Posted in 9/11, Barack Obama, Birther Movement, C-Haze, Change, Congress, Conservative, Current Events, Democrats, Environment, Extremists, Fox News, George Bush, Glenn Beck, Liberal, News, Police Officers, Policy, Politics, President, Race, Republicans, Socialism, Terror, Terrorism, Truther Movement, Van Jones, War on Terror

Van Jones, Truthers, Birthers, and an Ugly Reality

We need to talk about Van Jones. We need to talk about his past, we need to talk about his resignation as the White House’s environmental advisor- and we really need to talk about whether or not he’s been victimized by the GOP.

Van Jones was made a household name by right-wing Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck. I’m not a regular Glenn Beck watcher- he’s way too emotionally unstable for me to be able to take seriously. Listening to him induces extreme anxiety, and I’m always afraid he’s this close to having a colossal meltdown. The net result is something akin to a child, trying to bravely sneak a horror movie that she has no business watching. She’s sitting in front of the TV, hands covering her face, peaking through her fingers at the screen…

… Should she watch?

But oh!

What if something happens!

Blah!

That’s me when Beck is on the air. He’s a trainwreck, and I find myself waiting for the whole show with him in tow to derail in front of my very eyes.

Quite stressful.

It’s for this reason I wish I could say Glenn Beck has finally lost his marbles, and is oh-so-wrong about all things Van Jones. Unfortunately, in some ways, the guy (Beck, that is), nutty as he may be, actually made some good points about Mr. Jones.

Van Jones, as no one in their right (err… correct, that is) mind would argue, is a polarizing character. To say he’s controversial would be an understatement. His radical views have been well-documented in the past- he is a bona-fide Truther, among other things (I don’t care what he claims, people- evidence is evidence). He feels that the Bush Administration, along with other high-level government officials either knowingly instigated 9/11, or through purposeful gross negligence allowed it to happen, all to give Bush and cronies an excuse to start an oil war in Iraq.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I think the current downturn this country is experiencing can be traced back to that cluster-fuck we like to call the Iraq War. Do I blame the Bush Administration? Yes I do. I also, however, blame Bush Sr.’s Administration for not toppling Saddam Hussein during Desert Storm, when he was all but handed to us on a silver platter… I blame the Clinton Administration as well, for not taking down Bin Laden when a similar opportunity presented itself… and above all, I blame each and every member of Congress- both Democrat and Republican- who voted to send our men and women into that country to begin with.

Need I remind any of you that we have lost more soldiers in the War on Terror than we lost on 9/11? For what? The answer, sadly, is that we lost them for nothing, other than the need of some politicians to settle a score that they, themselves, were responsible for creating at the start.

There is plenty of blame to go around. None of it, however, centers on a vast conspiracy, but instead was created by a bunch of short-sighted people who at the end of the day couldn’t tell their asses from a hole in the ground.

It is common knowledge today that Van Jones signed a petition in 2004 that asked for hearings to determine whether politicians had knowingly allowed the events on 9/11 to occur. Personally, I think politicians did allow the terror attacks to occur, but realize that they didn’t knowingly do so. They ignored a whole lot of signs that pointed to a colossal attack, instead preferring to believe that as the Good Ol’ U.S. of A, we were invincible.

Costly mistake, but an honest one nonetheless.

Van Jones has tried to back pedal on this petition he signed… claiming that while he allowed his name to be placed on the form, he does not subscribe to any conspiracy theories regarding 9/11 or our subsequent invasion of Iraq.

It was at this point that Jones became a liar.

You see, he didn’t just sign a Truther petition in 2004. A full two years prior to that,  in 2002 he organized a march for the Truther Movement.

Yet this college educated lawyer wants us to believe he had no idea what the hell he was signing when it came to this particular petition?

Doubtful.

With regards to the actual truth, here’s what we really know about Van Jones:

Jones was born in 1968. He is an environmental activist, a civil rights advocate, author and lawyer.

After graduating from Law School, rather than take an offered job in Washington, DC, Jones instead moved to San Fransisco. He joined a controversial organization called STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement). This organization was decidedly Marxist, sympathizing with Mao-ist peasants, and was in part created to combat the issue of police brutality.

He was famously arrested for his role in the Rodney King protests, though charges were later dropped. It was during this same time period, in 1995, that Jones began actively identifying himself as a Communist.

Jones is also responsible, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, for starting Color of Change, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving a larger political voice to Black America. That year he also began actively advocating for a Green America, becoming an environmentalist, and starting an organization called “Green for All”. Green for All promotes environmentally-friendly jobs in poor communities.

In 2008 he found moderate success when his book, “The Green Collar Economy” hit the New York Times top 12 list.

In March of 2009, Van Jones joined the Obama Administration as the environmental czar.

I would argue that Mr. Jones has done some wonderful things in his life. He has advocated for a greener world, and has worked tirelessly to help minorities succeed in this country. The problem is that he does not have the gift of words. While doing great things for millions of people worldwide, he simultaneously suffers from a terminal case of foot in mouth disease, which has proven to be his downfall.

Honestly, I don’t even care that the man once identified himself as a communist. I wish my biggest college-era transgession was to pick the wrong political party to align myself with. People change, and with age, we mature. That’s the general idea, anyway. I don’t even have a huge problem with the fact that Jones once famously claimed that white people and white corporations were purposely dumping their waste and polluting communities that predominantly consisted of people of color. Personally, given some of our nation’s history, that isn’t difficult for me to believe.

I applaud the fact that at some point, realizing that his more extreme views were not affecting the change he desired within the U.S., he decided to work within the system as it’s designed… no longer calling for revolution, no longer trying to make waves on the outer fringes of society.

It doesn’t even bother me that he recently referred to Republicans as assholes.

