Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Isn't This Unconstitutional?

From the New York Times:
President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.

This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts. It suggests that the administration still has ways to exert its power after the takeover of Congress by the Democrats.

Why doesn't Congress IMPEACH the Decider and Chief?? No one person should have this much power in a democracy.

Where are you Democrats????

Read more HERE

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Rehab: The New Diversity Training

Okay, this is about ridiculous.

After Mel Gibson's anti-Jewish tirade, he went to rehab for alcohol problems. Michael Richards couldn't explain his niggardly attack on a couple of hecklers, and though he insists he doesn't have a drug or alcohol problem, he checked himself into rehab.

Now Isaiah Washington uses the word "faggot" to describe his Grey's Anatomy castmate, T.R. Knight, and after first denying he said it, Washington later admitted his transgression.

"I can neither defend nor explain my behavior," he wrote in the public apology he issued. "I can also no longer deny to myself that there are issues I obviously need to examine within my own soul, and I’ve asked for help."

So Isaiah Washington checked himself into rehab for psychological treatment.

Life & Style magazine reports that his bosses at ABC stated, go to treatment or lose your job.
According to an insider, Isaiah, who issued an apology for his statements on Jan. 18, agreed to undergo a psychological assessment after talks with ABC executives.
“ABC has told him he must enter a program to examine why he would say such hateful words,” the insider says.
Come on, y'all!! In the corporate world, a top executive or supervisor found guilty of making discriminatory remarks would be sent to diversity training. She or he would go to a class to learn how to appreciate the differences in others, and then go back to work.

In Hollywood, the sentiment seems to be, "You must be drunk or high or out of you everloving mind to say stuff like that! Don't you know you could ruin you career??? You need to go to rehab."

Life & Style Magazine

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Blunder or Treason? Is Bush Losing the War on Purpose?

The Bush Regime has made too many "mistakes" for them all to be accidental. To ignore the prevailing wisdom that dropping more troops into the quagmire of Iraq is criminal. This is just the latest in a long line of bad decisions being made by people who should know better or who at least should listen to those who know better.Dave Lindorff expresses this sentiment well in the article below.

Was Iraq War a 'Blunder' or Was It Treason?

By Dave Lindorff, www.thiscantbehappening.net

New Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), is calling President Bush's invasion of Iraq a "stark blunder" and says that his new scheme to send 21,500 more troops into the mess he created is just digging the hole deeper.

I wonder though.

It seems ever more likely to me that this whole mess was no blunder at all.

People are wont to attribute the whole thing to lack of intelligence on the president's part, and to hubris on the part of his key advisers. I won't argue that the president is a lightweight in the intellect department, nor will I dispute that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and that whole neocon gang have demonstrably lacked the virtues of reflection and humility. But that said, I suspect that the real story of the Iraq War is that Bush and his gang never really cared whether they actually would "win" in Iraq. In fact, arguably, they didn't really want to win.

What they wanted was a war.

If the war they started had ended quickly with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, that would have served their purposes, at least for the short term. Bush would have emerged from a short invasion and conquest a national hero, would have handily won re-election in 2004, and would have gone on to a second term as a landslide victor. But if it went badly, as it has, they figured he would still come out ahead. He would be a wartime president, and he'd make full use of that role, expansively misdefining his "commander in chief" title to imply authority over the Congress and the courts, to grab power heretofore unheard of for a president.

This, I suspect, was the grand strategy underlying the attack on Iraq.

If I'm right, there may have been method to the madness of not building up enough troops for the invasion to insure that U.S. forces could occupy a destroyed Iraq and help it rebuild, method to the madness of allowing looters free sway to destroy the country's remaining post-invasion infrastructure, method to the madness, even, of allowing remnant forces of Hussein's to gather up stockpiles of weapons and even of high-density explosives, so they could mount an effective resistance and drag out the conflict.

So many apparently stupid decisions were made by people who should clearly have been too smart to make them, from leaving hundreds of tons of high explosives unguarded to cashiering all of Iraq's army and most of the country's civil service managers, that it boggles the mind to think that these could have been just dumb ideas or incompetence. (L. Paul Bremer, for instance, who made the "dumb" decision about dismantelling the Iraqi army, prior to becoming Iraq's occupation viceroy, had headed the nation's leading risk assessment consultancy, and surely knew what all the risks were of his various decisions.)

I mean, we expect a measure of idiocy from or elected leaders and their appointees, but not wholesale idiocy!

