Wednesday, March 31, 2004

"Fallujah is the Cemetery for Americans" - Iraqi protesters

Today in Fallujah, Iraq four American civilians were killed when their vehicle was attacked by small arms fire. The charred corpses were pulled from the wreckage, dragged through the streets and hung from a bridge. Five American soldiers were also killed today by a road side bomb.

The response from the White House is the standard line that we must "stay the course" and fight "Saddam's remnants." What else can they say? Taking Iraq did not go as planned and violence is increasing as the June 30th hand over date approaches. I should say so-called hand over. We plan to keep bases in Iraq for years to come. Iraqis want us out of their country and they want us out yesterday. When millions of people all over the world protested this invasion and occupation we were called dupes, appeasers, or traitors. Whatever. We knew what we were talking about. I never thought I would hear myself say this, but retired CIA agents agreed with me. I guess they are traitors and appeasers too.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Mike Barnicle

Mike Barnicle was fired by the Boston Globe in 1998 when he was busted for making up a story. Barnicle was accused of plagiarism by the late Mike Royko, stole lines from George Carlin and fudged a quote from Alan Dershowitz.

Now he is making racist remarks about an interracial couple, William Cohen, former Senator and Secretary of Defense, and Janet Langhart, a former colleague of Barnicle's. The Globe reports that Barnicle said they were, "Like Mandingo." In his lame explanation he said he didn't remember the plot of the 1970s flick. Apparently he remembered that there was interracial sex.

As a rule I don't think it pays to express outrage about the Barnicle's of the world. The only demand ought to be that black people should be able to say anything without fear of being fired. When black reporters make up stories or give offense they are never seen or heard from again. I said it all in Black Commentator a few weeks back.

Friday, March 26, 2004

My mother always said that if you live wrong it shows on your face. She was right.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Poor Colin Powell

Arab journalists boycotted Colin Powell press conference.

Colin Powell has had a rough week. Arab journalists walked out of his press conference in Baghdad and he was kept waiting for 30 minutes by Spain's new Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Their meeting only lasted for 15 minutes, maybe Colin's nose was out of joint.

I find it hard to feel any sympathy for Colin Powell. At least the Spanish didn't put him on a plane and send him to the Central African Republic. Black Americans and white liberals have been making excuses for him for far too long. Powell threw Aristide out of the country he was elected to lead. If the only pay back is waiting to meet a Prime Minister he has gotten off easily. Powell plays the good cop, and his performance is starting to look stale. He is no different from Rice, Cheney or Rumsfeld and he should be judged accordingly.

By the way, the Arab journalists who walked out of the press conference showed more courage than their American counterparts have in over a year of reporting the invasion of Iraq. Two Iraqi reporters were killed by American soldiers. What did Powell have to say? Only some gobbledygook about "freedoms to Iraqis of the kind they have never enjoyed before, as you just saw exercised a few moments ago." They also have the freedom to be killed by jumpy U.S. soldiers.
Kerry and Venezuela

In retrospect, I realize I should have linked directly to Kerry's comments on Venezuela. He is vague about whether he wants Chavez to go. Here are his comments, judge for yourself.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Is Kerry pursuing a losing strategy?

I should have my fill of predicting Kerry's demise. I said just a few months ago that Dean was headed for the nomination and Kerry was history. I must not have learned my lesson because I am predicting once again that Kerry will lose, unless he changes tactics.

I was appalled when I read that the Democratic nominee is backing Bush efforts to unseat a democratically elected leader. Hugo Chavez is the President of Venezuela but he is too far to the left to suit the Bushies. The will of the Venezuelan people be damned. The administration has been trying to unseat Chavez, a la Aristide, for some time now. What does Kerry have to say? He has called Bush "soft on Chavez."

John Kerry is making a terrible mistake in this misguided attempt to appeal to Cubans in Florida. Kerry should talk about how Florida was really lost. As I point out in my latest Black Commentator column, Florida was stolen when over 50,000 eligible voters were purged from the rolls in May of 2000. John Kerry has yet to publicly discuss the true theft of democracy in that state. Instead he has chosen to be defensive and in the process deny the most basic beliefs of the democratic party and put Florida back in the red state column.