I live in a country where it isn’t supposed to phase me that people are calling my President a terrorist, a communist, a Marxist, a socialist… and are bringing guns to townhall meetings in hopes of shooting our Commander in Cheif like he’s a wild animal, and it’s deer season. I live in a nation where outright calls for our leader’s death, and pastoral prayers hoping he’ll keel over from brain cancer are the norm. Someone calling the GOP a bunch of assholes honestly doesn’t get me too excited.

What I cannot reconcile are the similarities between The Truthers and The Birthers. Van Jones’ affiliation with the Truther movement is exactly why he needed to resign. And every jerk Birther needs to do the same.

These two groups- they are both extreme, they are both radical, they both promote dangerously false claims, and they have no place in our government.

The problem in Van Jones’ case is that he did not convincingly leave radicalism, nor did he wholeheartedly embrace a more follow-the-rules, mainstream approach to getting the job done.

If he was honestly appalled that his name was attached to a petition espousing nonsensical conspiracy theories about our nation’s largest tragedy, he should have made those views known before he got caught by the likes of Glenn Beck.

Unfortunately for us, Jones certainly isn’t the only whacko we have our hands full dealing with.

There are Republicans in Congress (Representative Bill Posey, Florida) today that subscribe to the dangerous vitriol being spewed by the Birthers… and there are (former) Democrats in Congress (Cynthia McKinney) who subscribe to the nastiness being put forth by the Truthers.

For every lame-brained Truther petition out there, an equally ridiculous Birther petition, claiming Barack Obama is really the son of Al Qaeda, in cahoots with every terrorist known to man is in existence as well.

Prominent people are buying into both brands of idiocy.

Every last one of them needs to go.

If they won’t go willingly, we need to boot them- all of them- out the door.

We are living in terrifying times… polarizing times… where political discord is no longer an opportunity for open, honest, intelligent conversation, but is instead giving rise to left-and-right-wing maniacal idiots. It is only a matter of time before real violence erupts, and the regular people of America… you and I… need to be getting pissed off about it.

Van Jones is nobody’s victim… the only regret I have is that we aren’t kicking more radicals just like him- on both sides of the political spectrum- to the curb.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Cambridge, Current Events, Discrimination, Extremists, Harvard, Hate, Henry Louis Gates Jr., James Crowley, News, Police Officers, Policy, Politics, Race, Racial Profiling

The Emperor Really Is Wearing No Clothes

Before delving into the true topic of today’s post, I want to point out some things about me personally.

I am different.

I am not black or white, but both… as are my thoughts, my feelings, my emotions and experiences.

I am a smorgasbord of things…

… I am half white, a quarter black and a quarter Native American.

I am a walking contradiction.

I am a person of color, raised by a white family.

I married a black man, and had two daughters by him.

I have lived a life of priviledge.

I have lived a life of pain.

I have lived a life of prejudice.

I have lived a life of contempt.

I have been victimized.

I have victimized others.

All of these things make me who I am.

They, like my own skin tone, muddy my views, color the waters of what I see in the world around me.

I cry out when I see real injustice.

I get angry when people claim to be victims of said injustice, but are really perpetrators, finding reasons to make excuses for own their unreasonable behavior.

I have no sympathy for a black man who does not take responsibility for his destiny, instead finding himself wallowing in self-pity and poverty.

I have no love for a white man who believes that by virtue of his skin color, he has inherited the keys to the world, and is entitled to keep his black brothers from having them too.

My views clash with those of my white friends and black ones.

I do not always see injustice where they do.

Sometimes, a white police officer is doing the unforgivable when targeting a black man simply because of the color of the man’s skin.

Other times, black men are taking advantage of tumultuous times, exploiting growing racial discomfort, highlighting racial tensions and using it all as an excuse not to have to take personal responsibility for their own actions.

I am sick of it.

I hear stories like the fiasco that occured in Cambridge, MA, and I am filled with shame.

A white police officer responded to a call of a buglary in progress at a residence in his jurisdiction. Sargeant James Crowley had no way of knowing, upon arriving at the residence, whether the man inside the home was the legal occupant or the same burglar a neighbor woman had called 911 about, claiming to have witnessed two men attempting to break into the home.

The man, it turns out, is Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. He is a prominent African American, but none of that matters to me. What is important is not Professor Gates’ prominence, but rather, his behavior on the night in question.

There is no doubt that Gates is the lawful resident of the home, nor is there any doubt that Professor Gates came home that evening, after a period of time overseas, to a house with a jammed front door. With the assistance of his driver, the door had to be man-handled, but was finally opened. It was the image of Gates, at night, accompanied by his driver, ramming his body repeatedly into the door that caused a neighbor to become alarmed. She called the police and reported what she was witnessing- two black males attempting to break into a residence.

Initially, upon responding Officer Crowley’s arrival, the professor refused to open his door. He accused the officer of simply targeting him as a black man in America. The officer, not to be swayed, refused to leave the premises until Professor Gates could prove that he was, in fact, the occupant of the house.

Gates, at this point, opened the door, told the officer to stay where he was, and went into the kitchen to obtain the requested identification.

The officer, not listening to Gates request to stay put instead followed him into the home.

I wonder why there was so much public outrage at this single act.

The officer did not, at this point, know that Gates was the resident of the home. Gates had yet to produce ID, and was overly defensive over the officer’s very presence. How was Crowley to know that Gates was not an intruder? How was he to know that Gates would not go into another room and produce a weapon? How was he to know that Gates was not claiming to leave the room for his identification, while actually planning to flee the scene through a back door?

It seems Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and (dare I say it) even President Barack Obama have lost sight of the fact that this was the investigation of a burglary in progress.

