DrMyers’s Blog

May 12, 2009

He’s Just Doing His Thing!: Miss California Retains Her Crown

 

Carrie Prejean - Miss California USA

Carrie Prejean - Miss California USA

Contests typically draw controversy.  At the present moment, Al Franken and Norm Coleman are currently winding down a very closely run contest for the Minnesota Senate seat.  Some controversies can last for decades, while others can last for days.  There are even instances where the public will never be aware of the controversies surrounding some contests whose results are made public.  

 

The latest Controversy, was in part brought to an end today, but raises some very interesting questions, and could affect the progress related to the agenda of Human/Civil Rights Campaigns.  

Today in a Press Conference, Donald Trump (Owner of the Miss USA/Universe Contest) announced that regardless of the public comments made by Miss California and Miss USA Runner up, Carrie Prejean, that she would retain her crown.  This decision came not 24 hours after the administrators of the Miss California Contest “fired” Ms Prejean, due to “Violation of Contract”.

During the Miss USA Pageant, blogger Perez Hilton , who was described as “doing his thing” by Donald Trump, asked a question regarding her support of Gay Marriage.  She responded, predicated with her intent not to offend anyone,  that in “My America” marriage is defined between a man and a woman.  Today, she was encouraged to reiterate her belief, aligning herself with the current belief of the President and Secretary of State (who was also a Presidential Candidate).  Supported by Mr. Trump (who refused to answer questions regarding his own personal belief on the subject) , Ms Prejean proudly encouraged others to use her experience as inspiration when standing up for their beliefs, regardless of the negative backlash that might accompany it.

A very serious question must now be posed:  When does one’s opinion regarding the Definition of Marriage infringe on the obstruction of civil liberties?  And; will the denial of Same-Sex marriage be looked at in the same manner as we look at inter-racial marriage today (which is still looked upon negatively in certain parts of the country).

One must remember that it was a little over 40 years ago, that it was still illegal for interracial couples to be married.  Leon Brazile (who was a trial judge in the case) echoed the rhetoric of German Physician Johann Frierich Blumenbach who stated, “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”  The pivotal vote taken by the DC City Council to recognized such marriages, sparked the legislation that was seen before the Supreme Court, which in turn descended that, “Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

During the Press Conference, the President’s view of marriage was touted by both Mr. Trump and Ms Prejean.  Another important question must be posed:  Will President Obama support legislation to legalize Gay Marriage?  If he does not, does this make him as bigoted as those who did not support his candidacy because of his color?

Today, the celebrated “opinion” of Miss California, has placed the Human Rights Campaign in an awkward position.  They could use this decision to press the Gay Marriage Debate to the forefront to gain definite results, or they could regroup and reanalyze their stance on the subject, which could result in the whole subject to be dropped all together.  What do you think?

Perhaps a voice from the past could help shed light on this subject:

 

 

 

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

 

 

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. 

~Thomas Jefferson

Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk: Rush is a Big Boy, he can take it!

1963-streisand-jfk-90For 89 years, the White House Correspondents Association has been hosting a dinner at the Washington Hilton. Some of the biggest names our time have played this event, singing, dancing, and roasting the President of the United States. Jimmy Durante (and his nose) made the crowds laugh, while Bob Hope’s criticism was always taken in stride…he usually golfed with the President. Yakov Smirnoff had a unique play on words that tickled the funny bones of correspondents, while Al Franken was busy making as many friends with the core as possible (he would need their assistance in the future). None of these legendary performances were talked about in the media on Monday, it was the comments of Wanda Sykes and President Obama that took the show.

 

Wanda Sykes made comments during her big night, that some considered a step too far, about one of the most outspoken conservative radio talk show hosts in America, Rush Limbaugh.  A reference to a remark made by Limbaugh at the beginning of the President’s term, caused Sykes to weight in on what sounded like a personal opinion of Rush Limbaugh.  While in a statement Limbaugh stated that he hoped the President fails, Sykes gave her remedy in the hopes that the radio host’s kidney’s would fail.  This joke received mixed reactions, but no one from the correspondence dinner left the event in protest, or even disgust.  Sykes was congratulated for giving a “stellar” performance, and the night went on.  

When does a joke go too far??  One may ask, if the word “joke” is replaced in that question, perhaps we could get to the bottom of a lot of problems.  For instance:

When does policy go too far?

When does bigatry go too far?

When does war go too far?

When does torture go too far?

There are many questions, once again I reiterate, that must be answered long before we question the seriousness of “Jokes” told about a man who is accused weekly of offending at least 1,000 people.  For an example;

On the October 23, 2006 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh imitated on the “Ditto Cam” (the webcam for website subscribers to see him on the air) the physical symptoms of actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease. He said “(Fox) is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He’s moving all around and shaking and it’s purely an act … This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting.”

