Monday, June 30, 2008

Watch out America: What happened in Venezuela can happen here.

If you had asked me ten years ago if I thought that the strange, unbelievable events that happened over the past decade in Venezuela could occur in the United States, I would have said it was crazy. But having watched the events in Venezuela very carefully, and watching current events in the USA, I’m becoming deeply alarmed. In particular, I’m talking about the alarming claims of rampant voter fraud that is being reported in primarily Democrat counties in Alabama.
Before I get to what’s happening in Alabama, I need to review what we know about Venezuelan President Chavez.

It is now well known that Lt. Colonel Hugo Chavez led an illegal coup attempt in 1992 that resulted in the deaths of numerous innocent, unarmed Venezuelan civilians. After his coup failed, he agreed to go on the air and call for his armed co-conspirators to stop the coup, saying “we have failed—for now”. He went to jail, and eventually the Venezuelan president pardoned him for his crimes, and he embarked on a political campaign to accomplish ‘democratically’ what he had failed to accomplish by force.

Chavez embarked on a world-wide tour to gather financial resources from Cuba, middle-eastern leaders (including Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Syria’s Assad), and returned to Venezuela with millions of dollars for his campaign. He won the election, and immediately started to disassemble the Venezuelan government. Within a few years, he had replaced the federal judges with sympathetic followers, dissolved the bicameral congress and replaced with a temporary body that wrote a new constitution that favored him and his party and his “Bolivarian revolution”.

He then took complete control of the electoral council (Venezuela’s electoral system is completely centralized—a model that former US President Carter has said he’d like to emulate), and in every electoral process from that point forward, there were rampant charges of electoral fraud. Opposition candidates were harassed, beaten, arrested and threatened with impunity. Chavez supporters attacked opposition rallies en masse, resulting in many injuries and even deaths.

But what is very alarming is that entire electoral mechanism was undermined in a way that permanently disadvantaged the opposition parties. Millions of dollars of state funds found their way into pro-Chavez parties, rallies, and bought support around the country. People were paid to be bused to pro-Chavez rallies and show support for him, giving the impression to the world that his support was massive and popular. Voters were paid to cast votes for him, and there were many cases of intimidation against anyone who showed a proclivity to vote against him.
Chavez made it clear that he was willing to use the ever increasing petroleum revenue to fund his personal revolution, and that a top priority for Venezuela was to achieve the election—in the USA—of a “Bolivarian president”. This notion was mocked and laughed at as the ramblings of a Latin American madman.

However, over the next few years, a frightening pattern was revealed. Socialist parties across the Americas, from Mexico to Argentina and including many countries in between, were accused by their opponents of illegally and covertly receiving large sums of money from the Venezuelan government, in order to support the leftist causes and outspend their “neo-liberal” opponents. Chavez donated millions of dollars of petroleum to Sandinista candidates in Nicaragua, so that they could provide cheap fuel to their supporters—a way of demonstrating how supporting socialists would result in handouts for the poor. Chavez built housing in the districts of socialist candidates in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Bolivia, helping increase the popularity of the socialists. This pattern repeated itself in numerous countries, while the outcry of opposition leaders was ignored.

Following this pattern, the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Argentina and Nicaragua all turned to the left. There is a life and death struggle still going on in El Salvador and Panama.
The most telling turn of events occurred in Argentina, when it was discovered that high-level Venezuelan officials had funneled large sums of money into Argentina to covertly fund the election campaign of Kristina Fernandez de Kirchner—the wife of former socialist president Nestor Kirchner. The Kirchners were very vocal supporters of Chavez. Small wonder, when one considers how Chavez single-handedly (without the approval of the Venezuelan people) decided to buy Argentina’s multi-billion dollar debt to the World Bank. No one has yet been able to demonstrate how this purchase benefitted the Venezuelan people or economy, but it was clear that it supported Chavez: the Kirchners gained temporary popularity in Argentina and in turn showed him undying loyalty, defending his “revolution” in every forum of world government.

The way the money was funneled into the various countries is extremely important to understand. Chavez has always been savvy enough to maintain “plausible deniability”. That is to say, he might outwardly say that he wants to support the leftist parties in a country, but wouldn’t outwardly give the money to them. Instead, what has been learned is that the money often came directly from the coffers of the state-controlled Petroleum of Venezuela (Pdvsa), and was delivered secretly by private individuals contracted by government officials, who carried the money into the country under the guise of business discussions about oil leases and other convenient distractions. Unfortunately for Chavez, some of those suitcases of money were captured, and the whole plot was discovered.

At other times, the Circulos Bolivarianos, or “Bolivarian Circles”, were employed to this end. The Bolivarian Circles are a loosely organized system of community groups throughout the world, which claim to support underprivileged populations and provide a number of services. But they are alleged to be deeply involved in funneling money to opposition groups, to help organize and fund protest marches, even trigger riots.

In other cases, support was given as gifts of the Venezuelan government to its favored opposition leaders. This didn’t just happen in the backwaters of Latin American countries. Chavez gave cheap heating oil to the constituents of Democrat leaders in Boston and New York. He also tried to sway Native American populations in the USA with similar tactics, by donating gas or heating oil or other support.

Over the past few years, Chavez has received many visits from any number of American leaders, not to mention socialist Hollywood elite. Various members of the African National Congress have visited him, giving the impression that they not only support Chavez, but are expecting some return of favors.

Which brings me now to the events in Alabama.

According to the investigations of the Alabama Attorney General Troy King and the US Justice Department, a number of counties, whose local governments lean heavily Democrat, have been caught in a massive voter fraud scheme. The details that are being released are somewhat meager and unsatisfying. But in an interview on Fox news, AG King explained that they have discovered a pattern of vote-buying in these counties, the voters being offered between $50 and $100 to vote Democrat. What’s more, while his investigators attempted to gather information on the case, local officials in these counties actually arrested the Alabama state investigators for “harassment” of the voters who apparently accepted the bribes. King stated that he had to go to court to get his own investigators released from jail!

The method is extremely clear: the Democrat party has been encouraging its constituents to vote early via absentee ballots. This method was promoted heavily ever since the 2000 election, in which the vote was disputed in Florida, and the Democrats tried to claim that electronic voting machines were rigged by the Republicans to throw the election. So they have instead tried to get their constituents to vote by absentee ballots because—in their words—it would provide a paper trail in case of a future, contested election.

In Alabama, a number of these counties—which apparently are also predominantly black—have suddenly revealed some disturbing irregularities that suggest that something very odd is occurring. In Perry County, for example, the average number of absentee ballots cast in previous elections was close to one percent. Now, that has grown to nearly twenty five percent.
It is too early to tell exactly what is happening, but to me it’s very frightening. Where is this money coming from? Why are local officials trying to impede the investigations? Could the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who visited Chavez on private business, be at all related to the sudden appearance of money throughout mostly black precincts throughout the South?

And, since Chavez repeatedly stated that he trying to get a socialist elected in the United States, could his have anything to do with the presidential campaign of Senator Obama? Could there be a reason why Obama was able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for his campaign, while none of the other candidates could come close? Could this be the reason why Obama refused to accept public financing--contracting his previous promise to do so?

It’s far from unprecedented for the Democrats to receive illegal funds from overseas—after all, this was exactly what President Clinton did when he accepted millions of dollars from the Chinese.

So, perhaps my speculations are not too hair-brained. Only time will tell.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Second Amendment barely upheld.

If you haven’t read the Supreme Court’s decision on the Second Amendment, you should.

I'm disgusted that the decision was only 5 to 4. How can there be FOUR Supreme Court Justices who DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT THE REST OF US ALL UNDERSTAND!?

Actually, let me rephrase that. I'm sure they understand what we understand. But they have a vision for America that is different than what the founding fathers envisioned, and so they actively try to mis-interpret the constitution to fit it to their arrogant ideas.

But, anyway, I am extremely amused by the language used by Justice Antonin Scalia. It is unusual, I think, for the level of sarcasm and biting humor which appears throughout the argument. You can tell that there must have been some intense discussion between Scalia and Stevens. And it is also clear that Scalia, having garnered a majority decision, and knowing that this is a truly historic decision, enjoyed very much jabbing Stevens for his foolish attempts to creatively alter the meaning of the constitution.

Just for clarity, here is the Second Amendment:
The Second Amendment provides: “A well regulated
Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the
right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be
infringed.” In interpreting this text, we are guided by the
principle that “[t]he Constitution was written to be understood
by the voters; its words and phrases were used in
their normal and ordinary as distinguished from technical

So Stevens sets out to try to find hidden meaning in the text, by suggesting first that the phrase means that only state militia (national guard) could have weapons, and that “keep and bear” does not mean to own and carry… It becomes clear that Stevens has a desired outcome in mind and sets out to change the meaning of the words in order to fit it to the desired outcome.

And Scalia takes him to task personally.

Here are couple of jewels {bolding is my emphasis}:
In any event, the meaning of “bear arms” that petitioners
and JUSTICE STEVENS propose is not even the (sometimes)
idiomatic meaning. Rather, they manufacture a
hybrid definition, whereby “bear arms” connotes the
actual carrying of arms (and therefore is not really an
idiom) but only in the service of an organized militia. No
dictionary has ever adopted that definition, and we have
been apprised of no source that indicates that it carried
that meaning at the time of the founding. But it is easy
to see why petitioners and the dissent are driven to the
hybrid definition. Giving “bear Arms” its idiomatic meaning
would cause the protected right to consist of the right
to be a soldier or to wage war—an absurdity that no
commentator has ever endorsed. See L. Levy, Origins of
the Bill of Rights 135 (1999). Worse still, the phrase
“keep and bear Arms” would be incoherent. The word
“Arms” would have two different meanings at once:
“weapons” (as the object of “keep”) and (as the object of
“bear”) one-half of an idiom. It would be rather like saying
“He filled and kicked the bucket” to mean “He filled
the bucket and died.” Grotesque.

If “bear arms” means, as we
think, simply the carrying of arms, a modifier can limit
the purpose of the carriage (“for the purpose of selfdefense”
or “to make war against the King”). But if “bear
arms” means, as the petitioners and the dissent think, the
carrying of arms only for military purposes, one simply
cannot add “for the purpose of killing game.” The right “to
carry arms in the militia for the purpose of killing game”
is worthy of the mad hatter.
Thus, these purposive qualifying
phrases positively establish that “to bear arms” is
not limited to military use.11

The next selection is from a footnote, where Stevens was trying to twist the meaning of the amendment so that the citizen can “keep” or store a weapon but cannot “carry” or bear it:

14 Faced with this clear historical usage, JUSTICE STEVENS resorts to
the bizarre argument that because the word “to” is not included before
(whereas it is included before “petition” in the First Amendment),
the unitary meaning of “to keep and bear” is established. Post,
at 16, n. 13. We have never heard of the proposition that omitting
repetition of the “to” causes two verbs with different meanings to
become one. A promise “to support and to defend the Constitution of
the United States” is not a whit different from a promise “to support
and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
I tell you what, between the recent horrendous decision that violates state rights regarding the death penalty for child rapists, and the clear attempt by Stevens to twist the constitution, there can be no doubt that Stevens needs to be removed from the court—which is probably not possible. We definitely need to get more constructivist judges onto the court to counter Stevens and Bader.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

News Flash: Nancy Pelosi is a victim!

I saw an interesting article about Nancy Pelosi and went to the Lynn Sweet blog to read it...

