Thursday, July 10, 2014

How Biblical Ignorance Doesn't Make Angry People Smart

(yes, I know it's been a while. moving on)
 
I make it a point not to read Salon.com because they post some of the most liberal, ignorant things on the internet. Not all liberal publications are ignorant, but Salon gives everyone a bad name. A young woman I follow on twitter responded to the author of a Salon article and posted the link. Given the subject, I couldn't help myself. Last week the Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby's favor, saying closely held for-profit companies can refuse to cover birth control that violate their conscience and/or religious beliefs. CJ Werleman, the author, titled his article (originally posted on AlterNet) "How America’s Biblical ignorance enables the Christian right". He's accusing the Christian Right of biblical ignorance, and judging by some books he's written I believe he is an atheist. Here's the first paragraph:
The Bible doesn’t mention anything about contraception or abortion, but this hasn’t stopped 89 million American evangelicals acting as if “thou shall not consume a pregnancy pill” were one of the Ten Commandments. For the benefit of my mostly American audience, it’s not. In fact, the first four of the Hebrew God’s Decalogue amount to nothing more than “maniacal throat clearing,” to steal a phrase ,a from the late Christopher Hitchens
Remember: He accuses the Christian Right of being biblically ignorant. I don't know what it is with atheists thinking they know the bible better than Christians, when nine out of ten they get it wrong, which confuses me because the Bible is not that complicated. I was the same way when I was an atheist. I read lists of "contradictions" online and left it at that. Why? I think I was afraid that if I dug in deeper on my own I would find myself believing it. I was right.

And he's right. The bible doesn't mention either of these two things by name, but he's still wrong. The words don't need to be in there to be objectionable, you just need to understand God's character. Jeremiah 1:5 and Psalm 136:13 makes it very clear that God recognizes us as life in the womb, that his plan for us starts not when we take our first breath but before we're even a human thought. Exodus 21:22-25 says striking a pregnant woman and causing harm to the unborn is punishable. Genesis 1:26-27 says we are made in God's image and Genesis 9:6 says, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image." One of the Ten Commandments is "Thou Shalt Not Kill". God recognizes life in the womb, we are made in his image, abortion is destroying life God calls precious. What is abortion? What does God say about life in the womb? How does God see us? And there it is. Not that complicated.

Not all Christians feel the same about birth control. I'm much more conservative on the subject than my mother. When I was eighteen I used birth control for about six months, and I stopped because I wasn't having sex and I wasn't planning on being that stupid and I was wasting ten dollars every month. I was still an atheist at that point. I still feel the same way, but now my faith is tied into it. No there isn't a verse that says birth control pills are bad, but Proverbs 3:5 is good enough for me:
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." 
If I want Jesus to take the wheel, then I need to get off the breaks. I want to trust God with my whole life, not just parts of it, that includes how many children I will have. I've been abstinent for 27 years; it's not that hard. It's about respecting yourself and making a commitment and trusting that God knows best and He's with you every step of the way. Not that complicated.

That's my personal view, and most people who reject birth control for religious reasons feel the same way. It's about trust.

He then goes into the old as time tantrum of throwing "violent" Old Testament verses around claiming Christians don't follow everything. He then uses Matthew 5:17-20 to prove his point. Dan Savage gave a similar argument in front of high school students over a year ago and I responded to that, but I'll repeat myself. For starters, we're Gentiles. OT Law was intended for a particular people and a particular time. Romans 2:12 makes that distinction. Mr. Werlemen obviously doesn't understand "abolish" and "fulfill" in this context. "For the wages of sin is death..." and a pure sacrifice is still required to atone for sin. None of those things have changed. What Werlemen doesn't understand is Jesus took all of our sin onto himself and suffered the way we should suffer under the Old Testament law, died the death the law says we should die. Then he rose from the dead. The law is not abolished the way we see understand "abolished'; it exists. but we are not bound by it because Christ's resurrection is the completion of the law. Not that complicated.

This article isn't the first time I've seen someone try to pull this, and he won't be the last, but who is he, ignorant as he is, to tell me or anyone about my faith or my God. These are typical atheist counter-arguments that are easily debunked. The truth is, most of the objectives to the Hobby Lobby decision are really dumb and not based on fact or simple logic.
 

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Failed Honest Discussion

Like many people, the "collectible" hoodie covers caught my eye and I've been waiting patiently to read it for myself. It's a seventeen page spread that includes nine separate articles, a timeline, a poem, and a bizarre Q&A. To my recollection, this is the first time I've ever read Ebony Magazine, so I can't compare this particular piece to anything they've done previously, only to the facts of the case. I did my best to remain objective and throw my bias and my expectations to the side. While it's thorough and well-written, I have a few problems with it.

