DrMyers’s Blog

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 4, 2009

Will the Mysteries go Unanswered: Political or Public?

 

childThe word that resonated with the 2008 Election was that of change and transparency.  For years, Washington has hid, quite well, the inner workings of the political machine, and one could argue that this is the most transparency we’ve seen in Washington in a long time…at least the last 100 days or so.  The banner of transparency was used as a battle cry for many American’s who expected that the whole truth had not yet been told.   Day after day, as pundits argue opinions and speculations on news programs, even these answers seemed too simple for the immense problems faced by the country over the last few months.  

Below, I choose a question format (a system of writing I normally do not use often).  I do not offer my suspicions or speculations, but simply ask the questions someone, if not everyone, has wanted answered by elected officials at some point and time.

~Does the Democratic Party think it will hold on to this lead in the House and Senate longer than two years?  If so…how?

~Surely, is the Republican Party not aware, that it is being painted as a racist and bigoted party?  

~Was Obama’s transition team not aware of all the ethical problem’s the nominees presented to the American people were going to present?  Were we not expected to question their integrity?

~Does Michael Steele understand that, no one knows his job description?  

~Does Rush Limbaugh understand that he has probably encouraged those with smaller mindsets and bigoted spirits, to give conservatism a bad name?  Does he know that he has extended the timeline for “Justified Racism” for another 40 years?

~Does anyone in the Administration “REALLY” think that with the recent passing of the stimulus package and budget, things here in America will began to get better?

~If not Iraq, why Afghanistan?  Are we too chicken shit to go into Iran?

~ Who the hell killed Kennedy 63’?  Who the hell killed King? Who the hell killed Kennedy 68’?

~Was Collin Powell an escape-goat?

~Are they’re Aliens?  If so, will the American People find out too late?

~Do you mean, No One knew about September 11th in enough time to prevent it?

~Was Vice-President Cheney running the White House or was President Bush?  Will either of them take responsibility for any misdeeds done by that administration?  Are we too chicken shit to prosecute if wrong doing is found?

~Does Washington really think Main Street has faith in what’s being done there?

~ Does anyone else find Rep. Joe Barton condescending?

~ If the Republican Party is so much for “Conservatism”, what’s with all the sexual harassment accusations by its representatives?

~ If the Democratic Party is about inclusiveness, why doesn’t it reach out to the democrats outside of urban centers?

~ Was the Moon Landing Real?  

~ When will faith leaders and politicians sit down and define the “Separating Line”?

~ Does Joe Biden know how hard his Communication’s Director works?

~ Why can boys/girls leave their families, learn to kill, come home, and then can’t buy a drink?

~ When will Veterans get the proper treatment/attention they deserve?

~Does the US Army/Navy/Marine/Air force really believe that just because they don’t ask; soldiers won’t tell SOMEONE?

~What is “Bi-Partisan?”

~When will Al Franken get into office?

~ Why can’t America develop a cure for AIDS, but developed the Hydrogen Bomb over 60 years ago?

~ Did the US Government develop AIDS?

~ Where is the cure for Cancer?

~ If a woman shouldn’t have the right to abort…who gives her the right to keep?

~ What is Socialism….I thought President Obama was a Democrat, and why are Republican’s calling him a Socialist?

Well…these are just a few questions that I have had; but I know there are many more!  The real question is, will we see some, if not all of these questions answered?  The amount of trust that has been lost by the American citizen and his/her representative is absolutely horrid; to know, that many American’s were energized by this election and have maintained the enthusiasm is fantastic; to know that one cover-up or lie will eliminate the bridge of trust between Main street and Washington is frightening.

Perhaps Benjamin Franklin summed it up best by stating,

 

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

 

“There is no kind of dishonesty into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall than that of defrauding the government.”

~Benjamin Franklin

May 3, 2009

Political Match Game = Stress in America!

 

Uncle Sam Stressed!

Uncle Sam Stressed!

Sunday morning, I woke up singing a little song under my breath.  Rolling out of bed, and into the bathroom, this song kept resonating with me, as my mood grew more inquisitive to knowing, “What’s the Name of that Song”.  With a few things I needed to get done on the computer, I sat down, and started to surf the net.  Researching, as usual, I began to bob my head, to the nameless tune, where by this time, I narrowed down I heard Frank Sinatra sing.  Reaching for the spoon as I ate my yogurt, I began to audibly attempt to put some variation of words together, to complete the mystery composition…this was becoming an irritant: What’s That Song?