This disaster has been so colossal, it almost had to have been orchestrated.

If that's the case, Congress should be taking a hard look at not just the latest installment of escalation, but at the whole war project, beginning with the 2002 campaign to get it going. Certainly throwing 21,500 new troops into the fire makes no sense whatever. If 140,000 of the best-equipped troops in the world can't pacify Iraq, 160,000 aren't going to be able to do it either. You don't need to be a general to figure that out. Even a senator or representative ought to be able to do it. So clearly Congress should kill this plan.

Since it's not about "winning" the war, it has to be about something else. My guess would be it's about either dragging things out until the end of 2008, so Bush can leave office without having to say he's sorry. But of course, it could also be about something even more serious: invading Iran.

We know Bush is trying mightily to provoke Iran. He has illegally attacked an Iranian consulate in Iraq (an act of war), taking six protected consular officials there captive. He is sending a second aircraft carrier battle group into the Persian Gulf, and is setting up Patriot anti-missile missile bases along Iran's western border. This buildup has all the earmarks of a pre-invasion. All that's needed now is a pretext--a real or faked attack on an American ship, perhaps, ala the Gulf of Tonkin "incident" that launched America into the Vietnam War.

The way I see it, either way the president is committing treason, because he is sending American troops off to be killed for no good reason other than for aggrandizing power he shouldn’t have, and/or simply covering his own political ass.

Treason is the number one impeachable crime under the Constitution, and we're at a point where Congress is going to have to act or go down in history as having acquiesced in the worst presidential crime in the history of the nation.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Nat Abraham’s Rebellion

Nathaniel Abraham, the nation’s youngest convicted murderer, was released a day before his 21st birthday. At 11 years-old he was tried as an adult and found guilty of second-degree murder. The judge sentenced him as a juvenile, however, and as a result, Abraham has a new lease on life as an adult.

From the moment he stepped outside the court room for hopefully the last time, the media has been buzzing about Nathaniel. Are they concerned about how he will make the transition to life on the outside after spending his formative years in prison? Do they wonder what type of education he received in jail and how it will help him become a productive member?

No. Everyone is talking about his suit.

What was the first question Carmen Harlan of WXYZ-TV asked the social worker who has been helping Abraham make his transition?

“Do you give your clients advice about what is appropriate dress in the courtroom?”

From The Detroit Free Press:

Abraham left Oakland County Circuit Court wearing an ivory and pink pinstriped suit, a vibrant pink shirt and tie, pink alligator shoes and an ivory hat with a pink band. The ensemble was topped with a rabbit fur coat.

When the photo was posted on the Free Press Web site, comments came in, several of them touching on the clothing, some of them seeing it as a forecast of his future.

“Nice suit!” said one.

Another one said: “He looks like a pimp, he will be back in the system before the end of summer.”

Why are so many people judging this young brother by his suit?

Yes, “…the suit is out of season,” as Detroit clothier Mark England (who is profiled in this week’s Michigan Citizen) told the Free Press.

But, come on. The state gives you the money to buy one suit. You’ve been locked up for your entire adolesence. That brother is celebrating!

England agrees. “I get a message of ‘I’m free and this is a new me now. I’m styling and I have my freedom.”

The Detroit Free Press: Judging a free man by his fashion hookup

Monday, January 15, 2007

A New Gulf of Tonkin?

Republican Presidential Candidate Fears "Gulf Of Tonkin" To Provoke Iran War

Developments converge to signify inevitable conflict despite ongoing chaos in Iraq

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Monday, January 15, 2007

Republican Congressman and 2008 Presidential candidate Ron Paul fears a staged Gulf of Tonkin style incident may be used to provoke air strikes on Iran as numerous factors collide to heighten expectations that America may soon be embroiled in its third war in six years.

Writing in his syndicated weekly column, the representative of Texas' 14th district warns of "a contrived Gulf of Tonkin-type incident (that) may occur to gain popular support for an attack on Iran."

The August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, where US warships were apparently attacked by North Vietnamese PT Boats, was cited by President Johnson as a legitimate provocation mandating U.S. escalation in Vietnam, yet Tonkin was a staged charade that never took place. Declassified LBJ presidential tapes discuss how to spin the non-event to escalate it as justification for air strikes and the NSA faked intelligence data to make it appear as if two US ships had been lost.

Should a staged provocation take place in an attempt to justify striking Iran it would not be the first time the current administration has considered such a ploy.