The professor, it is now obvious, did not like the fact that Officer Crowley inserted himself into the residence, and immediately became beligerent. While he did ultimately produce his identification, he began threatening the officer. Not with physical violence, but with such things as, “You have no idea who you’re messing with” and “You haven’t heard the last of me!”. He demanded the officer’s name and badge number, and followed the officer outside, continuing to scream at him.

Ultimately, deciding that he’d had enough, Officer Crowley arrested Professor Gates, charging him with disorderly conduct, though the charges were dropped the next morning.

Obama has spoken publicly, during a prime-time news conference, claiming Officer Crowley acted “stupidly”.

The Civil Rights icons are coming out of the wood-work, crying foul… screaming that this is yet another example of white-cop-on-black-man abuse.

Professor Gates’ attorney is making the rounds in a full-fledged media blitz, defending his client’s honor the best he can.

The mayor of Cambridge, MA is meeting with the professor over lunch to apologize on behalf of the city.

The Cambridge Police Department has called the incident “unfortunate”, but stands behind its Sargeant’s actions.

Sargeant Crowley himself refuses to apologize.

Personally, I don’t believe Obama should have inserted himself into this issue to begin with. As he stated during the press conference, he was not capable of giving an unbiased response, as Gates is his friend, and even admitted to not having all the facts available to him.

In short, the President had no idea what had occured on the night in question, was not capable of reacting to the facts, once available, in an unbiased fashion… so what he did was simply stand up for a friend…

He vouched for Gates simply because they have a personal history, not because there is any evidence to support the professor’s blown-up allegations.

How irresponsible indeed.

Now we have police officers the entire country over claiming Obama is a disgrace to them.

Perhaps, had he waited for all the facts to come out, he would have learned of Gates’ completely ridiculous, childish, temper tantrum-like behavior. Or of Officer Crowley’s distinguished career within the police department. Perhaps he would have learned that Crowley himself has taught Cambridge’s well-respected racial profiling course for the past five years.

He would have understood that there is no evidence of any sort of racism on the part of Officer Crowley… not when analyzing his behavior during this incident, or in reviewing his record on any other issue.

I was raised (by my white family) that if one chooses to act like a complete idiot having a mental breakdown in the presence of (and most espeically while being investigated by) a police officer, the crazy-acting guy pretty much deserves whatever the heck it is he gets.

This was not a case of racism.

This was the unfortunate result of a pissing contest between two men of considerable stature.

Period.

I have lost friends over my views on the Cambridge matter.

I have been accused, as a “woman of color”, of denying my “true” heritage in siding with the police officer in this case.

It hurts… I have never claimed racism is dead in America. I have blogged- multiple times- on this very site about its existence.

I refuse to bow down and call an ugly situation that could have been altogether avoided racism simply because the black man involved wants me to believe that’s what occured.

The Emperor really, truly, is wearing no clothes.

I will not pretend otherwise.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Change, Congress, Current Events, Discrimination, Elections, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, News, Policy, Politics, President

Obama, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and Lame Excuses

Oh, Obama, you’re breakin’ my heart!

To say the least, I am extremely disappointed in Obama’s recent flip-flop on gay rights- most specifically, the military’s discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.

If he keeps this up, he’s gonna become nothing more than just a regular ol’ politician in my eyes.

That’s a heartbreaking thought.

Back in January Obama’s Communications Chief, Robert Gibbs, held a question and answer sessionon YouTube. One of the questions asked was whether or not the President intended to repeal the current policy regarding gays in the military.

Gibbs’ response?

A resounding yes.

Yes, yes and hell yes.

Now, however, we’re hearing something a li’l different, and it’s coming straight from the horse’s mouth.

Obama, it seems, doesn’t think the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is something he can do on his own… he says the legislative branch really needs to tackle this one, not him.

Sigh.

I believe I’m both getting whiplash and smelling some really rank B.S. all at once.

Yuck.

This guy can introduce a health care bill, a huge climate control bill, stimulus packages and everything else…

… But Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is too big a challenge?

Sorry, Mr. Prez.

I’m not buying it.

In fairness to Obama, he makes no bones about the fact that he still supports a change in the law- and that he’d like to see the change sooner, rather than later- but one kinda’ gets the impression that this isn’t the type of hot-button issue he wants to get behind right now…

… And is therefore deciding, not so gracefully, to pass the buck.

I wonder specifically, what “change” he’d like to see take place?

Beyond that, the whole thing just sounds disingenuous.

He certainly didn’t just wait for congress to decide it was time to act when he’s wanted to address other things that have been important to him during his short time in office.

He’s much more of a go-getter than that.

At least when the issue at hand is an important one- to him, at least.

I don’t know…

… Just doesn’t sit right.

Posted in C-Haze, Children, Conservative, Current Events, Elections, Fox News, Media, News, Policy, Politics, President, Presidential Campaign, Republicans, Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin, Resignation and Basketball

I just finished listening to Sarah Palin’s resignation speech, from start to finish.

Wowsers.

After almost 7 full minutes of rambling… and not a whole lot of sense-making, we learn that she is stepping down as Governor of Alaska.

It was quite disjointed, from strange basketball analogies to promises to affect political change for Alaska outside of politics, to my personal favorite, how she put her political future to her kids for a vote.

When asking them if she should resign, she got “4 yeahs and a resounding HELL YEAH”, and apparently it was the hell yeah that sealed the deal.

Man oh man.

Later, after spending the entire speech knocking politics, and complaining about how horrible mainstream media has been to her family and how this experience has basically ruined her life and the lives of her children, she  says, “I don’t want to discourage anyone from entering politics”.

Oh ok.