Suddenly I remember, “Something…Knife”, is in it somewhere.  Whimsically laughing, how absurd, of course my mind would equate a nice sounding song to violence.  By this time, my research effort was becoming pathetic, and I finally gave in, starting a search for the song.  Unlike when I woke up, I had found myself stressed because I could not remember the stupid song (it is amazing how a refreshing song just became stupid because I could not remember its name).

When thinking of stress, I usually think of GAS (General Adaptation Syndrome) which is a human’s response to the “stressor”.  In my opinion, over the last week, the political machine in America is dealing with a tell -tell sign of stress…GAS!

The first stage of “GAS” is Alarm.  This alarm comes once the potential stressor is identified or recognized.  With the public’s rejuvenated interest in “policy”, politicians have become more forthright with “WHY” they are not the blame for some of the nation’s problems.  When questioned if his involvement with the automaker “Chrysler” this past week, and his public call for the GM Chief to step aside, was too close for comfort, President Obama defended his actions by reminding the press/public that things were not “perfect” when he came into office.  The errors of his predecessors are quickly stated when introducing solutions and new policies to the American people.  This is a classic sign of Alarm; seeing the American people’s reaction to the policies and procedures set forth by the Bush Administration, and his desire not entice the same reaction towards his own policies and procedures.

Resistance is the second stage of GAS.  If the stressor persists, it becomes necessary to attempt some means of coping with the stress. Although the body begins a sequence that attempts to adapt to the strains or demands of the environment, the body cannot keep this up indefinitely, so its resources are gradually depleted.  The Republican party this week, has shown definite signs of resistance, so much so, it lost one of its members to the other side and is poorly contesting the race in Minnesota, which is expected to go in favor of Democratic candidate Al Franken.  Rush Limbaugh and Michael Steele have been in a public struggle, competing for the megaphone to speak on behalf of the Republican Party, accusing Specter of flipping his former party the bird, to bidding him good riddance!  The Democratic Party has been using a strategy, labeling the Republican Party as the “Party of No”, painting an ever more unlikable picture of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell while a likable picture of the President is being portrayed to the people.  The effectiveness of this strategy is shown in the recent polls which reflect a high approval rating for the President, although not all that approve support his policies.   

A very visible sign of stress lies in the spirit of the American People which is Exhaustion.  As in relation to the body, when dealing with stress under exhaustion, all the body’s resources are eventually depleted and the body is unable to maintain normal function.  With the Economic system in shambles, and the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics reporting that 9% of the population as of March 2009 is unemployed, I would say that the American people are in the most dangerous position when it comes to GAS.  Being in the last stage, if extended, long term damage may become a result; and with the H1n1 present now, I think that an immediate remedy is needed to rid the US of GAS.  It will take the American People holding their representatives up for scrutiny and accountability if we plan on implementing some form of “Stress Management” that can be effective enough, to start focusing on problems facing the American People that are currently jeopardizing the health and well being of the nation.

As for the song, it finally came to me.  Frank Sinatra sang a great song called, “Mack the Knife”, which although is a fun moving song, tells the tale of many who fell victim to Macheath!  If you ask me, there have been many victims to what some call the “Political Match Game” here in America, and when trying to figure out exactly what it is that is causing more problems than solutions, it closely resembles the art of trying to remember the name of a tune, to which you know no words, but only melody.

Regardless, I am reminded of the words stated by that great American writer that sums up our current political positions:

Mark Twain - American Author

Mark Twain - American Author

“Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.” 

~Mark Twain

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

April 30, 2009

Day 101: Bankrupt or A New Lease on Life?

 

 

chrysler_logo1

Yesterday news stations around the country dug through their stock piles, and played everything from Obama’s inauguration speech, to seeing the Commander in Chief running alongside the new family addition.  Conservative stations rallied around many missteps made by the young administration, while more liberal stations cracked open the Champaign, and heralded the President as the “New Deal” of the 21st Century.  Report cards were given in an interactive report between news pundits and watchers.  Finally, the President gave a speech, being very honest about his opinion of the work accomplished by his administration, but far from content or satisfied.  The milestone of 100 days seemed to scoot by, only with the shadow of the flu lingering steadily over head…that was until today!

