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, 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 Barack Obama, C-Haze, Capital Punishment, Catholic, Conservative, Current Events, Death Penalty, Democrats, Gay Rights, News, Newt Gingrich, Politics, President, Religion, Republicans, Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court

The Supreme Court, Barack Obama and the GOP

Obama has made his decision, nominating Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the new Supreme Court Justice.

From a purely political standpoint, I think this is a genius move on the president’s part.

The GOP, already somewhat hampered due to the stink they made over filibusters during Justices Roberts and Alito’s confirmation hearings, can only complain so much- regardless of whom Obama names- because they don’t want to look like complete hypocrites.

During the Bush Administration, they wanted a simple up-or-down vote for judges… and… well, now they have the opportunity to put their money where their mouth is.

Normally, especially in politics, hypocrisy would be par for the course- something the Republicans need not think twice about. Currently, however, they stand to lose even more than they can afford to, considering that the GOP’s already critically injured.

Their party is on life-support.

The GOP needs the support of the Latino community… which is exactly Judge Sotomayor’s background. How can they justify fighting to exclude a woman who is Catholic, Latina, and more experienced than either justices Roberts or Alito were at the time of their confirmations?

I don’t think they can.

Gingrich can scream that Judge Sotomayor is racist all he wants to… that seems to be his current plan of attack… but really, no one’s listening to that nonsense.

Personally, the thought of another Catholic on the bench- we currently have 5, not including Sotomayor- makes me a little nervous.

Catholics typically don’t support a woman’s right to choose, gay rights or stem cell research… all things that are very important to me. Sotomayor has not had the opportunity to rule much on those issues, so we don’t really know for sure where she stands.

Hopefully, if confirmed, she will keep her religious beliefs off the bench, ruling instead to preserve the rights of all people- recognizing that the freedom to make individual decisions for ourselves is a bigger priority than exulting her own beliefs from on high.

The greater good and all that.

On the flip side, Catholics tend to be adversaries of the death penalty, and that’s something I would love to see abolished… so who knows…

It would have been nice to see a good lesbian, protestant judge nominated, but I do realize we don’t yet live in a country where such an individual’s confirmation would have been possible.

Still… a person can dream, right?

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Catholic, Conservative, Current Events, Notre Dame, Politics, President, Religion

Barack Obama, Notre Dame and an Imagined Scandal

There’s a big controversy brewing at Notre Dame as a result of President Obama’s invitation to give this year’s commencement speech.

A lot of people don’t want him speaking at the school, claiming his beliefs are at odds with the university’s teachings.

Many of these people are Catholics- as is the university itself- and are using this fact as an excuse to try and keep Obama from accepting the college’s invitation.

He’s pro-choice, he’s pro-gay rights, he’s pro-stem cell research… and so for these reasons, they argue, he should not be allowed to give the address.

Quite frankly, it is absolutely ridiculous.

First of all, the Catholic Church has stated, on more than one occassion that Obama cannot be considered a violator of Catholic principals since he, himself, is not Catholic.

This would be the same thing as condemning Jews for not believing in Jesus as the son of God.

It simply isn’t done.

Not in any official capacity, anyway, and not by the Catholic Church.

Second, President Obama is but one in a long list of non-Catholic political figures to have spoken at the University in the past.

He isn’t even the first pro-choice person to be asked.

Obama, one has to assume, likely will not be attempting to convert the students of Notre Dame into bleeding heart liberals… supporters of all-things abortion and gay.

It’s a graduation speech.

Give me a break.

Where was the outrage back in September of 1984 when then-Governor of New York (and Catholic), Mario Cuomo spoke at the University?

Governor Cuomo’s entire speech was centered on the defense of liberal politics and his pro-choice stance.

This guy was not only pro-choice… but he is a Catholic who’s pro-choice… which is a direct violation of that church’s doctrine.

I’m pretty sure it’s punishable by death, in fact.

Prob’ly says something like that in the book of Leviticus.

