Archive for August, 2012

“JUST LIKE JACKIE”

August 25, 2012

                                           

                                                               

Two men born into vastly different circumstances 42 years and a continent apart. One was born in the segregated Deep South in 1919 in a state that was once part of the Confederacy. The other was born in the nation’s 50th state; the only child of a black Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas. One carried a middle name in honor of a former president who died 25 days before his birth; the other bears a name that clearly reflects his late father’s African roots. These men would never meet because the older man, his body ravaged by the diabetes that blinded him, died at the relatively young age of 53 in 1972 when the younger was in the fifth grade. But, the younger one has met the widow of the man with whom he is forever linked because of the historic “firsts” they accomplished.

Jack Roosevelt Robinson is more widely known as “Jackie” and for a time, Barack Hussein Obama II, in an attempt to blend in more with a society unsure of how to deal with the biracial young man with an exotic, slightly dangerous sounding name, went by “Barry.” While Jackie was never widely known as Jack to the American public, young Barry eventually returned to his original given name.

On April 15, 1947, Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson literally and figuratively changed the face of professional team sports in America when he made his major league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Nearly 62 years later, on a cold, blustery January morning in the nation’s capital, Barack Hussein Obama II took the oath of office that installed him as America’s 44th and first African-American president. And as Robinson did by playing in his first game as a Dodger, Obama changed forever the history of his profession and the nation when he intoned, “I, Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear…” But beyond the fact that they were both the “first” in breaking the color barrier in their respective fields, Jackie Robinson and Barack Obama also had to bear the burden of not being able to be angry in public.

At their initial meeting in 1945 (Robinson spent the 1946 season with the team’s Triple A Montreal Royals), Dodgers president and general manager Branch Rickey famously asked Robinson if he could face the racial animus sure to accompany his entering the hitherto all-white “National Pastime” without taking the bait and reacting angrily. At first, Robinson thought that Rickey wanted a Negro who was afraid to fight back and that surely wasn’t his nature. However, Rickey assured him that he was looking for one with the guts not to fight back because he knew that a fight between Jackie and a white player could quickly escalate into a race riot and surely destroy what became widely known as “The Great Experiment.” Once he understood Rickey’s line of thinking, Robinson assured him that he could. In return for his agreeing to do so, Rickey promised Jackie that after two seasons, he wouldn’t have to “turn the other cheek” and could react just as any other player on the field would to whatever happened.

No one knows for certain if anyone ever said the same kind of thing to Obama as he prepared to run for the presidency in late 2006 and early 2007. But if someone did, perhaps it was Harry Reid of Nevada, the ranking Democrat in the Senate when Obama won his seat in that chamber of Congress in 2004. Reid, according to the acclaimed book on the historic 2008 presidential campaign, Game Change, and subsequently confirmed by all involved, was the first senior party member to suggest to Obama that he should consider running for president. Neither Obama or Reid has ever said publicly that they had the type of exchange about anger that Robinson and Rickey had, but Reid definitely opened a window into his train of thought when he was quoted in the book as having said in private conversations that Obama could win the Presidency because the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama—to whom he referred as being “light-skinned” and “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one”.

Even if Obama and Reid did have that type of conversation, considering the former’s multicultural family background and upbringing in Hawaii and Indonesia were many times he was the only black in his school or neighborhood, there’s a very good chance that Obama already knew that he couldn’t afford to let his anger get the best of him, no matter how provoked he may have been by both covert and overt acts of prejudice and racism. Because his grandparents were able to get him into the prestigious Punahou School, a private college preparatory school that he attended from fifth grade until his graduation from high school, he’d already had the valuable experience of learning how to blend in with everyone. Add in Obama’s other barrier breaking act when he was the first African-American president of the Harvard Review while in law school, and he already knew it was going to be hard enough for a black man to get the nomination of the Democratic Party let alone be elected president and that an “angry” one stood no chance whatsoever of doing either. And thus, we have the strongest link between Jackie Robinson and Barack Obama; neither initially enjoyed the luxury of being able to respond to their opponents and off-field tormentors with any hint of anger if they hoped to have any chance of succeeding.

