisoning (Cockburn and St. Clair, eds.).

1951 - 1956 Under contract with the Air Force's School of Aviation Medicine (SAM), the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston begins studying the effects of radiation on cancer patients -- many of them members of minority groups or indigents, according to sources -- in order to determine both radiation's ability to treat cancer and the possible long-term radiation effects of pilots flying nuclear-powered planes. The study lasts until 1956, involving 263 cancer patients. Beginning in 1953, the subjects are required to sign a waiver form, but it still does not meet the informed consent guidelines established by the Wilson memo released that year. The TBI studies themselves would continue at four different institutions -- Baylor University College of Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, the U.S. Naval Hospital in Bethesda and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine -- until 1971 (U.S. Department of Energy, Goliszek).

1952 At the famous Sloan-Kettering Institute, Chester M. Southam injects live cancer cells into prisoners at the Ohio State Prison to study the progression of the disease. Half of the prisoners in this National Institutes of Health-sponsored (NIH) study are black, awakening racial suspicions stemming from Tuskegee, which was also an NIH-sponsored study (Merritte, et al.).

1962 The FDA begins requiring that a new pharmaceutical undergo three human clinical trials before it will approve it. From 1962 to 1980, pharmaceutical companies satisfy this requirement by running Phase I trials, which determine a drug's toxicity, on prison inmates, giving them small amounts of cash for compensation (Sharav).

1963 Chester M. Southam, who injected Ohio State Prison inmates with live cancer cells in 1952, performs the same procedure on 22 senile, African-American female patients at the Brooklyn Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital in order to watch their immunological response. Southam tells the patients that they are receiving "some cells," but leaves out the fact that they are cancer cells. He claims he doesn't obtain informed consent from the patients because he does not want to frighten them by telling them what he is doing, but he nevertheless temporarily loses his medical license because of it. Ironically, he eventually becomes president of the American Cancer Society (Greger, Merritte, et al.).

1967 Researchers paralyze 64 prison inmates in California with a neuromuscular compound called succinylcholine, which produces suppressed breathing that feels similar to drowning. When five prisoners refuse to participate in the medical experiment, the prison's special treatment board gives researchers permission to inject the prisoners with the drug against their will (Greger).

1970 Under order from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which also sponsored the Tuskegee Experiment, the free childcare program at Johns Hopkins University collects blood samples from 7,000 African-American youth, telling their parents that they are checking for anemia but actually checking for an extra Y chromosome (XYY), believed to be a biological predisposition to crime. The program director, Digamber Borganokar, does this experiment without Johns Hopkins University's permission (Greger, Merritte, et al.).

1990 The CDC and Kaiser Pharmaceuticals of Southern California inject 1,500 six-month-old black and Hispanic babies in Los Angeles with an "experimental" measles vaccine that had never been licensed for use in the United States. Adding to the risk, children less than a year old may not have an adequate amount of myelin around their nerves, possibly resulting in impaired neural development because of the vaccine. The CDC later admits that parents were never informed that the vaccine being injected into their children was experimental (Goliszek).

1992 Columbia University's New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine give 100 males -- mostly African-American and Hispanic, all between the ages of six and 10 and all the younger brothers of juvenile delinquents -- 10 milligrams of fenfluramine (fen-fen) per kilogram of body weight in order to test the theory that low serotonin levels are linked to violent or aggressive behavior. Parents of the participants received $125 each, including a $25 Toys 'R' Us gift certificate (Goliszek).

1997 In an experiment sponsored by the U.S. government, researchers withhold medical treatment from HIV-positive African-American pregnant women, giving them a placebo rather than AIDS medication (Sharav).

This all substantiates a pattern of abuse over time by the government and the medical community against African Americans. When you add in the most recent ones, you see that the problem is ongoing. If you are an African American, you have a right to worry about this, you have good reason to believe that the government and the medical community are racist and you would probably get pretty angry if someone called you a conspiracy theorist for saying that the U.S. Government could have been responsible for creating and spreading the AIDS virus. Now you see there is historical precedent and evidence to substantiate this.

If you are a human being of ANY color, in ANY country, you should be concerned that the U.S. Government, pharmaceutical companies and medical community might try to harm you. Robin Lindley, a Seattle attorney, interviewed an author by the name of Harriet Washington recently (5-9-2007) for an article in Real Change.

RL: And you describe research in prisons with captive pools of subjects.

HW: Yes. And last year, a government panel recommended reopening of prisons to research, and it’s almost certain prisons will be opened to research.

I’m very concerned about what’s happened recently with research in this country. We’ve got someone at the helm of NIH [National Institutes of Health] clinical trials who has adopted, in my opinion, a very cavalier attitude toward the rights of some research populations: prisoners seem to be one, and Third-World patients another. Subjects in Africa and other parts of the Third World have been treated horribly by American researchers. Things are done with them against their will, without their knowledge, and they’re offered much lower standards of research care and treatment—and this is justified as “practical ethics.” Practical ethics means we will do one thing in Guinea and another in Connecticut, that some people’s lives and rights mean more than others.