 With the boldness to criticize the disabled, I think Rush Limbaugh does not need the press to “stand-up” for him…he’s a big boy!

While journalists today debated whether or not Wanda Sykes took her jokes to far; U.S.-born journalist Roxana Saberi was set free today after an Iranian appeal court cut her eight-year jail sentence for spying to a suspended two-year term. Saberi, a former Miss North Dakota, looked thin and tired at Sunday’s hearing. Last week, her father said she had ended a two-week hunger strike and was “very weak.” The judiciary denied she had refused food, and said she was in good health.  

Althought correspondents had the chance today to reflect on a “risque” joke they heard while enjoying some fantasic food and being surrounded by celebrities, Saberi was in prison, refusing food, and listening to the daunting noise of imprisonment…my how our priorities have fallen.

Priorities in the media vary, but regardless of how far the envelope is pushed, comedy will still be comedy.  Perhaps that great comedian could shed some light on how to view the status of this situation:

Lenny Bruce

Lenny Bruce

 

 

 

“Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it. Which is rather ridiculous, when you think about it”       ~Lenny Bruce

 

May 11, 2009

Where do we go from here: A Night of Laughs!

corrOnce again, Washington DC received many west coast visitors.  On Saturday Night, President Obama was given the opportunity to do give remarks in front of most of Hollywood’s A-list talent and correspondents from every network.  Followed by Wanda Sykes, both have been given very high marks in the media for their performances.  While the world took a breather from the whirlwind of H1N1 and torture talk, we sat back and heard a few good one-liners, and for a second, the sheer amusement of our government was remedy enough to calm the minds of few, and strike the funny bone of many.

In America, we have used the arts to mask, cope, and address problems that plague and threaten our way of life.  The surge of the movie industry occurred as people needed an escape from the everyday reality of the depression.  Rock & Roll articulated the “new & improved” outlook of the 1950’s youth in comparison to the conservative upbringing of their parents.  During the late 60’s R & B began to articulate the displeased views of America’s youth regarding Vietnam, and that administration’s handling of the conflict.   Studio 54 flourished in the 1970’s, as the old guard once again was cast aside, and many minorities were finding their place and voice in that disco filled society.  The Rock Music of the 1980’s described Generation X, and how society misread and/or misunderstood their wants, desires, and motivations.  With rap music making a significant imprint on the 90’s, teens and young adults alike began to describe their emotions through poetry spoken in sync to different rhythms of music.  As we have entered the new millennium, youtube and itunes being blasted from iphones and ipods.  The current trend of headphones coming from pocket sized devices are seen regularly,  as today’s modern man/woman can pick and choose what trend in music, movies, and comedy they would personally like to identify themselves with.

Although, the President and many others were able to, for just a night, look at the lighter sides of the current situation, one harsh reality will be facing Americans as Monday Morning rises in the distance.  The unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent from 8.5 percent in March, the highest in more than a quarter-century.  President Obama has recognized that this financial problem was indeed years in the making, and he is predicting that it could take months (even years) to come out of the current recession. 

Stress tests given to the 19 largest banking institutions, which the reports were less severe than some experts had been preparing for, revealed: (see link below)

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124182311010302297.html#project%3DSTRESSTESTDOCS0905%26articleTabs%3Dinteractive

 The test results showed that the 19 banks faced a total of $599 billion in losses over the next two years under the government’s worst-case, Depression-like scenario. 

These tests has also brought about deadlines for banks, in which consequences for deadlines not met have not been laid out by congress as of yet.  Congress has directed the banks as follows:  Any tested bank needing to boost its capital buffer will have until June 8 to develop a detailed capital-raising plan and until November 9 to implement that plan.  Some banks have already begun this task, with Wells Fargo raising 7.5 billion dollars in stock through a public offering. Other banks have made plans to fill their capital holes by tapping public markets. 

One must keep in mind, that the banks have not been the only dire, important factor negatively impacted by the current turn of economic affairs.  The Baby Boomer Generation is chomping at the bit for ways to keep their homes, cars, and ways of life somewhat intact during the dreadful time.  Since December 2007, the number of Americans over 55’s in work has risen more than 800,000.  Many baby-boomers have been forced to re-enter the workforce after losing their retirement and/or pension funds.  One may ask, how has age discrimination played out in the competition for work since the start of this recession, and if Affirmative action will survive the backlash of this recession.

Nonetheless, in this American Culture, we have coined the phrase, “Laughter is the Best Medicine”; but will Laughter be enough to treat the American Economy and the effects it is having on its citizens…only time will tell.