Now, before you bash away at me as a "neo-con", or "mysoginist", keep in mind that I have been a Democrat for most of my life. I still have a Democrat voter registration card in my wallet.

But I've grown disgusted with the idiocy that has taken over the party, so I'll be changing party affiliations for this fall's election.

Meanwhile, the article in question reported Nancy Pelosi's statement about her being a victim of sexism. This statement reminded me of a brilliant article I read recently by Dennis Prager, which you should read. In short, Prager points to a study that indicated that Feminism itself has trained women to perceive themselves as victims. The study's author said that "the study found that girls who had a better understanding of feminism were more likely to recognize sexual harassment." Prager agrees, because, as he said "Girls subjected to feminist indoctrination are undoubtedly more likely to interpret innocuous behavior as sexual harassment. "

All you have to do is look at the definition of "sexual harassment" put forth by the study and you should see some immediate issues:
"The most commonly reported forms of sexual harassment were unwanted romantic attention, demeaning gender-related comments, teasing based on their appearance, and unwanted physical contact."

Now, let's see if we can deconstruct this:
If a boy likes a girl,but she doesn't like him, and he asks her out on a date--she should perceive herself as a victim of sexual harrassment.
If a girl is teased because she is a foot taller than her male counterparts, or dresses like a clown--she should perceive herself as a victim of sexual harrassment.
And if a male places his hand on her shoulder and she doesn't want this--she should perceive herself as a victim of sexual harrassment.

Democrats, wake up!

Can't you see how Pelosi's latest festival of self-pity follows in the wake of the comments by Ferraro, Obama, Kerry, Clinton, etc? To hear people like this--who have acquired (through democratic processes) positions such as Senator, Presidential Candidate, Representative, Speaker of the House, etc--whine and complain about how they're victims of "racism", "agism", "sexism", or whatever else is just pathetic. None of these factors kept you from becoming Senator, representative etc, but suddenly NOW they stopped you? The voters supported you before, but maybe now they don't.

How about a little honest introspection? What have YOU done differently or ineffectively?

Nancy, you are an idiot. Not a "stupid woman"...just an idiot. And by that I don't mean that you aren't intelligent--you could never have gotten to the position you're in by being a totally brainless twit. But clearly you do not think before you speak or act.

Is it sexist to suggest that your trip to Syria was STUPID? No. It was a dumb mistake. You made your party (my old party) look like idiots, since you were in such a hurry to try to highlight Bush's lack of diplomatic skill/will that you made yourself (and the Dems) look like naive children. Why did you stop with Syria? Why not do the Carter thing and go kiss Hamas leaders? Why not go to Iraq to meet with and kiss al-Qaida leaders? Oh, that's obviously stupid. Going to Syria was only a LITTLE stupid. You couldn't see at the time what bad judment it was.

So, you get back and are severely bashed for your mistake, and your defense is that you are a victim of sexism. Right...well, hey what can be expected of you, Nancy? You were TAUGHT to see yourself as a victim.

Hillary made a load of stupid mistakes that cost her dearly. And yet her response is to whine about being a victim.

What a great thing "women's liberation" did for you!

And Obama, who has befriended radical anti-Americans, made a show of NOT wearing a lapel pin (he's clearly trying to set himself apart from the rest of the Senate that DOES where one), and makes statements belittling the average American--and then when he is criticized, he evokes the specter of racism.

I guarantee that as long as you see yourself as a victim, that belief will be reaffirmed time and again. See yourself as a victor, and again, you will see that reaffirmed time and again.

I think it's hilarious: the Democrats are victims of their own victim theology. You've fallen down, and can't get up.

Who's fault is that? YOURS.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Save the world with Baby Oil

Thanks to the genius of Al Gore and his entourage of enlightened Hollywood elite, the world is now aware of its impending doom. Leftists are rallying to stop global warming caused by the world’s most dreadful pest species, homo sapiens.

The global warming threat looms over humanity at the same time that energy sources have been maxed out, causing a dreadful situation in which the world’s most important individuals, almost all of whom are California-based actors and musicians, struggle to find new sources of energy to fuel their private jets so they can continue to admonish the plebe for its persistent burning of fossil fuels in wasteful SUVs.

Recent news articles announced to the world the creative efforts of America’s best scientists to free our country from our addiction to foreign oil. First, you heard about the bacteria that devour waste and produce oil. The same week, another article explained how other scientists have figured out how to make diesel made from the bi-product of algae.

Neither of these “solutions” are viable, as pointed out by the good folks of, who point out that forcing bacteria to devour human waste is an inhumane plan by conservatives to further devalue other life forms.

Likewise, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Algae) enlightened Democratic leaders that tinkering with the genes of plants and animals is unacceptably dangerous, since it might lead to the discovery of a Gay gene, and thus a vaccine which could be used to eliminate homosexuals—all part of the same conservative plot to commit anti-queer genocide that resulted in the creation of the AIDS virus. (Kudos to Reverend Wright and Barack Obama for enlightening us on the AIDS conspiracy!)

But in a tiny laboratory hidden deep in the bowels of the University of California, Berkeley, can be found scientists who may have finally got it right and will solve all of the world’s ecological problems in one go.

Dr Sonny Sorenson, MD, has determined that large quantities of petroleum products could be generated from the waste materials from the world’s aborted fetuses. That’s right: kill your child and save the world.

Dr. Sorenson, who is also President and founder of FetusFuels Inc. says, “There are millions of unwanted children in this world who provide little or no value and are, in fact, a clear drain on both society and the natural world. Additionally, millions of unwanted fetuses are aborted annually, and their bodies dumped unceremoniously into garbage dumpsters. This is a crime: it would be much better if you gave them to me and allowed me to produce bio-fuel from the corpses.”

When asked about the morality of profiting from the murder of human fetuses, Dr. Sorenson laughs. “They are not human unless their mothers say they are, so it can’t be murder. They are actually less valuable than common bacteria, since at least most bacteria have some positive impact, while fetuses don’t contribute to the world until they’ve completed a liberal education and adopted a gay lifestyle.”

This journalist has discovered this newest form of bio-fuel is being promoted by the left-wing Hollywood elite. Rosie O’Donnell has reportedly donated $10 million to research and development of FetusFuels. She reacted angrily to questions about the morality of the proposal. “The US government killed three thousand people in the World Trade Center. The US government bombed Japan. And now you ask me about the morality of fueling my private jet with baby oil? Hypocrites!”

O’Donnell compares this latest twist in the Green Movement to Jonathon Swift’s Modest Proposal. “It was clear that Swift was progressive, and he must have been gay, since only a gay could see past the supposed value of a ‘baby’ and see it as a more valuable product.” She refers to Swift’s essay in which he suggested that the English solve their problem with the Irish by eating Irish babies. O’Donnell says that Swift’s solution, while sounding radical by today’s standards, was actually quite reasonable, given the excessive Irish fertility and generally low overall human worth. “And I’m of Irish decent, so I can say that. And if the breeders don’t like to hear it, tell them to shut the F- up!”

The latest proposal has found support from NOHW (National Oil Hating Wymyn), PIAH (People for the Immediate Annihilation of Humanity), and GLBTAIL (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Against Big Oil).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The honeymoon is over

A good friend of mine sent me an email and told me that he is about to celebrate his FIRST ANNIVERSARY! YAHOO!

That pretty much forced me to give him marriage advice.

The honeymoon is over.

It’s time to take the relationship to the next level. It’s easy to be a newlywed. Being an experience married couple requires focus, determination, and a dedication to curmudgeonly behavior.

Most newlyweds really don’t have the experience necessary to turn a truly trivial issue into a proper screaming match. Being a former teacher and corporate trainer, and an experience husband after eight years, I not only have the techniques down, but I’ve got the professional skills to teach others how to do it.

I’ve considered providing a genuine training course. Maybe a “vacation getaway” plan, or “spouse-abuse boot camp”. No, you can’t bring children or pets until you’re ready for post-graduate level courses.

Semester One:

Course 101: Intro to Arguing.
It’s not enough to disagree. Talented arguers know how to turn their beloved’s best points inside out.
Women learn how to keep track of their husbands every mistake and strategically bring them up when convenient.
Men learn how to convincingly tune their wives out, play dumb when they don’t have a ready answer, and stall for time.

Course 102: The finer points of picking nits.
Toothpaste tube squeezing techniques for dummies.
Who leaves the toilet lid up versus who leaves the lights on and which of the two is the worse offense.
How to use the remote control for maximum irritation.
Find out why “I cooked, so you clean” only works for gay couples.

Course 103: How to ruin a dream vacation.
Camping in the rainy season.
Gambling away the gas money.
Make your macho husband go to a Broadway musical.
Staring at the waitress’s ass.
Many other creative ways to ruin a vacation!

Course 104: Advanced communication skills for In-laws.
Best techniques for sharing your “plumber butt”.
The Baboon’s guide to table manners.
Let his mother know she raised an idiot.
Tactical use of sarcasm and innuendo.

Course 105 (women only): Headaches as a tool for behavior modification
Negative reinforcement is not just for rats.
Even power brokers and high-dollar lawyers will knuckle under eventually.
Find out whY there are no modern monks.

Course 106: Men don’t eat Quiche, unless they want to remain happily married
You don’t know hunger until you’ve insulted your wife’s cooking.
A lack of discretion can be a great diet plan!

Semester Two:
Course 201: (men only): Matrimonial Propaganda: Why Goebbels was a happily married man
Lies told often enough will be believed.
The propaganda uses of an action must be considered when planning that action.
Propaganda must be carefully timed.
Avoiding flattery faux-pas
The lost art of groveling, and why pride has nothing to do with happiness.

Course 202 The joys of make-up sex and how to get it.
Advanced lessons open to 21 and over. Diplomacy in the boudoirs. Men must have finished Course 201 with a passing grade.

Course 203: How to help your spouse develop a sense of humor.
Some people just can’t take a joke. Be persistent, they’ll get it eventually.
Q: “Does this dress make me look fat?” A: “No, it’s your fat ass that makes you look fat.”
Q: “Don’t you think I’d look better with a breast reduction?” A: “That might be a good start.”
Q: “How come I never get a promotion?” A: “Why don’t you tattoo your IQ on your forehead?”

Course 204: Naming a baby should stir controversy. Don’t back down!
Traditional names are for wimps and show a lack of creativity. Be unconventional!
The art of making Biblical names new: Jesusita, Sarahfina, Ismaelrulis, Paulmeliqua
The art of combining both his and her names into one:
Tomas + Mary = Tomary
Robert + Sandra = Sanbert
Francis + Lucy = Frucy
Research tools for esoteric but meaningful names.
It’s fun to name babies after plants, animals, and geographic locations.
The advanced employment of special characters to make unique names: @br@h@m. $tephen. ^atha^. Estr*lla. La’Keisha. &amuél. E-mail.

Course 205: Old Age is a long way off. Live in the moment.
You probably won’t live until retirement, so get that boat you always wanted!
Turning college into a career.
He’s got two and only needs one: How to market your children’s extra organs.

Financial aid is available, reserve your space today!

Alzheimer's Chronicles: Part I

My mother has developed early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s frustrating, and sad, but you know, if it ain’t one thing, it’s another, right? So, we can either mope around and feel sorry for ourselves, or try to find a silver-lining.