In February 2006, documents were leaked of a conversation between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush in which different scenarios to try to provoke Saddam into making a rod for his own back were discussed. One included painting a U.S. spy plane in UN colors and flying it low over Iraq in the hope it would be shot down and the incident exploited as a means of enlisting international support for the 2003 invasion.

Paul, who on Friday announced his intention to run for President in 2008, has resolved to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to head off the drift towards war, encouraging a commitment to policies of dialogue as outlined by the Iraq Study Group.

Commentators largely agree that the furore surrounding President Bush's speech in which he ordered the deployment of a further 20,000 troops to Iraq is a manufactured distraction to divert attention away from alarming developments that grease the skids for an inevitable conflict with Iran.

The New York Times and other establishment mouthpieces are busy regurgitating White House propaganda that Iran is supplying weapons to Iraqi insurgents that are killing U.S. troops. As columnist Larry Chin elaborates, "The Bush administration buildup towards Iran is strikingly similar to Hitler’s campaign against Poland, and the Third Reich’s eventual 1939 blitzkrieg. Hitler’s final act was to manufacture a "deliberate and cold-blooded provocation", to be blamed on the Poles, which would bring down the vengeance of German armed forces. He accomplished this by putting drugged prisoners from a nearby concentration camp into Polish uniforms and shooting them near a radio station inside the German border. The "Polish attack on the Gleiwitz transmitter" marked the official start of World War Two."

"In Hitler’s words, "I shall give the propagandist cause for starting the war. Never mind if it is implausible or not."

In reality, the source of the IED technology being utilized by the insurgents goes back to the British security services, from whom it was acquired by the IRA and then sold around the world in the early nineties. Claims that Iran is helping Shia insurgents to make the devices is outright propaganda.

However, the only remaining justification that Neo-Cons cling to in an attempt to sell another conflict to a war-weary American public is the falsehood that American troops are being killed on the battlefield by insurgents with the direct assistance of Iran. This is the only rationale a majority of Americans will accept as grounds for war, overriding spurious warnings about weapons of mass destruction, a yarn they have seen spun once before.

As Chris Floyd points out, "Make no mistake: this is the marker that has now been put down; this is the card that's been laid on the table. The Bush Administration has openly accused Iran of killing American soldiers in Iraq. Again, this is a charge far more resonant, far more effective as a pretext for war than anything offered during the successful stampede to invade Iraq. Even a president as weakened and isolated as Bush is at the moment would be able to get support for an attack on a state that was "killing our soldiers in the field."

It is also now confirmed that the raid on the Iranian liaison office in Iraq, after which five Iranians were arrested and detained, was directly authorized by the White House in an attempt to provoke an Iranian response.

Whether Iran takes the bait or not, American aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines are multiplying in the Persian Gulf and Bush recently appointed Adm. William Fallon, a Navy veteran, to oversee the ground war in Iraq, a contradiction many fear betrays preparation for an air strike on Iran's uranium enrichment facilities which could take place as soon as next month.

Whether the White House or the feverish Israelis will even feel the need to factor in a Gulf of Tonkin event remains to be seen, as the war drums beat ever louder and the next escalation of what the Neo-Cons call "World War Four" awaits final execution.

A Second 9/11?

The Pentagon's "Second 911"
"Another [9/11] attack could create both a justification and an opportunity to retaliate against some known targets"

One essential feature of "defense" in the case of a second major attack on America, is "offense", according to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff: "Homeland security is one piece of a broader strategy [which] brings the battle to the enemy."(DHS, Transcript of complete March 2005 speech of Secr. Michael Chertoff)

In the month following [2005's] 7/7 London bombings, Vice President Dick Cheney is reported to have instructed USSTRATCOM to draw up a contingency plan "to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States". Implied in the contingency plan is the certainty that Iran would be behind a Second 9/11.

This "contingency plan" uses the pretext of a "Second 9/11", which has not yet happened, to prepare for a major military operation against Iran, while pressure was also exerted on Tehran in relation to its (non-existent) nuclear weapons program.

What is diabolical in this decision of the US Vice President is that the justification presented by Cheney to wage war on Iran rests on Iran's involvement in a hypothetical terrorist attack on America, which has not yet occurred:

The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing—that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack—but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections. (Philip Giraldi, Attack on Iran: Pre-emptive Nuclear War , The American Conservative, 2 August 2005)

Are we to understand that US, British and Israeli military planners are waiting in limbo for a Second 9/11, to extend the war beyond the borders of Lebanon, to launch a military operation directed against Syria and Iran?