Day 101 marked a loss of profits for Exxon Mobil, which sent economic advisers into an analytical frenzy, while Wall Street took comfort in a lower jobless claim.  Then, shareholders at Chrysler were offered a deal that they had to refuse.

Shareholders were offered over a 60% loss, which the minority overwhelmingly weighed their distaste, causing Chrysler to file for bankruptcy.  For months, Chrysler maneuvered around bankruptcy, grasping with the fact that as of November 2008, their sales had fallen over 34%.  Speaking with its competitors, Chrysler was included in the “Big 3” auto bailout, where American Taxpayer Dollars were pumped into the auto makers, with hopes that it would stimulate faith in their product, and faith in their leadership.  

The American Government stepped in even more, and from the White House, newly elected President Barack Obama, obligated the Government to stand behind the warranties given by Chrysler.  A very bold move, but a move that gave the appearance that the recent actions could work, as the long going negotiations with Fiat continued, and a deal seemed to be eminent.  With the President issuing his statement today, how does this bode for GM, Ford and the trust within the American people?  When first mentioned, approval ratings for the Auto Bailout under Former President Bush, waned at best, while Americans who had been forced into bankruptcy within their own lives, were forced to watch the government step in, and as of today, not save Chrysler from going down the same route.  Why did Chrysler not want bankruptcy, and how will this affect our already shaky economy, and our pocket books?

Maybe we should ask, “What is Bankruptcy?”  Bankruptcy is a legally declared inability or impairment of ability of an individual or organization to pay its creditors.  Plain and Simple!  You owe it, you can’t pay it, you now declare to the government that you are unable to meet your obligation.  One would ask, why on earth Chrysler would, or any other of the auto makers, be hesitant to simply tell the truth.  As the “Big Three” sat on Capitol Hill, they asked for tax payer dollars because of their inability to pay their debts, while the tax payers were struggling to pay their own debts.  The only reason, one could imagine that a company would avoid bankruptcy could be found in the following statement.  In Chapter 7, a debtor surrenders his or her non-exempt property to a bankruptcy trustee who then liquidates the property and distributes the proceeds to the debtor’s unsecured creditors. In exchange, the debtor is entitled to a discharge of some debt; however, the debtor will not be granted a discharge if he or she is guilty of certain types of inappropriate behavior(e.g. concealing records relating to financial condition).  In Chapter 11, unless appointed for cause, the debtor acts as trustee of the business.   This means, if within the bankruptcy investigation, Chrysler if found to have varying types of inappropriate behavior, the Federal Government would have been enablers, by using American Taxpayer Dollars, to keep the improprieties of auto leaders covered, by keeping their business running without an outside examination of their practices and books.

One may ask, “Who else will admit their problems were too great for the American Taxpayer to save”, and one may wonder if conservatives were right, if the American Government put taxpayers at risk by interfering within the free market economy.  What is evident is that this decision will likely set the tone for similar discussions with bondholders of General Motors Corp — which is now on the clock to restructure its operations by the end of May, which taxpayers also have a vested interest in.

 

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

 

Today, President Obama ensured that he is confident that his auto taskforce will be able to work with GM in restructuring their operations and making it a more viable company.   The President also reassured America that he agreed with Chrysler’s decision to file for bankruptcy, and that it would reemerge stronger because of it.  

It is unmistakable that the number 100 can mark monumental success in grade and age, but when dealing with the tax payer dollars and a shaky free market society, Barack Obama just took a course in “Challenges in Negations 101” taught by the American People.  Perhaps Alexander Hamilton said it best:

In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place, oblige it to control itself. 
~Alexander Hamilton


Board Decides Fate: Shuffle – Step – Money – Entertainment!

 

 

 

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis

Wednesday night, I had the privilege of meeting with friends I have not seen together since the Inauguration.  After working closely with each other in Southwest Florida, a bond had developed that can be shared with no one else; through our collective experience, we shared something that can only be relived in memories, and we did just that!  Sitting around a small table, we relived our time in Robert E Lee County Florida, and of the many people that we met.  Our time spent together was not by happenstance, but it was destiny.  Where else could people from across the globe meet each other, fall in love with each other’s personality, and keep genuine concern about the each other’s well being.  