I have always learned that it’s best to learn from people who have lived through situations such as this before, and a little wisdom just may share a little light to us from our Allies across the Atlantic.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.    

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

 


 

 

May 8, 2009

“Let Me Make Myself Perfectly Clear”: I’ll never tell!

 

Nancy Pelosi - Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

Nancy Pelosi - Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives is a coveted position by many politicians. Landmarks around Washington and the United States have been built to honor these great politicians of old. Hailed for their abilities to turn ideas into law, to craft and implement policies, to keep their party’s in check and voting along the proper lines; this role is an important and influential role that can influence the laws that are passed, and the policies that are implemented. Third in line for the presidency if anything unfortunate happens, one must be careful of who fills this position, and parties select as carefully as possible when electing the Speaker to articulate their voices.

 

In years past, we have had some Mice (Howell Cobb, who led the secessionist movement, and is considered to be one of the founders of the Confederacy) and Titans (Joseph Cannon, who was on the first cover of Time Magazine on his last day in office) who have banged that powerful gavel. A little unknown fact about this position is that one does not have to be serving in the House of Representatives to be elected to this position (which I at times believe would be a commodity). Also, it is not often seen, that one is elected to this position within his/her first session; but this has happened before in the past, and the gentleman who filled this position partly crafted the role as Speaker into what it is known to be today. Henry Clay laid the framework to this the role as Speaker of the House as we know it. Followed by Joseph Cannon and Sam Rayburn, the Capitol now boasts a speaker who is a first for this generation, and regardless of politics or party; The First Female Speaker of the House will open doors for many others to follow through.

Nancy Pelosi, D-California, is serving as the Speaker for the 111th Congress of the United States, and as of late, her integrity (along with many others) has been in question. On April 23, Ms. Pelosi told reporters “we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used.” Rather, she said, she recalled being told by the CIA that the techniques “could be used, but not that they would.” With the growing public’s distaste towards the government’s use of “Water boarding”, fingers have been pointed towards, who knew what, when, and why they not spoke up against it. When asked if they were informed, some members of congress (including Speaker Pelosi) stated that they knew about it, but did no know it was in

use.http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/WSJ_JusticeMemo_090507.pdf

In a report released by the CIA, Congressional leaders were briefed in detail about techniques used in the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation program. This report displays the most thorough
information the CIA has on dates, locations, and names of all Members of Congress who were briefed by the CIA on enhanced interrogation techniques. According to these documents, Speaker Pelosi (who was, at that time, the highest ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee) was one of the first to know about the techniques.

One question that should be asked now, is if this “Change” and “Transparency” heralded by these representatives towards President Obama, will spill over to the Capitol Building, and into the halls of congress. Regardless of party, the American People, in my mind, are tired of the finger pointing which only covers the truth behind the misdeeds performed by those sent to represent us. When and where will this be stopped.

 
 While, in this case, Republican members of congress have taken this opportunity to pounce on the Speaker, and stated last month that congress was informed early on about these techniques; these same Republicans were unable to go further on and state that these techniques were not procedures that adequately or respectively represent the United States of America…all except one (and it wasn’t Arlen Specter).

John McCain and Barack Obama DO agree on this statement….Torture (in any form) is Wrong! As he stated in Newsweek, “Our commitment to basic humanitarian values affects–in part–the willingness of other nations to do the same. Mistreatment of enemy prisoners endangers our own troops who might someday be held captive. “Barack Obama has deemed Water boarding as an unacceptable form of interrogation (or in other words Torture). It is for the safety of our soldiers, currently engaged in battle on foreign soils, and it is to uphold our agreement with the UN, that we do not torture. Regardless of how we feel the “enemy” would deal with Americans as captives; The American Government gave its word to the United Nations and to its people that it would not engage in torture. To utilize these vile techniques, will further ruin the integrity of this country…in which faith is currently being restored day by day.

Still waiting for the Republican Party to find its voice, and waiting for the Democrats in Congress to show bi-partisanship; The American People need a CLEAR answer from both parties, and these answers should be congruent with the agreement we signed with the United Nations.

Nonetheless, we as a nation can make it through this period, and the words from a former Speaker of the House might just help us see the way:

 

Our country–whether bounded by the St. John’s and the Sabine, or however otherwise bounded or described, and be the measurements more or less;–still our country, to be cherished in all our hearts, and to be defended by all our hands. 

Robert Charles Winthrop

Robert Charles Winthrop

May 7, 2009

Bad Advice to the President: Will Lawyers Pay the Piper?