If you're not familiar with the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin saga, then look it up before you continue reading because I'm not going to rehash it. You can only beat a dead horse so many times before you realize it's dead. That's what Ebony Magazine is doing. The racism horse was put out of its misery before the case got started, but some are still cracking the whip because they swear they can hear it breathing. The central themes at play are white on black crime, racial profiling, and stand your ground. The irony is not a single one of these themes has anything to do with the case itself. George Zimmerman is Hispanic and there's no evidence of racial profiling. As a matter of fact, he states why he found Trayvon Martin suspicious:
This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around looking about...looking at all the houses.
You can read the entire transcript here. When asked about his ethnicity, he says apprehensively, "He looks black." CNN and other networks for months tried to play it off like he said "fucking coons" and NBC deceptively edited the call to make it sound like racial profiling. The perception of racial profiling is based on people's past experiences, not evidence. While many young black males are racially profiled, it's not crazy to think that's NOT the case here. George Zimmerman waived a Stand Your Ground (SYG) pretrial hearing, a smart move on his part, and the defense didn't use it as a defense. Al Sharpton in an interview with Nick Chiles says Stand Your Ground was "buried within the instructions the Judge Debra Nelson gave to the six woman jury." It wasn't buried. It's in the law. Though it's in the law it doesn't necessarily mean it applies to this case, which it doesn't.

If an honest discussion about race is to be had, it's not going to start with Ebony Magazine because the articles aren't really...honest. Day one of the timeline says Trayvon bought iced tea. It's a minor detail, but he didn't buy iced tea; he bought Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail. It also states Zimmerman called 911 and that he was told to "stand down" by police dispatch. Neither of these are true. Zimmerman called the non-emergency line and there's no proof Zimmerman continued to "follow" him once dispatch said "we don't need you to do that." Marc Lamont Hill says in his article, "In the case of Trayvon Martin, there was no evidence of criminal involvement, yet after he was killed, as a part of a routine autopsy, his body was drug tested. The police didn't see fit to drug test the man who shot him." George Zimmerman wasn't drug tested because of the fourth amendment. Enough said.

Many of the authors are under the impression the jury failed to see Trayvon's innocence. Marc Lamont Hill says in his article, "Black men are profiled and assumed to be associated with gang activity, drug dealing or other forms of illegal activity that make it easy to deny them social protection, support, or even outrage." He continues on and says, "From television to literature to public policy, the story of Black masculinity is one of natural immorality, violence and sexual misconduct." My question to Mr. Hill is this: Where do you think that image comes from? It's true that during slavery and during Jim Crow blacks were portrayed as something to fear, but we're past slavery and we're past Jim Crow. Have you ever walked through the African-American fiction section in a bookstore? It's usually pretty small, but on the same shelf as Their Eyes Were Watching God and Beloved, you'll see titles such as Welfare Grind part 3, Honor Thy Thug and Bedroom Gangsta. When was the last time you listened to a rap song or watched a rap video. Who was the last rapper to get a drug or a gun charge? How many young black girls still think Chris Brown is cute and Rhianna deserved it? These assumptions and profiles Hill talks about are images the black community has created through television and literature and it's perpetuated by black leaders in congress who like to pretend we don't have these problems. It's perpetuated by people like Marc Lamont Hill who pretend Travyon wasn't all those things he's talking about. Trayvon liked to do drugs and get high, he liked to fight and steal. He got in trouble at school for vandalism, and on his twitter and Facebook he liked to objectify women. The kid had mild liver damage. Either he drank too much or he liked to abuse codeine. It's ironic when men like Hill push against black stereotypes when their poster child is a walking black stereotype.

The entire spread shows a complete ignorance for our legal system, the Constitution, and the concept of justice (and the law in general). Justice isn't an outcome that pleases you, it's a process. They got an arrest. They got a trial. They got a verdict. Justice was served. If the FBI said a year ago no civil rights were violated on Trayvon Martin's behalf, then what legal remedy do you expect from Eric Holder? Our legal system serves to protect the defendant's rights, and Zimmerman has a good case for malicious prosecution. They overcharged to please an angry, racist mass screaming "RACISM!" The jury failed to see Trayvon's innocence because his innocence wasn't in question or in evidence. In an article called "Why Zimmerman Walked," Imani Perry says, basically, Zimmerman walked because of racism. Not one writer seems to have the spine to say the evidence wasn't there. There wasn't any evidence of ill-will, hate, spite, malice or evil intent to support murder in the second degree. There wasn't any evidence of criminal negligence to support a manslaughter charge. In fact, the evidence overwhelmingly supported his claim of self-defense. As for Stand Your Ground, which this magazine says should be repealed, it's irrelevant. Good, old-fashioned self-defense was on George Zimmerman's side. The Stand Your Ground portion of the law says:
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. (776.013-3)
Florida's Stand Your Ground law, an extension of the castle doctrine, isn't that much different from their regular self-defense law, but it doesn't really apply to a man who's being straddled and punched repeatedly. Repealing it wouldn't save "the next Trayvon" and not having it at all wouldn't have put Zimmerman behind bars. Charles J. Ogletree says, "African-Americans have used it repeatedly to protect ourselves when we've felt threatened by Whites." Slightly misleading. Instances have occurred with white on black, but it's mostly black on black. Blacks have a higher success rate with SYG than whites and are more likely to use it. SYG is beneficial to blacks who live in high crime neighborhoods where the police can't monitor 24/7. Speaking of ignorance, Imani Perry also states, "Those jurors saw him not as a child who was stalked and murdered, but rather as a potential threat." Stalking is a repeated action with the intent to cause harm and/or distress.

