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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Ugly Face of Racism...and Hypocrisy

  I don't follow basketball. But I know who some its star players are, like Shaq, LeBron James, and Kevin Garnett. But I like a lot of the planet; I had no clue who Donald Sterling was, until Saturday. On Saturday, the website TMZ released an audio tape of Los Angeles Clippers owner Sterling, and a girlfriend discussing who she brought to the games. By now, the same rest of the planet who had no idea who Sterling was, now know that, well, he does not exactly have warm fuzzy feelings for minorities. The audio tape reveals some very disturbing and racist comments being made by Donald Sterling.
  Let's start from the beginning. Number one, the comments made by Donald Sterling were ugly, gross, and appalling to decent people everywhere. There is no place for these kinds of comments in civil society. Luckily, guys like Donald Sterling are a dying breed. That should make Oprah happy. She did wish death on old white bigots. Wow, she is good. What is also a positive take away is the collective disgust at what was said. It proves that among Americans in 2014, this is the exception, not the norm that guys like Jesse and Al would like us all to believe.
  We will come back to Jesse and Al. This is their story too, as you will see. Now, let's talk about what no one else will. Glaring, in your face hypocrisy. Fact, Donald Sterling is an old bigot. he comes from a long ago time in America. He is eighty years old, and is not going to have some sort of racial epiphany any time soon. However, he is also an American citizen. Last time I checked, in America, at least for now, no matter how vile and despicable his words and thoughts may be, he has the right to think them and even say them out loud if he wishes. Sometimes liberty and freedom of speech are messy things.
  Number two. This is not Donald Sterling's first time at the bigot rodeo. In 2009, after the Department of Justice filed a housing discrimination lawsuit against him, alleging that he tried to keep blacks and Latinos from renting apartments in buildings he owned. He was forced to settle the suit for around $2.7 million dollars. Guys like Magic Johnson and others in the basketball community knew of his dubious track record. Why did this not attract the outrage that an audio tape has? Donald Sterling was also surely paying a lot of the same people who are so appalled today that he was in 2009. What exactly is the difference?
  Number three. Johnson, Charles Barkley, and any former NBA star on any given ESPN panel, seem to pick and choose their outrage carefully. Comments like Jesse Jackson's famous "Hymie town" quip, the vile and yes threatening bilge that has come out of the mouth of Al Sharpton, and let's not forget, in Al's case, he is all but responsible for a murder during a riot in Crown Heights Brooklyn, don't seem to warrant a raised eyebrow. For years, Louis Farrakhan has made some of the most incendiary anti-white and anti-Semitic remarks by anyone. The reaction from members of the black community? Silence.
  Perhaps one of the most egregious things that Magic, Barkley, and the rest forgot to be "outraged" about, is the fact that in Chicago, practically every weekend, black people are brought to slaughter by the dozens. On Easter weekend alone, 40 people were shot. At least 8 of them died. Surely an opinionated guy like Charles Barkley would have something to say about that. No? Hmmm.....
  No one is going to defend Donald Sterling. That old saying, "no man is an island"? Not true anymore. The free market will take care of Donald Sterling's financial status. If you don't like what he said, don't go to Clippers games or watch them on TV. Don't buy Clippers merchandise. The message will be sent loud and clear. After all, money talks. We will see that soon enough when big fat checks are written to the Rainbow Coalition, National Action Network, United Negro College Fund, and the NAACP.
  Everyone stands up and cheers when the Thought Police come to destroy someone they think needs destroying. But we need to look beyond race for just a minute, so we can see that something much deeper and way more chilling is going on.
  We all have at least one thought, view, or opinion about something that more than likely, society might not deem acceptable.
  Who will be cheering when they come for you? 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We the People-1 Federal Government-0