As long as she’s encouraging others not to give up their dreams to follow in her footsteps so that they, too, can live in their own personal hell as a result, I’m cool. (Read: Sarcasm)

The entire ordeal is bizarre, and despite the fact that Sarah Palin has never been one to make a whole lot of sense while speaking, I am still a bit shocked.

Some insiders say Palin is resigning to begin preparing for either a 2010 U.S. Senate race or is gearing up for the top-dog position of POTUS, come 2012.

I say if she truly wanted either of those, the last thing she should have done is step down as governor, having not even completed her first term.

Palin is addressing a nation, a nation in which members of her own party refused to vote for the ticket on which she was listed, because of her lack of political experience.

I don’t think “Resigned as Governor prior to completion of first term” is really a bullet she should want to have placed on her resume, should national politics be her ultimate goal.

What party would she run under?

The Party of “When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going”?

Call me cynical, but considering that she was unable to complete a single term as governor of a state in which there are fewer residents than New York City, I find it hard to imagine her next stop will be Leader of the Free World.

Even Republicans are scratching their heads, with one Senator, Lisa Murkowski, releasing a statement regarding her “disappointment” that Governor Palin has chosen to “abandon” Alaska.

There are other rumors, of course. The media has gone berserk, speculating on the various reasons why Palin really chose to step down. Right now they’re running the gambit from an unexpected pregnancy, to speculation that she has a new book deal- the financial numbers of which she would have to disclose to the state, to rumors of a very damaging criminal investigation against her.

I’m not surprised, given the reasons she stated during her press conference really amounted to nothing more than rambling. The effect was the impression of a woman trying to pull a fast one, having no intention of explaining the real motivation for her decision, instead choosing to fill dead air with a bunch of nonsense that made little, if any, sense at all.

Personally, I don’t know that the reasons for Palin’s resignation really matter too much.

The bottom line is that had she truly planned to descend on the scene, making her mark in national politics, she has just shot herself in the foot.

Abandoning ship prior to reaching the agreed-upon destination (the end of her term) was political suicide.

For her own sake, I hope the rumblings of her various insiders are true- and that Palin is leaving politics for good. Not because I’m not a fan of Palin’s, but because I believe her choosing to step down as Governor, regardless of what her ultimate designs were, has spelled the end of her political career.

I’m sure as the days develop we’ll get more clarification about this most unconenventional development.

Until then, looks like things are gettin’ kinda deep up there in Alaska.

Posted in C-Haze, Change, Current Events, Discrimination, Frank Ricci, Hope, New Haven, News, Policy, Politics, Race, Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court

The Death of Affirmative Action?

We are getting news today that the Supreme Court has ruled on the infamous New Haven Firefighter reverse discrimination case.

Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in a strange coincidence, was one of the presiding judges during this case’s original appeal.

The High Court has ruled in favor of white firefighter Frank Ricci, reversing Judge Sotomayor’s ruling.

As most of us are aware, the New Haven firefighter case was about whether or not Mr. Ricci was unfairly discriminated against when he passed (with flying colors, I might add), the city of New Haven’s standard test, the results of which determined one’s eligibility for promotion within the department.

Ricci, unfortunately, did not get the promotion, because just after taking the test, the city threw out all test results because no eligible black firefighters (and only one Latino) had passed it.

The city’s defense was that they were following applicable federal law- Title VII, if you want the name for it- that prohibits an employer’s discriminating against any race in its hiring or promotion practices. Even if the discrimination is not purposeful, it is still illegal, according to the law.

When Ricci initially brought suit against New Haven, he lost, and the trial judge ruled in favor of the city.

Not to be deterred, he appealed the ruling at the federal level, where it fell into the lap of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s federal appellate court. Sotomayor (in a unanimous decision, reached along with the two other judges on the panel), upheld the trial court’s decision, ruling in a depressingly brief statement, that the applicable law- love it or hate it- had been appropriately applied.

Ricci then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. The High Court has spoken, and Frank Ricci is likely a very happy man.

I have had feelings that were difficult for me to reconcile about this case from the start.

I do not fault Judge Sotomayor in her decision, as she was merely charged with determining whether or not New Haven had been on the right side of the law when the city decided to throw out the test. Simply looking at legal precedent, New Haven’s officials acted the way the Title VII statute requires them to.

This case is a true eye-opener, and is a symptom of the challenges that can develop as a result of changing times.

In the not too distant past, reverse discrimination was a myth. It was an excuse used by lazy white people who did not have the education or the drive to get a real job and go to work. This country, at that time, was so terribly stacked against minorities that the notion that white people could possibly be victims of discrimination was absolutely ludicrous.

Now, however, things are different.

We have multiple laws- both state and federal- protecting workers from discrimination. These laws cover everything from gender to sexual orientation, from race to religious background. Not only are these laws on the books, they are actively in use. We have affirmative action- require some organizations to hire certain percentages of minority workers; we have colleges and universities that give preferential treatment to qualified minority applicants over equally qualified white candidates who apply for admission.

I have never been against affirmative action, as in my lifetime I have seen a real need for it. These laws, these practices, in my liberal mind, have always been my definition of reperations, the much-needed apology of a nation who has done dastardly deeds to minorities for centuries.

Today, however, I am conflicted.

Make no mistake- I am not so naive as to believe racism or (and perhaps especially) discrimination is dead. No, I still see evidence of it in my day-to-day life, and I am as appalled by it today as I ever was…

… But something has changed in this country.

The change is called progress.

No longer do we, as minorities, live in a nation where reverse discrimination is a ridiculous figment of certain people’s imaginations. On the contrary, we have made enough progress, moved far enough forward that reverse discrimination has become a real problem.

This case never could have happened had we not successfully begun to level the playing field.

For that fact alone, I am quite proud of my country today.

Make no mistake- we aren’t there yet.

There are still companies that will find silly and illegal reasons to keep from hiring a black man. 