In one sentence, the basis for the spread is "What happened happened because Trayvon was black." There's no real look at the facts of the case or Trayvon's actions that lead to his death. Ebony Magazine asked ten seventeen-year-old boys:
  • Do you feel racially profiled?
  • Why do you think white people are afraid of you?
  • What are you afraid of?
  • Are you afraid of the police or white people?
Really? I'm guessing black empowerment died in the 70s because fear and victim-hood are the new thing. Seventeen-year-old Jason Smith boldly says, "I don't fear any man because we're all created equally and there's no need to fear...If I come off as respectful and not an angry Black male, they'll treat me how I'm supposed to be treated - like their equal." Blacks can't fight the presumption of fear if we don't stop pushing the image of something worth fearing. We certainly won't get anywhere if we don't speak honestly about the Trayvons in our country. Boris Kodjoe says, "One thing that shocked me was that essentially they found Trayvon Martin guilty. The fact that [George Zimmerman] is walking free means that Trayvon did something wrong." He did do something wrong, Mr. Kodjoe. He punched him in the face and slammed his head into the concrete. There is no legal justification for his actions, nothing he could have gotten away with in a court of law. Following is not stalking, nor is it provocation. Rachel Jeantal testified that Trayvon made it to his father's backyard which is a ways away from where the incident occurred. Zimmerman didn't testify to being chased, so at some point Trayvon went back. He made a decision the black community has failed to accept. Trayvon could have killed him that night. If he had, would Boris Kodjoe be screaming "Poor Trayvon" or would he pretend it never happened? An honest discussion about race starts with an honest discussion about this case, and Ebony Magazine fails. "Saving Our Sons" starts with saving them from themselves, not teaching them to be weary of white people. To be honest, we have to ask: How could Trayvon have prevented the situation? Hill invokes Emmett Till in his piece like it's a comparison, like Trayvon Martin will spark some kind of movement. Like I said...the horse is dead.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dear White Liberals: SHUT UP!!!

I'm going to be blunt: I hate it when white liberals "try" to defend black people. Their white guilt makes me sick. Black people have a higher incarceration rate than white people, and black kids have a higher suspension rate than white kids. Neither of these are big secrets. Judd Legum of the liberal hot mess Think Progress wrote this:
George Zimmerman killed one boy, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Although a Florida jury found Zimmerman not guilty, his attitude — that a young black male is an object suspicion and contempt — not only cost Martin his life but has infected the entire United States criminal justice system.
Unless he's privy to evidence not presented to the jury, the FBI cleared George Zimmerman of any racial bias. There's no proof he thought Trayvon was suspicious because he was black. As a matter of fact, Zimmerman stated in the 911 call why he thought Trayvon was suspicious. He wasn't even sure what his race was until later on in the call. The sad truth is the majority of the crime in that neighborhood was committed by young black men. Judd Legum spends too much time blaming whitey and a so-called racist justice system instead of wondering why black people have so many problems.

Being a "Baby Mama" is almost like a fashion statement in parts of black culture. Over 70% of black kids are born out of wedlock. The break down of the family and fatherlessness is the root of many of our problems, but this know-it-all ignores it. 93% of black murders are committed by other black people. Black music celebrates violence, gang culture, and objectifying women. My high school was a predominantly rich white school in the middle of nowhere. We had a lot of fights my senior year, but I don't remember any white kids fighting. It was black kids, gang members, who sexually assaulted a black girl on my school bus. Most of my classes were Advanced or AG classes, and, though I was a slack student, there was a reason my mom kept me in those classes. I was accidentally placed in a regular English class the first half of my junior year and it was the first time since the fifth grade I was in a class where the majority were black. Those kids were disruptive, rude and I never learned anything. It wasn't because they were black, it was because their parents sucked and and they thought their stupid behavior was cute and made them cool amongst their peers.