However, much as Robinson was finally able to defend himself in any way he felt necessary after his first two seasons with the Dodgers, we may see that same change in Obama should he win a second term. Even now, as presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney panders to the right-wing base of his party and beyond by fanning the flames of racism with snide and coded comments about the president’s birthplace and patriotism – “Nobody’s ever asked to see my birth certificate” and “This president just doesn’t understand America” – Barack Obama still has to turn the other cheek if he wants to win in November. But a Barack Obama, unburdened with another campaign, can “be like Jackie” and respond to his critics and their disrespectful words and acts, tit for tat.

So, for all of those who have been disappointed by Obama’s lack of public anger, hang in there. For much like an unrestrained Jackie Robinson in his third season with the Dodgers, a Barack Obama unburdened by ever having to run for office again could just turn out to be the “angry” president you’ve been waiting for after all.

                   

Advertisements

August 19, 2012

“I’ve got no shame; I’ll say or be anything Mitt wants. Hi mom!”

RANDOM THOUGHTS

A Republican candidate receiving a warm reception at The Villages, Florida’s largest senior community and owned by a family that’s given over $1.5million to GOP candidates this election cycle, as Paul Ryan (along with his mother) did on Saturday, is as predictable as the sun rising in the East; it’s going to happen every day of the week.

A buddy of mine called me all excited until I read the entire “Free Pussy Riot” article to him; turns out he hadn’t heard the third word in the title. Now he’s trying to get a refund on his airline ticket to Russia.

All joking aside, ever wonder how people like Michele Bachmann, Joe Walsh and Allen West get elected in the first place? I mean, do they move all the crazies into one district so they can have their own representatives?

Am I the only one who cracks up whenever I hear Republicans saying they miss the “Obama of Hope and Change from 2008”? I mean, they do remember how that turned out, right?

Considering how nasty Mitt Romney’s ads against his opponents were during the GOP primary, I have to laugh my head off whenever he decries how nasty President Obama’s ads against him are. It’s like a cartoon I saw where a little boy comes home, puts his basketball on the counter and starts in on the cookies and milk his mother gives him. When she said, “How was your day?” his response was, “Well, it was okay until the big kids got out of school.”

Doesn’t matter what happens this season or the next; we’re getting closer and closer to the point where Arte Moreno’s giving both Mike Scioscia and Albert Pujols 10-year contracts based on their past performances have to be called mistakes that will cause the Angels problems for several years to come.

Have Jay Leno (and David Letterman) stayed at the party too long? And, how does this affect, if it does, the upcoming return of Arsenio Hall?

I CAN NOT wait to see former Democrat and Obama endorser Artur Davis – I guess his parents were too poor to pay for an “H” – speaking at the Republican National Convention. Actually I can, but I am looking forward to seeing how the mostly all-white delegation will respond to the kind of African-American they can relate to. Oh that’s right, Condoleezza Rice’s speaking too.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I simply can’t watch Meet The Press as long as David Gregory remains the moderator unless the guest is Jesus himself.

I wonder how cold the convention hall will have to be in Tampa to keep keynote speaker Chris Christie “comfortable in his own skin.”

I’m all for celebrities supporting their candidates, but why does it seem that the Republicans get some of the flat-out craziest “MF’s” alive? Yes, I’m referring to Dave Mustaine, Ted Nugent and Hank Williams, Jr.

I’m not a Bobby Valentine fan. I thought Boston made a big mistake in hiring him to manage the Red Sox after they fired Terry Francona last year, but I never thought the team would collapse so completely – they’re currently 12 & ½ games behind the AL East leading Yankees – and I don’t think anyone else did either. And it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy – he’s an arrogant prick in my opinion – and franchise.

I’ve got nothing against the remake of Sparkle per se; I generally just don’t like remakes because I feel a) most movies are made in and for a certain time period, b) it’s almost impossible to equal, let alone top the original, and c) it just reinforces that Hollywood is out of original ideas and stories.

If I were a Republican candidate and got word that Rudy Giuliani wanted to endorse me, I’d pay him NOT TO.

If you really think about it, everyone’s pro-choice. You either choose to remain pregnant or not. But both are choices.

I’m confused as fuck! Wasn’t it just a few days ago that Mitt Romney himself practically begged President Obama to agree to take his business experience and taxes and anything personal off the table and just “focus on the issues”? Or am I losing my mind?

Interesting, at least to me, that the last two GOP nominees have had to pick their running mates based on a need to re-energize the party’s base instead of their qualifications and electability.