If this latest strategy is a predictor of the way Kerry will run for the presidency, we should all prepare for the next Bush inaugural.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Friday, March 19, 2004

Only on Staten Island

"New York City without Staten Island would be like the Marx Brothers without Gummo." - Anonymous

Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro dismissed his representative on the New York City Panel for Educational Policy after she refused to go along with the discredited idea of holding back third graders based on test scores.

Mr. Molinaro's replacement was Joan Correale, a lingerie shop owner who does not have a college degree. Mrs. Correale is the mother of an autistic child and she has been active in her PTA. Her commitment is laudable but she does not have the credentials needed for her new position. It was bad enough that the Mayor engineered the implementation of a policy that has already failed in New York and in cities across the nation. Now we have unqualified but compliant people setting educational policy for New York children.

It is not surprising that Molinaro would appoint a woman without a college degree. Molinaro does not have a college degree or even a high school diploma. He never attended high school at all. His education ended in the eighth grade.

I am not suggesting that junior high school dropouts should not be given the opportunity to succeed. Mr. Molinaro was elected after all. His employers, the residents of Staten Island, hired him knowing his background. It must be pointed out however, that it could happen only on Staten Island, and nowhere else in the City of New York.

Vote Theft in 2004

The outlook for a fair election in November is not good. Media misreporting of the Florida voting fiasco has led to so-called improvements in the voting process. The result may well be that more Americans are deprived of their constitutional right to vote. See my current Black Commentator column.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Pope Says Thumbs Up

You don't need an Oscar when you portray Christ and the Pope gives a blessing.

James Caviezel gets a thumbs up from the Pontiff.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Soft on Terror

Bill Clinton was soft on terror. Get used to seeing and hearing those words because Bush and the lap dog media will repeat them over and over again until Election Day.

NBC is giving us the earth shattering news that bin Laden was in Afghanistan during the Clinton years. We all knew that. How is this information significant? It isn't of course, but the CIA just happened to find this video during an election year and just happened to give it to NBC. The purpose of all this is to make Americans think that all Democrats are soft on terror, Kerry included.

Do the Democrats know how to make the argument that we could have captured Osama if we hadn't diverted resources to Iraq? If they can't then we will see another Bush inaugural in January. By the way, has NBC reported the Bush administration efforts to stonewall the 9/11 commission? Have they done a 3 part report on the Bin Ladens and other Saudis leaving the U.S. in the days following 9/11? Can they tell us why the Bushies haven't been interested in getting him until election year? Only 3 years have passed since 9/11.

Speaking of pro-Bush media bias, have you noticed that the approaching anniversary of the Iraq war has produced a bevy of administration talking heads and few if any anti-war voices? gives the Sunday talk show breakdown and tells us how to respond to this blatant bias. Anyone watching the networks last Sunday would think that there isn't any anti-war sentiment or that if it does exist it can't be very important. Howard Dean was on Meet the Press, but his presence was too much for NBC because they decided to spend the rest of the week telling us that Democrats are soft on terror.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004


When I first heard about bombs aboard Spanish trains I immediatly assumed that the Basque separatist organization, ETA, was responsible. However, the more I heard the more convinced I became that al-Quaeda or an associated organization had committed the attacks. I also had a terrible fear that it was all preparation for a similar attack in New York, a city that depends heavily on its subways and four other commuter rail systems, Metronorth, the Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and PATH. Bridges and tunnels, some of which go under water, are used by all of them. Strategically placed bombs on subways and trains in the New York area might cause even more loss of life than on 9/11.

We should think about how a similar event will effect the U.S. If reactions to Spain are any indication, we are unprepared to speak honestly about the prospect of another terror attack on American soil. Immediately Governor Pataki went to Grand Central station and told us not to worry. Mayor Bloomberg told us to go about our lives. Everyone said that to do otherwise would mean that the terrorists had won.

I have news for all of them. The terrorists already won. They won back on September 11, 2001 and no amount of denial can change that fact. We know we are vulnerable and we know that a determined person who is willing to die can kill thousands of people.

Our denial and our politicians' stupidity have put us all in grave danger. When Connecticut Republican Congressman Christopher Shays recommended cancelling New Year's celebrations in Times Square he was immediately attacked as being insufficiently brave by our Mayor. Having used Shoshana Johnson as a prop Bloomberg suggested asking her about courage. Flag waiving nonsense is not what we need right now.