Trayvon didn't carry himself like a future C.E.O or a future Tyler Perry, instead he carried himself like a future inmate. That's not whitey's fault. The assumption of trouble to come is a problem many young black men bring on themselves. Black parents aren't teaching their black children to carry themselves better even though the statistics are against them. Dressing well and speaking well and doing well in school is seen as a negative by many in the black community because it's "acting white." It's not easy being black and being your own person outside of your skin color, and the parents who are the exception don't get the community support they need.

Mark O'Mara, George Zimmerman's attorney, said something on Saturday after the verdict that upset a lot of people. He said Zimmerman wouldn't have been charged if her were black, and he's right. Police were never going to charge Zimmerman and the local DA wouldn't take the case because of the lack of probable cause. If Zimmerman were black, Sharpton and Jackson wouldn't have cared because they and other black leaders don't care about black-on-black problems. They don't care about black-on-blackcrime, the high abortion rate, black unemployment, and black kids who get shot everyday in Chicago. Trayvon Martin is being called a civil rights symbol because black leaders ignore his fault in the situation and his thug past, and stupid white liberals like Judd make it worse!

We're a beautiful people. We're colorful, funny, honest, and we love big. But we have done a lot of damage to ourselves. I'm going to be very blunt: Trayvon won't be the first ignorant black kid who picks a fight with a gun owner, and calling Trayvon a hero guarantees there will be more because no one wants to learn from his mistake. In his lame effort to stand in solidarity with blacks, Judd Legum makes excuses for Trayvon and others like him instead of offering solutions. He perpetuates the victim mentality that keeps us low, oppressed, and enslaved. It's not a justice system that's flawed, nor is it white men and women who look at a young man dressed like a suspect and assume he's suspicious. It's a community that doesn't want to acknowledge its problems. Do the black community a favor, Mr. Legum, and take your white guilt and shove it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Trayvon Martin, the Antihero

The verdict is in: NOT GUILTY. Anyone who is surprised hasn't been paying attention. I remember reading the affidavit over a year ago for Murder in the Second Degree and thinking, "I don't get it." There was never probable cause for 2nd Degree Murder, but they made it stretch. This case is an example of what happens when you inject politics into our justice system. Trayvon's death is a tragedy, but what happened to George Zimmerman was an injustice. The Martin family "identified" the voice on the 911 call in a group setting in the mayor's office without police present. Their star witness was interviewed with the victim's mother, Sabryna Fulton, and her attorney sitting next to her. Sanford Police said they didn't have enough evidence to charge him, so they didn't. So why was he charged? He was charged because people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were screaming racism and demanding justice instead of letting the system work. They demanded a rush on something that should have taken its time, and now Sabryna Fulton's darkest hour is their fault.

So why was George Zimmerman found not guilty? Race-baiters like Al Sharpton would have you believe it's because Trayvon is black and Zimmerman is half white, but let's be honest. The state never had a case. Murder isn't simply just killing someone, it's about state of mind. The prosecution argued that Zimmerman stepping out of his car and saying "fucking punks" and "these assholes" showed ill-will, hate, spite, evil intent, and malice. The problem was they couldn't prove it. They tried to argue that following and profiling Trayvon and ignoring the 911 operator was evidence of ill will. Neither of those is a crime. The defense argued self-defense and the prosecution couldn't refute it. They tried to say his injuries were insignificant, but you don't need injuries to claim self-defense. All they could do was play the emotional heartstrings of six female jurors, and in the end those ladies were smarter. Did they believe Zimmerman's story? Doesn't matter. The state didn't meet it's burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The entire trial was backwards. The defense presented a case and the prosecution played defense. I've never seen anything like it. Maybe they did believe him because another option for the jury was manslaughter, and self-defense is self-defense against everything. The state had a lot of theories and "what ifs," but no evidence to back it up.

Something that's being ignored by Trayvon Martin supporters, civil rights leaders, the mainstream media, and Black America in general is Trayvon Martin himself. The real Trayvon. The media loves to portray Trayvon as the innocent unarmed kid who only had skittles and an iced tea on him, but there's more to him and his actions that night. I watched a few minutes of MSNBC last night and they refused to mention what lead to the shooting. Not the following, but the fight. As I said, it's not a crime to follow someone, and it's not illegal for a private citizen to profile someone. It's certainly not illegal for someone to ignore the advice of 911. Trayvon Martin hit him. He slammed his head into the sidewalk. He could have killed him or caused permanent damage. At this point, it doesn't matter why he hit Zimmerman because there's no evidence he was justified in doing so. If he felt threatened by Zimmerman, then he had options. Violence isn't an option, it's a last resort. The evidence shows Trayvon had four minutes worth of options, but he chose to use his fist and that choice had consequences. That makes him far from being an innocent, unarmed kid.