Cheney's proposed "contingency plan" did not focus on preventing a Second 9/11. The Cheney plan is predicated on the presumption that Iran would be behind a Second 9/11 and that punitive bombings could immediately be activated, prior to the conduct of an investigation, much in the same way as the attacks on Afghanistan in October 2001, allegedly in retribution for the alleged support of the Taliban government to the 9/11 terrorists. It is worth noting that one does not plan a war in three weeks: the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan had been planned well in advance of 9/11. As Michael Keefer points out in an incisive review article:

"At a deeper level, it implies that “9/11-type terrorist attacks” are recognized in Cheney’s office and the Pentagon as appropriate means of legitimizing wars of aggression against any country selected for that treatment by the regime and its corporate propaganda-amplification system.... (Keefer, February 2006 )

In a timely statement, barely a few days following the onslaught of the bombing of Lebanon, Vice President Cheney reiterated his warning: "The enemy that struck on 9/11 is fractured and weakened, yet still lethal, still determined to hit us again" (Waterloo Courier, Iowa, 19 July 2006, italics added).

"Justification and Opportunity to Retaliate against ...the State Sponsors [of Terrorism]"

In April 2006, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld launched a far-reaching military plan to fight terrorism around the World, with a view to retaliating in the case of a second major terrorist attack on America.

"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has approved the military's most ambitious plan yet to fight terrorism around the world and retaliate more rapidly and decisively in the case of another major terrorist attack on the United States, according to defense officials.

The long-awaited campaign plan for the global war on terrorism, as well as two subordinate plans also approved within the past month by Rumsfeld, are considered the Pentagon's highest priority, according to officials familiar with the three documents who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about them publicly.

Details of the plans are secret, but in general they envision a significantly expanded role for the military -- and, in particular, a growing force of elite Special Operations troops -- in continuous operations to combat terrorism outside of war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Developed over about three years by the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Tampa, the plans reflect a beefing up of the Pentagon's involvement in domains traditionally handled by the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department. (Washington Post, 23 April 2006)

This plan is predicated on the possibility of a Second 911 and the need to retaliate if and when the US is attacked:

"A third plan sets out how the military can both disrupt and respond to another major terrorist strike on the United States. It includes lengthy annexes that offer a menu of options for the military to retaliate quickly against specific terrorist groups, individuals or state sponsors depending on who is believed to be behind an attack. Another attack could create both a justification and an opportunity that is lacking today to retaliate against some known targets, according to current and former defense officials familiar with the plan.

This plan details "what terrorists or bad guys we would hit if the gloves came off. The gloves are not off," said one official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject. (italics added, WP 23 April 2006)

The presumption of this military document, is that a Second 911 attack "which is lacking today" would usefully create both a "justification and an opportunity" to wage war on "some known targets [Iran and Syria]".

The announcement on August 10 by the British Home Office of a foiled large scale terror attack to simultaneously blow up as many as ten airplanes, conveys the impression that it is the Western World rather than the Middle East which is under attack.

Realities are twisted upside down. The disinformation campaign has gone into full gear. The British and US media are increasingly pointing towards "preemptive war" as an act of "self defense" against Al Qaeda and the State sponsors of terrorism, who are allegedly preparing a Second 911. The underlying objective, through fear and intimidation, is ultimately to build public acceptance for the next stage of the Middle East "war on terrorism" which is directed against Syria and Iran.

The Miseducation of Detroit

Detroit students from Aramark website.Originally posted by Nadir at LastChocolateCity.com

Mike Wilkinson’s Detroit News article on the exodus of students from Detroit Public Schools paints a glass-half-full portrait of the city’s failed school system. Wilkinson notes that parents are taking advantage of “school choice,” and are sending their children to charter schools in Detroit and public schools in the suburbs.

What Wilkinson doesn’t discuss is the tragedy that results from the miseducation of Detroit’s students. The hardships that families must endure by transporting their children across town or to the suburbs are often too difficult to bear in the nation’s second poorest big city. Many students who can’t find a way to a new school in a region without quality public transportation simply drop out.

Diane Bukowski’s article in the Michigan Citizen tells the grimmer side of the same subject. Diane analyzes the losses that Detroit families endure, not the gains of surburban school districts.