It would be one thing if he’d won the governorship and then switched parties over “principle”, but considering he did so only after getting absolutely crushed in the Democratic primary, I have no respect whatsoever for Davis.

Looking and listening to the clips from Rhianna’s recent interview with Oprah, you realize that she was deeply in love with Chris Brown.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are lying at a level that puts Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew to shame. In fact, I’m just waiting for the Obama campaign to run an ad with a “Lie-O-Meter” in the corner of the screen as Romney and Ryan speak.

Mitt Romney will release ALL of his tax returns, drink a Coke, and kiss former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman on the lips in public before President Obama replaces Joe Biden on the ticket.

Not to overstate its importance, but William Kristol, who pushed hardest publicly for Paul Ryan is the same guy who pushed Sarah Palin four years ago. Here’s hoping for the same electoral results on the night of November 6.

Olympics soccer star Hope Solo is really beginning to get on my last nerve. Speaking of soccer stars, it seems that Solo’s teammate Abby Wambach isn’t feeling much pain these days.

Paul Ryan’s mother seems to be a nice enough woman, but I’m still not going to vote for her son on November 6.

Paul Ryan’s defense of applying for funds for his district from the same stimulus program he voted AGAINST that even though he thought it was a “flawed policy”, his constituents shouldn’t be punished because of that belief is as openly two-faced as anything I’ve heard in a long, long time.

Quote of the Campaign (so far) – “We’ve given all you people need to know.” – Ann Romney on the decision not to release more than two years of tax returns (2010 and 11).

Still waiting on the MSM to point out the virtual all-white crowds at Romney/Ryan events no matter where they go in the country and how this impacts the election.

The lack of African-American or Latino moderators for the upcoming presidential and vice-presidential debates is inexcusable and yet completely predictable when viewed in the context of current network prime-time programming.

Try as I might, I simply can’t recall when the Braves’ Chipper Jones went from being a very good player to a “first ballot Hall of Famer” as announcers and reporters repeatedly call him today.

Watch your back Al Roker; Matt’s already taken out Ann Curry. You don’t want to be next.

What the hell happened to Priscilla Presley’s “face”?

Whatever happened to M.C. Michael Steele?

Whatever one may feel about Jesse Jackson, Jr and his politics and his father, the photos of him with his friend and former colleague Patrick Kennedy, who visited with Jackson at the Mayo Clinic last week, were heart wrenching. The emotional and physical pain Jackson’s going through was clearly evident on his face and body. Here’s praying that he has a full recovery.

You know, I think most Americans accept the fact that our politicians are going to fudge the truth every now and then, but these “MF’s”, Romney and Ryan, are just flat-out lying without any hint of embarrassment at all!

I’m still trying to understand how you can be “Pro-Life” AND “Pro Death Penalty.” Please let me know if you figure it out.

AN ELECTION IN BLACK & WHITE by Charles L. Freeman

August 18, 2012

President Obama in Parma, Ohio; Thursday, July 5, 2012.

Supporters of Mitt Romney hold signs during a campaign rally Tuesday in Chillicothe, Ohio; Tuesday, August 14, 2012.

Parma and Chillicothe; two cities in Ohio, 153 miles apart. According to the latest available census data, the former has a population that’s 95.6% white and 1.06% African-American while the latter splits 87.4% white and 7.1% African-American. Based on those numbers alone, one would think that there would be at least the chance of seeing several black faces at Romney’s event, even if only out of curiosity. And yet, as the photographs above clearly show, that wasn’t the case just a few days ago.

While there will be places in the country where based solely on the racial demographics of a state’s cities or towns – New Hampshire for example – President Obama will speak before a virtually all-white audience, Mitt Romney almost always speaks in front of virtually all-white crowds, even in places like Chillicothe where there are people of color residing. In fact, I’ll predict right now, that after his recent speech to the NAACP convention where he ”imported” African-American supporters, the only place where Romney will speak before any significant number of people of color during the rest of this campaign will be at the upcoming Republican National Convention. And believe you me; his handlers are already hard at work to make sure their faces are seen on television.

However, this is mere window-dressing designed to cover-up one of the most glaring differences between these two candidates; one already the President of the United States and one who wants to be. For no matter how little the mainstream media tries to downplay the fact or the Romney campaign tries to ignore it, the 2012 elections are a stunningly accurate reflection of the racial polarization of today’s politics.