Let's be honest about who Trayvon was. He wasn't an innocent kid. JonBenet Ramsey and Erica Green were innocent kids. Trayvon Mart was a seventeen-year-old young man who was only in Sanford because he was suspended from school for drug paraphernalia. A few months before that he was suspended for vandalism and he was accused of possessing stolen jewelry and burglary tools. Texts and video show Trayvon liked to fight. We also know he had a gun he was trying to sell. There were pictures of marijuana plants on his phone. If they were his plants, that's at least three felonies. Trayvon lived a life that would have led him to one of two places: prison or the grave. So-called leaders aren't doing him or his family any favors by ignoring this. Trayvon was everything you don't want your black son to be. He may have been minding his own business that night, but he still made a terrible choice.

I'm not saying Trayvon got what he deserved because no one deserves to die like that. Both men made mistakes that night, but only one, according to the evidence, committed a crime. If Trayvon had lived, he would have been charged with a crime as an adult. Is this the message we wish to send to young black men? Violence is the answer when every other option makes you look weak? There's a lesson to be learned from Trayvon: It could happen to you. Your reckless decisions could cost you your life. Concealed Carry is designed to empower the weak and helpless and make people, like Trayvon, think twice before doing something stupid. Benjamin Crump, the Martin Family Attorney, compared Trayvon to Emmitt Till and Medgar Evers, which is disgusting. Travyon isn't a great civil rights symbol, he was a future "The First 48" episode. This isn't a civil rights case or a race issue. It's a standard self-defense case, a simple misunderstanding that turned tragic. This is a cautionary tale for politicians who dare to insert themselves into our justice system and for young men who dare to think "It could never happen to me." People are going to look at you and make judgements, that's life. It's how you respond to it that matters.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Waiving the Fifth

Yesterday most of us eagerly awaited Lois Lerner's arrival at the House Oversight hearing regarding the IRS Scandal, knowing she planned to plead the fifth. We knew she would take the coward's way out, but I think it was "nice" for many of us to put a face to our anger. Chairman Issa asked if she wished to make an opening statement, and she did. After giving us a brief history of her career as a civil servant, she said this:

On May 14th the Treasury inspector general released a report finding that the exempt organizations field office in Cincinnati, Ohio, used inappropriate criteria to identify for further review applications from organizations that planned to engage in political activity, which may mean that they did not qualify for tax exemption. On that same day, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the matters described in the inspector general’s report. In addition, members of this committee have accused me of providing false information when I responded to questions about the IRS processing of applications for tax exemption.
I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws, I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee. And while I would very much like to answer the committee’s questions today, I’ve been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify or answer questions related to the subject matter of this hearing. After very careful consideration, I’ve decided to follow my counsel’s advice and not testify or answer any of the questions today. Because I’m asserting my right not to testify, I know that some people will assume that I’ve done something wrong. I have not. One of the basic functions of the Fifth Amendment is to protect innocent individuals, and that is the protection I’m invoking today. Thank you.

Beautiful opening statement, but she unintentionally waived her fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. Congressman Trey Gowdy from South Carolina was the first to bring it up, saying she can't testify and not be subject to cross-examination. Issa wasn't too sure, but it took him a few hours to come around. A lot of people were confused or in disagreement, so let me explain this.

When you plead the fifth, that means you don't speak. As Congressman Gowdy said on Fox News this morning, you don't even say "Good Morning" or state your name. When Issa asked if she wanted to give an opening statement her response should have been, "I plead the fifth." Instead she testified to facts on the subject in which she had been subpoenaed. Whether that was mentioning the IG report or claiming her innocence, it doesn't really matter. Once you give testimony and make statements of fact, you can't plead the fifth. After pleading the fifth, she once again said she did nothing wrong. If the testimony prior didn't waive it, that would have done it.

Let's put it this way. There is no gray area. Either you testify or you don't. Either you give full disclosure or you keep it to yourself. You can not start speaking on a subject and then clam up. You either speak or you keep your mouth shut. She chose to speak, therefore she must continue speaking. She was dismissed subject to recall and the hearing is in recess, so she can't re-plead without risking being held in contempt. I have more faith in House Republicans than the ones in the Senate. If Darrell Issa can hold Eric Holder in contempt, then Lois Lerner is a no-brainer.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

You Don't Know...Anything...

I think it's safe to say this has been the worst week in Obama's presidency. I'm sure he didn't expect anyone else besides Fox News to care about Benghazi, and the DOJ isn't doing him any favors. But the IRS. For several years, they've been targeting conservative and Tea Party organizations by making the process to obtain 501(c)(3) and (4) status hell. Yesterday, the Ways and Means Committee held a hearing where the Outgoing IRS Commissioner, Steven Miller, and the Inspector General, J. Russell George, gave testimony. Well...Mr. George gave testimony to the best of his ability. Miller had a case of Obamanesia. I don't know. I can't recall. I can't speak to. I don't remember.