At Chadsey High School, one of the schools again targeted after being saved from the 2005 round of closures when students walked out in protest, students reacted with dismay and anger.

“My whole thing, if they close Chadsey, I know half of the students are going to drop out,” said Satin Johnson, 14. “Some of them get a chance here. Where will the students from Munger Middle School [next door to Chadsey] go if they close Chadsey? Those are our brothers, sisters, cousins and friends.”

The unfortunate truth is that except for a few jewels, DPS schools offer a poor quality educational product. Superintendant William Coleman and Board President Jimmy Womack are focused on cutting costs and keep their budget in line, not on providing a quality education for students.

Already we see that the plan is to allow the hemorrhaging to continue. How else could the system go from 232 schools to 120 in just three years? The board doesn’t want to retain students. If it did, it would change its ways.

What is needed at DPS is new leadership and radical reform of the school’s educational and business models. A school board that is dedicated to Detroit’s future through the nurturing and education of its children would duplicate proven models like those at Cass and Renaissance across the city. It would find ways to attract students beyond iPods and Gameboys on count day. What Detroit’s families want is real schools that provide a real education, and because Coleman, Womack and the rest of the board refuse to provide it, those families are leaving in droves.

Even in its current challenged condition, Detroit is Michigan’s economic engine. A poorly educated workforce is not attractive to business. Therefore jobs are leaving Michigan like students are exiting DPS. Unless something changes, the result will be an undereducated, impoverished state with higher crime rates than those that exist today.

Until Jennifer Granholm, the Michigan legislature, Kwame Kilpatrick, the city of Detroit and the DPS school board make a commitment to improving Detroit’s public schools, the state will continue to lose jobs, revenue and population.

King's Legacy

The article below is from The Washington Post, and it offers a sobering portrait of the last days of radical preacher Martin Luther King, Jr. Many of its questions on King's legacy and the current generation's relationship to it were probably truer in 1998 when this piece was written than they are now, nine years later.

The war in Iraq, a criminal presidential administration and global injustice offer more reasons for Americans today to take up the mantle that King laid down on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. For those who wish to remember King only as a warrior for integration, these thoughts will be unsettling. The heart of the good doctor's mission was a battle for justice and equality for all people. This is the war that we must wage today.

The following is my favorite quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. I used it in the introduction to my album, Distorted Soul 2.0, and the words are as true today as they were when King uttered them 40 years ago.

"And I say that there is a great need now for a radical reordering of priorities in America, and there is a great need for a revolution of values." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The War Over King's Legacy
by Vern E. Smith and Jon Meacham

On the eve of his murder, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream was turning dark. Worried about poverty and Vietnam, he was growing more radical--and that, his family says, is why he was killed. Was the real King a saint, a subversive--or both?

The sun was about to set.

On Thursday, April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. had retreated to room 306 of the Lorraine Motel, worrying about a sanitation strike in Memphis and working on his sermon for Sunday.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sits in a jail cell in the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, Ala. on November 3, 1967. (UPI/Corbis-Bettmann)
Its title: "Why America May Go to Hell." For King, whose focus had shifted from civil rights to antiwar agitation and populist economics, the Dream was turning dark. He had been depressed, sleeping little and suffering from migraines. In Washington, his plans for a massive Poor People's Campaign were in disarray. In Memphis, King's first march with striking garbage men had degenerated into riot when young black radicals--not, as in the glory days, angry state troopers--broke King's nonviolent ranks. By 5 p.m. he was hungry and looked forward to a soul-food supper. Always fastidious-a prince of the church--King shaved, splashed on cologne and stepped onto the balcony. He paused; a .30-06 rifle shot slammed King back against the wall, his arms stretched out to his sides as if he were being crucified.

The Passion was complete. As he lay dying, the popular beatification was already underway: Martin Luther King Jr., general and martyr to the greatest moral crusade on the nation's racial battlefield. For most Americans the story seems so straightforward. He was a prophet, our own Gandhi, who led the nation out of the darkness of Jim Crow. His Promised Land was the one he conjured on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, a place where his "four little children... will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Now, 30 years after his assassination, that legend is under fresh assault--from King's own family and many of his aging lieutenants. His widow, Coretta, and his heirs are on the front lines of a quiet but pitched battle over the manner of his death and the meaning of his life. They believe James Earl Ray, King's convicted assassin, is innocent and that history has forgotten the real Martin Luther King.