If you’re talking about the law, which gives minimal protections, a person has to give permission to participate in experiments. But in 1996, the law changed, and people can now be experimented on without their consent or their knowledge. If you’re unconscious and admitted to an emergency department, doctors can use you in a research protocol without asking your permission, without informing you. That 1996 federal provision has been used by companies that have devices to perfect and drugs to sell, and it’s been done with the blessing of some at NIH who are now at the helm. Things we don’t consider fair are now done with impunity, and legally. And ethicists use semantics to defend their actions.

And finally, in this article, it is revealed that not only the African American community believes that AIDS was created by the U.S. Government, but many around the world believe it also.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright's comments about the government lying about AIDS are not isolated to black America, not even isolated to America at all, but are shared globally. They are not confined to conspiracy theorists or wackos, as difficult as that may be for some people hearing the concept for the first time to understand…The first African woman to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari Maathai, shares these views…In 2005, a survey by the Rand Corporation found that half, that's right, one in every two black Americans think AIDS is man-made, more than half believe the government has a cure they are withholding from the poor, and a quarter believe it was created in a government laboratory…In American history, the haunting legacy of the government sponsored syphilis experiments on black men at Tuskeegee, the well documented facts of environmental racism that exposes black families to toxins at a higher rate than whites, and a history of disparities in the health care system for blacks all combine to make the 2005 survey results both shocking, and upon reflection, understandable.

Okay, so, if you are white and you still can’t understand why African Americans might believe that the U.S. Government and the medical community are not to be trusted, answer these questions:

Did you wake up yesterday to hear that the government is doing scientific experiments on the dirt in your community? Why didn't the EPA approach folks in white, suburban communities for this research?

If you protested these sorts of experiments, did you get action or were you just dismissed as paranoid? What kind of media coverage is this story getting? Is there any public outrage?

Is there disproportionately more environmental dangers in your community than exist in others? If so, is anyone in the government doing anything about it?

Is there a history of the government using the people in your community as guinea pigs in cruel experiments, without their knowledge or consent?

We should be concerned that we are ALL at risk from our own government. We should be getting informed, sticking together and fighting for our rights and our democracy. We should not be allowing those in power to divide us along racial lines and by so doing, conquer us all. THIS is why we can't make real change happen; we are fighting amongst ourselves over whether there is a problem instead of acknowledging the problem and working together toward a solution. Is it any wonder that African Americans are frustrated, suspicious and angry?

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Obama Tries To Rise Above Farcical “Debate”

Wednesday night’s ABC News debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was laughable. The two hosts, George Stephanopoulis and Charlie Gibson, asked the worst questions that I have ever heard asked in a televised debate. Their questions seemed designed to draw the candidates into petty feuding. And while Hillary Clinton certainly seemed eager to roll in the muck, Barack Obama tried to rise above the circus act to talk about the issues.

Gibson and Stephanopoulis revisited every non-issue that the media has attempted to cook up in the past three weeks on either of the two candidates. They rehashed the Reverend Wright non-story, they rehashed the Bosnia tall-tale non-story, and they even revisited the bitter nation non-story. After this fiasco, hopefully Obama will see that it is not in his best interest to involve himself in any further debate with Clinton. It may serve Clinton’s interests and it certainly serves the media’s salacious interests, but it does not serve the best interest of the people, our country or the Democratic Party.

As the hosts repeatedly attempted to put Obama on the hot seat, Barack Obama, to his credit, firmly but politely put them on notice that these kinds of questions don’t serve any positive or productive purpose. He rightly pointed out that these manufactured “issues” serve only to distract the country from solving the real problems that confront us. He even gallantly side-stepped his opportunity to heap it on Clinton. And he did it without appearing defensive, though perhaps occasionally annoyed. And viewers could not fault him because they were getting annoyed too.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, joined the attempted attack on Obama with relish. She sounded like a broken record, repeating the same smug, tired lines about people choosing their Pastors and how out-of-touch Obama is with the “little people.” She took every opportunity to pile it on and then defended her actions by saying that Obama had to be prepared for the dirty tricks that the Republicans would throw at him. Well, with friends like this, who needs enemies, eh Hill?

Clinton also went on about how her daddy was raised in Scranton and tried real hard to feed into this whole Citizen Clinton shtick she has invented. How many times has she been to little Scranton, PA in, say, her whole, entire life? It's the same way that she pretends to have some connection to the state of New York. What is her connection, other than that she moved there to take a political seat in possibly the only district in the country that she thought she could win? So now she waxes poetic about Scranton.

Whatever Hillary! Sip another shot of whiskey and nurse that warm beer. I‘m not buying your good old gal crap. And neither are most people. You look ridiculous. And puh-leeze spare us the guns and ammo talk. When is the last time you went hunting? Do you own any guns? If so, do you even know where they are right now? Bet not.