Or a woman.

Or a Muslim.

Or a homosexual. 

… And apparently, in some cases, even a white person.

It is important to remember this fact, and to continue to fight against discrimination in all its forms. Companies still need to be held accountable for their hiring and promotion tactics, ensuring that they are not excluding anyone from realizing their true potential and achieving greatness.

The enemy here is, and always has been, discrimination.

We must be careful that we are not missing the forest for the trees. As Americans, we are the best- perhaps in the world- at doing just that.

It is discrimination we fight, and we fight it in all its forms.

Frank Ricci, while yes,  a white guy, is a man with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.

He dedicated himself most thoroughly to passing the test administered by the New Haven fire department; a man who worked harder than probably anyone else to earn this promotion… quitting his second job so that he would have more time to devote to studying, spending large amounts (approximately $1,800) of his own hard-earned money on study materials and even hiring a tutor to come and read the materials to him, as his learning disabilities were so great, he could not have gotten through all of it on his own.

Some say the fact that Ricci had the resources to take such extraordinary measures to pass the test constitutes a bias. Simply put, not everyone has the luxury of quitting their second job, buying extra study materials, and hiring tutors to help prepare them for an upcoming test.

I agree, to an extent.

However, what I have not seen mentioned, at least not as point of fact, is that most people do not suffer from the learning disabilities Ricci has either.

How many of the other candidates had the unique challenge of overcoming dyslexia in order to prepare for and take this test?

Ricci went the extra mile, and in doing so, I believe he merely leveled the playing field.

He did not have an unfair advantage- in fact, he had a significant disadvantage- but rather than fall victim to the fact that he came to the starting line handicapped, he found away to overcome his disabilities.

This man was dedicated, he refused to let his shortcomings deter him. He found a way around his own handicap, and he knocked it out of the ballpark.

Since when is hardwork, creativity and digging up helpful resources not worthy of reward in this country?

He deserves his promotion.

Discrimination, in all its forms, is ugly.

Whether the victim is black or white, gay or straight, man or woman, Christian or Buddhist, learning disabled or not.

The goal is to create a level playing field, not to give minorities a free pass over all else.

It is because we are charged with fighting discrimination in all its forms that we should not be in support of hiring or promoting practices that tip the scales in the opposite direction either, causing a new group of people- fellow humans- to miss out on hard earned- and deserved- opportunities.

Regardless of race.

Past injustice does not constitute an excuse to inflict future injustice.

So…

… Today the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the white guy in a discrimination case, and strangely…

I’m ok with that.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Conservative, Current Events, Democrats, Liberal, News, Policy, Politics, President, Race, Republicans, Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court

Judge Sotomayor, New Haven and Reverse Discrimination

Along with bogus charges of racism, we are now hearing rumblings of discontent regarding Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s ruling in the infamous New Haven firefighters’ reverse discrimination case.

First, a little background.

New Haven, CT adopted a written exam in 2003 for the purpose of determining which of the city’s fire fighters are eligible for promotion to Lieutenant and Captain within the department. The city ended up throwing the test out a year later, after determining that no eligible black workers had passed the exam.

A white fire fighter by the name of Frank Ricci scored exceptionally high on the test, and would have received the promotion, had the test not been deemed inadmissable by the city. Ricci in turn sued the city of New Haven for reverse discrimination, claiming that he was in effect losing his rightful promotion as a result of a policy that catered to blacks and minorities.

The trial court disagreed, and Frank Ricci lost the case.

Ricci appealed the lower court’s decision to the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals, where it fell into the lap of Judge Sonia Sotomayor (and 3 other judges, as part of a panel. For the sake of this post, we’ll just talk about Sonia Sotomayor). Sotomayor rejected the appeal, upholding the lower court’s ruling. The case is currently being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, with a ruling expected by late June of this year.

Judge Sotomayor’s decision was a controversial  one, especially among conservatives, who tend to believe she should have sided with the fire fighters.

If one truly understands how the oft-squeaky wheels of justice turn, and the responsibilities of an appeals court judge, the case isn’t quite as controversial after all… and one begins to see it has less to do with Judge Sotomayor and more to do with the legal precedent she had no choice but to utilize in making her decision.

The city of New Haven did not simply throw the written test out because it felt like it, nor was the test deemed inadmissable by a single party, hell-bent on building a blacks-only department.

Hardly.

The test was found to be in violation of Title VII, which is the federal civil rights law that requires employers to consider the racial consequences of any hiring or promotion practice. Whether on purpose or inadvertent, if the practice excludes minorities, it is illegal. The New Haven test, according to the law, was an illegal promotion tool, as eligible black fire fighters were not able to pass it. As a result, the city had no choice but to throw the test out.

If one is to take issue with this situation, the issue must be taken with the law itself- Title VII- not with the city’s actions, nor the judges’ rulings on the case.

The city, as well as the trial court, and most especially the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals, were simply following the applicable law.

Most would agree, whenever possible, it is important that a judge apply the already-written law(s) when making a ruling, and follow the constitution to its letter. Generally speaking, it is inappropriate for a judge to disregard current laws in making a decision on a case. The law is the law, no one is above it, and if a law exists when a case is heard, that law must be followed.

This is exactly what Judge Sotomayor did when ruling against Frank Ricci of the New Haven Fire Department. Her ruling was a direct result of her following an already existing law.

Period.

 The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals was not the appropriate venue to fight the merits of Title VII, and whether or not the law lends itself to the creation of reverse discrimination. Judge Sotomayor was charged with making a decision based on the laws that are already in place- and determining whether the original trial court had correctly utilized the applicable law in making its ruling.

So that’s exactly what she did, and did so using the strong legal precedent that had already been set by her court, her jurisdiction- the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals.