Our time together was ended after the country made its decision.  The bond we had built, pushing toward a common goal, was then cemented in posterity, and we then went on our separate ways.  I drove back to Texas, while another boarded a plane for Switzerland.  One decided to stay around an extra week to get some rest, while the last person drove back to the DC Metropolitan Area.  It is a weird feeling when ones future, at times, lye in the hands of a majority vote or when a group decides to go in a different direction.  Many of our lives are dependent upon the consensus of others, and we are not even aware of it.

This realization came abruptly to Kenneth Lewis, CEO at Bank of America, during a board meeting Wednesday.  Mr. Lewis was removed by a majority vote from his position as Chairman of the Board, but was unanimously supported, by the board, in being kept on as CEO.  With the recent downturn in the economy, his steady hand and judgment was examined by the way he handled the acquisition of Merrill Lynch.  Several shareholders stood to their feet, and freely expressed their anger, disappointment, and personal loss due to the banks mismanagement by Lewis.

It appeared that the root of his alleged bad judgment call, came from his willingness to support and push for the acquisition of Merrill Lynch, after becoming aware of its current losses.   Shareholders expressed, with good reason, the disclosure of this information would have weighed heavily against their support of the deal: which cost one shareholder $27,000.  Mr. Lewis defended himself by stating, “It [the acquisition] was “good value” and that abandoning the deal would have caused “serious harm” to Bank of America and other banks.”  According to Lewis, “as a legal matter, there was no duty” to disclose the bank’s talks with the government.”  Undoubtedly, the decision is viewed as a precursor of a similar decision regarding his current position at B of A.  

In this case, one can not overlook the amount of trust placed upon an Executive, System, Administrator, or Liaison to the People/Members/Boards.  Time and time again, history shows that once these players lose faith in their leaders, all that was certain, in respect and protocol, becomes uncertain and shaky at best.  In 1867, congress enacted the Tenure of Office act, because they suspected the President would misuse the power of his office.  As predicted, he (in their eyes) abused that said power, and they proceeded with the Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.  The same thing happened when TV Evangelist Jim Baker was accused with the mismanagement of funds and infidelity while overseeing the PTL Club.  Jerry Falwell took over as Executive Director of the operations, and publically denounced his fellow brother in the ministry, thus ending the credibility of Jim Baker and his family.

Although the people hold their leaders accountable to certain standards, and when violated, take measures to oust them: What happens when the leaders decide that “They” must go a different direction from their employer?  

You can currently watch this being played out in the interesting merger of William Morris and Endeavor.  These two “Hollywood Rivals” decided on Monday to merge, creating the quintessential Hollywood Powerhouse that is already speculated to dominate the industry, while other smaller agencies cope with the Recession.  With William Morris signing Grammy Award Winner Mary J Blige on Wednesday, one would think this upcoming merger would be viewed positively by all players involved.  Not So!

 

Literary Agent Richard Abate

Literary Agent Richard Abate

 

Representing Endeavor on the other coast, Richard Abate boasts a loyal and faithful clientele, while having a clear track record of scoring his clients healthy deals.  After fighting his way in court to work at Endeavor, it became apparent that the literary focus of these two powerhouse agencies was waning…at best.  But, with a 114 year history, William Morris’s literary department has stronger roots and is much bigger than that of Endeavor, leaving an obvious decision for Mr. Abate to make, which was to not join his employer in the final merge as William Morris Endeavor.

Parting ways, under any circumstance, isn’t a sought after component to any relationship.  When choosing professions, one weighs his options by choosing what he can see himself doing for the rest of his life.  When choosing a place to live, one envisions himself content and happy there until his dying days.  When reciting marriage vows, we end each solemn oath by stating “Till Death Do Us Part”.  Unfortunately, with a bad economy forcing people out of their jobs, homes, and marriages, one can only hope that recovery is sweet and swift.

Perhaps, the great playwright understood all the more when he penned these famous lines:

“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow.” 

~William Shakespear

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

April 29, 2009

Personal or Political: Specter Jumps Ship!

 

Democratic Senator: Arlen Specter

Democratic Senator: Arlen Specter

It was an exciting time as the crowd grew at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.  A steady stream of loyal followers flowed from the Chicago Coliseum to the Auditorium Theatre, waiting for their leader and former President to take the stage.  Republican Primaries have posed challenges for Republican Candidates since its inception in 1912.  Theodore Roosevelt, feeling like the more qualified candidate and best spokesperson for the party, beat both of his challengers 9-2 out right in the primaries of 1912, and naturally felt as if he would be undergoing the best exercise of his life; Running For Office!