This whole bit with her running around posing as a working-class citizen is political theatre at it’s most absurd and despicable. Working-class people have real jobs; they can’t pack up and move to another state to run for a Senate seat; they don’t have wealthy friends to finance their campaigns; and they can’t pull the funds from their private accounts when the campaign donations slow down. Not all working class people spend all their free time in church, or hunting, or throwing back boilermakers. And they are not stupid enough to believe that she knows what their lives are really like. Someone should tell Clinton that this posturing is more insulting than it is endearing to most of us working class citizens. And it reminds of a certain George W. Bush running for President as the guy you’d like to drink some beers with. Well, how well did that work for us, America?

Obama took a lot of crap off the hosts and Clinton at this debate. He handled it mostly by trying to politely put the rascals in their places. He declined to join in when the hosts confronted Clinton on some of the non-issues that they have tried to cook up. While gallantly side-stepping most of the opportunities the hosts gave him to Clinton-Bash (he even appeared to be defending her at one point), he DID get in one well-deserved dig when he said that Clinton had learned the wrong message from all of her years taking it on the chin from the likes of Karl Rove.

Obama showed that he possesses patience, intelligence, maturity, diplomacy, logical and analytical thinking skills, courtesy and tact. Now we just have to see if that is what the American people want in their leader or if they are going to go back to the same two-faced, manipulative, shallow leadership that they have fallen for in the last several elections.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Bitter? You Bet Your Ass I Am.

This is what I read about Barack Obama on Yahoo News:

…trying to explain his troubles winning over some working-class voters, saying
they have become frustrated with economic conditions:
‘It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.’

And I think, well, at least someone is paying attention.

It’s a fair way to sum up the situation, except that I would add that, historically, these sorts of resentments are strategically inflamed by the corporate media and power-mongers who use the working class’ bitterness to rise to power or fatten their wallets. [Against the Communist menace, the Black menace, the Welfare menace, the Liberal menace, the Mexican menace.] We have seen this over and over again, especially when the nation is in the throes of economic hardship (usually in the waning days of a Republican presidential administration).

Oh, but I forgot AGAIN…public people are not supposed to tell the truth. They are supposed to dance around it like The Lord of the Dance, but never rest upon it lest the citizenry glimpse the web of lies at the foundation of the system under which we allow ourselves to be governed (and manipulated and used).

Americans have good reasons and a RIGHT to be bitter and angry.

We have been lied to by our leaders; lied into a war in Iraq, our young men and women carelessly and callously thrown into an impossible situation that has only wrought more riches for multinational corporations and their stockholders while destroying lives and families both here and in Iraq.

We have been used and thrown away by our corporate leaders, sidelined by “outsourcing,” undermined by their use of illegal workers to drive down the wage, destroying our quality of life. These same corporations that built their wealth and power on the backs of workers in the ’60’s through ‘80’s, then turned around and spit on us all when they went global.

The news media, “The Fourth Estate” that we had always considered our advocates and our protection against dishonesty and double-dealing in government, has been taken over by corporate fascists and the denizens of “journalism” have become prostitutes for a New Propagandism. So intertwined are these “journalists” and our criminal government leaders that they wind up wrapped up in scandal together.

This current administration has broken our democracy with its reckless disregard of the law and its denial of the rights and powers of the citizenry. It has broken our military with its reckless war-mongering for profit and political power and its reckless disregard for the lives of our brave soldiers. It has broken our economy by allowing corporations to rule, unfettered by oversight or regulation, over the rights and powers of the people. The trickle-down theories of those in power have rained poverty and hopelessness on the working classes that make up the foundation of our society. But it has not broken our spirit.

So, Obama rightly observes that the citizens of this nation are fed-up, they are angry and they are bitter. Of course you expect the Republican party, who feeds its members on lies, denials, half-truths, propaganda and intolerance to cry out in protest. They must deny that we are angry or bitter because if they acknowledge our anger, they must acknowledge both the cause and their complicity in it.

But you might expect more honesty from a fellow Democrat. You would be woefully mistaken:

Clinton supporters were eagerly hoping (to use this to their advantage)...They handed out "I'm not bitter" stickers in North Carolina, and held a conference call of Pennsylvania mayors to denounce the Illinois senator. In Indiana, Clinton did the work herself, telling plant workers in Indianapolis that Obama's comments were "elitist and out of touch."…Clinton attacked Obama's remarks much more harshly Saturday than she had the night before, calling them "demeaning."…The Clinton campaign is parsing every word, focusing on what Obama said about religion, guns, immigration and trade. Clinton hit all those themes…"The people of faith I know don't 'cling' to religion because they're bitter. People embrace faith not because they are materially poor, but because they are spiritually rich," she said. "I also disagree with Senator Obama's assertion that people in this country 'cling to guns' and have certain attitudes about immigration or trade simply out of frustration," Clinton added. "People don't need a president who looks down on them," she said. "They need a president who stands up for them."