A Catholic speaking at a Catholic university to defend his pro-choice beliefs sounds way more controversial than a non-Catholic speaking at a graduation ceremony…

…A ceremony in which, due to the theme of the day, will most likely center around nothing more eyebrow-raising than a motivational speech designed to give graduates the ambition they need to go forth into the world and follow their dreams.

Barack Obama simply follows a long line of presidents before him… a tradition, if you will… of giving commencement addresses at Notre Dame.

He joins the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy (coincidentally, this country’s only Catholic president- ever), Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan.

Interestingly, it was later said of Regan’s speech, that while Notre Dame is definitely an institution of prestige and national influence, Regan’s actions “opposed the values placed on social justice in Catholic moral teaching”.

You paying attention, Conservatives?

Even Regan didn’t get it quite “right”.

Pardon the pun.

What better way to show the world that even people with deeply opposing belief-systems can still find common ground, than by having a man such as Barack Obama speak at a university such as this one?

It’s a wonderful idea.

Hopefully people will get off their moral high ground for long enough to see this for mind-opening opportunity that it truly has the potential to be.

Really, it’s almost as if some people are so terrified that if their children, their innocent li’l college grads, are ever exposed to anyone with different ideas than their own, then these most-precious kids will instantly self-combust.

It’s getting ridiculous.

Let’s work harder at working together, and let’s focus on the goal of killing off closed-mindedness.

If that’s too hard, fine.

Just let the man speak.

Posted in Arlen Specter, Barack Obama, C-Haze, Change, Conservative, Current Events, News, Policy, Politics, President, Race, Supreme Court

Sessions, Specter and the Supreme Court

Things are getting really exciting on Capitol Hill.

Supreme Court Justice David Souter has recently announced his retirement, paving the way for Obama’s first Supreme Court nomination.

In a coincidental turn of events- a side plot, perhaps- Representative Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) will be taking Arlen Specter’s place as the top Republican in the Senate Judiciary committee.

All of this becomes interesting when we take a look at some of the stuff Representative Sessions is best known for.

Most political junkies recognize Sessions from way back in the day, when the Democrats were dukin’ it out with President George W. Bush over his Supreme Court pick, Justice Samuel Alito.

The Dems, hating this choice of nominee, fought tooth and nail to keep him from being appointed… ultimately prolonging the process of confirming the Justice’s nomination.

Jeff Sessions was the ultra-vocal senator that felt judges needed to be appointed by a simple up-or-down vote.

Simple majority, people.

No arguing, no filibuster…

… In short, no muss, no fuss.

Just Yea or Nay.

Since the founding of the Republic, we have understood that there was a two-thirds supermajority for ratification and advice and consent on treaties and a majority vote for judges. That is what we have done. That is what we have always done. But there was a conscious decision on behalf of the leadership, unfortunately, of the Democratic Party in the last Congress to systematically filibuster some of the best nominees ever submitted to the Senate. It has been very painful. -Senate Floor Speech, Rep. Jeff Sessions, 2005

I wonder, now that President Obama is holding the reigns, if Representative Sessions still feels the same way.

Obviously, it won’t be difficult for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee to win a simple majority vote, considering the Dems control both houses.

Will Sessions put his money where his mouth is and support a straight vote…

… Or not?

Just when things begin to get interesting, the plot thickens.

You see, Representative Sessions was nominated 20 years ago to be a U.S. District Judge.

The Senate rejected his nomination.

The reason?

Sessions’ was alleged to have made racially insensitive remarks. A U.S. attorney, in fact, testified that he’d heard Sessions claim that he used to respect and admire the Ku Klux Klan-

Until he learned many of its members were pot smokers.

The deciding vote that doomed his confirmation in the Senate?

Arlen Spector.

This is gettin’ good.

Posted in Arlen Specter, Barack Obama, C-Haze, Change, Conservative, Current Events, Elections, News, Policy, Politics

Specter, Spectacles and Death Scenes

People really are buzzin’ about representative Arlen Specter’s switch from the GOP to the Democratic Party.