Shays raised an important question. Are we in danger or not? If yes, we can't cram people into Times Square and make it an inviting target. Bloomberg's true feelings became evident when he wept at midnight. I can imagine his thoughts. "Thank God we didn't get blown up."

The truth is that we can never be completely protected. We can't have bomb sniffing dogs at every rail and subway station in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. That means it can happen here. That means we should be spending as much money as we need to make us safer. That means not getting bogged down in an Iraq side show that only benefits corporations that are using it as a cash cow. That means being honest with the public about the likelihood of another attack.

Already the right wing are criticizing the Spanish people for throwing out the party who went against their wishes and participated in the Iraq invasion. I thought Spain was a democracy. I thought its citizens could elect whomever they like. Apparently I was wrong. They have to check with the American right wing before they can make a decision about their own nation.

New Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is a man after my own heart. He called Bush and Blair liars, diplomatically of course, and repeated his intention to remove Spain's troops from Iraq. Do the American people have the courage to throw out a lying leader? I don't think so.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Black Republicans: A Bad Idea

Alphonso Jackson, acting Secretary of HUD, with President Bush during Faith Based Initiative conference in Los Angeles.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Saudi Prince Knew Attacks Would Occur on 9/11

The President has cynically used the 9/11 attacks in campaign ads. His response to the criticism is that he will talk about 9/11 whenever possible. OK Mr. President. Let's talk.

Maybe the President can start by talking about the Bin Laden relatives and other Saudis who left the U.S. in the days immediately following 9/11. All aircraft were grounded, except for these flights whisking Saudi royals and Bin Ladens out of the country.

Salon has the story of links between the Saudis and the Bushes and how two of Osama Bin Laden's siblings were among those allowed to leave the country without being interrogated. It also tells the story of Saudi Prince Ahmed. An al-Qaeda source says that the now deceased prince knew that America would be attacked on 9/11.

I agree with the President. He needs to talk about 9/11.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Godless Americans

If they had asked my advice I would have suggested a different name, but the Godless Americans Political Action Committee is a reality.

At first I was put off by a group who would announce themselves to be God less. On the other hand, let's look at those who call themselves people of God. Rev. Pat Robertson has twice advocated the bombing of the U.S. State Department. John Ashcroft holds prayer meetings in his office but will hold secret trials of terror suspects. President Bush says the Jesus is his favorite philosopher but wages war based on lies and over throws a democratically elected leader. Haiti should be called Iraq II. We are sending more troops and shooting innocent civilians.

Maybe the "Godless" aren't the ones we should worry about.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Remember Florida

How did Bush steal Florida in 2000? It wasn't with hanging chads or butterfly ballots. Florida was stolen months before election day when his brother Jeb and Katherine Harris purged 50,000 eligible voters from the rolls under the guise of keeping felons from voting. Almost all of the 50,000 were black and nearly all were in fact eligible to vote.

If you read the NY Times, Salon or listened to John Kerry speak you wouldn't know the true story in Florida. It is extremely troubling that even liberals don't mention how the election was stolen.

If Kerry has any common sense he knows that Dean was hammered for speaking a little bit of the truth, so I understand why he won't say that the president's brother helped steal the election. The press corps will hammer him before the campaign even begins. Even if he won't say so publicly I hope that privately he is working to insure that all eligible voters are able to cast their ballots.

Monday, March 08, 2004

More Freedom Rider

Get my take on Haiti, via

Friday, March 05, 2004

Jesus Demands Creative Control Over Next Movie

The Onion never disappoints.

John Kerry

Having predicted several months ago that Kerry was toast, I should probably avoid any more prognostication. But I think this is a no brainer.

If Kerry looks like he can beat Bush the press will come down on him like a ton of bricks. As Black Commentator points out in another brilliant piece on Haiti, the American media has become an agent of the Bush administration and corporate interests.

“Agents” is the most accurate term we can think of, although we invite other suggestions. The corporate media act as agents for the corporate consensus on the way the world should work. Far from being “stooges” or “lackeys,” corporate media frame reality in ways that leave the people few options but to accept the corporate consensus. Like an army, they dominate and overwhelm the national conversation. In addition, as a social force – possibly the most important social force in the American cultural “bubble” – corporate media are profoundly racist, upholding collective white privilege as well as corporate dominance.