We should not be surprised that Hillary is feeding into Republican lies and denials. She who recently began a desperate attack to paint Obama as a “liberal” (ooooh, doesn’t it give you shivers?) the same way that Rush Limbaugh successfully labeled her years ago. She has begun to pull plays straight out of the Immoral Karl Rove PlayBook.

The truth is, Hillary is no liberal and Obama isn’t liberal enough to solve all the problems that have been created by a decade of conservative rule in this country. The true liberal candidates were weeded out by the media before most of the public ever got a chance to hear their ideas.

The truth is Hillary may as well BE a Republican, except that they wouldn't have her because they can't stand her. And like the girl that never could make the cheerleading squad, she just keeps hanging around trying to worm her way in by wearing the right clothes, listening to the right music, saying the right thing. Bill Clinton was never the liberal that he was painted to be and Hillary has proven herself to be even more conservative than her husband.

The truth is, Americans are bitter, but the media and Republicans like to deny that we are or try to make us feel ashamed of our anger. They employ all sorts of excuses for the woes of the citizenry and manipulate us into turning our anger on illegal immigrants, lazy welfare recipients, elite liberal intellectuals, and anywhere else but where it actually belongs. This perpetuates our problems, keeps them in power and allows corporations to continue manipulating laws and workers to feed their incessant greedy lust for an ever-higher percentage of profit.

The truth is, Hillary wouldn’t tell you the truth, even if she knew what the truth was, because all she cares about is getting into the White House. Her lust for power rivals that of any Republican leader and any corporate bigwig.

And who is it, do you think, that is backing her, that is pulling for her to win? It’s not the rank-and-file members of the Democratic Party, the majority of whom have cast their votes for Obama already. And although she has a lot of the Unions behind her, it's not the rank-and-file union member. It’s not the party leaders, most of who have stated that they will vote to nominate the candidate that the people choose.

Who stands to gain from another Clinton presidency? Who gained last time there was a Clinton in the Whitehouse? Remember NAFTA? Did that help the working man? Did it help the Mexican economy? Who benefits from unemployed Mexicans? Remember welfare reform? Did that help the working poor? Did it reduce the burden on society? Remember the scandals? Did those help the Democratic Party? Did they help the Evangelical zealots to gain power over government? Did they help the Republican party to gain power and sell it to the highest corporate bidder?

Conservatives must be drooling already if they think Hillary has Obama on the run. To the corporate sector, there is not much difference between a Clinton presidency and a McCain presidency. They don’t have to fear regulation from either of these two. What they worry about more is an Obama presidency, now that they have effectively filtered out John Edwards, the one candidate that might have brought meaningful change.

I AM bitter, Hillary.

I AM angry.

If you believed half the things that you profess to believe, if you cared about democracy, freedom, our military, the poor, YOU would be angry, too.

Declaring that she ISN'T angry or bitter (at least about anything besides her husband's philandering), and wagging a finger at those who ARE, just goes to prove that she is CLUELESS. When she says Obama is "elitist" and "out of touch" she more accurately describes herself. And when she says that the people need a president that will stand up for them, she can't possibly be describing herself.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008


It was tough to enjoy the Jayhawk’s Championship victory Monday night. For one thing, the game was so close that at one point I wondered whether they would even pull it off. Then there was the physical play and fouling by the Memphis Tigers that went unpunished by the referees. Most of all, though, was the constant salesmanship of the Memphis team and its players by the commentators.

It wasn’t as bad as the commentator in the Kansas/North Carolina game, who, with more than 7 minutes left to play in the first half actually declared “This game is over!” WHAT?! Did anyone bother to tell the players or the coaches? Because I saw quite a bit of basketball played after the game was over. That eruption was as bad as it gets with these talking heads, but last night’s game had its share of irritating chatter.

It irritated mostly because of the love affair that the commentators were having with the Tigers. The so-called experts on the pre-game show picked Memphis to win (just like they picked North Carolina last game). All night long the play-by-play guys sang the praises of the Memphis Tigers. I kept hearing about this player’s tremendous talents and that player’s excellent skills. When one of the Memphis players snatched the ball after a basket and hung on to it while his teammates got their defense set, they gushed over his mischievous grin. Even during the post-game show, the commentators were still talking about Memphis…and the way they lost the game.

Everyone likes a Cinderella story. So, I guess the country wanted to see the Tigers, who have never won, win this one. All fine and well, but has everyone forgotten that this Kansas team has never won one either? It’s not like Kansas goes to the Championship every year, either. It’s been twenty years! Kansas battled to get there just like everyone else. Did they deserve less credit because other Kansas basketball teams have been there before?

Apparently, this was a victory by default. The Jayhawks didn’t win the game, so much as the Tigers lost it to them. They won because they were the other team on the court when the Tigers blew it. Now, I know that the sports commentators and writers have to find a spin to put on the story, but is this really what they came up with??