 

Velma Sanders (My Grandmother) b.1917

Velma Sanders (My Grandmother) b.1917

I can remember running and playing with friends in the country.  Growing up in a small town (Goodlow, Texas; population 312) neighbors and family were plenty, and dirt roads were vast.  Sometimes I can remember climbing down in the creek bed, and following it all the way out by my Aunt Emma’s house (1912- 2002), after which the journey home would began, and there was always a tough decision to make.  We could go straight home or we could go home…but with detours.  Now this individual decision was made with deep thought and consultations with the guys, which eventually lead to mischief, causing something memorable to happen and we would then go home.

 

 

On one occasion, I was with my cousin, and we planned to do the usual, but Aunt Emma instructed us differently.  I will never forget it; Aunt Emma was from the “old-school” and she was about 5’0 (if she was an inch), and always wore an apron.  She made it perfectly clear, that if we were to go away from the house that we wouldn’t stop by Uncle Jay’s her brother (1908-2000).   See, Uncle Jay and Aunt Carrie (Married 1935) were great cooks from the good old days!  Typically, when us kids would stop by there, we would fill up on fresh cake and a big glass of milk, which consequently would ruin us for dinner.   Well, my cousin and I set out, and as we were headed back, we decided (after much deliberation) to just pay a little visit to Uncle Jay and Aunt Carrie.  Sure enough, we ate to our hearts content, and then walked back to Aunt Emma’s.  On the way home, I told him to make sure that he didn’t mention the whole “dropping by Uncle Jay’s” and he stated with a grin, “You know I won’t say nothing!”.  Now, little did we know, Trey had left an article of clothing there at Uncle Jay’s, and Aunt Carrie thought it would be responsible to call Aunt Emma, and let her know!  Aunt Carrie told Aunt Emma, “ not to scold Trey for losing the article of clothing, that it was safe with her.”

This reminds me of the current status in which the Bush Administration and their lawyers are in.  Being aware of torture as a means of interrogation used by governments to attain information from Prisoners, the US signed an agreement with the United Nations stating that we would not engage in torture; after consulting with their lawyers, the Bush Administration used a technique called Water boarding ( which was used during WWII on our soldiers, and a technique we deemed as torture at that time) and, according to Condaleeza Rice, if the President approved…it wasn’t breaking the Law (just like Nixon).  When asked by the American Public, we were told the truth…but not the whole truth.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, at the center of the frenzy are four detailed legal analyses, “The memos, written by Justice Department lawyers in 2002 and 2005 and recently declassified and released, read as you would expect them to. The individuals writing them were reflecting their own interpretation of the law, their own policy views, and quite possibly the policy preferences of their bosses.”  

This problem is a clear representation of what happens when one branch of government, tries to act without proper checks and balances.  Clearly, this method of interrogation was not to be decided upon by just lawyers who were advising the president, or interpreting the law (which is the job of the Supreme Court).  As a result, being that the Executive Branch took it upon their selves to act independently, our reputation was tarnished both at home and abroad.  The question which is now being asked by many, is if the lawyers who gave this advice to the administration, will be prosecuted; or will anyone else from the Bush Administration pay some sort of price if they are found to have broken the law.  

Well, to answer that question, I should finish my story from earlier. .. 

As we walked into the 6 room house, the questions began, and we played it cool.  We told her everything that we did, save the whole Uncle Jay thing.  As I began to walk out, Aunt Emma grabbed me, and said a simple phrase (after giving me a good pop)…,”I’m going to call Velma (my grandmother b.1917) and tell her what you did.”  Now I knew Granny (as I called her) did not want me going over to Uncle Jay’s, and at this point, I was simply scared to walk home.

When I stepped onto the porch, my Grandmother met me there, and she didn’t just talk to me.  She whooped my behind, and told me that “grown folk” make rules for good reasons.  And if I decided to break those rules, I’d have to “Pay the Piper”, just as I did by taking the spanking.

The UN made rules, we broke them knowingly (especially sine we hired lawyers to help us go around the agreement) and those responsible must pay the consequences.  

 

As stated by a great American General:

 

 

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”

~ Dwight D Eisenhower  

May 6, 2009

Capital Hill Acknowedges Gay Mariage: Will the Country?

 

One single voice rang out over the sound system, while the DC City Council prepared to vote in the Wilson Building on Tuesday.  Stating that he had always supported homosexuals, but did not support this bill, Marian Barry was the lone voice in opposition against recognizing Gay Marriage in DC.  Voiceterous crowds outside and inside the building, spoke in favor for and against this campaign, and as the members voted, the room stood still.  With four States supporting Gay Marriage (Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut) DC will be among many state legislatures discussing the passage of Gay Marriage.  San Francisco started handing out same sex marriage certificates in 2004 and since then, campaigns have been launched for gay marriage to be recognized in states across America.