She’s living in an assisted living, actually she’s in an independent living apartment, and so she has some interesting things happen with her neighbors. This weekend she had an argument with a lady who thought my Mom was trying to steal from her storage unit. The other lady got so worked up she drove her electric scooter at my mom and hit her legs, knocked her down, and caused a general ruckus. Because the lady has been really nasty to many residents, and because she refuses to calm down and treat people nicely, and because the assisted living facility is having a hard time “getting rid of her”—the state protects her—we decided to call the police and report the incident.

The script below is a condensed version of what happened.

And in case you feel guilty: it’s OK to laugh.

Act 1, Scene 1: Mom is interviewed by Officer Lord
Two officers arrive and introduce themselves to me. It is clear that the younger of the two, Officer Lord, will be conducting the interview. The other stands quietly and sternly in the corner, watching.
Me: “Mom, please sit down, this is Officer Lord.”
Mom: “Such a handsome man. Oh yes, I know you.”
Officer Lord: “Excuse me? I don’t think we’ve met.”
Mom: “Weren’t you the man who came to help when she wrecked her lawn mower?”
Officer Lord: “Ma’am?”
Mom: “You were very nice.”
Me (shaking my head): “Mom, you’ve never met these officers.”
Mom: “I know them from somewhere.”
Officer Lord: “OK, Ma'am, please tell us about what happened.”
Mom: “Where should I start?”
Me, in a slight sing-song voice hinting at The sound of music “Do-Re-Mi” song: “Just start at the very beginning…”
Officer Lord looks at me like I’m nuts: “Just explain what happened.”
Mom: “You know, I was working in the yard—Darren has me doing that—”
Officer Lord: “Darren?”
Me: “Dorro, that’s his name. Dorro, the maintenance man.”
Mom: “Yes, right. I help Doyle because I’m so good at it, I had a big house in St Louis—”
Me: “Tulsa, Mom.”
Officer Lord: “Please don’t interrupt, Sir.”
Me: “Sorry”
Mom: “Tulsa, that’s where I’m from, but also St Louis, that’s where my Dad was from—“
Officer Lord: “So let’s get back to what happened…”
Mom: “That’s what I’m trying to do, because I had a yard—”
Officer Lord: “Ma’am, I mean with the incident.”
Mom: “What?”
Officer Lord: “With your neighbor.”
Mom: “Well, she had fallen down with her lawnmower in the yard—”
Officer Lord: “Lawnmower?”
Me: “Scooter.”
Mom: “Oh, I mean scooter. She had wrecked her scooter and was on the ground and the uh—the uh—Dole wouldn’t help her up and she was furious—”
Officer Lord: “Dole?”
Me: “Dorro, the maintenance man.”
Officer Lord takes note of the name: “Why didn’t he pick her up?”
Mom: “No, and she was so mad.”
Officer Lord looks perplexed.
Me: “It’s against their policy, to make sure they get medical attention first.”
Officer Lord: “I see.”
Mom: “And so the Post Men came—”
Officer Lord: “Post men?”
Mom: “What?”
Officer Lord: “You said the Post men came?”
Mom: “No, I meant—uhm—the Police came—”
Officer Lord: “Was this before the altercation?”
Mom: “The what?”
Officer Lord: “The argument.”
Mom: “No, the argument was later.”
Officer Lord: “So why were the Police here?”
Mom: “The police weren’t here.”
Officer Lord: “You said they were here.”
Mom: “Who?”
Officer Lord: “The Police.”
Mom: “No, no, you’re all wrong.”
Officer Lord: “But you said…”
Mom: “Darn it. They were…they had uniforms. The—er—uhm…they came in the great big red truck…”
Me: “Mom, the Fire department.”
Officer Lord gives me a disapproving scowl, but nods with understanding. His patience is waning. His partner, who had been standing in the corner, now squats down and stares at the floor. This is going to be a long one.
Mom: “Oh, yes the fire department came and they helped her up but they told her they would not get involved.”
Officer Lord: “With what?”
Mom: “With the stuff she said I was stealing.”
Officer Lord: “She said you were stealing stuff?”
Mom: “Oh, she’s an ugly, ill-mannered person. She was yelling.”
Officer Lord: “She said you were stealing?”
Mom is offended: “I’ve never stolen anything! But there was a piece of paper but it was still there.”
Officer Lord: “So why was the fire department here?”
Me: “She had driven her scooter off the edge of the sidewalk and fell over, so the assisted living employees called the fire department and they came to help.”
Officer Lord: “Oh, OK. Please don’t interrupt.”
Me: “Sorry.”
Mom looks at me, annoyed: “I’m trying to tell my story.”
Officer Lord: “Please continue.”
Mom: “So I was there and she just came at me.”
Officer Lord: “Where were you?”
Mom: “We were there in the barn.”
Officer Lord looks puzzled.
Me: “The storage unit by the garage.”
Officer Lord: “Oh. Were the firemen there?”
Mom: “Oh, no, they were gone I think.”
Officer Lord: “So this was after she crashed her scooter.”
Mom: “She is a terrible driver. She wrecks everything, the doors…”
Officer Lord: “But she crashed her scooter?”
Mom: “I said that. And she was so mad. Furious. She has a terrible temper you know.”
Me: “Mother, please get to the argument.”
Officer Lord appears annoyed with me: “So you went to the storage unit and what happened there?”
Mom: “She started yelling. She has a terrible temper. Oh, I’m sure I told you that.”
Officer Lord: “Yes ma’am. But what happened.”
Mom: “Well, she ran over me with the lawnmower.”
Officer Lord: “The scooter?”
Mom: “That’s right. Yes, that’s right, and she came right up at me and over me like this…” she moves her hands up her body as if to demonstrate the scooter driving over her.
Officer Lord: “Did it injure you?”
Mom: “I have bruises on my legs.”
The officer removes his flashlight and shines it on her legs. “I can’t see bruises.”
Mom: “They are small. I heal quickly. I have always been very healthy, even when I lived in Missouri, because I work in the yard, I like the sun you know. I was raised on a farm.”
Officer Lord clicks his radio: “This is Officer Lord, please dispatch a CSI unit to this address.”
Mom points at her bruise. “It hit me here and here.”
Officer Lord: “So when the scooter hit you—”
Mom: “It came right up me like this, and I screamed ‘you’re going to run me over!’ and it came right up like this.”
Officer Lord: “But did it knock you down or were you standing up?”
Mom: “Yes that’s right.”
Officer Lord: “But which one?”
Mom: “Which one what?”
Officer Lord is getting frustrated. “Were you standing up or sitting down.”
Mom: “We were in the storage. Why would I be sitting down?”
Officer Lord: “But then you fell down?”
Mom: “No, she knocked me down!”
Officer Lord: “She pushed you?”
Mom: “No, the lawnmower ran me over.”
Officer Lord: “Was she pushing the scooter?”
Mom: “No, she was on it.”
Officer Lord: “So she drove it into you.”
Mom: “Right, that’s what I mean.”
Officer Lord: “OK, she drove it into you.”
Mom: “Yes, and I yelled ‘you’re going to run me over!”
Officer Lord: “Was she backing up, or driving toward you?”
Mom: “It came right up my body like this.” She sweeps her hands up her chest again.
Officer Lord: “But was she facing you?”
Mom: “Well, uhm…” she closes her eyes to try to remember.
Officer Lord: “Was the scooter coming at you?”
Mom: “Oh yes, right on top of me. And I was yelling—”
Officer Lord: “But was she looking at you?”
Mom: “She was looking right at me! She did it on purpose!”
Officer Lord: “OK, Ma’am, we’ll go and talk to her…”
Mom: “She’s probably home. She sleeps all day you know. She has a—uhm—a blind dog. Well, it’s not blind, but it’s a dog.”
Officer Lord looks puzzled.
Me: “A working dog.”
Officer Lord: “A service dog?”
Me: “Yeah.”
Mom: “It’s a sweet dog. But she’s not nice. She yells and curses at her dog. She’s a terrible person.”
The CSI officer arrives.
Mom: “Goodness, another officer?”
CSI Officer: “I’m here to take pictures, ma’am.”
Mom blushes and begins to arrange her hair nervously.
CSI Officer: “I need to see the bruises on your legs.”
Mom stretches out her legs. “I shaved today.”
CSI Officer chuckles. “That’s good.” He snaps some photos of the bruises.
I turn to Officer Lord, who is taking notes.
Me: “I guess this is probably a welcome relief…no angry Crack Heads…no guns a-blazing…”
His partner responds. “I’d prefer crack heads. They’re my friends.”
Me: “Keep things interesting, I guess…”
Partner: “Yep.”
Me: “You can’t deny this is fun. Quarrelling grannies using scooters as weapons…”
The officer looks at me like I’m off my rocker.
Me: “You would have preferred a car chase.”
Partner: “That might be fun.”
Me: “Maybe that old lady will try to evade on her scooter.”
Partner: “Now you’re talking. If it evades, we will pursue.”
CSI officer: “I’ve got all the pictures I need.”
Mom: “That’s a very nice camera. I still have my Dad’s camera, you know.”
Officer Lord: “Well, thank you. I’ll go next door now.”
Mom: “Oh my. She’s going to yell.”
Me: “Can you Taser her once, just for fun?”
Officer Lord and his partner both frown at me.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Race in the race

I saw two articles today that caught my eye and kind of got my goat.
Behind the Scenes: In Barack Obama Black or Biracial?, and then Racial attitudes pose challenge for Obama.

In the first article, CNN’s Jason Carroll “explores the issue of race” and notes that it is odd for Americans to immediately call Barack Obama “Black” since he is, in reality, equally White. He says that “He may be the nation's first black president, but he would also be the nation's 44th white president.”

According to the article, Obama’s mixed race ancestry is an advantage of sorts. He quotes David Mendell, author of "Obama: From Promise to Power", who believes that “there's an idea of a ‘post-racial’ candidate, a candidate who transcends the labels of race to appeal to all races…” In this context, Obama uses “his own experiences to appeal to both black and white audiences and that has translated into political success.”

Immediately after reading that, I read the contradictory article by Charles Babington, who quotes one white Pennsylvania Democrat woman who—while claiming she won’t vote for Obama because of his lack of experience, not his race—nevertheless says that “I don’t think our country is ready for a Black President…A black man is never going to win Pennsylvania.”

The author quoted another Obama campaigner who called to gather support for Obama. "To me, it was almost a code…'He doesn't wear a flag pin.' It seemed like code for 'He's not one of us.'"

OK, so let’s look at this a little. Shall we?

What gets my goat is that there are people who just can’t get it. When a White person says “I can’t vote for him because he refuses to wear a lapel pin”, what gives a Black listener the right to say, “Ah, that’s code for ‘the dude is black’”? Why isn’t it possible that there are people who see the pattern of Obama’s church as a sign that he harbors deep seated resentment, and manifests that resentment in his choice of church, friends, and decision to not show patriotism? It is not wrong to say “I don’t want to elect a President who doesn’t even like the United States of America.”

I’m not really convinced about the woman who says “I’m not voting for him because of his politics, not because of his race…but our state will never vote black anyway.” Really? Now, that—to me—sounds like the assumption of a person with some serious denial going on.
On the one hand, it appears that Blacks had to overcome their own discriminatory beliefs before they could even support Obama. Remember those days? Back when he wasn’t “Black enough”, when he was defending himself and publicly replying by saying essentially, who gave you the right to question my ‘blackness’? Blacks either thought he was too White, or even if they thought he was “Black enough”, they didn’t think he could actually win, because they assumed that Whitey would never vote for a Black man.