Give the Jayhawks the credit that is due them; they won. They worked hard. They used their skills, talents, determination and drive. They didn’t give up and they didn’t give in to frustration. (Had Sasha Kaun bounced the ball in frustration, would Ed Hightower have been so quick to overlook it?) They played a great game and they stuck in there and won it. Nobody handed it to them on a silver platter, but that is what is being inferred.

Yesterday’s New York Times article about the game reads pretty much the same way. “Kansas Prevails” is the headline. First Pete Thamel says this:

Point guard Mario Chalmers took a pass from a stumbling, almost-out-of-control Sherron Collins and hit a rainbow 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2.1 seconds to force overtime — the first overtime in 11 years in a title game and one that will be remembered for 50 — and the Jayhawks stormed to a 75-68 victory.

Then he says this:

Perhaps what will be remembered more than the Jayhawks’ victory was how Memphis (38-2) blew it.

Memphis assistant coach John Robic was quoted as saying:

“It’s a nightmare when you have a chance to win a national championship and everything that needed to work for Kansas worked in their favor. There’s really not much more than you can say.”

Things may have gone Kansas’ way at some points of the game, but this ignores the pushing that was going on under the basket and the never-say-die attitude of the Jayhawks when they were down 60-51 with two minutes left in the game. Some people believe that each of us makes our own luck. The press and television commentators acted like Mario Chalmers’ three-point basket (to tie the game and send it into overtime) was nothing more than a lucky shot. I’ve got news; Mario’s been hitting them all year long. It’s a SKILL.

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal lumped the Jayhawks in with all of the other "loser" Kansas City teams that only get somewhere every blue moon. Apparently they believe not only that Kansas Citians are content with losing, but that Kansas City and Lawrence are one in the same. They might be very surprised to know that there were people in this city that would have loved to see the Jayhawks fall.

Today’s Philadelphia Daily News had an article by Dick Gerardi making what I thought were some specious points about how everything went the Jayhawk’s way, making it sound again like they just got lucky. He asserts that the key play was a Memphis turnover after a Kansas basket. Turnovers do not just happen; they are mostly the result of excellent defense and focus by the opposing team. He also brings up the foul by Joey Dorsey on Mario Chalmers. For one thing, you can’t blame Dorsey for fouling Chalmers because so many fouls in the game went uncalled, he probably thought he would get away with it. For another thing, this is a T-E-A-M game; one of the reasons Kansas has such a winning record is because they have a deep bench. Losing one player should not destroy a TEAM’s chances of winning a game, especially one this big. But I have to give it up to Dick, because he hits the nail on the head when he goes on to say this:

History will mostly record that Memphis lost the game because that is how this works. But Kansas absolutely won it. This was a wonderful team all season whose NCAA stats mirrored its dominating season-long stats.

Maybe Kansas will never get the respect that they deserve from some of the media in the country, but they have what is important—self-respect. They didn’t lose their cool over the no-calls. They laughed it off when the calls were bad or did not go their way. They played their game, they played their hardest and they did not whine, complain or quit when things didn’t go their way. They just played until they won. NCAA Champions; end of story.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

To Be A Republican

You have to believe that some people are better than others and that those people deserve to be handed things while the rest of us have to work for them.

You have to believe that Democracy is a great idea on paper, but all governments are evil and that the only thing that they do right is handing out tax breaks for the wealthy and sweetheart contracts to corporate contributors.

You have to believe that this country was founded by people who subscribed to the exact same religious beliefs that you currently hold, and that those religious beliefs were actually written into the Constitution, meaning everyone in this Country should hold those same exact religious beliefs--or leave the country.

You have to believe that it is in your best interest to vote against your best interest.

You have to believe that corporate entities are people, just like you and me, with the same rights and freedoms as any other citizen.

You have to believe that corporations have your best interests at heart, work for the greater good, are always run efficiently and responsibly and that it is better if they run our government rather than letting the people have control.

You have to believe that evil government liberals are out to destroy your freedoms while brushing off the fact that your current Republican administration is taking away your rights one by one.

You have to believe that your religious beliefs are the only “true” ones and that the world would be better off if everyone was Christian like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld.

You have to believe that George W. Bush has heard the voice of God, has followed His commands and that God supports our war in Iraq.

You have to believe that guns, violence and war are the best and only way to solve disputes, that if everyone was packing a pistol there would be no crime and that if we have a bigger stockpile of nuclear weapons than China and Korea, that will make us safer.

You have to believe that teen-agers will not have sex if you make them promise not to, that they never did before the sixties, but that if you tell them about birth control they will immediately run out and have sex with everyone that they can find.

You have to constantly look at the world from your singular, selfish, narrow point-of-view as if your experiences and beliefs are the same as everyone else’s or are the only ones that are meaningful.

You have to believe what your preacher tells you to believe over what scientists can prove with evidence and facts and you have to demonize the scientists and attempt to demoralize anyone that agrees with them.