As the GOP knows all-too-well, for Judge Sotomayor to have ruled any other way, her decision would have amounted to Judicial Activism.

Ironically enough, many key Republicans have voiced concerns over Sotomayor, claiming that they are worried she may be a Judicial Activist.

Funny, considering how up-in-arms these same people are today as a result of her refusing to do just that in the New Haven case. 

Judicial Activism occurs when a judge legislates from the bench. Typically, it is a judge’s responsibility to apply applicable law- using legal precedent- in making his/her rulings. Creating new laws is the responsibility of Congress- the Legislative Branch of government. When a judge attempts to circumvent written law, he/she is called a Judicial Activist.

Some famous cases involving judicial activism include Dred Scott, Roe v. Wade, Brown v. The Board of Education and Plessy v. Ferguson. While landmark cases for sure, their rulings were the response to scenarios in which no previous legal precedent existed, and so judges had no applicable law to fall back on. Therefore, they had to interpret the Constitution, resulting in a ruling that in effect created its own legal precedent for future cases to utilize.

Generally speaking, I am no fan of Judicial Activism. I think the law is in place for a reason, and if I disagree with a law, the proper venue for me to express my dissatisfaction is with my congressional representatives. They are the people charged with making the laws, while judges are responsible for upholding them, as written.

I don’t know how I feel about the New Haven case. 

I  sympathize with Frank Ricci. I learned, while researching this case, that he is dyslexic, and had to work exceptionally hard to pass the test- let alone score as highly as he did.

However, I also sympathize with any hard-working minority, who as the result of a racially-skewed test, is effectively shut out of a promotion process that he or she deserves to be a part of as much as anyone else.

Overall, I am happy that a law such as Title VII is on the books, and I’m happier that it’s a federal law. To me, any law that makes discrimination illegal in all 50 states certainly has its merits.

If anyone, I fault the city of New Haven in this case. Had they come up with a non-biased test to begin with, both Frank Ricci and any other qualified employee would have been promoted… and everyone would be happy. I applaud the city for taking the steps necessary to correct its error by throwing out the test, but I mourn the casualties such an action created. Sometimes the right thing to do is not the easy thing to do… and sometimes when we make mistakes- even honest ones- it’s the innocent bystanders that are hurt the most.

Frank Ricci, it seems, has suffered quite a bit, as have other hard-working minority fire fighters. Every last one of them deserved a chance at bettering themselves… and yet all of them have suffered greatly.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Conservative, Current Events, Democrats, La Raza, Liberal, News, Newt Gingrich, Policy, Politics, President, Race, Republicans, Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court

Sotomayor, Supreme Court and Spindoctors

One of my readers hipped me to “La Raza”, while commenting on my recent post on Judge Sotomayor- stating that she is a member of this particular group.

I didn’t know anything about the organization, and promised to research both the group and the judge’s alleged ties to it.

What I learned, not surprisingly, is that what’s often thought to be common knowledge isn’t always accurate information.

How dangerous misinformation can be.

First of all, let’s talk about that which cannot be disputed. La Raza is a Latino organization that currently operates in the U.S., and is active in 41 states. It’s a relatively large group, with over 300 local-level affiliated groups that are under the La Raza umbrella.

Officially known as the National Council of La Raza, its website claims that as “the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, NCLR works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans”. To meet its objective, La Raza gives a latin prospective via applied research, focusing on five areas: assets/investments, civil rights/immigration, education, employment and economic status, and health.

Founded in 1968, the group claims to be a private, tax-exempt, non-partisan organization that is headquartered in Washington, DC.

Now, on to a couple of misconceptions.

Some people have a lot of negative feelings about this organization, as obviously, being hispanic in nature, there is the perception that La Raza is an open-borders advocate, or a lobby group for illegal aliens. The organization has been bastardized, based on inaccurate data.

An opinion is an important thing to have, and as free-thinking Americans, our opinions will not always gel with one anothers’.

It is inconscionable, however, to base one’s opinions on something that isn’t even true.

La Raza, according to its website, does not support a United States of America that has open borders. They absolutely recognize- and support- this country’s right, as a sovereign nation, to control its borders. In fact, in 2005, the National Council of La Raza supported, in partnership with such Republicans as John McCain (R-AZ) , Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act. This bill, among other things, provided for the stronger enforcement of labor and immigration laws. It was to help secure our borders while keeping America safe in the process.

The organization certainly supports immigration reform, but it just as fiercely advocates for a strong enforcement program as well. The group has never condoned the act of illegally crossing the United States of America’s borders.

Another misconception about La Raza is its name, and what it translates to mean. Many people claim the name means “The Race”, which understandably makes quite a few folks uncomfortable. A white organization would get ten different kinds of hell, were it named “The Race”, most especially if a Supreme Court nominee were rumored to be a member.

*Shudder*

Can you imagine?

La Raza, however, does not mean “The Race”- this is merely a loose and factually inaccurate translation- but rather,  “The People” or “The Community”. Certainly “The People” has a much less Hitler-esque tone, and suddenly, the group doesn’t seem quite so threatening anymore.

Hispanics, if we are honest with ourselves, do not have an easy time in America. Obviously it is not impossible to be both hispanic and successful, much like one can be black and successful, but like many other minorities, Latinos do face a certain amount of bigotry, unfair stereotypes and all-out hatred. La Raza tries to make these speedbumps a little more manageable, fighting to make sure Hispanics are afforded the same opportunities as non-minorities (translation: white people).

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, is a memberof the National Council of La Raza.

Some people act as if we should be shocked by this, but realistically, looking at Sotomayor’s history, along with La Raza’s stated mission, it all becomes quite understandable.

Not only that, but it isn’t a negative thing in the least.