Now, ignore whatever bullshit you read in the press, and just consider the facts: Whitey did vote for Obama, and in record numbers. He beat Hillary in a number of key states where it was White, urban votes that pushed him over the edge.

Let’s look in a new direction: White liberal voters, who tend to be young and well educated, are Obama’s bread and butter. Ask them why they want Obama, and you’ll hear the standard, shallow “change, change, Obama change change the thingy change no more Bush need change yes we can change.”

And I think the key to the White vote is a deep rooted desire to prove: “HEY WE REALLY DID CHANGE!”

Obama’s great strength, as Carroll pointed out, is that he can appeal to both Blacks and Whites. His cool, calm demeanor and his—do I dare say it?—eloquence enable him to convince White liberals and moderates that he is just another “guy next door”. Notice, I didn’t say Black guy next door. Just a guy they could get along with.

And yeah, you know deep down there has to be a kernel of thought that says, “Here is a candidate who is inspiring, intelligent, and yes he is Black, and I’m OK with that. And even if he isn’t very experience, I want to give him the chance, so we can REALLY get this racist legacy off our back!”

Now, you may criticize those White people for their “ulterior motive” of trying to assuage their “White guilt”, but let me ask you: is a good deed that is done in penitence any less valid than one that is done for no other reason?

Of course not. It’s White America’s redemption song.

What is wrong with Black America, that seems to think that if a Black man has a way of getting along with Whites without either offending them, or scaring them, or hurting them, then he must not be Black enough?

If you ask me, it isn’t just WHITE America that needs a little “change change change yes we can change”

Obama/Richardson negotiate with Chavez

I chuckle when I remember how—when I first considered starting a blog—I worried I wouldn’t have much to talk about. A week into this and I have to be very selective about the topics I want to tackle. There just isn’t enough time.

I’ve been really concerned for a long time about the influence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in American politics. I have good reason to be concerned.

Chavez announced, early in his Presidential career, that one of his top objectives is to get a “Bolivarian” president elected to the Whitehouse. For those who don’t know, Simon Bolivar was the great liberator of Venezuela, and Chavez has hijacked his venerable memory and uses him as his principle mascot. Thus, Chavez’s neo-Marxist movement is called the “Bolivarian Revolution”. A “Bolivarian”, thanks to the Chavista perversion of the name, is a person who sympathizes with leftist (communist/socialist) ideologies. So Chavez was essentially announcing his intention of helping install a socialist government in the USA.

Golly, gee, I must be an alarmist. Right? We, the GREAT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, have nothing to worry about from tiny little countries like Venezuela (or Iran, or Iraq…isn’t that what Obama said?).

When I hear this statement, I shudder. It is the height of arrogance to look down at nations like Venezuela or Iran and say, “that’s a tiny little nation, what can they do?”

Look at the level of disruption caused by a tiny little nation called Viet Nam back in the ‘60s. Look at how much negative and long-lasting influence a tiny and poor nation called Cuba has had in our hemisphere. Look at how the influence and strategic assistance of Fidel Castro helped launch the career of Chavez. Look how the meddling and interference of Chavez has implanted socialist governments in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Panama, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and how they are trying to do the same in Mexico, Chile, and Peru.

The fact is; Chavez has immense financial resources at his disposal. And, contrary to the ranting and raving of leftists, the United States did not use its incredible power and wealth to bully and buy out the governments of small nations in the Americas—or to be more accurate, not to the full extent that is often purported. The USA does have and use influence, but a number of US laws prevented directly influencing the politics within our neighbors. That is to say, the activities of US citizens is curtailed so that they cannot bribe, blackmail, or otherwise directly “purchase the favors” of foreign governments.

I’m not saying that there are no corrupt individuals out there, but as a matter of policy and official behavior, it is a no-no.

Chavez, on the other hand, has directly influenced elections in multiple countries (see the list above). The most notorious cases involve money funneled directly into Ecuador, Bolivia, and Argentina, in order to finance the campaigns of Chavez’s socialist friends. In Ecuador, I have good reason to believe that Chavez bribed the military to overthrow the government of Lucio Gutierrez (I’ll post a detailed story about why I believe this to be true), and in Argentina, an alert (and rather beautiful) Airport security guard captured a suitcase with money smuggled by Venezuelan agents into Argentina with the purpost of secretly financing the presidential campaign of Kristina Fernandez de Kircher.

So as I watch Obama’s election campaign and see how he has miraculously collected hundreds of millions of dollars, out-raising even the famous Clintons by a factor of ten to one, I can’t help but wonder: where is all that money coming from?

Now I hear that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (who is a rumored possible Vice Presidential candidate for Obama) has gone (quietly) to Venezuela to talk to Chavez about releasing the US hostages...and Chavez then makes this demand.

According to a respected Venezuelan journalist, Nelson Bocaranda Sardi, June 6 2008 (I’ve included the Spanish text of his article below), Richardson and Chavez discussed in detail how to leverage Chavez’s influence with the FARC in order to obtain the strategic release of three American contractors that have been held by the FARC for a number of years. They hope that the FARC will be willing to show a “good will gesture” for Obama during the election year, and release the hostages in an arrangement that simulates the infamous arrangements between former President Reagan and the Iranian revolutionaries who had taken American hostages at the Embassy, in what is commonly called the October Surprise Theory.

Let’s be clear: this sort of “good will” gesture is never done out of good will alone. Reagan was alleged to have agreed to give Iran weapons and to unfreeze their assets.

So, you have to wonder what sort of quid pro quo is being promised by Obama and Richardson. Could it have something to do with pulling support away from Colombian President Uribe? Or might it suggest that they would take pressure off Chavez?

Without any doubt, there is a lot of politics going on here, and you can bet that Obama/Richardson are promising to support and defend Chavez if he helps them with a November surprise to release the hostages.

Nelson Bocaranda Sardi, RUNRUNES

REHENES GRINGOS: La visita del gobernador de Nuevo México -ex precandidato del partido demócrata, ex secretario de Energía en el gobierno de Bill Clinton y quien apoya prominentemente al ya candidato Barack Obama- al presidente Chávez para conversar sobre la suerte de los tres contratistas estadounidenses secuestrados por las FARC desde hace unos años y que tuvo ribetes novelescos. Por un lado el gobernador, amigo de Alí Rodríguez cuando éste era ministro de petróleo, trajo un guante de beisbol firmado por algún integrante del equipo de Colorado y en su conversación en español abordó temas de mutuo interés. Chávez le pidió que le informara en detalle del proceso electoral norteamericano y le asegurara que el Partido Republicano no tenía posibilidades de ganar en noviembre. El caso de los rehenes fue abordado y el venezolano le explicó su problema con Uribe y el tema del intercambio humanitario. Chávez le confirmó que él siempre había estado buscando la liberación de esos contratistas. Allí se asomó la posibilidad (todo esto antes de los últimos acontecimientos negativos para los guerrilleros) de que la guerrilla tenga un gesto de buena voluntadpara con el candidato demócrata -bien cuando sea nombrado en la convención de Denver o si llegara a ser electo Presidente- liberando a los tres ciudadanos gringos. Nada de hacerle un favor a Bush por parte de ellos. Se copiarían la situación vivida por Jimmy Carter con los rehenes estadounidenses en Irán que no fueron liberados sino al minuto después de juramentado Ronald Reagan como presidente. Richardson está buscando ser designado secretario de Estado en un eventual gobierno de Obama. Lo que quedó claro para el gobernador es que el presidente venezolano, dentro de su permanente doble lenguaje, sí está interesado en solucionar ese caso. Para las FARC estos tres secuestrados han sido un perfecto paraguas protector para evitar incursiones del Ejército colombiano que los ha tenido cercados en dos oportunidades, pero por no arriesgar las vidas del trío se han replegado. Sigue insistiendo...

Friday, June 6, 2008

You know, I just had to laugh when I saw this.

I was shopping for pijamas for my wife this past winter, and was wondering if they had any at Walmart.
Now, normally, when you think of a gift for your wife, you probably don't think of clothes from Walmart. That's not the sort of gift that will win you accolades and send her off to sing your praises at the next Longaberger party.

But heck, it was just PJs, you know?

I found the Walmart sizing charts and low and behold, they had this lovely little image to explain how to size women's apparrel.

Here's my question: have you EVER seen a woman at Walmart that has these proportions?

I mean, please. This outline, not to mention the pose, reminds me more of a Bond girl than your normal Walmart shopper.

You better cast a Black Snow-White!

In my first blog, I analyzed the senior thesis of Michelle Obama, and discussed the absurd notion apparently put forth by Black “sociologists” that demand that White schools and other institutions actively promote “Black Culture”, draw attention to Blacks in History, and—even when Blacks are a tiny minority of the population within the institution—ensure that programmed non-academic activities should not “systematically follow the interest of Whites.”

In other words, even if 90% of the students are White, it’s just wrong not to plan things that Blacks will want to do. It might make them feel bad.

This demand is patently absurd. It’s obvious that in schools in California, for example—the Asian and Hispanic student population might be much larger than that of Blacks, so wouldn’t it make more sense to plan non-academic events for them? But then, wouldn’t Blacks feel left out again?

It reminds me of my little niece who, at the age of six, demanded that all visitors to her house stop their conversations and sit down to watch the movie of her choice. She just wouldn’t shut up and let the adults talk, she demanded that everyone participate in what she thought was entertaining, and damn it, if you didn’t do it, she was gonnna yell, scream and cry until her needs were attended to.

Now, that may seem a little harsh. Yeah, I know. Blacks suffered at the hands of White bigots and were marginalized in various ways. OK. So I think it’s great that there are people attempting to draw attention to the historic travesties that were inflicted on Blacks. Films like “Roots”, the “Color Purple”, “The Tuskegee Airmen”, and others have shed light on some very sad and even uplifting historical stories. And it’s not just Black directors who are contributing. Clint Eastwood directed a fantastic movie about Charlie Parker called “Bird”.

But now we have Spike Lee insulting Eastwood’s masterpiece film, “Flags of Our Fathers”.

In case you didn’t see it, “Flags of our Fathers” is about the young marines who raised the U.S. flag over Iwo Jima following a brutal battle. The event was captured in a one of the war’s most striking photographs, later converted into the Marine Corp War Memorial statue that is world-famous. Most of the men who participated died soon after the photo was taken. The ones that didn’t were employed as a propaganda tool to try to rally waning public support from the war-weary country at the end of the Pacific campaign. One of the flag raisers was an American Indian, and was prominently portrayed in the movie.

So what’s Spike’s beef?

None of them was black. Of course, historically--that's accurate.

Spike wants to point out that, in the entire film that Eastwood directed, he never once portrayed the Black munitions unit that was involved in the protracted battle. Lee found the lack of Black soldiers to be unacceptable. He complained, "That was his version. The negro version did not exist."

Eastwood’s response is perfectly logical: the film wasn’t about the black munitions corp. It was about the men who raised the flag, were turned into heroes and propaganda spokesmen, and about what became of their lives. Oh, and by the frickin' way, Spike: THEY WERE NOT BLACK.

Eastwood further stated, “If I go ahead and put an African-American actor in there, people'd go, 'This guy's lost his mind.' I mean, it's not accurate."

Eastwood is totally correct. The movie is not about whether or not there were Black soldiers at Iwo Jima. But to radical Blacks, historical accuracy is not what is important: they want to be the center of attention, even when it’s not appropriate.