You have to believe that ATM fees can never be too high (especially if YOU can afford them), that usury is an antiquated notion and that taxes should be done away with completely because citizens have no need of government services (maybe the corporations can just pay your elected officials directly instead of under the table?).

You have to believe that corporate managers deserve exorbitantly high salaries but that government workers should do their jobs for free.

You have to believe every piece of corporate or government propaganda you see on television or heard on your radio (what will you do with all that plastic and duct tape??)

You have to believe that George W. Bush is intelligent, (he did graduate from a prestigious college) and reasonable and that people in other countries really do hate us for our freedom.

You have to believe that a “Free Market” exists and that corporations aren’t propped up with taxpayer dollars in the form of subsidies, tax credits and laws that give them the ability to hide their assets in ways that would be illegal for regular citizens.

You have to believe that Mel Gibson made “The Passion of the Christ” and then pimped it to every church in the country because he wanted to LOSE money (and that people tried to suppress his film because Hollywood is full of Christian-hating JEWS, but that Mel is not anti-Semitic).

You have to believe that racism and sexism do not exist, that it is just a coincidence that the prisons are packed with minorities and that most of the wealth and power in this country is held by white men. (What did Condi mean when she said that being black is a birth defect?)

You have to believe that forcing children to take standardized tests is the answer to equality and quality in education; not teaching them how to learn and think for themselves. (Who needs analytical skills; someone else will tell us what we should think and believe.)

You have to believe that Socialism has never worked anywhere in the World and that Socialist Democracies are the same thing as Communist Dictatorships.

You have to believe that Democracy means the same thing as Capitalism.

You have to believe that only Democratic administrations should ever be questioned, but that it is unpatriotic to question the motivation of a Republican administration.

You have to believe that it's okay for Rush Limbaugh to be sddicted to prescription opiates that he obtained illegally, but that crack addicts are dangerous criminals that should all be in prison.

You have to believe that pork barrel spending, unbalanced budgets, and soaring deficits are all things that the Democrats will do, and that Republicans will fight against and that everything that has gone wrong in the past eight years is Bill Clinton’s fault.

You have to believe that capital punishment is an effective deterrent against murder.

You have to believe that the government has the right to make a woman bring a child into the world, and that if she does have children, the responsiblity is solely hers and the government has no responsibility to assist in the care of that child.

You have to believe that it is good to trade with Communist China, but not with Communist Cuba or democratically elected governments that don’t conform to our religious beliefs.

You have to believe that Communist China does not own the debt that George W. Bush has racked up over the past eight years, that there was a budget deficit left to him by Clinton, and/or that China will never, ever call in our loans or that loans don't need to be repaid because they disappear, as if by magic.

You have to believe that it is offensive for two gay people to marry, but it is a temporary lapse of judgment for conservatives to have public sex in airport bathrooms and that, if they do, it doesn’t mean that they are gay, and that people can be “cured” of homosexuality if they pray hard enough.

You have to believe that there is no difference between legal marriage and religious marriage ceremonies.

You have to be unable to grasp the difference between enforcing equal rights for gay people to marry each other, and having the right to use taxpayer dollars and community-owned property to promote any one religious belief. (Thomas Jefferson believed in the separation of church and state and believed that he had written those beliefs into the Constitution, which must make him some kind of liberal or something).

You have to desperately hold to the belief, no matter how many times it has been proven false, that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, that our army found his weapons of mass destruction and that it isn’t that important for us to get Osama Bin Laden because all of the "Al Quedas" are in Iraq now.

You have to believe that the Republican Party is made up of and operated by moral, ethical, principled people who haven’t lied, slandered, wrongfully accused and prosecuted their political enemies, suppressed minority votes, cheated, broken the law multiple times, subverted the Constitution, committed war crimes and broken both our democracy and our military and that they always act for the greater good, not for the economic gain of wealthy friends or corporate contributors (GW calls them his “Base”—How’s that war in Iraq working for Haliburton and OPEC?)

You have to believe that people would rather collect a pittance from welfare and live in abject poverty than work and live a decent life, especially if they are black or illegal Mexican immigrants.

You have to believe that Mexicans risk their lives crossing the border illegally to take the jobs that Americans don’t want and believe that they are stealing jobs from American workers (at the same time).

You have to believe that it is better to punish illegal workers rather than the businesses that hire them for cheap labor, because companies that hire them illegally should not be held responsible for those actions, but that the impoverished people who come here looking for work and a better life for their families are criminals who should be punished harshly.

You have to believe that the Republican Party is the party of “Accountability,” but that 9/11, the mess in Iraq, runaway budget deficits, the mortgage crisis, rising unemployment, crime, lack of affordable health care, soaring tuition rates and a growing class or working poor are not their fault or the result of any policies that they may have put in place.

You have to believe that it is okay to lie about torture, government leaks, subverting the constitution, political dirty tricks, breaking the law and breaking the faith of the citizenry, but not about having extra-marital sex in the oval office.