When one takes an objective look at the crowds at the two photographs at the top of this piece, it’s hard to believe that both were taken in the same state, a mere five weeks apart. The first one has a crowd that looks like the multicultural society that present-day America is while the second, if you take away the current fashions and hairstyles, could have easily been taken 50 years ago. And when you read and listen to the candidates’ policies and speeches, it’s even clearer that there’s a battle for not only the direction of our nation, but its’ very soul. For while President Obama speaks of moving “forward”, the Republican candidate and his surrogates repeatedly and loudly talk about “taking America/our country back.”

“Back” from whom Mr. Romney? And “back” to where? These are some of the important questions that the media should be asking you, but you don’t want to answer right now. In fact, your main campaign strategy on your policies and plans seems to be not telling the American public any of your plans for them and the country should you be elected president. A strategy that was neatly (and scarily some would say) summarized by your running mate Paul Ryan on August 14th when he said that your campaign is willing to discuss its proposals on taxes but only after the election.

I can only speak for myself, but as an African-American of many years, I can tell you that I get chills down my spine (and not the good kind) when I hear a politician, particularly a white Republican running for president in 2012, talk about “taking America/our country back.” When I hear that, I get a vision of an America that denied blacks and other minorities their basic civil rights including the right to vote. I think back to a time when abortions were illegal and performed in less than optimum conditions. I think back to a time when “Separate but equal” was not only an accepted way of life, but the law in many places.

And “taking back our country/America” goes beyond just color and race. All one has to do to confirm that is look at the Republican stance on social issues such as Planned Parenthood, reproductive rights and same-sex marriage, just to name a few, to see that this phrase stands for a return to a far more repressive society than the one we have now.

But, as the title of this piece clearly states, this election is a stark look at our nation along color, cultural, and racial lines. Take another good look at the photographs. Both of them could have very easily taken four years ago instead of within the last five weeks. President Obama’s supporters continue to reflect the nation as it really is and Mitt Romney’s, much as John McCain’s did in 2008, reflect the nation as it once was.

Through no fault of his own, the election of Barack Hussein Obama II hasn’t brought America any closer together than it was before it happened. Sadly, as we see the Republican and right-wing opposition not only harden and increase but coarsen, the sight of the Hawaiian-born only son of a Kenyan exchange student and a transplanted Kansan has brought out some of the vilest and most repulsive behavior we’ve seen in years.

Never before in my lifetime can I recall an American president (and in many instances, his wife) being the open target of the kind of disrespect shown to this one. From the horrible signs at rallies of the so-called Tea Party during the summer of 2009 to being called a liar by a sitting Republican congressman during a nationally televised speech before Congress to not even being given credit for approving and ordering the raid that led to the death of the terrorist most responsible for the 9/11 attacks, President Obama has endured the slings and arrows of racism with dignity, grace and intelligence.

Make no mistake about it, November 6th is as much about race and color in America as it is about jobs, economics and America’s standing in the global scheme of things. From the White House to the statehouse and the council in the smallest hamlet in the nation, this year’s elections are about black & white, literally and figuratively. And don’t let anyone tell you different.

Monday – August 13, 2012

August 13, 2012

“Attention White America! It’s your boys, Mitt and Paul, and we’re here to take back our country and save you from ‘the Kenyan’. Robes and hoods will be available on our website soon; please bookmark us now. That is all. Seig Heil!”

“Honk if you hate poor people!”

RANDOM THOUGHTS

It might just be me, but as far as I’m concerned, Mitt Romney and his new sidekick, Paul Ryan, declared war on America this past Saturday.

“Debt, Doubt and Despair” – the new album from Romney & Ryan!

Don’t think for a second that this isn’t going to get personal between President Obama and Paul Ryan who’ve had a very contentious “relationship” over the past 3 & ½ years.

Don’t know what her last months on “Today” were like, but Amy Robach sure looks VERY happy on “GMA.”

During the Olympics, Doc Rivers has reminded us that he’s as good if not better, a commentator as he is a NBA head coach.

GOP: “Paul Ryan is a great choice and is qualified to serve from Day One.” Democrats: “Paul Ryan is the most extreme, worst choice for VP ever.” American Public: “Ehhh.”