Amazingly Roosevelt’s run for office did not go as he originally planned, and as he dawned the stage to address those delegates he found so faithful, these precious words articulated the true task he felt was forgotten by the Republican Party, “To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliances between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.”  After this platform was adopted, he went out on the campaign trail, and even after a “would be” assassin’s bullet, struck and lodged in his chest, Teddy Roosevelt stated, “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” 

As Arlen Specter stood addressing the cameras, the 29year Senator spoke with the same vigor as a wounded politician of old.   “Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.” Specter stated, and not a moment too soon!  As he left his office to dawn the capitol, constituents met the Republican Senator not with torches and pitchforks outside his office, but with warm greetings, cheers and applause.  Specter had found his audience…the people he was sent to represent!

Changing parties in the United States Senate is not a new phenomenon, nor is it an explainable action.  One must believe, that the Senator who’s made his choice, has spent long hours in deep deliberation with his own being, before jumping off of the Titanic and onto the Carpathia

If you watched any news station today, you would have thought that this was the first time a Senator left the Republican Party.  Playing it down, most Republican Pundits and Strategists stated, “They saw it coming” and that “He was doing this to save his own political career”.  Regardless of his reasoning, the Republican Party has had a strong history of its elected members parting ways.  Below is a list of Senators who have taken the same leap of faith that Arlen Specter took today:

  • Miles Poindexter of Washington. Republican to Progressive in 1913 and back to Republican in 1915.
  • Robert M. La Follette, Sr. of Wisconsin. Republican, ran as Progressive for President in 1924.
  • Robert M. La Follette, Jr. of Wisconsin. Republican to Progressive in 1935.
  • George W. Norris of Nebraska. Republican to Independent in 1937.
  • Henrik Shipstead of Minnesota. Farmer-Labor to Republican in 1941.
  • Wayne Morse of Oregon. Republican to Independent in 1953 and to Democrat in 1955.
  • Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Independent Democrat to Democrat in 1956 and then to Republican in 1964.
  • Harry F. Byrd, Jr. of Virginia. Democrat to Independent in 1971.
  • Richard Shelby of Alabama. Democrat to Republican in 1994.
  • Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado. Democrat to Republican in 1995.
  • Bob Smith of New Hampshire. Republican to Independent in 1999, and back to Republican in 1999.
  • James Jeffords of Vermont. Republican to Independent in 2001.

Out of 12 Senators that have switched parties within the last 100 years, 7 of them (at some point) left the Republican Party.  This pattern points toward two factors that both Republicans and Democrats should be aware of.  

a. The Republican Party is capable of driving away its members and delegates!

Since 1938, only 10 identifiable years could Republican’s (versus 27 years for Democrats) boast that they controlled a majority of the States Legislatures in the US.  This is a clear reflection of the Republican Party’s inability to articulate its strengths and/or beliefs to the constituents back home in their states and districts.  Because of this weakness, former Representatives (in both the House and the Senate) have had to switch their party affiliations to correlate with the mindset of the people they represent.  One must remember, Washingtonians do not elect Senators, only states and districts have that power; and an elected official is only a reflection of those he represents in those districts and states.  

b. Republicans have a way of bouncing back!

We must remember that the last time Democrats were in a position to have a “Filibuster Proof” Senate; the political atmosphere was very similar to the one we are living in now.  Ford had just lost the election to the Fresh, Un-Tarnished, Governor who had not been corrupted by Washington Politics…Jimmy Carter!  Over those next few years, bipartisan efforts ceased to exist, inflaming the Right!  It was during this period the “Moral Majority” saw its emergence on the scene, and Reagan Democrats were born, costing Democrats the Majority.  

Regardless of whether Specter just wanted to secure, in his mind, a viable race for the Senate seat he’s held for 29 years, or if the Republican party has moved so far right, it pushed Specter off the boat, the fact remains that partisan politics distracted the American people and its leaders from tackling problems such as:  Affordable Health Care, Lowering Poverty Levels, Equal Rights for Women in the Workplace, and lastly…pushing legislation through that would properly fund research to cure AIDS and Cancer.  

Maybe our Founding Father had an accurate foresight of political parties, a warning that we might want to heed:

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

George Washington: No Party Affiliation

George Washington: No Party Affiliation

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, Sep. 17, 1796

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