Thursday, January 29, 2009

Episode 36: Business as Usual: A Message to Politicians


A week and a few days into the new Obama administration and we’re already back to old school politics. The change we can believe in I suppose is the tone of political discourse, as it is less combative than we’ve grown accustomed in recent years. But when the GOP organize to defeat a bill our country desperately needs, the democrats lose sight of the big picture, and big business still giving out billions of dollars in bonuses and corporate jets, all I see is the same crap we dealt with for the last eight years. Perhaps it is naïve of me to expect change in only one week. Perhaps Obama’s magnanimity hasn’t rubbed off on the republicans just yet. All I know is Americans are really suffering out there every day this immature bickering continues.

And the democrats are not free and clear here. I believe in progressive causes. I believe the government has a responsibility to create programs for the betterment of the people if they choose to participate, such as healthcare, and sex education measures. But my fellow democrats, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO PUSH DEMOCRATIC AGENDA! In the last post I discussed how we should eliminate unnecessary spending, and fortunately Obama read my blog, and struck down the contraceptives part of the bill (j/k). I urge democrats to take it a step further – ONLY spend the recovery money on infrastructure, and the framework for green jobs, healthcare, and education. And nothing more. And 75% of the $819 billion should go towards shovel ready jobs. The middle class is always left out of the party… let’s get them back to work and get them the tax cuts they need to start getting back on track here. Let us save the good fight for another day.

And republicans, you should be ashamed of yourselves. I have never seen such a display of immaturity and incompetence. Tax cuts will not work. The very first thing people will do with a stimulus check is pay off bills or save it. That money will not go towards renovating a bedroom, or going to the movies, or fine wining and dining. You’re asking Americans to pull themselves up by their bootstraps when we have no boots! I beg you to just step outside in the real world and look at what’s really going on out there. Government is not the answer, but it is the best way to help its people.

And to corporate America, just stop. Stop spitting in our faces while sitting on the throne of entitlement. Stop spending money no one has to give to buy planes and go on vacations. Have a little decency for the common man. Just… stop.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Episode 35: My First Obama Beef


Week one is over and done. All in all, I’m happy to see that the change we can believe in is actually starting to take shape, and very early on too! The hot button topic of the moment is the economy and for the most part, I agree with much of the proposals I have heard. So far, coming out of academia, there isn’t much in the stimulus package that is helpful for me, but I really like the idea of investing a lot of money into shovel ready projects: building and fixing roads, bridges, tunnels, schools etc. I LOVE the idea of investing into Green Tech. (check out – a great new blog that is a nice resource for finding out more about green technologies). In order to compete with Asian countries, we NEED to upgrade our network infrastructure as we are light years behind them in that department – quite literally too, with their fiber optic network, they can download DVD sized files in a few minutes in opposed to several hours to a few days in the States. And we need to lay the ground work for reducing the cost of healthcare so we may begin to provide universal healthcare. Anyone who finds faults with these plans just doesn’t get it. However, one portion of the stimulus I think is not necessary – $2.5 billion dollars to be allocated for sex education and contraceptives.

I knew this was going to happen sooner or later. Democrats are a party of a million agendas. I knew Obama was the man for the job because somehow he was able to unify the party under one banner during the ELECTION. Now that the democrats won, we have regressed into old ways, trying to pass all these progressive agendas into law. It’s not that I don’t want progressive agendas to be passed, but I feel as if we’re not pacing ourselves for a marathon, but rather for a 100 meter dash. I agree with the logic, that investment into family planning *may* increase awareness, and some kind of free clinic to offer contraceptives, or perhaps a tax credit for companies that make contraceptives, may decrease unwanted teen pregnancy that may in turn save hospitals money from fewer patients. However, the effect of such a bill is so far into the future, so contentious a political battle, and so unrelated to the immediate task at hand, that it is not a battle worth fighting – now.

Obama will get the votes for this bill whether or not he gets the blessings of the republicans as the bill currently stands. However, if solidarity is the theme for this administration, then burning his political capital on the fight for family planning is PC not well spent. He gave the GOP what they wanted with the tax cuts. Take it one step further and knock the family planning out of the bill and the GOP will take that as a major gesture that he is willing to hear both sides out. Spend this political capital wisely now, and his return on investment will grant him even more capital to fight that battle later on down the road.

**NOTE** The blog I plugged had the wrong URL. It has been corrected now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Episode 34: End of an Error


It is ironic that the last day of the Bush Error as Keith Olbermann puts it, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Today, we celebrate the life, work, and mission of a man – a visionary – who dedicated his life towards the fight for equality for Black Americans – for all Americans. On the same day, arguably the most divisive president in this nation’s history is spending his last night in the White House.

The list of failures is long: 9/11 intelligence gaps, lack of WMDs, Guantanamo, Katrina, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, (all the other “stans”), torture, the economy, his destructive environmental policies, his failure to catch Bin Laden, our lost standing in the world, failed educational initiatives, horrible oratory skills, Freudian slips galore… I could go on and on and on. By the way, he also used our Constitution has toilet paper. And in his series of exit interviews, he is unwilling or unable to acknowledge, or scarily unaware of the numerous failures of his administration.

It is a damn shame, because he had the nation and the world at his fingertips. He talks about “political capital,” and he had it in spades. On September 12th 2001, America had in unison looked to our leader, and in one loud voice asked, no pleaded, “what do we do now?” We’re gonna get ‘em he replied. We trusted him to kill those responsible for attacking us. He had at that point a 91% approval rating. And Mr. Bush’s legacy took a tragic spiral from the very moment he declared “mission accomplished” and crashed and burned the moment we set foot in Iraq. Katrina, Guantanamo, and everything else was only digging his political grave deeper. He now leaves us, with his final approval rating at 22%, the lowest of any president. Yes, even Herbert Hoover. And Nixon. And James K. Polk.