To his family, King was murdered because he was no longer the King of the March on Washington, simply asking for the whites only signs to come down. He had grown radical: the King of 1968 was trying to build an interracial coalition to end the war in Vietnam and force major economic reforms--starting with guaranteed annual incomes for all. They charge that the government, probably with Lyndon Johnson's knowledge, feared King might topple the "power structure" and had him assassinated. "The economic movement was why he was killed, frankly," Martin Luther King III told NEWSWEEK. "That was frightening to the powers that be." They allege there were political reasons, too. "RFK was considering him as a vice presidential candidate," says Dexter, King's third child. "It's not widely known or discussed, [but] obviously those watching him knew of it. They [Kennedy and King] were both considered powerful and influential in terms of bringing together a multiracial coalition."

So who was the real Martin Luther King Jr.--the integrationist preacher of the summer of 1963 or the leftist activist of the spring of 1968? The question is not just academic.

The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, right, and Bishop Julian Smith flank Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during a civil rights march in Memphis on March 28, 1968. (AP Photo)
Its competing answers shed light on enduring--and urgent--tensions between white and black America over race, class and conspiracy. Most whites want King to be a warm civic memory, an example of the triumph of good over evil. For many African-Americans, however, the sanitizing of King's legacy, and suspicions about a plot to kill him, are yet another example of how larger forces--including the government that so long enslaved them-hijack their history and conspire against them. In a strange way, the war over King's legacy is a sepia-toned O.J. trial, and what you believe depends on who you are.

The Kings, a family still struggling to find its footing personally and politically, are understandably attracted to the grander theories about King's life and death. A government conspiracy to kill a revolutionary on the rise is more commensurate with the greatness of the target than a hater hitting a leader who may have been on the cool side of the mountain. The truth, as always, is more complicated than legend. People who were around Robert Kennedy say it is highly unlikely that there was serious consideration of an RFK-King ticket. "I never heard Kennedy talk about any vice presidential possibilities," says historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a Kennedy aide. And though there was almost certainly some kind of small-time plot to kill King, 30 years of speculation and investigation has produced no convincing proof that James Earl Ray was part of a government-led conspiracy.

The real King was in fact both radical and pragmatist, prophet and pol. He understood that the clarity of Birmingham and Selma was gone forever, and sensed the tricky racial and political terrain ahead. He knew the country was embarking on a long twilight struggle against poverty and violence--necessarily more diffuse, and more arduous, than the fight against Jim Crow. Jealousies among reformers, always high, would grow even worse; once the target shifted to poverty, it would be tough to replicate the drama that had led to the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in 1964 and '65. "We've got some difficult days ahead," he preached the night before he died.

King was an unlikely martyr to begin with. On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks declined to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus. King was not quite 27; Coretta had just given birth to their first child, Yolanda. E. D. Nixon, another Montgomery pastor, wanted to host a boycott meeting at King's Dexter Avenue Baptist Church--not because of King but because the church was closest to downtown. When the session ran long, a frustrated minister got up to leave, whispering to King, "This is going to fizzle out. I'm going." King replied, "I would like to go, too, but it's in my church."

He took up the burden, however, and his greatness emerged. He led waves of courageous ordinary people on the streets of the South, from the bus boycott to the Freedom Rides. Behind his public dignity, King was roiled by contradictions and self-doubts. He wasn't interested in money, yet favored silk suits; he summoned a nation to moral reckoning, yet had a weakness for women. He made powerful enemies: J. Edgar Hoover obsessed over King. The FBI, worried that he was under communist influence, wiretapped and harassed the preacher from 1962 until his death.

Hoover may have been overestimating his foe, particularly after 1965. On the streets, the black-power movement thought King's philosophy of nonviolence was out of date. Within the system King fared little better. "The years before '68 were a time when people in Detroit would call us to march for civil rights--come to Chicago, come to L.A.," Jesse Jackson says. "But by the '70s, you had mayors who were doing the work every day." King felt this chill wind in Cleveland, when he campaigned for Carl Stokes, the city's first successful black mayoral candidate. The night Stokes won, King waited in a hotel room for the invitation to join the celebrations. The call never came.