Sonia Sotomayor, daughter to Puerto Rican parents, was born and raised in New York- in the Bronx- in a public housing project. She knows poverty and discrimination first hand, as the recipient of what amounted to two strikes against her- being both poor and hispanic. This did not make for an easy go of things. Yet she chose not to use her economic status (or lack thereof) or her race as an excuse to fail. Instead, she chose to thrive, putting herself through college and law school- Ivy League, no less- ultimately graduating from both Princeton and Yale, serving as editor of the Yale Law Review to boot.

Keep in mind, this was no trust fund baby. She did it the old-fashioned way, with her own blood, sweat and tears.

Learning of Sotomayor’s background and the adversity she has managed to overcome, it is anything but surprising to learn that she is a member of an organization whose entire purpose is to protect the civil rights and improve the quality of life of Latinos throughout America.

After law school, Judge Sotomayor went on to become the Assistant Attorney General for the city of New York, ran her own private practice for several years, and (due to then-President George H.W. Bush’s nomination), served on the bench for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The Clinton Administration later nominated her to sit on the federal bench at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd District.

The woman is on fire, and has managed to successfully navigate not one, but two Senate Confirmation hearings, after having been nominated for bench positions by two different presidents- both a Democrat and a Republican.

Recently a group of Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, have accused Judge Sotomayor of reverse discrimination, claiming she’s racist, and therefore should not be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. Their claims are based on a something the judge said in 2001, while speaking to The University of California Berkley’s School of Law. She said at that time, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Apparently, the fact that Sotomayor admits that she believes her personal life experiences make her a better judge, is offensive to some. The hypocrisy lies in the fact that Justice Samuel Alito, during his own Supreme Court confirmation hearings, said the same exact thing– only about himself, of course- and these same Republicans didn’t bother blinking an eye.

Of course, when Alito said it, we called it “empathy in judging”.

With Sotomayor, it’s racism.

I guess it’s only a problem when the statement is made by a liberal.

The GOP  wasn’t terribly concerned about her qualifications when they confirmed her in the past- twice- but now, suddenly, she’s a racist.

Ah, hypocrisy at its finest.

Though without it, I would have nothing to write about, so onward we go.

I’m not saying we should all welcome Judge Sonia Sotomayor with open arms. Legitimate questions still need to be asked, more information needs to be had. I stated in my previous post, for example, that I am a little leary of her Catholic background and how that may (or may not) translate to her decisions on such topics as abortion, gay rights and stem cell research.

In many ways, the jury is still out.

None of that, however, lessens the importance of committing to forming educated opinions based on fact. My ultimate opinion of President Obama’s nominee may or may not be a popular one, but I take comfort in knowing that my decision will be based on fact and not fear, conjecture or rumor.

Hopefully, all of you will be able to say the same, when that time comes.

Posted in C-Haze, Conservative, Current Events, Democrats, George Bush, House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, News, Policy, Politics, President, Republicans, Torture, War on Terror

Two Cents, Nancy Pelosi and Torture

I was going to hold off a li’l while before posting my opinion on Nancy Pelosi, and whether or not she was briefed by the CIA on the Bush Administration’s use of torture.

Most people seem to have already made up their minds on the matter- even as the majority of the facts remain unknown- and the story is beginning to die out in the news.

Rather than run the risk of posting on an irrelevant topic later (God forbid!), I guess I’ll put my two cents in now.

First of all, I am saddened at how fast so many people- politicians and regular folk alike- jumped to conclusions on this subject, labeling Rep. Pelosi a hypocritical liar before any actual facts could even be substantianted.

I’m not saying she’s not a hypocrite, nor am I saying she isn’t a liar. I’m not even saying she handled herself appropriately with regards to the CIA’s use of waterboarding.

What I’m saying is that we just don’t know.

Not yet, anyway.

I’ve heard Pelosi discussing the CIA briefings she received as a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

These so-called briefings have been a pet peeve of hers for a long time, certainly before this waterboarding controversy ever hit our radar screens.

When Congressional members of the Committee are briefed by Intelligence officials, they are not necessarily given complete or truly accurate information. The CIA (especially, one assumes, during this country’s most dangerous and dishonest administration) simply is not held accountable for briefing Intelligence Committee members with complete information.

Once the oft-incomplete briefing is held, the members of the committee are not allowed to ask questions for clarification purposes or to be given more information. In addition, they are not allowed to discuss the briefing with anyone else- including their own attorneys or staff members.

Pelosi isn’t saying the CIA didn’t “brief” her. She’s simply saying they didn’t give her the details that are now public knowledge, and even if they had, she wasn’t allow to do or say anything at all about any of it.

Pelosi is not the only Representative to level this charge. Bob Graham is another vocal critic of the briefings, and in fact backs Rep. Pelosi’s version of events as well.

Considering the CIA’s use of torture is illegal, are we really to believe that the organization, under the command of the likes of Bush and Cheney, really gave Pelosi all the information she would have needed to be able to determine that they were breaking the law?

Of course not.

They wanted to continue torturing people… they’re not going to give one of their adversaries the rope she needs to hang them.

Beyond all the did-she-know-or-didn’t-she-know nonsense, are we not missing the point entirely?

The point, people, is torture.

The illegal, immoral use of torture, and the lies we were all told by the Bush Administration for years, to justify violating the Geneva Conventions, thus making us less safe.

The GOP, it seems, is using Nancy Pelosi to defend such horrors as waterboarding, in effect saying “Pelosi should have stopped us and because she didn’t, we tortured people over and over again”.

As if George Bush, prior to signing all those executive orders was really looking to Pelosi, screaming, “For the love of God!! PLEASE STOP ME!!!”

Give me a break.