I find the whole thing exciting… though hardly surprising.

I do wonder if this most recent blow to the fledgling Republic Party will be the much needed wake-up call for hardcore Conservatives, or if they will continue to bury their heads in the sand… business as usual… while their very ideals and ideologies die.

True, the death has been slow and painful…

… but appears imminent, nonetheless.

Unless, of course, Specter’s party jump is taken for the big, loud, eye-opening jolt that it should be taken for.

Fox News’ Michael Goodwin even goes so far as to call Specter’s switch a nail in the clueless GOP’s coffin.

Ouch.

I expect GOP talking heads, as Michael Steele has done, to publicly complain, crying foul at Specter’s “flip of the bird” at the Republican Party…

… But if they’re smart, they’re searching their souls behind closed doors.

Michael Steele is 100% correct after all.

Specter’s flippin’ y’all the hell off.

We are 100 days into Obama’s presidency, and while critics have certainly had a lot of fun in the past 3+ months, it seems the Democratic Party is getting increasingly stronger.

Already dangerously close to that magical number of 60, the Dems have now gained Arlen Spector… and likely Al Franken from Minnesota (heck, he’s already hired a chief of staff!).

If it works out… and it looks like it will… the magic number will be met.

This means the Repubs will officially be screwed.

Err… worse than they already are, that is.

I’m not so naive as to think Specter is a “real” Democrat… he’s still Conservative, and has all but admitted to switching parties solely to keep his seat.

He hasn’t had any great epiphanies, and his ideals remain unchanged.

His motivation is to win, and he knows his own party, the GOP, is not currently the winning ticket.

Regardless, for the time being, he is more likely to vote with the Dems… Personally I don’t care what his motivation is, provided we get the job done.

All I can do now is grab my popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show, and knowing how predictable this ending will be- doesn’t lessen the fun I’m having at all.

Not even a li’l bit.

The question is, underneath all the spewing and sputtering, does the GOP recognize what they are doing to themselves?

Are they now beginning to see that their long-held ideals are being unraveled by their own hands?

… And even if they do finally see it, will it be too late to make a difference?

Regardless, it’s all quite entertaining.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Change, Children, Conservative, Current Events, Economy, Elections, Governor Mark Sanford, Hope, News, Policy, Politics, President, Race, Wall Street

Stimulus, Schools and Sanford

A few weeks ago (on February 24, 2009), Obama addressed the nation in front of a joint session of Congress.

It was a moving speech, focusing primarily on the economy, and the challenges faced by America today.

There were a couple of attendees at the event that are not politicians, but rather, people whose personal stories touched the President and First Lady personally.

One was a banker by the name of Leonard Abess Jr.

Located in Miami, Mr. Abess was recognized for his generosity- he received a $60 million bonus from the proceeds of the sale of his bank’s shares- and rather than keep it for himself, he split it up among his 399 current employees- and more than 70 previous ones.

Another guest of the Obamas was Ty’Sheoma Bethea, an 8th grader from South Carolina.

Once President Obama told her story, we all fell in love with her.

Ty’Sheoma is from a tiny town in South Carolina. Her school is dilapidated- in fact it isn’t even up to code. Classes are interrupted several times a day to allow for the noisy trains that roll through the area.

Desperate for a decent school- a building that isn’t falling apart around her- a place where learning can be uninterrupted, Ty’Sheoma wrote to Barack Obama.

She requested some of the stimulus money for her school.

Her letter read, in part, “We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters.”

Our President was so moved by her words that he invited Ms. Bethea to attend his speech, sitting with his wife in a place of honor.

We all had warm fuzzies at the close of the speech, knowing there were hundreds of millions of dollars in that stimulus package- set aside just for South Carolina- money that the state’s governor could use for education.

Ty’Sheoma, her fellow students and their teachers can now attend a school that stands on its own and isn’t interrupted by the constant din of passing trains.

Right?

Ha.