However, there is one thing I’ll give Bush. I really do, believe that George Bush believed that he thought everything thing he did was in the best interest for the country. Unless he is an undercover agent for Iran, there is no way he could not make the decisions he made without thinking he was doing the right thing. I just think he has the absolute worst judgment and complete lack of vision, and utter disregard for the consequences of his decisions of any leader in American history.

Goodbye Mr. President. Thanks for damn near pushing our country and the world to the brink of collapse.

So here’s to the end of your administration. Without further ado, the “Best of Bush” captured through the years courtesy of Youtube.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Episode 33: The Obama Factor


I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am about Obama’s inauguration. It is like my New York Jets winning the Super Bowl… an event I didn’t think I’d ever get to see in my lifetime (the Jet’s however still have a ways to go…). Though it is true that we have made great strides in racial equality in America, electing a Black man into office seemed like we had a ways to go as a people (and in this case I speak on the behalf of Black Americans) before we’d have a leader the nation would elect.

Obama’s victory is so surreal, that old school Black comedians are having a tough time adjusting. All of a sudden, “ghetto mentality” punch lines seem so passé and irrelevant. From D.L. Hughley’s Breaks the News on CNN, where the punch line of Obama’s victory was a house party, poppin’ bottles of Cristal with raunchy rap music, to David Alan Grier’s advice for Obama to “ignore the parts of your Black half that may make you wanna… smoke crack with a hooker in a DC hotel, text message booty calls to your chief of staff, while having a stripper party…” – these types of hurdles among many other examples that made me wonder who in our culture could possibly become the face of the nation, when we are still so bound to the wounds and mentality of the past. But here we are, with the most unlikely of candidates – a politician with relatively little experience, a man whose history embodies the American experience, whose wife is the direct descendant of slaves, and a man who epitomizes class, character, and eloquence. He is the new face of America.

As a Black American, perhaps the thing I’m most excited about is what the future of the minority class will look like. I believe Obama’s mission to end the divisiveness that has pitted Americans against one another, and instead unify us under one banner will invoke a new dialogue amongst minorities. No more Black vs. Whites, but character vs. character. And this appeal is more far reaching than just one ethnic community; he is challenging all Americans to be held accountable for their actions, and to hold Obama accountable as well. We cannot be the voice of hope to the world until we are practicing what we preach. Finally, I believe we will see an America where we value shared responsibility, sacrifice, and a renewed sense of patriotism.

Gone are the days of Blue vs. Red. Perhaps, even my own blog subtitle “politics and the world through a blue lens” is passé and irrelevant in the Obama era. We have spent so many decades, these past eight years in particular, consumed with the notion of left vs. right, Black vs. White, Straight vs. Gay, that we feel compelled to polarize our points of view. Obama calls for bipartisanship, but I think it’s safe to say Obama would rather call it nonpartisanship if the term didn’t sound so utopian. Already, he has made it clear that all points of view will be considered, and all ideological figures will be brought to the table. The president is not supposed to represent the left or the right, but instead the best interests of the American people. Our politically polarized lens labels this stance as moderate, but his world view is far more complex. Through debate and intellectual discourse from all perspectives, he will draw a conclusion based on the best answers he hears, and from his own vision for America. I trust his vision, and I trust that better days are ahead. Yes we can.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Episode 32: The Guantanamo Factor


I have been pretty bored with the news as of late. With the economy in shambles as it is now, who is surprised by people like Blagojevich? Who cares what kind of chili dog Obama had at a hole in the wall restaurant the other day? But there have been a few new stories out now that peeked my interest: Guantanamo, Bush’s exit interview, and the Inauguration. For this episode, let’s talk Guantanamo.

Chris Mathews on Hardball posed this question: (paraphrased) If we know that Guantanamo detainees rabidly hate America and are extremely determined to attack America if freed due to Guantanamo’s closing, yet the detainees have not yet committed a crime, or don’t have sufficient evidence to indict them, what do we do with the detainees?

It is a question so loaded it deserves its own paragraph. And to which there is no easy answer. As an AVID “24” fan, I have seen my hero Jack Bauer bend (and break) the laws of the Geneva Convention on numerous occasion. However, it is likely, that he would have been able to extract the answer he needed to prevent a nuclear attack. Isn’t it realistic to expect that such a scenario can happen in the real world?

I think a practice of torture is dead wrong. It is below the standards of any civilized nation. However, war has changed. Gone are the days when wars are fought between nations to protect land and ideologies. It is an irrational battle, fought between factions belonging to no country. Soldiers who pledge allegiance to no flag. It is a war in which the overarching cause is the cultivation of a corrupt sect of religion. I think the Geneva Convention is outdated and does not include adequate provisions to deal with modern warfare. So what do we do? How do we fight these guys?

Thus, I think there are only a few things we can do. We could declare war on Afghanistan and put the Geneva Convention in play. We could redefine our moral standard for 21st century combat. We can “extract” information in the dark. Or we can wait for the detainees to attack us, or get caught planning to attack us so we may try them under law.

Declaring war is not only a bad idea, it would fruitless because I think Afghanis by and large do not subscribe to terrorist actions, and would be punished for the sins of a relatively small part of the population. We would only end up losing an ally. If we redefine our moral standards, how low will be go? Where will the line between right and wrong be drawn? We have been “extracting” information… and it has diminished our standing in the world. And waiting for an attack is too dangerous.

Of the options listed, redefining our moral standard for 21st century combat is probably the right answer, albeit the difficult answer. It is an impossible goal because everyone has a different idea of right and wrong. All I can say with certainty, is Obama should close Guantanamo, but its execution will be on of the most difficult decisions of his administration.