So, just like my little niece, the world needs to stop its grownup talk about nuclear disarmament, dwindling energy sources and skyrocketing food costs, and never mind Global Warming.

But you damn well better pay attention to the one thing that counts: Blacks have played a role in History.

Now I know why Kevin Costner created a role for a Black Moor (Morgan Freeman) in Robin Hood:

To keep Spike Lee off his ass!

So, the next time anyone thinks about doing a Snow-White redux, just remember:


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Democrats need to get it right on Chavez

For over six years, the Florida-based non-profit organization, Free Venezuela, Inc. worked to complete its mission of educating the American public and elected officials about the ongoing socio-political crisis in Venezuela. Six years ago, our warnings that Hugo Chavez posed a real and present danger to the National Security of the United States, and to regional stability and development, were met with skepticism.

But time proved us correct.

One would have to be living in a cave to not be aware of the multiple and serious international complaints against the government of Hugo Chavez, its expansionist policies, repeated interventions in the internal affairs of surrounding sovereign nations, weapons accumulation, ties to terrorist and violent revolutionary groups, and other threatening actions and policies.

During the height of the 2004 Presidential campaign, Free Venezuelan leadership analyzed the positions of the candidates (George Bush and John Kerry) with regard to their positions on the looming crisis in Venezuela, and made friendly contacts within both camps, in order to ensure that the candidates were fully informed about the situation and hopefully would include the crisis in their policy statements.

To our great pleasure, the Kerry campaign responded by publishing a very brave statement that criticized many of the Chavez regime’s most nefarious actions and let it be known that, were he elected, John Kerry would keep a close watch on the developing situation. This comment was widely commented on by the Hispanic population in Florida. After all, Chavez’s policies have direct and dire implications for not just the Venezuelan community, but for Colombians, Bolivians, Ecuadorians, Mexicans, and—most importantly considering their numbers as voters in Florida—the Cubans. It highlighted the Bush administrations lack of leadership in the hemisphere. And it also sent a very powerful signal directly to Hugo Chavez: Americans of both parties see through the propaganda, and recognize that the Chavez policies are destructive to region stability.

Looking forward

As the 2008 elections loom near, Republican Presidential John McCain has taken a hard line against Cuba and Venezuela.
Arizona Senator has called Cuba "a national security threat," adding that "as president, I will not passively await the long overdue demise of the Castro dictatorship ... The Cuban people have waited long enough." He is an adamant supporter of Colombia’s President Uribe, who has enjoyed striking successes in his long battle against the FARC terrorists, and whose economy is expanding healthily thanks to trade agreements with the USA.

This stance is arguably the right position. Quite distressingly, the Democratic leadership embodied by the two frontrunners, Senators Clinton and Obama, initially made very lackluster statements to the effect that they would be willing to meet with Chavez either without conditions, or with only some pre-conditions. There has been very little willingness to confront the Chavez regime for its roll-back of constitutional protections, meddling in the affairs of other nations, questionable alliances with powers hostile to the United States, massive weapons purchases, etc.

Now that Senator Obama has apparently acquired the official candidacy for the Democrats, he has now begun to take a more hard line position on Venezuela. He is in a very weak position, however. His longstanding pacifist policies make any hawkish stance seem to be worthless saber-rattling.

Obama’s weak and waffling positions reinforce the stereotype that the Democratic leadership is lacking clarity, conviction, and spine.

How can the Democratic leadership claim to have international diplomatic skills and yet be so glaringly unaware of the dangers that are lurking in our own hemisphere? They should not be afraid to criticize Chavez’s policies, since by doing so they would be the good company of so many current and former heads of state. Even his some of his former international allies, Zapatero (Spain) and Da Silva (Brazil) have joined the chorus, with President Lula Da Silva stating that “it is a danger for Brazil and for Latin America for there to be a military power installed in the continent. An arms race would oblige us to divert funds from social spending to ensure military balance.”

The interventionist policies of Chávez government has had nefarious impacts on numerous nations in the hemisphere. From Ecuador to Mexico, Bolivia to Argentina, and especially in neighboring Colombia, there is a growing outcry that Chávez has illicitly funneled millions of dollars into those nations to influence elections and strengthen leftist groups across the region.
In the most recent and most infamous case, the FBI has concrete evidence that the Chávez government covertly funneled large sums of money into Argentina to influence the election of Kristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The implications are frightening: the Castro-Chávez axis is using Venezuelan petro-dollars to destabilize the region and influence elections. In December, 2007, Chávez even had the temerity to threaten creating a “violent revolution” in Bolivia if the opposition there did not quit battling President Evo Morales.

The Democrats, who should be publicly laying claim to a long heritage of Diplomatic leadership in the Americas, are instead abdicating this leadership role to the more belligerent Republican Party. The Democrats must find a way to stand strong on international issues of national security and regional stability, but do so in a way that differentiates them from the more bellicose Republicans.

A proposal to the Democratic Leadership

So what can the Democrats do that will achieve the goals of 1) gathering Latino Votes to their party, 2) demonstrate consistency in their philosophy and policy, 3) showcase their resolve in tough international issues and diplomatic skills?

The solution is by taking an international leadership stance that offers a roadmap to actionable diplomatic solutions, which embodies the Democratic traditions, rather than bellicose saber rattling, which has typified the Republican approach.

Step One: Lead in the world bodies.

In keeping with the traditional Democratic philosophies to avoid violent conflict by allowing established world bodies to settle disputes and put constructive pressure on potentially dangerous governments, the Democratic presidential candidates should write a joint statement calling on the Organization of American States to hold an emergency session and consider applying the OAS Charter to the Venezuelan crisis.

A number of Latin American leaders have stated their frustration with the lack of action from the OAS. Most recently Bolivian ex-President Jorge Quiroga stated that Chavez has the majority of OAS member states under his control thanks to his use of petroleum as a weapon, and that the OAS is not living up to its mission.

Step Two: Involve former heads of state to create a strong, international approach with experienced, respected Latin American leaders.

Democrats should organize an international forum of former and current Latin American Presidents to air their complaints about the policies of the Chavez regime and to highlight their concerns about the consequences of the policies, as well as to propose legal, peaceful and diplomatic solutions.

Suggested participants; Arias (Costa Rica), Uribe (Colombia), Gutiérrez (Ecuador), Quiroga (Bolivia), Lagos (Chile), García (Perú), Toledo (Perú), Saca (El Salvador), and Aznar (Spain), Zapatero (Spain) and Da Silva (Brazil).

Step Three: Call for a study of the increasing regional militarization and imbalance and seek active policies to reverse the trend.

A number of Latin American Presidents, from Uribe in Colombia to Lula da Silva in Brazil, have remarked that they are concerned about the Venezuelan military buildup. Huge arms purchases from Russia, China, Belarus, and other nations should concern all Americans. Make policy proposals that would help neighboring nations correct the military imbalance that is being created.

Step Four: Take a leadership role in supporting the Venezuelan civil society that is attempting to defend its space within the society and guarantee the continuance of liberty and human rights.
The Democrats should request testimony before congress from independent organizations to provide unbiased reports about human rights violations, state sanctioned acts of violence, assaults on freedom of expression and the free press, and other undemocratic irregularities.

The Democrats could also propose a change in immigration policy to provide Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans who are fleeing the increasing political repression, social chaos and violence in their nation.

Step Five: Call for investigations of the consistent and repeated accusations that the Venezuelan electronic electoral system has been rigged to allow the Central Government to control election results.

In conclusion

Up until now, the republican administration has neglected the situation, but the aggressive comments from McCain suggest that he may make it an election issue to highlight Obama's lack of experience.

The Democrats have got to find a way to appear to lead on these issues. Up until now, they have not been able to figure out what to do.

Venezuelan Presidential Recall Referendum Observation report

I had the great honor to serve as an independent election observer for the Venezuelan Recall Referendum a few years ago. I had been invited to serve by the Opposition due to my work against Chavez.

The following is my report delivered to Florida Senator Bill Nelson.

Subject: Venezuelan Presidential Recall Referendum, as seen by US International Observers Curtis Reed and Steve Henley.

Dear Senator Nelson and Congressman Wexler:

As you know, Steve Henley (Democratic candidate for Supervisor of Elections, Hillsborough) and I were in Venezuela as international observers with the invitation of the Democratic Coordinator.

During the RRP, we traveled around to between 18 and 25 voting centers, so many we lost count. We saw a great many irregularities in the processes, actions that here in the United States would immediately be called a fraud. As you read the list below, please ask yourselves the following question:

If, during the November 2004 election in the United States, we were witness to similar behaviors perpetrated by the current administration against the Democratic opposition, would we or would we not decry that the government had committed a massive fraud?