I don't know how to fight against this onslaught but I do not have confidence that Democrats know what they are up against. I was a Dean supporter and I was dismayed when liberal pundits decided that dems shouldn't take a chance with Dean because of harsh press coverage. What will they say when Kerry is treated the same way?

My biggest disappointment with Kerry is his support of the Iraq war. He has already pledged to increase the number of U.S. troops in this colossal misadventure. However, the right wing ascendancy in the Republican party means that a Democrat is truly the lesser of two evils. I don't think that a Kerry Attorney General will demand patient records from abortion clinics.

If Kerry is able to circumvent his party's wimpiness and the pernicious influence of corporate media I will be a little relieved on the morning of November 3rd. But I am under no illusions. When the inevitable happens and he forgets what Democrats stand for I will take him to task too. The Freedom Ride will continue no matter what happens in this election.


Last year the French were villified by the right for refusing to support the war in Iraq. Now they are villified by the left because of their shameful role in the ouster and reverse middle passage exodus of President Aristide.

The French have now performed the amazing feat of being hated by everyone in the United States.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Gay Marriage and Black Politicians

In my March 1st post I wondered if Black opposition to gay marriage would translate into support for a constitutional amendment banning it. If Georgia is any indication the answer is probably no. Black legislators there voted against amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage. The right wing effort to use Blacks as a wedge in this issue may be a failure. We can only hope.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Braveheart: The Passion of the Christ

I was one of those who helped give the The Passion a thumbs up in box office receipts on its opening weekend. I know what you are thinking. Do we really need another review of this movie? No we don't, but if you have already read 100 opinions then reading 101 won't hurt.

I first wrote about this movie back on September 19, 2003. My focus at that time was Mel Gibson's shrewd use of the Christian right to deflect criticism of his film. Since then he has used the Pope to deflect criticism, which is funny considering that Gibson is a traditionalist Catholic who supposedly disavows Vatican authority. At any rate, he knew that it didn't hurt to claim the Holy Father was on his side.

We have since learned that Mel's dad is a holocaust denying anti-Semite, and Mel thinks non-Catholics, including his own wife, are bound for hell and damnation. Of course this Protestant bashing hasn't kept conservative Christians from continuing the big suck up to their new hero. The controversy surrounding this film has certainly created a hypocrisy fest.

The Passion is very well made. I can understand why most movie goers liked it. I appreciated the artistry and the successful telling of a gripping story in dramatic fashion. Gibson knows how to make an epic that holds the viewers attention. Who would have guessed that Americans would line up to see a film with dialogue in Latin and Aramaic?

However, I am uncomfortable with a story about Jesus that concentrates on his death. The Passion was a lost opportunity to tell us how Christ lived and how he expected the rest of us to live. There are a few flash backs to tell us that his ministry taught love and forgiveness, but the emphasis is on the brutalized Christ. He is like the protagonist of another Mel Gibson movie. William Wallace, Braveheart, spits out his pain killer and takes being drawn and quartered like a macho action hero.

One of the ways Gibson defended himself was by claiming that the film was faithful to the Gospels. If you don't like the movie well then you don't like the Gospels either. Of course he gets the basic information right but the description of Christ's arrest, trial, torture and crucifixion is brief. You can't make a two hour film about the Passion without some degree of creative license. I suppose that is why we have a Satan figure hovering in the background who resembles a bad drag queen.

The violence in the movie is excessive. At one point I had to close my eyes. Every time I thought the beating had stopped it went on and on and on. The Gospels say "They scourged him." They don't say how many lashes and how long it took to deliver them. Again we have Mel Gibson's imagination at work under the guise of accuracy to biblical text. We also have one of the film's flaws. Anyone beaten that much would have been dead before he was crucified. When we finally get to the crucifixion the torture still hasn't ended. We see both nails driven into his flesh in graphic detail, then we see the nailing of his feet, then the Roman soldiers turn the cross upside down to beat down the nails even more. Dear Mel, we get it already!

In this story the villains are Jewish and their victim is God on earth. Well, we can see how anti-Semitism began. Gibson gives Pilate more credit than the Gospels do for being angst ridden about condemning Jesus. It is true that a Roman proconsul in that situation would have stuck his finger in the air to see which way the wind was blowing. If the local authorities, in this case Jewish high priests, wanted an execution and if relenting wouldn't cause an uprising he would let them have their execution.