If you believe that it is acceptable, even admirable, to pretend that you will not negotiate with terrorists when you are secretly making deals with them, hide those dealings and deny any knowledge of them in a court of law, illegally use funds that you illegally gained through your illegal deal with terrorists to support an illegal war in Central America, illegally using American military personnel, subverting the Constitution that you took an oath to defend;

If you believe that it is ethical and/or morally justifiable to lie about your involvement in the Arms-for-Hostages deal, aid in the overthrow of Democratically-elected governments, encourage relationships with cruel dictators and then initiate war against them or have them jailed when they are no longer politically useful; encourage the Sunnis in Iraq to rebel against Saddam Hussein and then abandon them to be slaughtered when retaliation comes;

If you believe that it is proper, maybe even patriotic, to lie repeatedly (and continue to lie) in order to gain support for a war in Iraq for personal, financial and political gain, authorize the use of torture by our military, then suppress the truth about ordering torture, then punish whistle-blowers and underlings that carried out your orders, to order the leak of the identity of a government agent for political gain and in order to suppress the truth, then to shield liars and law-breakers from justice, to spy on the citizens of this country and your political enemies and dissenters using government agencies paid by taxpayer dollars, to regularly subvert the Constitution that you took an Oath to defend and to lie about it, hide the truth, and let others take the blame;

You were either a Republican President during the past twenty-five years or you supported one or more of them.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Not Bush-Lite, Bush-Femme

Have you noticed that the more Hillary Clinton scrabbles to win the Democratic nomination, the more her campaign resembles that of George Bush?

From what we’ve seen lately, she’ll do anything to win. The end justifies the means.

Is that really the kind of attitude we are looking for again? Do we want to end up with a female George Bush--can’t admit mistakes, lies when convenient, overestimates self-worth, underestimates and undervalues the citizenry, so wise that they can decide what is right for the American people, whether the people agree or not?

All is not fair in love, war and politics; that is just a thing that people say to justify being nasty.
It’s laughable that Hillary paints herself as the victim of attacks and smears when she employs the tactics herself. She must have taken some notes from her nemesis, Karl Rove, because some of the goings-on in this campaign lately have seemed sickeningly familiar.

Paint your opponent as effete, out-of-touch. If he is black, paint him as not black enough, or too black. Paint him as out of touch with the black voter. Attack his “morals,” even in an unprincipled way. If he is a hero, paint him as a coward. Paint him as “weak on terror.” And if he is reasonable and intelligent, paint him as a liberal. The American public has bought into this in the past, but will it work again? Kick ‘em when they’re up, kick ‘em when they’re down—attack, attack, attack.

Who dug up the clips of Reverend Wright that have so repulsed the white folks in Indiana that they now feel that they must vote for Hillary? To those that would fly to Hillary’s side over this flap, I would ask: Is it really a coincidence that this came out when Hillary looked like she was down for the count? Question the source, question the motivation, recognize the smear.
Even if the campaign wasn't behind it, they have certainly reveled in it and used it to their political advantage. What Geraldine Ferraro said wasn't racist or ridiculous (though she quickly disappeared from the staff), but what Jeremiah Wright said was? So Hillary repudiated the woman, but not the words.

Hillary equates herself to the fictional Rocky Balboa, fighting the good fight. Rocky, indeed. Rocky never threw a punch below the belt, even when he was down. Rocky didn’t employ a win-at-all costs, kitchen-sink attack. Rocky didn’t fire his manager when things looked grim, he fought harder, not dirtier. Rocky would have stood by his corner man no matter what. That's what made him a hero. Ma'am, you are no Rocky.

How many of the folks in the Clinton campaign have stepped down due to some flap or another? Do we really want to elect someone with no allegiance to those that helped her to get where she is? Nope, just "Buh-bye." The end is what's important.

Does the American public expect and demand that Obama completely repudiate the man that he has considered his friend and spiritual advisor? That’s the kind of “character” we are looking for in a President? That’s what the media and the Clinton Campaign would have you believe.

Apparently Hillary would have no second-thoughts about it. Is that a good thing? Rush to judgement; Off with his head! And she’s damn proud of it.

The Clinton Campaign’s desperate, win-at-all-costs mentality is not going to bring people together when the nomination comes down. Call me a hand-wringer if you want; the truth remains.

The sad thing is that she knows it, but doesn’t care. Kind of like George Bush, who, in Orwellian style, called himself the “Uniter” and then proceeded to divide this country and the entire world, truth be damned.

Long before she announced, conservatives labeled Hillary as “divisive.” She appears to be living up to that label and playing right into their hands.

I never dreamed I would ever agree with a conservative.

And that makes me feel dirty.

Thanks, Hill.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Who's Controversial??

Did you hear the statements made by Reverend Jeremiah Wright?
If you watch any television at all, you most likely did. Of course, you heard them completely out of context.