Hilariously ironic listening to Paul Ryan bemoan the “dysfunction and hyper-partisanship in Washington” when he’s as guilty as anyone for it.

I can honestly say that four years ago, I could sense the excitement and energy when McCain introduced Sarah Palin in Dayton, OH. But there was none of that when Romney introduced Ryan Saturday and frankly, I just don’t think there will be any during this campaign.

I can’t wait for the ad from either the Obama campaign or a Super PAC that shows why the 2002 Mitt Romney wouldn’t vote for the 2012 Mitt Romney.

I don’t think we’re going to see/hear any real substance from either side until the conventions in general and the debates in particular.

I must have not gotten the memo that the world was craving a 98 Degrees comeback/reunion tour. Up next: Color Me Badd?

I wonder what the “right” would be saying if Senator Barack Obama had made his staffers read “Dream of My Father” or some other tome he was influenced by as Congressman Paul Ryan has done with the writings of Ayn Rand and his staff.

I wouldn’t go see Liza Minelli perform if she was across the street from my house and the show was free.

I’m as big a Tar Heel Fan as one can be without being born and raised in NC; my front license plate frame reads UNC on top, Tar Heels on bottom and I plan on seeing the men’s basketball team when they play Long Beach State here in on November 16. I’ve worked concerts in the Dean Smith Center and played pick-up basketball in the storied Carmichael Auditorium and I hate Duke as much as I can. But I have to give it up to Coach K; the man can flat-out coach the game on any level.

If, for any reason whatsoever, the Lakers DON’T win the title next June, suicide hotlines in LA will handle to double up on staff.

London just spent the last two weeks making Mitt Romney look like a fool. Hope he’s just as wrong in 85 days!

Noticeable lack of “color” and young voters at this w/e’s Romney/Ryan events could be a telling trend that benefits Obama/Biden come November.

Now that the Olympics are over, NBC can return to showing Americans programming that no one wants to watch, live or tape-delayed.

There’s no “happily ever after”; there’s just life and what you choose to make out of it.

There’s one artist who would be the perfect judge for American Idol: PRINCE.

This is the most charisma-challenged Republican ticket I can since Bob Dole and Jack Kemp in 1996.

Title IX’s greatest legacy 40 years after its enactment? SI has reported that Team USA women accounted for 58 of the 104 U.S. medals in London, including 29 of the 46 gold.

What does it say about your campaign when you’ve basically been running for president since 2007, but only now that you’ve named Paul Ryan as your running mate that people say it finally has “definition”?

When is NBC going to realize (admit) that David Gregory is single-handedly killing “Meet The Press”?

When the Romney/Ryan campaign rolls out ads with seniors who approve of their vision for the future of Medicare, and you know they will, keep in mind that there were slaves who thought “Massa is good to us” too.

You know your country’s lacking when you feature One Direction and the Spice Girls at your Olympics closing ceremonies.

THE GOOD GUYS

FINALLY

I wonder when an intrepid reporter will have the intelligence, journalistic instincts and integrity to ask Mitt Romney, “Governor, how can you sit here with a straight face and say that you won’t release the same number of years of your tax returns that you required of your running mate, Congressman Ryan, and the others your campaign vetted as possible running mates, and not expect the American public to be extremely skeptical at best, and downright convinced that you’re hiding something at worst? “That’s what I’m dreaming, hoping, praying will happen. But I ain’t holding my breath that it will.

Tim Russert, come back; your country needs you!

ROMNEY PICKS RYAN?

August 11, 2012

Trying to change the subject is exactly the reason for Mitt Romney announcing his VP choice today in Virginia after a particularly brutal week focused on his taxes and propensity for lying in campaign ads. And if the overnight rumors are true that he’s decided on Paul Ryan, it’s become even clearer what the choices facing American voters will be on November 6.

For if Romney has decided to run with Paul Ryan, a blessed acolyte of the notorious Koch Brothers, and the architect of a budget plan so radical that Newt Gingrich dubbed it “right-wing social engineering” before be forced to walk back his comments by Rush Limbaugh and other Republican extremists, then we know exactly how far he’s willing to go to pander to the basest instincts of his party.

If you think it’s been nasty up to now, baby, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER MITT ROMNEY LIE

August 9, 2012

“Frankly, I’m just making shit up now.”

Mitt Romney on Horseback

August 9, 2012