One would ask, what is the controversy?  But, before we tackle that can of beans, we should familiarize ourselves with the current definition of Homosexuality. *As defined by US Legal Definitions:

“Gays and lesbians are homosexuals who are sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Typically, gay refers to a man whose sexual orientation is to men and lesbian refers to a woman whose sexual orientation is to women. Bisexuals are sexually attracted to members of both sexes.”  During the 20th century, homosexuality was a “taboo” subject, causing some of our most notable figures to stay “closeted” or to suffer ridicule and/or discrimination because of their sexuality;  Montgomery Clift, Jack Cassidy, Barbara Jordan, Thornton Wilder, Gene Robinson, Rock Hudson, etc.

The definition of marriage is not that simple.  Law dictionaries recognize eight different styles of marriage:

Common Law Marriage

Marriage Licenses

Covenant Marriage

Open Marriage

De Facto Marriage

Personal Relationships Common Law Marriage

Marriage Counseling

Sham Marriage

The type of marriage mostly associated with religious organization is Covenant Marriage which is defined as:

“A covenant marriage is a marriage entered into by one male and one female who understand and agree that the marriage between them is a lifelong relationship. Parties to a covenant marriage have received counseling emphasizing the nature and purposes of marriage and the responsibilities thereto. Only when there has been a complete and total breach of the marital covenant commitment may the non-breaching party seek a declaration that the marriage is no longer legally recognized.” (Although this was traditionally used by religious fundamentalist, most churches recognize the individual’s right to seek a divorce.  This divorce is typically recognized in most protestant churches).

To make things even more complicated (as far as religion is concerned); according to the CIA, the following is the order of religious preferences in the United States:

§  Christian: (78.5%)

§  Protestant (51.3%)

§  Roman Catholic (23.9%)

§  Mormon (1.7%)

§  other Christian (1.6%)

§  unaffiliated (12.1%)

§  none (4%)

§  other or unspecified (2.5%)

§  Jewish (1.7%)

§  Buddhist (0.7%)

§  Muslim (0.6%

 Within each one of these religious sects, marriage customs are different, and hold different requirements for the parties involved.

Religious circles here in the US (predominately Muslim, Jewish & Christian) view gay marriage as a non-issue because their religious convictions prohibit same sex marriages to be recognized by the Church, Synagogue, or Masque; while non-religious citizens view this also as a “non-issue” stating that due to the separation of church and state, marriage is not legitimatized by a religious sect, to be recognized by the state.  Since the turn of the 21st century, tolerance to same sex marriage has increased, and if continued at the same rate, 10 states will recognize same sex marriage by 2020.  

Sexual Reorientation was a widely used practiced in the United States during the 20th century, and was designed to keep humans from practicing Homosexuality.  Although varied, treatments have included biological, behavioral, cognitive, psychodynamic, and religious modalities. In recent years, treatments intended to alter sexual orientation have involved religious and psychodynamic counseling.  In recent history, intolerant attitudes and views regarding same-sex marriage and/or homosexuality have been compared to the bigotry attitudes suffered by women in the 1910’s and African American’s in the 1960’s.  In the United States, 45 states and the District of Columbia have statutes criminalizing various types of bias-motivated violence or intimidation (the exceptions are AZGAINSC, and WY).  

Christianity, which most American’s identify with, has varying views on homosexuality and its acceptance by the church.  Most churches do not accept the act of homosexuality, and views it as a sin.  With this view, the idea of marriage between homosexual is not an accepted practice within their religious sect.  Being that this arrangement is not recognized by the sight of GOD, they also believe that it should not be recognized by the state.  Practicing homosexuality, in the eyes of the church, is a moral and mental decision made by an individual. 

My opinion:  Until Religious Leaders step up to the plate, dialog with politicians, and define the line of separation, that properly checks both church and state, this argument will continue.  Homosexuals seek to have marriage recognized by the state, so they can be afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples have (such as insurance, medical decision power, property, etc).  This judgment cannot and should not be clouded by the church’s non-congruent attitude towards marriage, divorce, and/or homosexuality.

Both those in favor have created videos:  Some more satirical, others more serious.  How long this debate will last, one may never know, but James Baldwin did have incredible insight that might just tell us the answer:

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. 

James Baldwin


May 5, 2009

Dallas Texas and the Penal System – What do they have in Common?!