  • In the days leading up to the election, President Chavez had warned that with the Finger Print machines and the Smartmatic machines, he would know who voted against him. This was threat to the opposition, intended to intimidate the opposition. Remember that during the Referendum signature drive, voters were government employees and who signed against the government were fired en masse.*
  • The CNE's Junta Nacional Electoral President Jorge Rodriguez made comments to the public about the norms and processes while flanked by military Generals, another tactic apparently designed to intimidate the opposition by demonstrating that he had been given control of the military.
  • The government ordered the police to remain in their barracks, leaving the people unprotected.
  • In the opposition areas, the Chavistas operated with impunity, riding around threatening the people with arms, and in some cases firing on them. Meanwhile, in the "popular" sectors of town, the police were out of their barracks, apparently to help the government control the vote.
  • We were threatened on several occasions, at least once with pistols concealed under the shirts of Chavistas who yelled threats and showed us their weapons.
  • When we went into the 23 de Enero barrio, Chavistas working in the voting area turned into rabble-rousers and tried to stir the crowd into attacking us. The Plan República troops did nothing to stop them, and when our safety was in question, they escorted us out. We could no longer observe the many irregularities in the area.
  • We videotaped the damages to the home of the Primero Justicia coordinator, whose house was machine-gunned at around 3:00 AM of the morning of the Referendum. We witnessed that the government summarily fired thousands of poll workers previously accredited by the CNE, simply because they had signed the referendum against the president. In their place, the CNE actively hired pro-government workers that they called directly (in violation of the CNE's own election norms that stated that they had to be selected by "sorteo", or random drawing), and they brought in workers from other districts to work in the mostly opposition areas, and other clear violation of the norms.
  • We saw that the Comando Maisanta had obtained illegal "Security" badges and had illegally set up cordons and were blocking the entrance to the voting centers to members of the opposition (in the mostly Chavista centers, such as Catia)!
  • We received first hand reports from witnesses who saw armed Comando Maisanta and Circulos Bolivarianos posted outside voting centers, threatening the people who tried to vote SI (Yes, against the president).
  • We responded to one area in 23 de Enero and found that the reports were true and that there was indeed a circle of supports stopping people from entering until they had sworn allegiance to the president.
  • We witnessed military officers prohibiting the vote of people in the opposition areas because they were "wearing shorts", a violation of the constitution and their human rights.
  • Thousands of voters who voted SI, were physically assaulted at the voting centers. There were some actually shot.
  • We were informed by an elderly woman that when she asked for assistance voting in a mostly Chavista area, a CNE voting officer asked her: "You need help voting?" then pushed the NO button for her and said: "There."
  • Armed officialist "terrorists" of the Bolivarian Circles led by Lina Ron invaded a voting center in Avenida Urdaneta, of the Libertador Municipality in Caracas, and only allowed government supporters to vote. These terrorists fired their guns at the opposition that tried to vote.
  • We saw that the military controlled the flow of people into the voting areas and slowed down the progress until we arrived. Witnesses heard them radio to their comrades that "International Observers have arrived. Speed up the flow." They then gave orders to change the flow of voters from 5 or so every 10 minutes, to groups of 30.
  • Voting centers (in opposition areas) that normally had up to 9 tables were reduced to only 3 tables.
  • The CNE dictated norms detailing the anticipated behavior of CNE employees in general and in certain possible contingencies, such as machine malfunction (by both the Smartmatic SAES machines and the Finger Print machines).
  • CNE workers refused to follow the CNE changes to the norms to either stop using the Finger Print machines when they malfunctioned, or, when it was determined that the machines were becoming a bottle-neck to the process, the CNE ordered that they be used as a final process or stopped, but the CNE employees adept to the government refused to obey the orders.
  • Sixty CNE workers who were required to run the Finger Print Hunting machines (Caza Huellas) failed to report to duty on time, in violation of the CNE norms. This caused great delays in the voting process.
  • Other CNE workers refused to open the voting centers on time, causing delays of up to three or four hours.
  • CNE workers friendly to the government closed the polls at the wrong times, ignoring the Norms created by the CNE.
  • Many voters who provided their fingerprints were told that they had already voted and could not vote. Some of these voters were arrested. A Chavista table witness told us that she had personally told an elderly woman (in her seventies) whose fingerprint was rejected that she could not vote because she had already voted and accused her of trying to commit fraud. When we asked her if she knew that the machines had a margin of error and that the poor woman might have been wrongly accused of fraud, she told us she had not been told of that.
  • We used stopwatches to time the flow of voters. In predominantly Chavista areas, we saw that the flow was rapid (roughly 1.5 to 2 minutes per voter). In areas that were predominantly opposition, the voting rate was much slower (between 5 and 10 minutes per voter).
  • International Observers were blocked from entering some voting centers.
  • In some voting centers, the review process was started without the presence of Opposition witnesses to guarantee transparency.
  • Opposition witnesses and table members were physically removed from voting centers or blocked from entering and guaranteeing transparency.
  • In the months leading up to the Referendum, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of foreigners were given citizenship and immediate voting rights in massive ceremonies that literally filled stadiums, in violation of the immigration laws. These expeditiously nationalized people were allowed to vote in the referendum.
  • In the days leading up to the vote, the CNE workers migrated voters out of their home districts and into districts many miles from their residences, sometimes into other countries.
  • A pattern was discovered indicating that many voters were migrated from mostly Opposition areas into areas filled with government supporters. These areas are lawless and extremely dangerous, and many voters chose not to vote rather than risk their lives.
  • When pro-government voters did not appear on the voting lists, in many cases they were immediately provided with a solution at that center and allowed to vote.
  • Contrarily, opposition voters who were not on the lists were told they simply could not vote.
  • Pro-government representatives paid money to voters who indicated that they had voted NO.
  • We received denunciations that the military members who wanted to vote had to do so with their superior officers watching their selection.
  • After the tabulation of the votes, citizens from many centers are reporting that the Voter Verifiable Paper Trail tickets printed by the machines have been found dumped in the streets
  • The CNE workers in charge of safeguarding the materials failed to complete their duties after the end of the referendum, since reports have flooded in that indicate that the Voter Verifiable Paper tickets were found dumped in the streets of some barrios.
  • The CNE repeatedly issued statements that contradicted the Venezuelan Bolivarian Constitution, limiting the rights of suffrage in unconstitutional ways. Regarding the suffrage rights of citizens living abroad, for example, the CNE said that only citizens living with permanent residence in those countries could vote, and that people with extended tourist visas could not vote. Only in the last days before the referendum, when it was too late for citizens living abroad to register to vote, did the CNE change its position and state that they determined that the Constitution allowed for citizens on Tourist Visas to vote. However, they still denied the right of suffrage to Venezuelan citizens living abroad whose residency status was out of date, which still remains hotly contested as a constitutional violation.
  • Despite these attempts to limit the access to vote, the voters remained in line heroically. They organized support teams bringing food, water, chairs, umbrellas/parasols, music, board games, radios, and everything else you can imagine to keep people's spirits up. Some waited in line to vote for up to 14 hours, and absolutely refused to leave. When I asked the people if they would get tired and leave, the answer was ALWAYS the same: "I will die in this line before I leave!"
  • There actually were voters shot in line. For those who were shot while waiting in line, this statement of determination became a prediction of their real fate. These people have become martyrs for democracy, and we should not abandon them.


As a general standard by which to examine the activities and determine if they can be considered Fraudulent, the Florida Department of State defines Voter Fraud as "intentional misrepresentation, trickery, deceit, or deception, arising out of or in connection with voter registration or voting".

According to these standards (which by their nature of being US laws are not applicable to Venezuela but at least give us a standard by which to examine the activities), we can come to an initial conclusion that the behaviors would, at least in the United States, be considered fraudulent behavior. Article 216, number 2 of the Venezuelan Organic law of Suffrage and Political Participation states that the election shall be nullified;

"Whenever there has occurred fraud, coercion, bribery or violence in the formation of the Registro Electoral, in the elections or in the examination of results and said vices affect the result of the election involved."

This law consecrates the nullification of the election for vices produced in various aspects of the electoral exercise such as the formation of the electoral registry, the voting procedures and scrutiny of results. Venezuelan jurisprudence established precedence for the nullification of election results in the Organic Law of Suffrage (1993) when it can be demonstrated that the vices in the electoral exercise have a direct affect on the end result of the election, that being the total result of the election after examining the final vote count. The Venezuelan Opposition legal teams will have to work to determine if the fraud currently evidenced by the many irregularities meets these standards, but a quick examination of the election results suggest that there was indeed fraud as determined by Venezuelan organic law.

After personally witnessing the process, our organization has decided to divide the analysis into two separate areas and provide separate conclusions on each.

Electoral Processes and Procedures: We are able to confidently state, without fear of unfair bias, following close study of the CNE's voting norms and the Venezuelan Bolivarian Constitution, that the Venezuelan government, military services (Plan República) and its closely allied civil organizations (Comando Maisanta and Circulos Bolivarianos), did regularly and knowingly violate the Constitutional Protections, Electoral Norms, and Human Rights of the Venezuelan opposition electorate in a manner that is consistent with an attempt to change the election results. It is difficult at this juncture to tell if these tactics had any effect on the election, since the voters were so determined to withstand the intimidation, long delays and other tactics employed to try to disenfranchise them. We, the Directors of Free Venezuela, denounce the fraud (or attempted fraud) committed by the Venezuelan government and its supporters in the military and civilian organizations.
Electronic Vote Manipulation:

There are a number of other irregularities in the results that indicate that the machines were used to manipulate the election results, and that this manipulation of results would have been sufficient to change the end results of the election. If the Venezuelan opposition is able to demonstrate this, and if we find that the machines were indeed used to commit a fraud, we shall immediately request an investigation in the United States Congress and Senate of the Smartmatic Company and, as we have indicated previously, will propose application of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to the company's officers.