Earlier this week Obama expressed his "outrage" after he caught himself up on the situation because, as he and his people claim, he found out about it from news reports like everyone else. He accepted Steven Miller's resignation and senators and congress people called it a "good first step." The only problem is he was the ACTING commissioner and he was leaving that post in a few week anyway. Plus, he's keeping his benefits and his pension. Another guy who is resigning had only been at his post for eight days. It's not a first step at all, it's a stall. Obama is a creature of habit. When shit hits the fan, he doesn't think it through, he just does something quick to calm the storm. He lets an schmuck "fall on the sword." He blames a video. He lets someone whose "I don't know" answers are almost reasonable take the fall. "Almost" being the keyword. When asked if he knew who was responsible, he said he was told but didn't remember. Most of what he said were lies or carefully worded answers to avoid perjury. He was the wrong person to question. The best person to ask is the low-level employee with nothing to lose or fear. He exists, he just needs to be found.

And I question Obama's outrage. Not because I'm republican or conservative or I have slight Tea Party tendencies, but because I'm an American. It is my job to be skeptical. Obama's focus seems to be restoring the IRS's reputation. He hasn't expressed any remorse or sympathy for the organizations who were discriminated against or the individuals who were targeted by the IRS and other government agencies because they gave money to Mitt Romney and other Republicans. I'm also supposed to believe the that he didn't know about this until last Friday when the rest of the country found out. The IRS confessed to the scandal at an ABA conference after someone asked a question. We later learned fromt Mr. Miller that the question was planted. Are you telling me that the IRS planned to confess to something that could damage the President and they didn't tell him first? We learned from Mr. George that he informed the Deputy Treasury Secretary, Neal S. Wolin, last June, five months before the election. One can assume the Deputy told the Treasury Secretary. But no one told the President the IRS was being audited? In an election year? No one told him that the Republicans could potentially use it against him if it came out? According to Jay Carney, the White House Counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, found out the week of April 22nd. She didn't tell the President? It's her JOB to inform him of legal issues. Why does she still have a job? It's not like this came out of the blue, Tea Party Patriots have been complaining about this since 2010. If he gets his info from the news, he must have known about the complaints. It never occurred to him to look into it?

This extends beyond conservatives. Billy and Franklin Graham were targeted. A pro-life organization was asked about the contents of their prayers and what kind of signs they hold outside Planned Parenthood. The IRS gave the Human Rights Campaign confidential tax info from the Organization for Marriage. The IRS was used as a weapon. A low-level employee can't do that. Let's be frank: you have to be outside your damn mind to honestly believe Obama didn't know about this. If he didn't know, then what is he good for? Hillary Clinton didn't know what was going on in the State Department. Eric Holder doesn't know what's going on at the DOJ. Steven Miller didn't know what was going on at the IRS. Unless Fox News reports it, Obama doesn't know what's going on anywhere. But I don't believe that. I don't know what connection Obama had to this, but he's not innocent. The IRS isn't an independent organization or quasi-independent. It's a part of the Treasury, which is a part of the Executive Branch. Who is the boss of the Executive Branch? Barack Obama. Mr. Wolin wasn't hired by the Treasury Secretary. He was appointed by the President. Doug Shulman, who preceded Steven Miller, was appointed by George W. Bush, but that is irrelevant. Bush isn't his boss anymore. Obama campaigned to be responsible for Shulman. Who appointed his successor, Steven Miller? Obama. Obama claiming ignorance is his way to avoid responsibility, but it makes him every more responsible because it means he wasn't doing his job. Ultimately, Obama encouraged and inspired this behavior. He set a tone of division and envy and fear. He turned the Tea Party into the big bad wolf, making it acceptable for them to be treated this way.

If he was outraged and honest, Ruemmler would be out of the job and he would be calling on Sarah Hall Ingram, whoever she is, to testify before Congress. Instead, he's biding his time. Why? Hearings will resume Monday, which is good because we have more questions than answers.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Lights, Camera, Action!

I work at a book store, and yesterday I was setting the top shelves for Black History Month for adults and kids. Top shelves are the one or two top shelves in a section that might have buyer or company recommended books or a publisher may purchase that space to highlight their stuff. I'm not a big fan of Black History Month, if I'm being honest. It's not that I think it's pointless or unfair. Americans, black children in particular, need to know the impact blacks have had on this country because I don't think black kids know they're worth. I don't like Black History month because it's the same old boring stuff every year: MLK, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, or Harriet Tubman. These are important people and we should continue learning about them, but there are more black people in our history than these four. There's more to black people than slavery or the civil rights movement.