Andrew Young
The Diplomat
After the demonstrations were over, King would send Young in to negotiate with city leaders. He has continued to work within the system, first as Carter's ambassador to the United Nations, later as mayor of Atlanta. (Andrew Innerarity/AP)
King took the change in climate hard. He told his congregation that "life is a continual story of shattered dreams." "Dr. King kept saying," John Lewis recalls, " 'Where do we go? How do we get there?' " According to David J. Garrow's Pulitzer Prize-winning King biography, "Bearing the Cross," he had found one answer while reading Ramparts magazine at lunch one day in 1967. Coming across photos of napalmed Vietnamese kids, King pushed away his plate of food: "Nothing will ever taste any good for me until I do everything I can to end that war."

Look at this from the eyes of King's family. He is attacking the war and poverty. He is planning to "dislocate" daily life in the capital by bringing the nation's impoverished to camp out in Washington. "He was about to wreck this country," says Hosea Williams, "and they realized they couldn't stop him, and they killed him." But it did not seem that way to Williams--or to King--in real time. The Poor People's Campaign was having so much trouble turning out marchers that one organizer, James Gibson, wrote Williams a terse memo just two weeks before King was to die. "If this is to be a progress report," Gibson told Williams, "I can stop now; there has been none!" The march was to be a model for multiethnic protest--a forerunner to the Rainbow Coalition. The early returns--and King knew this--were not good. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was riven as the calculus changed. "I do not think I am at the point where a Mexican can sit in and call strategy on a Steering Committee," one SCLC aide said.

John Lewis
The True Believer
In 1965 Lewis crossed Selma's Pettus Bridge into "a sea of blue" – and Alabama troopers viciously beat him. Now known as "the conscience of the House," the Atlantan has served in Congress since 1986. (Ray Lustig/The Washington Post)
What would have become of King? His lieutenants do not believe he could have kept up the emotional and physical pace of the previous 13 years. They doubt he would have run for office despite speculation about RFK or a presidential bid with Benjamin Spock. Nor do they think he would have pulled a Gandhi and gone to live with the poor. ("Martin would give you anything, but he liked nice things," says one King hand. "He would not have put on sackcloth.")

A more likely fate: pastoring Ebenezer Baptist Church and using his Nobel platform to speak out--on war and peace, the inner cities, apartheid. King would have stood by liberalism: conservatives who use his words to fight affirmative action are almost certainly wrong. "At the end of his life," says Julian Bond, "King was saying that a nation that has done something to the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something for him." Had he lived, King might have been the only man with the standing to frame the issue of the ghettos in moral terms. On the other hand, he might have become a man out of time, frustrated by preaching about poverty to a prosperous country.

Jesse Jackson
The Brand Name
As counselor, candidate and crusader, Jackson has forded the mainstream. Would King have embarked on a similar campaign of passionate – but sometimes unfocused – global good works? (David Longstreath/AP)
The fight over King's legacy resonates beyond the small circles of family and historians. To the Malcolm X-saturated hip-hop generation, "by any means necessary" is a better rap beat than "I have a dream." "For kids outside the system, King has no relevancy," says Andre Green, a freshman at Simon's Rock College in Massachusetts. "But for the upwardly mobile, assimilated black youth, King is a hero because he opened the doors." That is true of older African-Americans as well, though there is a rethinking of integration, too. Some black mayors now oppose busing even if it means largely all-African-American schools.

On the last Saturday of his life, sitting in his study at Ebenezer, King fretted and contemplated a fast--a genuine sacrifice for a man who joked about how his collars were growing tighter. He mused about getting out of the full-time movement, maybe becoming president of Morehouse College. Then his spirits started to rise. "He preached himself out of the gloom," says Jackson. "We must turn a minus into a plus," King said, "a stumbling block into a steppingstone--we must go on anyhow." Three decades later, he would want all of us to do the same.

With Veronica Chambers

Friday, January 12, 2007

Credit where credit is due

Originally posted by Nadir at Reformed Leftist

My sometimes antagonistic buddy, Reformed Leftist Paul Hue, says that I never say good things when gas prices go down, so I'm about to correct that behavior.

I just topped off my tank for $1.95 per gallon at a Fusion station on Ford Road in Garden City, Michigan. I was at just over half a tank, so I didn't really need the gas. I just had to reward the owner for lowering the price below $2.00.

So I have to give credit where credit is due - to President George W. Bush. His policies have helped screw the environment up, and global warming is causing unseasonably mild temperatures and lowered oil prices. There is a temporary silver lining that I must recognize. The fact that we are hastening the coming ice age (2012?) isn't a problem for me today.