Unfortunately, the overly sympathetic portrait of Pilate does give credence to the anti-Semitism charge. The blame for the death of the majority culture deity has been a cause of persecution committed against Jews throughout Christian history. Jews were in a no-win situation in talking about this movie. If they say nothing they are Uncle Toms. If they speak up they are accused of denying Christians the story of their faith.

I understand Jewish discomfort with the subject matter, but at times I have felt that gentiles were deemed guilty until proven innocent. There was an implication that while we may not all be anti-Semites we can't be trusted to see a depiction of Jews condemning Jesus. One would have thought that Christians would leave the multiplex and start pogroms on the way home.

Most American Christians in the 21st century do not spend time blaming Jews for the death of Christ. We are not medieval Germans at Oberramagau and we are capable of pondering the significance of the crucifixion without turning into anti-Semites. I don't know if Caiaphas or Pilate was more responsible for the death of Jesus and neither does anyone else. We also shouldn't care who was more responsible. We only need to remember that Jesus chose death and he forgave his killers. The debate should be over, but Americans love to be outraged. What happens if the movie is nominated for Oscars next year? What happens if it isn't? I would prefer going through Lent next year without reading the words Mel and Gibson every time I pick up a newspaper.

By the way, which outrage of 2004 was the least edifying, Janet's breast or The Passion? It seems we can never have enough controversy in America and the year is still young.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Aristide Speaks

The news about Aristide is coming fast and furious. He spoke to the press by phone and repeated that he was forced out of Haiti by U.S. troops.
"I was Kidnapped. Tell the World It is a Coup."

Haiti's democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, was removed from power by the United States. He was able to speak with Randall Robinson and Rep. Maxine Waters. He wanted the world to know that he did not leave Haiti voluntary. He was kidnapped and taken to Africa, probably to the Central African Republic. Read about it here.

We should not be surprised. The Iraq war is not described as a coup, but it should be. If we pulled it off with Iraq we can do it to a small nation with a weak and struggling democracy. We should protest the coup against Aristide as vociferously as we protested against the war in Iraq.

I am very discouraged that anything can stop this power mad administration. The public are disengaged and the American media are in the pocket of the powerful. Even when we make an effort to find the truth we are confronted by the New York Times which suddenly thinks we need to know more details of Saddam Hussein's corruption. The first anniversary of the war is on March 20th. The Bushies can't take a chance that they will be questioned. If we don't have more evil dictator news the public may actually think for themselves.

Of course, there are vehement denials that Aristide was kidnapped, but as I have said before, we should believe the worst about this administration and not be cowed by charges of conspiracy theories. Now is the time for all good people to be as paranoid as possible. God help Aristide and the rest of us too. There is only one super power on earth and it is always up to no good.
Gay Marriage, the Klan and Black America

Today's New York Times sort of gets it right on the topic of the black church and gay marriage. The paper of record is usually lacking when it writes about black America. Unfortunately whenever low expectations are exceeded, a little credit must be given.

Black people make very conservative statements on the issue of sex, but those beliefs don't necessarily translate into conservative action. The disproportionate numbers of HIV cases in our community are proof of that. In addition, we tend not to be active on issues outside of race and civil rights. We have opinions on other topics just like the rest of America, but don't actively participate in the public sphere. I don't think you will find many of us at a conference on global warming, but black people have been accusing "them" of "changing the weather" since the 70s.

This contradiction makes it hard to figure out how black people feel about gay marriage and what if anything we will do about it. Most blacks are opposed to gay marriage but would most support a constitutional amendment to ban it? I don't think so. At the same time we are very reluctant to consider gay rights a civil rights issue.

Unfortunately, many of our clergy have spoken out so strongly against gay marriage they must have lost brain cells in the process. The Times gives us this quote that is stunning in its ignorance and stupidity.

"If the K.K.K. opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them."

This gem comes from a Rev. Gregory Daniels. Some people let hyperbole take over when they get near a microphone or perhaps it is a case of a neurological disease. If someone out there knows Rev. Daniels and has an explanation for his bizarre statement please get in touch with me.

I first wrote on the issue last fall in Black Commentator. I was concerned that white conservatives who are rarely concerned about problems in the black community were suddenly finding black people to join them in hand wringing over gay rights. I doubt that many of us will fall for it. At the end of the day, we know that our interests are not those of the right wing of the republican party.