Michelle Obama’s Princeton senior thesis: an analysis

Michelle Obama’s Princeton senior thesis: an analysis
By Shakedown Crews
For the subject of my first Blog, I wanted to spend a little time on an issue that has been touched on by the mainstream media (Politico), but not in great depth. It interests me because, as a former White liberal and Democrat, I have always had an interest in race relations in our country. I had considered it part of my duty as a citizen to try to mend fences, as it were, and to do what I could to help heal our society.
A number of issues over the past ten years have made me considerably more conservative. But I am still interested in race relations in the USA. My perspective on what to do and how to do it has changed. But I still read on the topic and try to educate myself.
Most recently, I read Juan William’s book, ENOUGH, in which he explores the wonderful ideology and activism of one of my current heroes, Bill Cosby. I won’t go into great depth on that book in this blog entry. In short, Williams and Cosby have a message for the Black community: Clean up your act, take responsibility, and quit waiting for someone else (Black “leaders”, the government, etc) to raise you up.
Now, in the meantime, I was carefully observing the 2008 Presidential campaign of Barak Obama, and I was alarmed by a number of “indicators” I saw that suggested that—although he hopes to be a “great uniter”—he actually harbors secret radical ideologies that may divide the country. His long-term association with Reverend Wright, whose extremist views are based upon the Black Liberation Theology, concerned me greatly. Black Liberation Theology is not an ideology that promotes the idea, to quote African-American taxi driver Rodney King who was beat by Los Angeles police, “Why can’t we all just get along?” No, the Liberation Theology was based upon Marxist theories of class warfare, and Black Liberation Theology added the element of Race to that notion of warfare. The result is a rather toxic cocktail that calls Whites “the devil” because of the legacy of slavery. It conveniently overlooks the thousands of years’ traditions in Africa in which Slavery was a common practice, and instead conveniently dumps the evil upon the White doorstep alone.
So for a U.S. Senator to attend—over twenty years—a church whose leader was an extremely controversial proponent of extremist and divisive thought, should have set off alarm bells much earlier than it did.
Obama tried to distance himself from his pastor—without actually leaving the church—by stating that he was retiring and a new and wonderful pastor was coming. But when the new pastor invited another radical Priest (this time a Catholic priest) who expressed more of the same Liberation Theology radicalism from the pulpit and accused Obama’s democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, of being a White Supremacist, Obama finally had to leave the church. Too little, too late, but that’s just an indication of his poor judgment, isn’t it?
So in this context, the country has been wondering why Obama would hang out with this kind of people if—as he repeatedly says—he doesn’t believe it.
When his wife, Michelle Obama made a public gaffe by saying that “for the first time in my adult life I’m proud of my country”, much was made of the statement because it clearly showed a lack of patriotism on her part.
That statement caught my interest, because I was pretty sure we could surmise what she meant, but we needed additional evidence.
That evidence became available when Michelle Obama’s (her maiden name was Robinson, but I’ll refer to her by her current name for this essay) Princeton senior thesis paper was made public.
Well, it was sort of made public, by Politico. You see, the thesis was stored in the library, entitled “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community”. In that essay, Obama states:
“I hereby declare that I am the sole author of this thesis.
I authorize Princeton University to lend this thesis to other institutions or individuals for the purpose of scholarly research.”
Apparently, that thesis was not made available for journalistic research. As reported by Politico,
“The 96-page Princeton thesis, restricted from release by the school's Mudd Library, has also been the subject of recent scrutiny….Attempts to retrieve the document through Princeton proved unsuccessful, with school librarians having been pestered so much for access to the thesis that they have resorted to reading from a script when callers inquire about it. Media officers at the prestigious university were similarly unhelpful, claiming it is ‘not unusual’ for a thesis to be restricted and refusing to discuss ‘the academic work of alumni.’
Politico did a two-page analysis of the thesis, which I did not find gratifying; I wanted to know more, and I think you might also. I should note that the 1985 essay is now quite old, and gosh, you know, I held some pretty stupid ideas when I graduated from university at the tender age of 24…or was that 26? So let’s not condemn Obama strictly by the text of the essay, but if we connect the dots between what her Pastor has said, what she has said, her husband’s refusal to wear a lapel pin, and what she wrote in her essay, we can see fairly clearly what her ideologies are.
And she hints that she is a segregationist. Oh, I’m sorry, I mean separationist.
I took time to read the essay, and did a little analysis of it, so you won’t have to. You can thank me later.
The basic premise of the 1985 essay was to Interview blacks who were graduates of the majority-white Princeton University, most of whom attended the school during the ‘70s at the height of the civil rights movement, and to find out
“to which degree they are comfortable interacting with Black and with White individuals…; the extent to which they are motivated to benefit the black community…; the ideologies they hold with respects to race relations between Black and White communities; and the feelings they have toward the black lower class such as a feeling they should help improve the lives of this particular group of Blacks.”
She specifies that
“It is important to understand what will happen to blacks that attend white schools: “will they feel any obligation … to help other Blacks… who are less fortunate than themselves?”
Obama gives some theoretical/ideological background for her approach, which is in itself quite telling. She starts by exploring the “Separationism/Pluralism and Integrationism/Assimilation” paradigm. She explains it thusly:
“The idea of Separationism and Pluralism …is…discussed by Billingsley (1968) who believes that there is a need for Blacks to build up their own communities; define themselves by new “Black” standards different from old White standards; and exercise power and control over their own institutions and services within the Black community…Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton’s (1967) developed definition of separationism in their discussion of Black Power which guided me in the formulation and use of this concept in the study. ‘The concept of Black Power rests on the fundamental premise: Before a group can enter the open society, it must close ranks. By this we mean that group solidarity is necessary before a group can operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralist society.”
I’ll return to this concept later, because it poses some incredible contradictions and traps for the Black community.
To get her respondent’s input on this issue, she formulated the following question:
Question # 4. “How would you describe the views you held during the three periods [pre-Princeton, Princeton, Post-Princeton] about relations between Blacks and Whites in the U.S.
Very strongly Separationist and/or Pluralist
Moderately Separationist and/or Pluralist
Moderately integrationist and/or assimilationist
Very strongly integrationist and/or assimilationist”
I find it very interesting that this Thesis was written in 1985. I am curious to know how it was that the Black community managed to go from being 100% focused on achieving desegregation in the late 1960’s, to the point that by the mid 1980’s they were discussing Separationist policies.
Oh, and how is separationism different from segregation? Could it mean: “Separated—on our terms” perhaps?
Contrasting the Separationist ideology, Obama very briefly explores the notion of Integrationist ideology, but surprisingly does not provide any real detail or even a quotation by one of its preeminent proponents. I would interpret that to mean that she is not very interested in the arguments posed by the integrationists.
She does, however, go into depth about the difficulties that Black students face at “White” universities.
“Dejoie believes that ‘Institutional policies of predominately White universities have established practices which favor the prefered [sic] groups and have ranked priorities which are meant to facilitate the tasks and improve the conditions of White students while ignoring the needs of the black students’. Dr. Dejoie goes on in her study to discuss the effects of biased curricula which does not encourage, ‘…the contribution of Blacks, the study of Blacks, as a group’.”
This quote is very telling. Apparently, “White schools” don’t focus enough attention on Blacks and their “contribution”. Presumably, Black sociologists believe that schools need to formulate assertive policies to force Whites to focus on the accomplishments of Blacks in history.
The curricula of most schools generally focus on events, players, causes, effects, and results. A history course that explores the rise and fall of the Third Reich should focus on the historical context of the war, the factors that led up to the war, the events during the war, how and why the Nazi regime collapsed, and the major players during the war.
But should special focus on the Black group of pilots called the Tuskegee Airmen really be a required central focus? Why focus on Blacks, then, instead of Japanese-Americans who contributed? Are Japanese groups clamoring for equal attention? Why not focus on Hispanics who fought in the war (are there Mexican-American or Puerto Rican groups protesting)? And what about the Native-American contribution? Oh wait…have I just lost focus on the primary purpose of the course—“The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”?!
This discussion goes on:
“Dejoie also discusses the negative aspects of social and non-academic activities…: “As in academic areas, the social aspects of university life systematically follow the interests of the White students—the majority group”.
Now, this is pretty amazing. Think about it. Obama must agree with Dejoie (since she feels the need to quote Dejoie), when she criticizes “White Schools” because the social life “systematically follow[s] the interest of the White [majority] students”.
And what would you reasonably expect…that the majority White school systematically create social aspects appropriate for Pacific Islanders, Vietnamese or Japanese? No, of course not. So are they saying that it’s only Blacks who need to be accommodated, because they are a special minority?
Or are they saying that Blacks should not attend majority White schools because social life follows the interest of White students. What should “White” schools do to correct this? “Systematically” promote “Black culture”? And what exactly would that look like? If a White school organized Brake-Dance parties or Krumping sessions, they’d be attacked for their insensitive racial stereotyping.
By the way, what are “White interests”? I thought Americans of many races shared interests in football, basketball, music, art, theatre…for that matter, what are the “Black interests” that are not being addressed and can only be done at a Black school? This is fascinating to me. I’d never categorized my interests by racial lines. From my (obviously skewed) perspective, whenever I’ve seen kids get together to explore music, computers, robots, rockets, or whatever, it was the subject that drew them in, and the racial identity of the participant was irrelevant.
The only time “race” has ever become relevant to “interests” is when it is so obvious that the participant’s ethnicity is rare for the interest. Think that’s racist? Then consider Jamaican Bobsledders. Now, why would it be racist for someone to be fascinated in such a concept? There is such an obvious disconnect between the nationality and the environment from which they come, and the very nature of the sport. Black skiers are another rarity. So much so, they have formed their own non-profit organization to promote the sport. Are they racist for noticing that few of their own have explored the sport, or are we racist for noticing how rare it is to see Blacks on the slope and to be happy to meet the few who have taken up the challenge?
So, what would be better? For the Blacks on predominantly White schools to try new things (skiing, bobsledding, and hockey) presented to them by their White counterparts…or for White schools to try to promote things they think are uniquely “Black”. Brake Dancing. Krumping. Purple cars with spinning wheel caps…? It sounds absurd because it is absurd.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand what Michelle means when she says “as a result of such biases…it is often difficult for some Black students to adjust to Princeton’s environment; and…there are very few …support groups”. I lived for a year in Costa Rica (1990), and it really can be difficult to adjust to a ‘new culture’. Of course, there are some key differences: I didn’t speak the language at first, and the cultural differences were quite drastic and unknown to me. I didn’t have much of a “support group”, and I was definitely part of an obvious minority—we gringos with very light skin do tend to stand out.
Obama says,
“My experiences at Princeton has made me far more aware of my ‘Blackness’…I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don’t belong…it often seems as if I will always be Black first and a student second.”
This may not be the most comfortable feeling, but if we are honest with ourselves, is there ever going to be a time and place in which all of us are the same? Would that even be desirable? So isn’t it simply a matter of maturity and a good-natured outlook to understand that there will be times when we are in the minority, we are drastically different from the people around us, and how they react to us will depend greatly upon how we act while among them?
Blacks in America can’t (and don’t) say they don’t know about “White culture”. The usual issue is that Whites don’t know much about “Black culture”. Which leads Whites to ask some pretty silly questions, make some dumb assumptions, etc. The true test of character, however, is how you handle that. I can’t recall how many times when I was in Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, and other countries, that I was accosted for being a “gringo imperialista” by the left-leaning students on campus, and bombarded by criticism for the US’s invasion of Panama the year before. Many people rudely attacked me with their extremely biased, bigoted, and completely wrong opinions of Americans in general, and White Americans in particular. I could choose bitterness, resentment and hate. I could choose (as many students did) to turn “anti-American” and lead the vehement attacks on their own country. Or, I could choose to be patient and understanding, and to accept fault where it was deserved, defend myself and my country when necessary, and to do so in non-confrontational methods. I initially joined in the attacks on the country, but with maturity and clarity, I eventually chose the latter.
Blacks at majority White campuses have to make the same choice. They can either be diplomatic representatives of their “people”, or chose to conflict with people. And they have to make a conscious effort to separate well-meant but naïve questions or comments from mean-spirited attacked by bigots.
But if they choose to believe that they are confronting an enemy, that everyone is different and they have nothing in common, that choice will ensure that what they will find is confrontation, misunderstanding, and isolation. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Another key area that Obama wanted to explore is what she called “Benefit Attitudes.”
“The second set of dependent variables in this study tries especially to measure the extent to which the respondents were motivated to benefit various social groups…The first variable was designed to provide some idea of how interested the respondents are in positively contributing to the Black community relative to other social groups such as the White community, their families, their occupations.”
This quote was revealing, in that there seems to be an underlying suspicion that, if Blacks study with Whites and get comfortable with them, they’ll no longer care about other Blacks, as if their contact with Whites will turn them “White”, and of course, since we all know that Whites are racists who don’t like Blacks (I’m being sarcastic here, just in case you don’t get it), they are not concerned about Black suffering. Right?
Also, is there a judgment statement being made about a well-educated Black person who places a high value on their occupation? What exactly should we expect from someone who has acquired a very expensive education? Should they turn their backs on their family and financial success and instead go get a low-paying job at a non-profit? This appears to me to be yet another echo of the Marxist bent found within the Liberation Theology. It suggests to me that one of the reasons the Obamas didn’t distance themselves from Pastor Wright might have been—just maybe—because they agreed with him.
It seems to me that there is a subtle hint here that Obama disdains people who actually might want the “good life”, instead of working for the “common good.” This makes sense for the leftists, since socialists like Hugo Chavez and others publicly proclaim that “being rich is evil”, and there is a long line formed among the leftists and Democrats who want to cozy up to Chavez. I wonder if that’s why Barak wanted to meet with Hugo: To talk about how evil it is for everyone (except them) to get rich?
“The second variable …was designed to measure the nature of the respondents’ attitudes …specifically toward members of the lower class [Black] community …it is impossible to help everyone and everything equally at the same time.”
Oh, boy, that’s a rich statement. But you have to look into what she says next to get the full impact:
“Feelings of obligation to improve the life of the Black lower class, feelings of guilt for betraying the Black lower class, as well as feelings of shame or envy toward the Black lower class are investigated in this study.”
Am I mistaken in interpreting her statements that she perceives receiving a good education as “betraying the Black lower class”? Before you disagree, read the question from her survey:
Question # 5. “When you think of lower class Black Americans and the life they lead, how true for you personally are the following statements?
I feel proud that I have been strong enough to avoid remaining in, or falling into, that life.
I feel lucky that I was given opportunities that they are not given.
I feel guilty that I may be betraying them in some way.
I feel ashamed of them; they reflect badly on the rest of us.
I feel their life is more honest than mine; I would become part of it if I could.
I feel obligated to help improve their life.
I feel they must help themselves.
I feel they are the White community’s problem; not mine.
I feel there is no way they can be helped; their situation is hopeless.