If you ever take a film class, whether it's history or appreciation, there are three films you are guaranteed to watch in part or in whole: Citizen Kane, Stagecoach, and Birth of a Nation. Directed by D.W. Griffith in 1915, Birth of a Nation is as three-hour black and white silent controversy that portrays black men as sexual deviants and the KKK as heroes on horseback. I'm lucky; I had to watch the entire thing my freshman year. While the subject is deplorably hilarious and offensive, I loved it. I'm a film nerd; the progression of film over the last 100 years, which isn't very long for any industry, blows my mind, and Birth of a Nation was not only ahead of it's time, but it set the basis for the modern feature film. What does this have to with Black History? Naturally, the film spawned outrage. Cities banned it and the NAACP, just a few years old at this point, protested. One man responded in a different way.

Though he denied it, many believe Oscar Devereaux Micheaux's Within Our Gates is a response to D.W. Griffith's film. Released in 1920, it centers around a woman who travels to the North to raise money for a southern school for poor black kids. She falls in love with a black doctor, naturally causing problems, but it's later discovered she is of mixed race. Born in Illinois and one of thirteen, he wrote seven novels and directed at least forty-four films between 1919 and 1948. Though he never received an Academy Award, he did receive a special award from the Directors Guild of America in 1989 and the Producers Guild of America named an award after him. His films and novels centered around blacks wanting to better themselves and racial tension in America. He had a hard time getting past censors because of his portrayal of lynching in his films and they feared it would spark riots.

Did I mention he was black? Yes, black people were making films in 1919 before Gordon Parks, before Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing and Tyler Perry's mediocre box office boom. Black people were making what were called "race films" starting around 1910 to counter Jim Crow and negative stereotypes, but it was Within our Gates that set it off. D.W. Griffith used white men in black face in Birth of a Nation. Micheaux employed black actors and black crew memebers - he created stars. He was a fearless director using themes and subject matters he knew would make his audience, black and white, uncomfortable. His goal was to educate the masses and empower black Amereicans.

I had never heard of Oscar Micheaux until my freshman year of college when we watched a documentary about Birth of a Nation. Why is that? Before Rosa Parks sat down, before Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, Oscar Micheaux was telling black people, "Yes you can." While Gordon Parks holds title of "First Black Director of a Major Hollywood Studio Film", Oscar Micheaux paved the way as the first black feature film director.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Slavery vs. Illegal Immigration



I don't know if this is the new liberal thing, a way to guilt people into supporting and justifying illegal immigration, but it's a little scary. This guy is the first to say this to me, and I can guarantee you he won't be the last. Just a day or so ago, Democratic Representative Steve Horsford had this to say on the house floor before the Congressional Black Caucus:



February is Black History Month and I can only assume the significance black history plays in our country isn't being taught anymore. The gravity of slavery to the bravery of the civil rights movement, ignorance is spread like wildfire. Slavery, Civil Rights Movement, and Illegal Immigration. What do these three things have in common? A massive amount of ethnic people suffering from one thing or another. That's the extent of their similarities. It's the differences that makes the difference and what makes them different is this tiny little thing called "the law."

As horrible as slavery was, it was legal. It was the law of the land. Men, women, and children were kidnapped by slavers from the Colonies and Europe, enemies from other tribes, and friends. Many were lured with false promises and lies. They were transported like cargo across the Atlantic ocean; many died from disease or at the hands of the crew. A common practice was to chain the slaves together in a line with something heavy in front. They would drop that heavy something in the water and one by one the chained slaves would slide into the ocean. Those who survived the trip were brought to the islands and to the states as slaves. Three hundred years later, Abraham Lincoln and the war happened, and they were granted their freedom. That's American Slavery.

An illegal immigrant is someone who chooses to come here whether by boat smugglers, forged papers, crossing the border, or staying once their VISA expires. Children who are also illegal, brought here as kids by no fault of their own, have schooling and college issues, and many of them don't know why until they're older. Many illegal immigrants come here while their pregnant and give birth to American citizens, anchor babies.

The keyword here is choice. Africans were BROUGHT here, stolen from their home, under an evil, legal system. Illegal aliens chopse to commit a crime and their children suffer the consequences of their actions. Congressman Horsford compared immigration reform to the civil rights movement, which doesn't make any sense. Being an American is either a "birth right" or a privilege. It is not a human right or a civil right. The Civil Rights Movement was blacks and whites fighting for equal treatment under the law, not special treatment and a pardon.

You don't have to be a child to be ignorant, you can be a young adult on twitter or a congressman from Nevada. Using slavery and the Civil Rights Movement to evoke sympathy for or to justify a crime is disturbing. It's ignorance at it's best. The congressman is right, many illegal aliens are waiting to start jobs, start businesses, go to college, or use the college degrees they legally shouldn't have gotten. Who's fault is that? It's not the Africans fault for being slaves, but any struggle or fear the illegal alien experiences is because of choices he made, and it's not the American government's job to bail him out.