In the modern “journalistic” style, the media did not provide any context for the statements, just put them out there and called them “radical,” “extremist”, etc., as is their tendency.
These words might not sound so “incendiary” if you heard what came before the “controversial” statements and even what came after.

What you heard on television was Reverend Wright saying “God damn America.” Inflammatory rhetoric. But just who was attempting to inflame what?

The context of the sermon addressed the notion that governments change over time, but God does not. Reverend Wright talked about the framing of the Constitution, the differences of opinion regarding slavery that almost prevented the Constitution from being signed. Then he spoke of Abraham Lincoln and the freeing of the slaves. He touched on the inhumane treatment of the Native Americans, the internment of the Japanese during World War II then the way that laws changed as a result of the Civil Rights movement.

Reverend Wright’s infamous phrase came after he pointed out some particularly heinous things that the American government has been responsible for and of which God would surely not approve. He spoke of God damning the government for its actions.

Yes, if you believe in God, and believe that the Bible is the word of God, he would be damning the actions of our government. It IS written in the Bible, as the right Reverend stated.

You can disagree with his phrasing, or have difficulty relating to the context under which his statements were made, but what people are truly angry about is that truth was spoken.

Oh, how the American public hates to hear the truth.

Reverend Wright is now branded a radical, controversial, racist, extremist, blah, blah, blah, ad nauseum. This is the media attempting to inflame racial tensions and to question Barack Obama’s patriotism by innuendo and sensationalism. It only works if you buy into it, folks.

So now I must ask-- do we despise all truth-speakers or is it particularly hard for us to hear the litany of our collective history of sin coming from the mouth of a black man?

Slavery was legal here long after it was abolished everywhere else in the World. It took a deadly, perilous war to finally rid this country of the scourge, but it did not rid us of the sin that haunts us still. Nor did it bring equality for black Americans, who then had to fight for decades for the rights that they were entitled to under the Constitution.

Black Americans have been treated horribly in this country, but they are supposed to leave their bitterness in the past. What’s past is past and can’t be righted. So they are told to look to the present. But what about the present?

Has institutional racism been eradicated? If so, then;

Why are there more black men than white men in prison ?

Why are there more black men than white men on death row?

Why are there less black men in college?

Why are there less black men in management positions, positions of authority, government leadership?

Why is it easier for blacks to get a payday loan than a mortgage?

Why were so many blacks targeted recently in the subprime mortgage debacle and why did it take an international crisis to finally bring attention to these predatory loan practices?

Racism exists today. It is a FACT of life for black people daily. Prejudicial practices occur in real estate, credit-lending, employment, commerce, education and many other areas that white people may not even realize.

Americans don’t like to hear that from black people, but does it sound any better coming from a white woman?

It is time for the white people in this country to STOP pretending that racism is a thing of the past, that racial profiling is justifiable, that there is equal opportunity and/or equal justice for people of color in this society. The facts do not support this idea and it is time for the denial to end.

If we won’t admit that we see black people pulled over by police in our suburban neighborhoods far more often than whites;

If we can’t recognize that we see college-educated black men taking jobs in grocery stores because they can’t get hired in the jobs for which they are qualified;

If we refuse to acknowledge that many African American families still suffer from the effects of the complete destruction of the cultural family unit during slave times;

If we blind ourselves to the fact that the life experiences of and opportunities open to the half-white man that is running for President this year are not the same as those that exist for the average black man;

If we can’t stand up and recognize the problems that still exist for many black Americans every single day in this society, and the historical evolution of those problems, how can they ever be resolved?

As long as we can’t admit any responsibility for the problem, it will always exist.

That’s a good lesson for us to learn now, as it also applies to the terrorist threat.

Reverend Jeremiah Wright also said some supposedly controversial things regarding 9/11. “America’s chickens came home to roost.” He isn’t the only one that has said those things and the truth is that there are facts to support that statement to a certain extent.

Our government’s policies created Osama Bin Laden. Our government’s current policies continue to inflame tensions in the Middle East. Our government’s policies in Iraq have created a whole new arm of Al Queda and a whole generation of people who may potentially hate all Americans for what has been done to them, their country, their families. These are the ugly facts.

Nobody said that the 9/11 terrorists were justified in their actions against innocent Americans, but we must acknowledge that they believed they were and we must examine whether our government’s policies contributed to that in any way.

If we don’t acknowledge any responsibility for the problem, it will continue to exist. Fighting it the way we are now is just destroying this country, its military, its economy and its families.

Barack Obama should not have to apologize for the true statements made by Reverend Wright.
The fact that he felt it necessary, that the talking heads declared it necessary, that some “commentators” are saying that he didn’t go far enough; these facts prove that America is not prepared to move forward and/or act rationally on either the issue of race nor the problem of terrorism.

[And on a side note, the fact that Hillary Clinton has joined in on the attack on Obama for not going far enough, shows what a lousy President she would make. Shame on you Hillary; your ugly side is showing].

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