Not so much.

Now comes news that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford will not accept the more than $700 million in stimulus funding that is available for his state.

Money that will patch holes in the roofs of public school buildings… money that will go to purchase school books and teaching supplies- replacing outdated and inaccurate materials… money that will save teachers’ jobs… money that will pay the salaries for qualified educators to join the ranks of the South Carolina Public School System.

Is Governor Sanford really so arrogant as to think we aren’t watching him? Does he believe that we have forgotten Ty’Sheoma Bethea? Does he assume we don’t care about her, her fellow classmates, her teachers and their administrators?

If so, he is sadly mistaken.

Sanford only wants to accept the stimulus money if he gets to choose how to spend it- and has stated if that were the case, he would focus on paying down South Carolina’s other debts- not on extending unemployment benefits and education.

Oh.

In that case, I’m sure Ty’Sheoma will understand.

I mean, let’s face it.

She wasn’t going to be a doctor, lawyer or anything else, right?

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Elections, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, News, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Religion

Joe Lieberman Needs Joe the Plumber… And Fast

Lieberman, Lieberman, Lieberman!

What in the world are we going to do with you?

Initially I was thinking Lieberman was the king of all flip-floppers… a man without a home… changing parties at the rate normal people change their underwear… just looking for some love.

To summarize… 

Senator Lieberman started out as the star of the Democratic Party, a Senator from Connecticut- a liberal with regards to many social issues (abortion rights, gay and lesbian rights) rising through the ranks to the level of Al Gore’s 2000 running mate.

He was the first Jewish person on a major party’s presidential ticket.

He is also the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Lieberman, while in the senate, voted with Democrats most of the time, but quickly emerged during the Bush Administration as a strong supporter of the War in Iraq… and has been an extremely vocal advocate of Israel.

The 2000 presidential race, as we all know, didn’t work out so well for the Democrats, so back to the senate Lieberman went… only this time as an Independent.

In 2002, Lieberman co-sponsored a bill in the Senate, a pro-Israel bill (Senate Resolution 247), notoriously tying Israel to the ongoing Middle East controversy.

He famously shouted, from the Senate floor, “You are either with us or with the terrorists”.

By “us”, one can only surmise, he meant Israel.

Lieberman went on to campaign- hard- for John McCain, as he ran for President.

His support of McCain is, at least in part, due to the Republicans’ no-questions-asked, complete and total support of all things Israel.

Barack Obama, meanwhile, won the election and has named a Jewish man his Chief of Staff- Rahm Emanuel.

Now Lieberman is back home in Congress, meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid… trying to convince Reid that he really is a good boy, and deserves another chance to serve the Democratic caucus.

Reid, unfortunately, isn’t nearly as excited as Lieberman had hoped…

… So Lieberman goes running to the GOP, which offers him a position with their caucus.

Lieberman doesn’t accept the position, though he doesn’t turn it down either, and instead looks back to the Democrats to see if they’d like to up the anty a bit, and beg for his return.

Huh.

It’s enough to make your head spin.

What I needed to know is why all this is happening.

Why is Joe Lieberman all over the damn place? How come he just won’t sit still?

Is he a man made of jello, a man who goes wherever he feels the winds of victory are blowing at the time, or is it something deeper than that?

The answer, I have learned, is simple… and can be summed up in a single word:

Israel.

Lieberman puts his country before party…

Which would be cool…

Except…

… Lieberman’s country is Israel, not America.

Scandalous!

Lieberman goes where the friends of Israel go.

This notion was the driving force behind his support of the War in Iraq… it was his motivation to campaign for John McCain during the Presidential election… and his reason for trying to re-join the Democratic caucus once Obama named a Jewish guy as his Chief of Staff.

He was willing to trade in his social-liberal hat- and simply forget about such things as women’s rights, as long as his beloved Israel would benefit.

Now Lieberman is thinking his country– again, we aren’t talking about America- isn’t in as much danger as he thought it would be, with the election of Obama, after all.