 

Big Tex

Big Tex

Dallas Texas can boast about many, many things.  It is the ninth largest city in the United States, and the third largest city in Texas.  Dallas is the core, of the largest inland metropolitan area in the United States that lacks any navigable link to the sea, and is the home base for retail store Neiman Marcus.  In terms of voting patterns, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the third most liberal of the Texas metropolitan areas (outside of Austin and El Paso).  The Super Bowl winning Cowboys call Dallas their home, as well as many other sports teams.  

 

Approximately 1.3 million people call Dallas home, and I must ask; what else could you do with 1.3 million people.  The country of Trinidad and Tobago has a population of about 1.3 million.  The truth is, with 1.3 million people, Dallas has a larger population than 68 other countries in the World.  It is quite impressive to see 1.3 million people, building sky scrapers, growing businesses, creating parks, and contributing to art.  With these facts, it is hard to imagine that there is another population, right here in America that is larger than the population of Dallas Texas, and shows no signs of diminishing.

As of June 30, 2007, a population of 2,299,116 would call a prison or jail home.  This number has tripled since the early eighties, bringing money to the pockets of contractors and those who have interests or equity in the existence of prisons. While failing to upgrade and re-evaluate the effectiveness of our rehabilitation process, approximately 500,000 youth are taken to detention centers, and the door appears to be revolving.  This number can continue to decrease, or increase, dependent upon how congress and this administration choose to deal with:  Same-Sex Marriage (with currently 55.7% of American’s 18 and older married, marriage between heterosexuals is on a continual downward spiral.  Affording marriage rights to Same Sex Couples could give displaced children, who are at high statistical risk for entering the penal system, a potential home, which may help decrease the number of juvenile crimes and arrests), Revamping No Child Left Behind ( A 2008 study from the Department of Education, “Reading First Impact Study: Interim Report,” concluded that the Reading First Program, a major billion dollar a year No Child Left Behind effort, had proven “ineffective.”), Medicaid (Medicaid provides health coverage and services to approximately 49 million low-income children, pregnant women, elderly persons, and disabled individuals.  Under the new federal rule, states are now allowed to charge premiums and higher co-payments to Medicaid participants.  At this time, there is no way to determine how juveniles will be impacted by this rule, thus no way to predict how this will impact the number of juvenile arrests.)

A more disturbing figure, impacts the minority sector of the United States.  The lack of male role models is often depicted in mainstream media outlets, when trying to replicate a typical minority family setting, function, or event.  This reflection is accurate within the African American Community. About 10.4% of all black males in the United States between the ages of 25 and 29 were sentenced and in prison in 2002.  If these men were arrested as a part of a “non-violent related” crime, they will be introduced to gang-violence (usually for protection) while incarcerated, and will have a higher rate of returning for a more aggressive charge.

Where and when does this stop?

Reformation of the current penal system has not been addressed by this current administration.  As stated on the White House Website concerning Criminal Justice Reform:

“The President will lead the fight to build a more fair and equitable criminal justice system. He will seek to strengthen federal hate crime legislation and will work to ensure that federal law enforcement agencies do not resort to racial profiling. He supports funding for drug courts, giving first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence, if appropriate, in drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than prison terms in changing behavior. President Obama will also improve ex-offender employment and job retention strategies, substance abuse treatment, and mental health counseling so ex-offenders can successfully re-join society.”

The administration has not addressed a plan or the need, for procedural techniques in regards to how the rehabilitation process can be more effective to prisoners while incarcerated.  The lack of proper rehabilitation results from detention centers can be attributed to over crowdedness.  For an example (as reported by Don Thompson in his book “Prison Attacks Calling Attention to Overcrowding”) California’s 33 prisons have a total capacity of 100,000, but they hold 170,000 inmates.  Overcrowding can also be found in another place some juvenile prisoners may find familiar…the schools system (which could be another reason why Fort Worth had to take major precautions with the Swine Flu Outbreak).  

Regardless of politics, the next 4 years must produce solutions for the youth of this country.  With the Republican Party trying to “re-invent themselves” instead of going to their districts and observing the needs of their constituents, and with the Democratic Party brainstorming ways to hold on to a slim majority in the Senate and State Houses; One in every 31 American adults find themselves in the penal system, whether it is in prison, on parole or serving probation.  Something has to change!

Perhaps these words from Sitting Bull, could give insight to what we are dealing with even now:

 

Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull

 

 

Each man is good in His sight. It is not necessary for eagles to be crows. 

Sitting Bull

May 1, 2009

Day 102 – Robert Gibbs Interupted: Appointments, Appointments, Appointments!