Even though it is not taught very much anymore, America was founded on the backs of ordinary citizens who had had more than enough of big government reigning down upon them. In those days, big government had a name, King George. But now? It seems to be too gigantic for a name. But the boiling point that today's ordinary citizens seem to be rapidly approaching looks a lot like the one from 1776.
  Over the past several weeks, Conservative media has focused on the plight of rancher Cliven Bundy. The Bundy family has been raising cattle on the same piece of land since right after the Civil War. But beginning in 1993, in an attempt to save the desert tortoise, the Bureau of Land Management began to drive the Bundy herd off of the federal land it had been grazing on for over a century. Long story short, the BLM showed up on the Bundy ranch with four wheel drive vehicles, snipers, and what amounted to their own personal army. All in an effort to seize the cattle.
  Well, people heard about Mr. Bundy's government problem. So they came to help out. A lot of people came to help out. They came by car, by truck, even by horseback. They came to help Cliven Bundy get the federal government off what amounts to his front yard. And they succeeded.
  The whole story of the Bundy ranch has been told countless times. There is plenty of debate on all sides as to whether Cliven Bundy is in the right or wrong. The real story here is the story of average Americans.
  In 2010, average Americans found their voice and made it loud and clear how they felt about Obama care. They showed up in droves to Town Hall meetings and Tea Party gatherings. They showed up at the district offices of their Congressmen and Senators. They made it clear what would happen if they supported any part of the Affordable Care Act. In some cases, bluffs were called. All of a sudden, what average Americans said made a great deal of difference to Congressmen and Senators. Job security has a way of getting one's attention.
  When November came along, Republicans gained the largest number of seats in the House since the 1930's. Washington D.C. was put on notice that the people meant what they said. Average Americans were reminded that when their collective voice is raised loudly enough, they can remind the government just exactly who is in charge. This time around could be a lot like 2010.
  The showdown at the Bundy ranch is not an ending, Not just because Harry Reid said it wasn't, but because it is a beginning. A beginning of the realization that average Americans have more power than they know. 2014, like 2010 is an election year, and potentially, a very pivotal one. This is the first incidence of muscle flexing in this election year, and the people won. They feel empowered, they feel emboldened, and they feel like if they can tell the government to go pound sand in this case, where else can they be victorious? Where else can they push back the blob of federal government that keeps prying into every corner of their lives? Are there other cases such as these where the government threatens to trample freedom and liberty where the people can stop it dead in its tracks and say, ENOUGH!
  The answer is unfortunately yes, there are other cases. The people, average Americans, have another seven months of push back time. Once again, the people will show up at Town Hall meetings and district offices. They might have a Tea Party rally or two. 2014 is an election year. We the People, average Americans have the power.
  Time to party like its 2010.     

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Follow The Leader

  Football coaching great Vince Lombardi once said, "Great leaders are made, they are not born...". Most of us have been fortunate enough in our lives to meet and interact with someone that we not only consider a great leader, but we also know that they did not arrive at that position instantaneously. Maybe we know something of their lives, who their parents were, where and under what conditions they were brought up.
  Recently, Fortune Magazine compiled a list entitled, "The World's 50 Greatest leaders". It is quite an extensive list. It is made up of people from all over the Globe, from every background, from every walk of life. They are businessmen and women, religious leaders, even rock stars.
  Top of the list is Pope Francis. Almost a no-brainer, he is the leader of approximately 700 million Catholics around the world. Some might go as far as to say that he is a bit of a free spirit . He has addressed issues that the Church appears to have been trying to push under the rug for quite some time. He even recently told Mafia leaders to cease their murderous ways.
  Bono, front man for one of the world's most popular rock bands, U2, comes in at number eight. Not only is Bono an accomplished musician and singer, he has been a tireless advocate for AIDS relief and research, and helping impoverished nations. One of the most deserving to be on this list, 16 year old Malala Yousafzai. In October of 2012, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban as she got off a school bus. In spite of this, she continues to be an outspoken champion of education for girls and women in Islamic countries. An activity that can be life threatening in that region of the world.
  The rest on the list, certainly are deserving members of this elite club for all of their contributions. But these three people, who could not be more different, have developed very similar traits of leadership. Those tasked with the formulation of this list at Fortune Magazine are Americans. As citizens of this country, what was it that stood out to them about this group of people that made them want to bring them together on this list?
  Maybe the most common reason for most of these people is that they became leaders out of necessity. For some, it could simply be that they saw a need for leadership and fulfilled it. Most of these folks are not household names, and that is perfectly OK with them. They did not become leaders to be famous. Some are leaders because they saw something that was ignored, neglected, or just not right. Do the people on this list have a drive, a passion that everyday people do not? Were some just in the right place at the right time? The answer could be yes for some. However, the 50 greatest leaders would most likely be the first to tell you just how ordinary they are.
  The answer just might be that there is no definitive answer. People are moved to action by what they see and feel in different ways. Maybe the one common thread is, they are all willing to think beyond the norm. They are all willing to step outside the box. They are all willing to risk quite a lot, if not all, for what they believe and for what they dream.
  Americans seem to have an uncanny knack for spotting leaders. Maybe that is because we have produced so many among us. The Americans who work at Fortune Magazine saw many things that jumped out at them about the special people on this list. In a world where it seems that so many people are so easily led, let's hope that Coach Lombardi was right.