Hmm… Suddenly Obama’s looking like he might just be a friend to Israel, not a sworn enemy.

… Guess those liberals weren’t so terrible after all… in fact, they’re starting to look better than ever…

Unfortunately for Lieberman, he may have thrown the Democrats under the bus one time too many.

Quite frankly, we may not be interested in having him around anymore.

He could, of course, accept the GOP’s offer to join their caucus… but what good would it do?

The Republicans no longer have any power in the House or the Senate… and after January 20th, they won’t even have a President who’s willing to even try to do their bidding anymore.

Any good he could hope to do for Israel would have to get through both the legislative and executive branches… branches that are now controlled by Democrats.

Whatever he could come up with would likely be viewed through the eyes of people who feel he has betrayed them.

Joe, it seems, could use a plumber.

… As it looks like he’s been flushed right on down the toilet.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Economy, Elections, Joe Biden, John McCain, News, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Race, Sarah Palin, War on Terror

Truth, Lies, the GOP and White Sheets

Why oh why must so many people believe every single thing they read?

Oh well… gives me something to write about, I guess.

I don’t mind setting the record straight… but this particular rumor left me scratchin’ my head a bit… wondering…http://www.last.fm/group/Bathmen+en+omstreken/forum/84986/_/448038/_/7376896

… What the hell?

Here’s the deal:

There’s this nasty rumor winding its way through the blogosphere, accusing Michelle Obama of contacting a news source by the name of API (African Press International) and raging about all the ridiculous things that are being spread about her husband- even offering favorable treatment to the organization, should they set the record straight about her hubby.

Michelle was incorrectly quoted as going berserk to API, accusing people of “spreading rumors created by American bloggers and other racist media outlets in their efforts to damage a black man’s name… evil people… out to stop her husband from getting the presidency”.

The article goes on to claim that Mrs. Obama loves her husband, and will give the publication favorable treatment if they would simply set the record straight about her man.

Sigh.

For God’s sake, people…

The story is fakeso say multiple sources, including the ultra-conservative National Review.

They hate Michelle Obama so rest assured… if they’re calling the shit fake…

It’s fake.

Period.

Michelle Obama never called anyone, let alone some weird ass out-there organization called African Press International.

Seriously…

Do we really believe Michelle Obama cares whether the likes of All-American-Blogger (this would be the beloved spouse of Joe Six-Pack) speaks the truth about herself and her husband… so much so that she would call API up on the telephone and say such things?

I mean…

API??

This is not exactly a legitimate news organization… nor is the story itself particularly well-written. For example, Farrakhan is spelled with 2 r’s, not one… and certainly, innauguration is not spelled “innoguration”.

Clearly API’s budget does not include such luxuries as spell check…

I’m not really saying that API’s “statement” is even wrong… in principle… I don’t think anything they claim Michelle said is inaccurate… other than the fact that Michelle said it… cuz she didn’t… 

America has its share of ass-backward bigoted people… bloggers included… so that part is definitely true…

… But why would this woman make a stink about a bunch of racist pricks during a time when her husband is literally kicking John McCain’s ass- up one side and down the other- in the polls?

Plain and simple, she wouldn’t.

This is desperation at its finest.

The Republicans thought for sure they had Obama’s black ass in a sling with all that Bill Ayers/Jeremiah Wright nonsense…

Unfortunately for John McCain and Sarah Palin, when it came down to it, average Americans decided they cared more about the economy, their 401K plans, gas prices, and figuring out how to avoid foreclosures on their homes than they did about whatever completely desperate bunch of bullshit certain rabid conservatives could cook up this time.

The Republican Party simply cannot bring itself to operate as if the average American actually has a brain… and is therefore capable of individual thought and open-mindedness…

The GOP is proving yet again that the only bag of tricks they have left is one scare tactic after another…

Fear mongering at its finest.

I understand Halloween is just around the corner but… please…

Take off the fucking sheets…

Let’s debate some issues that actually exist for a change.