Ah, it’s the “you can only serve one master” ploy, eh?
So the idea is beginning to form, that Blacks who go to White schools may internalize “White values”, become less “Black”, become “materialists” or “capitalists” and forget—even betray—poor Blacks. Let’s cut to the quick: if you are Black, and you get a good education, and are comfortable with whites, are you an Uncle Tom? Are you a “House Negro”? Would any respondent actually say “poor blacks are the problem of the White community?”
Again, this is in keeping with the Liberal notion that compassionate people will eschew wealth (because they believe wealth is a zero-sum game), actively promote minorities who are victims of White oppression, and—because conservatives oppose doing this via the mechanism of big government—Liberals therefore conclude that Conservatives are not compassionate and do not care about the poor.
So, if a Black (like Clarence Thomas) is a conservative, and educated at an Ivy League school, how can the Black community relate to such a person?
Remember that I taught at a predominantly Black high school? I had a Black female student that had attended the Million Man March, and while there had the exciting opportunity to meet “with all the Democrats in the NAACP”. I asked her if she met any Republicans in the NAACP, to which she snorted, “You can’t be a Republican and be in the NAACP! We don’t think you can be a Republican and still be Black.” Oh really?
Another interesting passage is when Obama goes through an analysis of the variables, listing things such as the respondent’s originating class, number of books in the household, relationship to God, and even “the race of the person whom the individual most admired…”
I can’t speak for others, but if you asked me whom I admired most as a child, I’d have a hard time coming up with one name. I had many heroes. Now, ask me the same question, but throw in the qualifier “what RACE” was the person I most admired…it adds a whole new dynamic, doesn’t it? The question itself forces the respondent to filter the list of most admired personalities along the lines of race. The question forcibly interjects a discriminatory consideration, and must also trigger a series of emotional responses.
I imagine a black respondent suddenly (and possibly subconsciously) weighing the response: “since I am Black, would it mean I’m a sell-out if I admired a non-Black individual most?” Does that suddenly make a Black candidate suddenly more admirable as a response? How is Obama going to judge a Black individual who admired a white figure (suppose it was a white parent, grandparent, or influential teacher) more than Harriet Tubman or W.E.B. Dubois? Would she take that as proof that the higher educated Black with books has “sold out” to the White culture?
So, remember my statement about the “self-fulfilling prophecy”. There are perfectly good reasons why a respondent might say that their most-admired person was Black before attending University, and White afterward, without actually meaning that the person is no longer proud to be Black or is now unconcerned about Black issues. But if you are determined to see that getting too close to Whites will change you for the worse, guess how you will interpret these responses.
The basic hypothesis of her thesis is that, the longer the Black student spent with Whites, the more comfortable (s)he will feel with them. Duh! You think? Isn’t it obvious that anyone would be uncomfortable around people about whom they know little or nothing and think they have nothing in common? And isn’t it obvious that, over time, people will discover that they are more alike than they thought? Hey, I think we’ve had a breakthrough here!
She goes on to say that
“I also … hypothesize that this sense of comfort with Blacks will be greatest in all the activities measured by this dependent variable except intellectual activities. Intellectually, Blacks may be more comfortable with Whites as a result of a greater amount of exposure to Whites in an academic setting… ”
Essentially, she comes to the conclusion that the Blacks, after so much time at Princeton has forced Blacks “to compete intellectually with Whites more than Blacks”, making them feel more comfortable on “intellectual” terms with Whites than they are with other Blacks.
Whoa. Am I reading that right? The word “competing” implies matching skills. It implies improving those skills to match one’s competitors. The Black student will therefore develop intellectually thanks to their interaction with Whites. Is that what she’s saying? So were they less skilled before meeting Whites on a competitive playing field?
If so, then how would the Black community benefit if the Separationist ideology she appears to support were followed?
Another interpretation might be that the Black students would, by virtue of the close contact with Whites, become intimate with the White mindset and learn that “they aren’t as bad as I thought…” They might become comfortable with Whites when they learn that Whites are not “white devils” after all.
That would come as a shock to the Black Liberation Theology proponents, wouldn’t it? It might be better to keep blacks poor and apart from Whites, in that case, right?
So Blacks would, in the long term, become more comfortable with Whites, but is it really feasible (given this interpretation) that they would become “more comfortable with Whites than with Blacks?” There is a big difference: It is one thing to learn that the people you once scorned as a bunch of racists are actually pretty decent people, and you are comfortable being around them. It’s quite another to get to the point where—intellectually or otherwise—you begin to prefer their company to your “own people”.
Again, I have experience in this area. Being an Anglo, English speaking American, I was originally most comfortable around “my own people” (a silly term, since I’ve never been comfortable around anyone based simply on their race). But by the time I had become totally fluent in Spanish and had lived abroad, then surrounded myself with Latino friends and married a Venezuelan, my Latin friends often remarked that I was “more Latino than Gringo”. And yes, I became more comfortable with some Latinos than with most Anglo-Saxon Americans. The difference was, that I was very comfortable with educated and well travelled Latinos, and uncomfortable with uneducated and closed-minded Whites.
The inferred dilemma in the Obama essay is that this is somehow a betrayal of the Black community. Do you see the contradiction? Whites who learn to feel comfortable among Blacks are not seen as sellouts. Blacks who get an education and feel comfortable with Whites—are no longer Black.
Obama is revealing that she is not above the most basic emotional scarring left over from the trauma of slavery. Let’s boil down the argument to the most basic level: will becoming comfortable with Whites make her an “Uncle Tom” or “House Negro”? Is she suddenly an “Oreo” (Black on the outside, White in the middle)?
Her husband was initially attacked in the early days of his campaign as being too “White”, or at least, “not Black enough”. Mind you, not by Whites, but by Blacks.
This is all part of the not-so-secret but shameful legacy among Blacks, for whom lighter colored skin is often seen as preferable. This is also known as the “paper-bag test”: Young Black men and women were often encouraged by their parents and grandparents to bring home mates whose skin was lighter than a paper bag. This was seen as a step up, especially for their offspring. This is not openly discussed, because it contradicts the “Black Pride” movement. But it is a very real social undercurrent.
This preference simultaneously causes a bit of a shameful reaction… “are we betraying our Blackness? Should we celebrate our Blackness by trying to be as ‘Black’ as possible?” So educated Blacks suddenly become “White”.
When I was a teacher in a predominantly Black inner-urban high school in the rural South, I actually had students killed by other Black students because they thought they were acting “White”, simply because they were trying to get an education and behaved in a way that reflected those different values.
Blackness is at war with itself. Obama’s essay reveals the inner turmoil of that conflict, and the emotional strains placed on her as she tries to alleviate those feelings. Achieving a great education is wonderful. But does it make her less Black? Can she counter the feelings of guilt and betrayal by obsessively trying to benefit “less fortunate Blacks”? She says, on page 20 of her essay, that
“…Blacks who are more comfortable with Whites than with Blacks will probably be less interested in benefitting the Black community…The more respondents spend time with Blacks, the more positive and compassionate they will be in their attitudes towards lower class Black Americans…”
This argument is precisely the reasoning behind the vicious and bigoted attacks on Supreme Justice Clarence Thomas that would start in 1991, when President G. Bush (4I) nominated him to replace Thurgood Marshall. Thomas was a conservative Black. He spoke clear English without a hint of “Ebonics” and took the stand that Blacks had to accept individual responsibility for their own successes.
Clearly, considering Obama’s rhetoric, she would see Thomas through the prism of her opinion that, because Thomas did not believe that government was the solution for Black suffering, he therefore had spent too much time with Whites, was more comfortable with Whites than Blacks, and no longer was compassionate toward lower class Blacks.
None of which is necessarily true. Because the primary argument is that dependency on Government does not teach independence and does not strengthen the community, but contrarily weakens it.
The results
Her study did find that most of the respondents reported spending more time with Whites post-Princeton than pre-Princeton, or rather, a drop of time spent with other blacks from 61% to 39%. The number of respondents who actually made a change to spend more time with Blacks was 15%.
It should be noted, that no distinction was made in the study to account for the fact that Princeton graduates are very likely to work in prestigious companies which would tend to be predominantly White or mixed, but at any rate would obviously increase their contact with Whites. So the study does not account for whether that increase of contact was due to choice or as a result of work.
An interesting result of the study shows that a significant number of Blacks studying at Princeton experienced a change of opinion about “separationist” beliefs during the period they studied there. While 26% of them were strongly separationist before attending Princeton, this number increased to 40%. But after graduation, this ideology decreased to 31%. A bias in the reporting should be noted: The study states that Black respondents reported Separationist ideologies ranging from 26%, 40%, and finally 31%. The study could just as easily state the percentages of Black respondents reported non-separationist or integrationist percentages, or both equally. But that was not the angle the author chose. Her focus is more upon separationists, and only in passing does she state that the number of respondents who changed toward integrationist ideologies rose from 16% to 32%.
Obama also states that “the percentage of respondents who were motivated to benefit the Black community increased from 46% at the Pre-Princeton point to 64% at Post-Princeton.”
With regard to the “comfort level” of Blacks with other Blacks after a Princeton education, she found that
“the 26% of the respondents who were comfortable with Blacks rose to 37% from Pre-Princeton to Princeton, and then dropped back to 22% during the post-Princeton point.”
The intellectual comfort indicator showed predictable changes.
“During the Princeton to Post-Princeton period…only 10% [were] more comfortable with Blacks while 31% became more comfortable with Whites.”
The primary assumption she makes is that the comfort level felt by the respondents has to do with the amount of time the respondent spent with other Blacks during the Princeton and Post-Princeton years. Interestingly, no mention is given to the idea that the comfort level might have to do with values, changes of values, and the possibility that an educated person, regardless as to race, will have different values than an uneducated person. So educated Blacks may feel more comfortable with educated Whites than with uneducated Blacks, but the inverse can also be said: educated Whites would prefer the company of educated Blacks over that of uneducated Whites.
The preference may have little or nothing to do with race.
At one point in her essay, she makes a couple of interesting admissions:
“…However, it is conceivable that my four years of exposure to a predominantly White, Ivy League University has instilled in me certain conservative values. For example, …I find myself striving for many of the same goals as my White classmates—acceptance to a prestigious graduate or professional school or a high paying position in a successful corporation. Thus, my goals after Princeton are not as clear as before.”
Why does Obama say that her “goals after Princeton are not as clear as before”? What is so “unclear” about gaining such a great education and finding herself striving for many of the same goals as her White classmates? A great Post Graduate degree, a great job: does she think that these things are the antithesis of being Black?
“These experiences have made it apparent to me that the path I have chosen to follow …will likely lead to my further integration and/or assimilation into a White culture and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant.”

Ah, could this be the sentiment that explains Michelle's statement about never being proud of her country? It appears to explain a lot. Despite her great education, she was convinced that this innately racist country would never allow her to play a critical and central role in its future. But now that she sees Whites voting for her husband, she can allow herself to feel proud of the nation again.

It might be, Michelle, that the nation was great even before you belatedly realized it.

When we consider the stated ideology of the “Separationists”, I am stricken first by how similar the arguments of these Black sociologists parallel the segregationist desires of the racist whites in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This ideology was the same that express itself as “separate but equal”, especially when applied to schools, and seemed to be in direct conflict with segments of the society—led by such men as Martin Luther King—that fought for desegregation.
I also find it somewhat ironic that the separationist ideology on the one hand feel the need to keep apart from society, and then complain that they will never “become a full participant.” How do you reconcile that? And if you admit that the Black students benefitted by having to compete with White students at Princeton, then wouldn’t that suggest that the integrationist ideology again makes more sense?

As long as Blacks think that economic and educational success is a “White” ambition, then Blacks will forever remain “on the periphery”. This is not a problem that Government, or Whites, or anyone but Blacks can solve. It is the same problem that Bill Cosby and Juan Williams are aggressively addressing.

It is not a betrayal of the Black community to seek success.

It is a betrayal to perpetuate the belief that success means you have suddenly stopped being Black. Because the inverse statement to that is that failure is a Black trait.

If the Obamas really want to give us Change we can believe in, then this is the message that the Obamas need to address.