This guy, DESH, said "OUR ANCESTORS" as if we come from the same people. As far as I know my ancestor on my mother's mother's side, James Butler, was a slave from Barbados who escaped to Georgia. Where he came from before Barbados, we don't know. My mother's father's father is a Native American from Georgia. My father's grandfather immigrated from St. Thomas to New York City, legally. I have sickle cell trait, so someone came from West, Southwest, or Central Africa, Northern Sudan, South America, Saudi Arabia, India, or the Mediterranean. Like many black people, I don't really know where I come from, but I can guarantee you no one on my family tree came to this nation illegally.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Puff and Fluff

Obama revealed today his beginning plans to curb gun violence in our country. To start, he pleaded with congress to pass an "assault weapons" ban and universal background checks. An assault weapons ban didn't work the first time and I don't know any criminals who get guns in a way that forces them to undergo a background check. The guns used in Columbine were illegally obtained and Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, shot his mom then stole her guns and her car. These laws Obama is proposing infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens and make it difficult for law-abiding citizens to practice their constitutional right. Then came the executive orders. Myself and other conservatives were worried about the executive orders and what King Obama would do, but I have to say I was a little relieved...and angry. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it was nothing at all at the same time. You can read all 23 executive orders here, but you should notice what they all have in common: They're pointless.

Obama wants to "launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign," which is what the NRA does. He wants to "clarify" things in Obamacare that are already law, and push federal agents and agencies to push local law enforcement to do things that are already law. He wants to "develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education" which is not a federal problem and never should be, and stuff like this has already been in place since Columbine and Virginia Tech. My favorite is the last one which says, "Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health." I laughed. He wants the CDC to stuff gun violence and prevention, but he didn't mention video games and film.
I have no problem calling people idiots and if you think anything Obama said today would prevent a Columbine, Virginia Tech, or Sandy Hook then you're an idiot. Obama was more intent on blaming Congress for something they haven't done yet than he was on keeping our children safe, but he did use children to get the American people on board with his nonexistent plan. Hitler used children to convince people to give up their rights, too. Obama talked today like he had voters to please, as if he's expecting a third term. Today was a joke and it's a waste of money. Something should be done to stop gun violence, but doing something for the sake of doing something is dangerous.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! What a year 2012 was and I'm glad it's over. On to bigger and better things and leaving the past behind. The traditional part of moving on with a new year is making New Years Resolutions. The typical is losing weight, praying more, eating better, and all the boring stuff. I don't want to make promises to myself I can't keep or afford, but I love this game. The last time I made a New Years Resolution was a few years ago when I wanted to see 50 movies in theaters, not counting repeats. I believe I saw 75 movies that year. Working at a movie theater helps, so it's not like it was hard. This time I around, I'm working at a bookstore, and I do need to read more. So my New Years Resolution is....drum roll....to read FIFTY BOOKS by December 31, 2013. That's a little over a book a week and about 13 books every three months. It's almost impossible, but I can make it happen. I get 20% off on regular days, 30% off on paydays, plus I can check out books from the store like a library and I have a library card that I actually use. All I need is the motivation. This isn't about the number of books I read or the reading level, it's about discipline and building my confidence. I need to teach myself to stick to things. Picking 50 random books is chaos, so I made a fun little plan:

Three Nicholas Sparks Books
Three Karen Kingsbury Books
Three John Grisham Books
Three James Patterson Books
Two Ann Coulter Book
Three Stephen King Books
The Last Three "A Series of Unfortunate Events" Books
The Mortal Instruments (5 Books)
Three Classics
Three African-American Fiction Books
One Biography/Autobiography
One Shakespeare Play
One Graphic Novel
Three Books that have been adapted into a film
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Ten Books of My Choice

It's a goofy list, but it's not an entirely odd selection. Like I said, this is about discipline. I love Stephen King, but I could care less about Nicholas Sparks. I need to read more Christian Fiction and I don't think I've ever read an African-American fiction novel all the way through, not since I was in middle school. I've been trying to finish ASOUE for years and I need to finish the Millennium and Hunger Games Trilogies. I won an Ann Coulter book through GOProud and I'm excited about it, but Poli-Sci and Social Science books...not my forte. I chose the Mortal Instruments because the movie is coming out this year and I love YA Fiction (don't ask me why). As much as I read, there's no reason for me to have never read a John Grisham or James Patterson novel. I tried to read a comic book when I was seven or eight and it made me sick, so the Graphic Novel is probably going to be the biggest challenge. Overall, it's going to be several steps outside my comfort zone throughout the year, but I'm excited. I've got two Ann Coulter books and the first two Mortal Instruments books ready to go.

Every month on the 13th I'll post an update on my progress. If you're interested in keeping track, I made an account on Goodreads.com. Just go to the "new years resolution" link to see what I've read so far. I hope you take this exciting and nerdy journey with me. Now tell me, what are your New Years Resolutions.