Of course, his "New Way Forward" will destabilize the Middle East, and oil prices will rise before the winter is out, but for now I'll extend a single digit on my left hand to the president.

What? That's not my thumb?

Bomb The World!

Bush The Avenging BomberOriginally posted by Nadir at LastChocolateCity.com

Despite universal criticism, George Bush’s efforts to destabilize the Middle East continue unabated. With a precarious situation in Afghanistan, US and Israeli troublemaking in Lebanon, and a week of airstrikes in Somalia, Bush predictably announced his plans to escalate the FUBAR in Iraq.

Bush’s “New Way Forward” speech was falsely advertised as “a change in direction”. It could have been more accurately described as “stay the course with more guns.”

The result of his new strategy - adding 21,500 new troops in Iraq - will be like dropping 21,500 troops into a quagmire. In fact it will be exactly that. Five brigades, roughly 17,000 American men and women, will go to Baghdad to combat the growing resistance to American occupation.

It’s all in the name of the “War on Terror”, protecting America’s “vital interests” and “homeland security”. If his buddies in the oil, weapons and banking industries happen to get a little richer in the process, then so be it.

Since the United States doesn’t export much anymore, the Bush doctrine calls on the nation to export democracy… and weapons… and soldiers.

The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time.

On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy — by advancing liberty across a troubled region.

He also made not so veiled threats against Iran and Syria:

Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity — and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria.

These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

If the history of the Bush doctrine and the recent strikes against Somalia tell us anything, these words should be taken as foreshadowing. Bush may very well have the entire Middle East at war before the winter is out.

Please, Please, Please! Free James Brown!

James BrownOriginally posted by Nadir at LastChocolateCity.com

James Brown’s celebrated legal woes will follow him to the grave.

That is, if he is ever buried.

Over two weeks after his death on Christmas day, the Godfather of Soul has not been laid to rest.

From the AP:

The body of soul singer James Brown has yet to be buried as attorneys and his children work to settle issues surrounding his estate, including where he will be laid to rest.

For now, his body lies in a sealed casket in his home on Beech Island, said Charles Reid, manager of the C.A. Reid Funeral Home in Augusta, Ga., which handled the services.

Once again the cry should ring throughout the land, FREE JAMES BROWN!!!

Associated Press

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mayor-Elect “Suicided” in Louisiana

Originally posted by Nadir at www.lastchocolatecity.com

Mayor-elect Gerald WashingtonSo let me get this straight…

After three terms on the city council of your small town (Westlake, Louisiana; population 4,700 or so) you just won the office of mayor with 69% of the vote. You will be the town’s first new mayor in 24 years, and you will be the first black mayor in a town that is 80% white.

Most people would view this as a cause for celebration, not a reason to commit suicide, but officials in Calcasieu Parish want us to believe that Gerald Washington killed himself on Dec. 30 outside an old elementary school with a single self-inflicted gunshot to the chest.


The family doesn’t buy it either.

“Calcasieu Parish is known to be racist,” Geroski Washington, Gerald Washington’s son, said in a telephone interview. “There were lots of folks who didn’t want my father to become the mayor.”Too many details of the case fail to make sense, Washington said, adding that his father “had no reason to kill himself” and was eagerly anticipating taking over as mayor after 12 years as a member of the City Council.

There was no suicide note, the son said. Moreover, his father was right-handed, but the gun was found on the left side of his body and his left hand was bloodied, according to crime scene photographs Washington said he was shown at the sheriff’s office.

Even more perplexing, the son said, sheriff’s deputies drove his father’s truck back to the family’s home just two hours after the body was found by a passerby.

“If a vehicle is on the scene of a murder, shouldn’t that be towed away for investigation?” Washington said.

White town residents don’t see any explanation besides suicide, however.

“There was no way this could have been racial–we just don’t have racial problems in this town,” said Dan Cupit, a council member and friend of Washington’s. “He was probably one of the most popular guys in town. You could not dislike him.”

Maybe not, but as Geroski Washington implied, that doesn’t mean you want a Black man as mayor.

Geroski Washington sharply disagreed, asserting that racial tensions in Westlake run deep. He noted that only about 1,000 voters cast ballots in the mayoral election, suggesting that most whites stayed away from the polls.

“My dad was popular, but you have to understand, he was popular so long as he wasn’t running the city,” he said. “Once he won the election, now that an African-American was going to be running the city, that’s where the problem came in.”

Chicago Tribune