All I can say is, any one of you who believe Nancy Pelosi deserves to go down as a result of these briefings, and her alleged inaction as a result, better be supporters of Bush/Cheney and friends being charged with war crimes.

If you aren’t in support of the Bush Administration being taken to task for its lying, torturous, war-time transgressions, then you really need to shut your mouth where Nancy Pelosi is concerned.

For even if she is guilty of every single one of these allegations against her, they still pale in comparison to what our previous Commander-in-Chief was up to.

Posted in C-Haze, Current Events, Fox News, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, News, Policy, Politics, Transgender

Trolley Drivers, Transgender Employees and Trash

The headline screams, “Report: Boston Trolley Driver Was Hired With Transgender Minority Status”.

Huh.

I think Fox News has just taken the prize for the most inconsequential headline of the century.

It’s amazing to me how “mainstream” media will take an actual story- in this case, a real-life tragedy- and spin it into the most irrelevant drivel imaginable.

In Boston, recently, a trolley driver ran a red light, smashing into another trolley. This action resulted in serious injuries of more than 50 passengers… and was ultimately determined to be the result of the driver texting his girlfriend and not paying attention to his job.

Personally, I say fire the man.

He wasn’t concentrating on his job. He didn’t put the safety of his passengers first, and was instead putzin’ around on his cell phone with his girlfriend. This is negligence, and the man deserves to be have both his employment terminated and to be criminally charged for causing this accident.

Sure, it could have been worse… but it also could have been altogether avoided, had Mr. Trolley-man been concentrating on his job, and his responsibilities.

As it turns out, he wasn’t , and needs to suffer the consequences of being a moron.

That being said, what the hell does his “transgender” status have to do with anything where this story is concerned? And more importantly, why was this one of today’s top stories on Fox News?

First and foremost, shame on the state of Massechusetts for not protecting this man’s privacy. Rather than stand up in the name of human decency and protect its employee’s privacy, it broadcasts- nationally- that this trolley driver is actually a post-op woman who was hired as a result of affirmative action.

As if it makes a difference.

Unfortunately, due to irresponsible journalism, as well as actions made on behalf of the Massecusetts Bay Transportation Authority, we’ve just given closed-minded dum-dums another reason to hate on- and hurt- another human.

I can see it now- hillbillies the world over are nowthinking… “Well that’s what that stupid trolley company gets… everyone knows better’n to hire RuPaul”.

Ugh.

Fox News really does make my blood boil.

They sanction, condone and inflame idiocy- and worse, bigotry- as if the hiring of a transgender person had one single thing to do with this accident.

They do this on purpose- piss the rednecks of America off in some form or fashion- and then just sit back and watch the resulting bullshit unfold.

If this trolley worker finds himself attacked in the street- harmed in any way- I hope the likes of Fox News, and any other “news” provider that reported on this employee’s sexual orientation, understands that they are culpable.

Fox News has provided the fire… let’s see which jackasses supply the gasoline.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Conservative, Economy, Liberal, News, Policy, Politics, President, Recession, Socialism, Wall Street

Pete Sessions, Socialism and Barack Obama

As big a political junkie as I am, one would think I’d be past the point of being shocked when a politician says something stupid.

I’m not.

Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) believes Obama is both driving the stock market down and unemployment up on purpose.

He’s quoted in today’s NY Times as saying that Obama “intended to inflict damage and hardship on the free enterprise system, if not to kill it.”

Lord have mercy.

Have we been taken over by a power-crazed maniac whose sole purpose is to wipe out all that America holds dear, so that he can take over the entire world, reigning from Capitol Hill as…

… Gasp…

A socialist dictator?!?!

I suppose the fact that Sessions believes Obama to be some sort of socialist terrorist, hell-bent on thoroughly demolishing Capitalism and the free market as we know it is nothing to be surprised at.

Sessions is, after all, someone who likes to use terrorism- specifically the Taliban– as an example when speaking.

What’s surprising is his deviation from the norm

Typically, he’s the one advocating terrorist behavior…

… At least where his own party is concerned.

It was a mere 3 months ago- in February- that he suggested, during an interview with the National Journal, that perhaps the GOP needed a “Taliban-like” insurgency.

His remarks, he claimed, were the result of what he had determined to be a lack of bi-partisan politics in the House of Representatives.

So clearly, strange terror-esque statements are nothing new.

Not from this guy, anyway.

So let me get this straight.

He wants the Republican Party to act in a non-American fashion… actually going as far as to suggest the party adapt the strategy of one of the worst terrorist, anti-American groups in the entire world to survive… and then condemns Obama for non-American behavior… behavior that he not only condoned within his own party, but completely imagined and fabricated where our President is concerned.

Ok, got it.

Truly, this nonsense would be absolutely hilarious if there weren’t several actual, bona-fide yahoos out there taking him seriously.

People do believe President Obama is a closet Socialist.

People do believe that our President hates our country, its governmental structure, its free market economy, our constitution- and all the rights and freedoms we all hold both near and dear.

Never mind that he has yet to take a single fundamental right away from any of us, and in fact has spent his adult life advocating for equal rights- for minorities, women and homosexuals, to name a few.

Never mind that he inherited a real live nightmare of a mess to clean up- and has done more for the average Joe in this country in his first 100 days in office than his predecessor ever did in 8 years.

What is it about him that draws such ire?

Is it jealousy?

Is it the color of his skin?

Is it the fact that he actually cares about people other than the top wealthiest individuals and organizations, and we just don’t know how to accept that kind of compassion?

It’s funny to me how a man who has lived his life trying to protect the dignity of the impoverished and preserve the little things the middle class holds dear, can be painted as the evil villain.

It’s ok, haters.

He hears you…

… And despite your ugliness, he still wants to serve you.

You certainly don’t deserve it.