 

The job of the White House Press Secretary is not an easy one.  Every statement made by this individual reflects directly as the viewpoint of the Administration and even the President.  George Akerson, the first appointed press secretary under President Herbert Hoover, felt the blunt-end of criticism by both the President and Press Corps, consequently being blamed for the Republican president’s deteriorating relations with the Washington Press Corps. Unfortunately, he received his appointment right after the 1929 Stock Market Crash, which subsequently was the beginning of the Great Depression.  Press Secretaries over the last 10 years, usually stay in office (or can only undertake the stress that comes along with job) for only two or four years.  Stephen Early, press secretary under President Roosevelt, stayed in his position for 12 years, which could be attributed to the America’s entrance into the Second World War.  

The Whitehouse Press Secretary becomes the “messenger” that usually fields questions from the members of the Press Corps.  Depending on the recent actions coming from the White House, the daily press conference can be either very lively and intense, or dull and overlooked; but the Press Conference held today will be one that will make history and mark the beginning for a major milestone within the life of a young administration.

 

Justice David Souter

Justice David Souter

 

Today, President Obama interrupted the daily White House Press Brief, to tell reporters that he had just got off of the phone with David Souter, and that Souter would be leaving the US Supreme Court at the end of this session.  The President stated that, “I am extremely thankful for his extraordinary service” speaking admirably of Souter and his service to the Court, also stating that he is looking to make sure the new Justice will be “Seated by the 1st Monday of October”.  

Leaving the briefing room, Robert Gibbs again took the stage, and began the task many of his predecessors had grown to master…the task and skill of “Playing by Ear”!

The power vested to the President in Article 2 of the Constitution, giving him the authority to appoint a Justice to the Supreme Court is considered to be the most important task of the President, and it is a task that has not been taken lightly or for granted by the former Presidents.  The art of choosing the right candidate can have a long lasting effect on how our justice system interprets the Law.  Being that Justices are confirmed to Life Long terms, the appointment of a Justice could affect the way laws are interpreted long after the President has left office (Such as John Paul Stevens who was appointed by Late President Ford).  

A great example of the long lasting effects of a court starts within the court under Chief Justice John Jay.  John Jay was the first Chief Justice of the five members Supreme Court, appointed in 1791 during the presidency of George Washington.  The case was Chisholm v. Georgia, and the Plaintiff Alexander Chisholm, the executor of the estate of Robert Farquhar, attempted to sue the state of Georgia in the Supreme Court over payments due him for goods that Farquhar had supplied Georgia during the American Revolutionary War.   The defendant, Georgia, refused to appear, claiming that as a “sovereign”, a state did not have to appear in court to hear a suit against it to which it did not consent.  This resulted in the Court 4–1 decision, found in favor of the plaintiff.  The constitutional interpretation handed down by that court argued that Article 3, Section 2, of the Constitution abrogated the States’ sovereign immunity and granted federal courts the affirmative power to hear disputes between private citizens and States.  As a result of this decision, Congress proposed the Eleventh Amendment, which granted states immunity from certain types of lawsuits in federal courts. This Amendment was ratified in 1795.

Only on day 102 of his presidency, Barack Obama now has the opportunity to start his “Justice Search”.  The eyes of America are pointed directly upon the 9 member court, knowing that President Obama’s choice could lean the court in a liberal direction.  The nine-member court has often split in 5-4 votes between conservative and liberal factions on a range of issues. 

Many are concerned upon the racial/gender representation in the Supreme Court, with Justice Clarence Thomas serving as the only African American on the court and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg serving as the only woman.   

Regardless of the choice, The president has made clear that he is looking for someone who is ”Dedicated to the Rule of law…” and someone with a “Sharp independent mind”, with the latter giving insight towards a more conservative Justice that I anticipate will be disputed by the left.  The one thing we know, is that whoever President Obama nominates, if confirmed by the Senate, the issues of; Separation of Church and State, Same Sex Marriage, and Patriot Act, might lie within the vote of this future Justice! 

Perhaps, John Jay did have an interpretation we all should remember in times like this, and keep this statement close when choosing a representative of the people, to properly interpret the laws that  the people will have to abide by:

 

Chief Justice John Jay

Chief Justice John Jay

 

“The people who own the country, ought to govern it”

Chief Justice John Jay

“Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy”: The Secret Lives of Politicians on Display!

 

Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist

Growing up in a small town, one grows accustomed to certain “facts”.  The school district could all sit on one parcel of land, and if you are from the south, there is only one place to be on Friday night…the High School football game!  Neighboring families share history and when discussing family history, the family church must be also mentioned.  Dating can be awfully dreadful in a small town due to the fact that “blood relationships” are common among members of the opposite sex.  Feuds and Fights can last for generations, with no need for an explanation of why; that’s just how it’s always been.  

No small town can be a “true” small town, without a little taste of Gossip.  Some of the best Gossip takes place ironically after church, and typically about the people who attended church that Sunday.  “How could she show her face in service after what SHE’S done” or “it’s a wonder he could even stay awake during service, he was out all night!”.  Fashion critics, Music critic, Oratory Critics, show their expertise over the dinner table with always a disclaimer coming from the person with the juiciest person.  This disclaimer came as a warning that simply stated, “If I hear this again, I’ll know EXACTLY where it came from”!  With this staunch warning, one would not dare repeat the information shared over that dinner table;  because if he/her did, they would be nothing more than an idle gossiper, and heaven forbid anyone view them as nothing more than a “Gossiper”.

Believe it or not, there is an old adage about the origin of the word Gossip.  As it was told to me, “Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what was considered important to the people.  Since there were no telephones, TVs or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars, instructing them to ‘go sip some ale’ and listen to people’s conversations and political concerns. When assistants were dispatched, they were told, ‘You go sip here’ and ‘You go sip there.’  The two words ‘go sip’ were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and thus we have the term ‘gossip.”  Now whether or not this adage is really how the word Gossip was formed, you’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Although the adage has been questioned in years past, the irony lies, in that the lives of Politicians have been notoriously the root of much gossip.  This is most evident during campaign season, as we just experienced with this last election.  The number houses held by one politician and “Who’s the Mama” from his running mate, ran a hard race against a man who we were not sure was born in America, and with a running mate who was going to drop out of the race at any minute.  The gossip surrounding the last election is child’s play if we take a look back in history.

During the presidential campaign of 1800, the Federalists attacked Jefferson as an infidel and a Deist, claiming that Jefferson’s intoxication with the religious and political extremism of the French Revolution disqualified him from public office.  President Andrew Jackson dealt with much sorrow, when his wife was viciously attacked by his opposition after it was discovered that she was not divorced from her first husband when she married Jackson.  Although he won the election, his wife died of a heart attack after shopping for an inaugural dress; for the rest of his life he blamed the opposition’s attacks on his wife for her death.  But NONE of these compare with the gossip surrounding the “Bachelor President”…James Buchanan.

Not much now is discussed about James Buchanan, but when he was in office, scandalous rumors circulated about Buchanan, his “bachelorhood”…and his roommate Senator William R King, who would go on to be the shortest serving Vice-President in our nation’s history, due to his death only 45 days after taking office.  Buchanan and King were inseparable while in Washington.   President Andrew Jackson, known for speaking his mind, would begin referring to King as “Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy”, while Aaron V. Brown (Governor of Tennessee) spoke of the two as “Buchanan and his wife”.  Below is an excerpt of a letter from Buchanan to King:

“I am now ‘solitary and alone,’ having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”

In hindsight, we must remember that men spoke in very classical and endearing ways at that time.  It is very possible that this letter was just a simple letter to a friend he missed while he was away.  Nonetheless, with all the other correspondents between the two gentlemen burned by their descendents, we will never know; but there is a video documentary that will is threatening to “Out” some modern day politicians who have advocated against gay rights in their respective offices.

Directed by Kirby Dick, “Outrage” premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival this week.  One of the politicians targeted by this film is Charlie Crist, Florida Governor, and a viable candidate for the 2012 election on the Republican Ticket.  As summed up by the director, he views this film a way to expose those politicians who live outwardly as straight men for political gain, advocating against issues that would help advance the Gay Community in achieving equal rights; while secretly living as homosexual men.  He hopes by making this film, these politicians will be bold enough to see that this is a bad decision both personally and politically.  Rallying around the fact that this is the 21st century, he hopes that this film will encourage politicians to know that they can run in their districts and win by honestly portraying their sexuality, whether on the Republican or Democratic ticket.

Now in regards to if the adage I told earlier is true…it too is mere Gossip.  The word “Gossip” spans far before our political system was in place, deriving from the old English word godsibb, a combination of god and sib, the term which was used for what we call Godparent.  In the 16th century, the word assumed the meaning of a person, mostly a woman, one who delights in idle talk and chatter.  The verb to gossip, meaning “to be a gossip”, first appears in the classical work of William Shakespeare.

In regards the reaction the documentary “Outrage” might receive, it’s almost certain to make friends and enemies; this I am sure of.  But maybe this will finally open an honest dialog that will address whether the American people should be more concerned with whom a politician takes to his/her bedroom, or the policies they are introducing in the Halls of Congress, which directly affects their lives.   Maybe James Buchanan had some feedback about the inner thought of a man, who might feel less of a man, because of his/her sexuality and how others view him or her.

James Buchanan 15th President of the United States

James Buchanan 15th President of the United States

“The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.

~James Buchanan

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