Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gay In The N.B.A.

It was inevitable. There has never been a doubt in my mind that one day an NBA player would come out of the closet and let his rainbow flag fly. Jason Collins who most recently played for the Washington Wizards, and The Boston Celtics and is now a free agent, is officially the first active professional athlete to "come out", (wear his sexual orientation on his sleeve).

When I heard this story the first thing I thought was, Jason who? I had never heard of this guy, and I figured that he must have only been in the league a year or 2. But upon further investigation I learned that he is actually an NBA veteran who has been in the league for 12 seasons. His stats are not impressive and his career is lack luster at best. Before he became the first openly gay active athlete in a major American team sport, Jason Collins was known as a bruising center with a very limited offensive game. He has only averaged 3.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 20 minutes per game in his career.

But he is a tough, big defender who could rebound, an unglamorous role player who does 20 minutes of dirty work before going back to the bench.

So the question is did Collins "come out " because of a need to draw attention to himself in the twilight of his other wise forgettable career?

Collins' one moment of glory came in 2011, when he became the "Dwight Stopper" after he had a bunch of good games against then-Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.

In March of 2011, ESPN's John Hollinger wrote of Collins, who played for the Atlanta Hawks at the time.
"Normally, Collins' glaring deficiencies on offense make it too expensive to leave him on the court for his defense, but normally, the Hawks aren't playing the game's most dominant big man. On this night, Collins swung the game to the Hawks' advantage early by drawing two quick fouls on Howard, one on the offensive boards and the other with one of his patented flops in the low post."

Collins' odd success against Dwight continued a few months later, when the Hawks upset the Magic 4-2 in the playoffs. He played 17 minutes per game in that series (he averaged just 12 minutes during the regular season).

Collins' status as Dwight's kryptonite will probably take a backseat now though. He even referenced his reputation as a bruising center in a recent article.

"I go against the gay stereotype, which is why I think a lot of players will be shocked: That guy is gay? But I've always been an aggressive player, even in high school. Am I so physical to prove that being gay doesn't make you soft? Who knows? That's something for a psychologist to unravel. My motivations, like my contributions, don't show up in box scores, and frankly I don't care about stats. Winning is what counts. I want to be evaluated as a team player."
As to why he opted to address his sexuality now, Collins says that he was partly inspired by the Boston Marathon bombings, adding that "it takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I've endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew," he writes. "And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back."

In my opinion he absolutely fits the gay stereotype. An attention seeking contrarian, who longs for acceptance. Of course he is going to say that he does not care about stats, because his stats are horrible. To me the equation reads like this. A career just below mediocrity, plus free agency, plus the fact that the "gay mafia" or the LGB...whatchamacallit community will try to crush those who give the slightest inclination that they disagree with Jason Collins decision to "come out", or snub him for doing so, plus an from NBA commissioner David Stern, equals a brand new contract.

Stern applauded Collins in a statement, noting, "Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue." Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld felt similarly, calling Collins "a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career".

The team that signs Collins will be seen as a progressive, trail blazing franchise on the cutting edge of equality. I believe that his decision to "out" himself was a bargaining chip to gain attention, support, and a shiny new contract, and not a move to unburden himself. These are my thoughts outside of the box.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Good News!

When I write I like to write about subject matter that is interesting, and thought provoking. Sometimes I read several newspapers, and I write about things that are topical, and other times I come up with a focus and I elaborate from my own unique perspective. As I began to read several articles today I began to realize that there is a shortage of good news. Which is a sign of the times I suppose, but the negativity of it all can be quite depressing, and desensitizing because we are constantly bombarded with the ever increasing absurdity of this world. But, In the midst of it all there is still good news.

1. 11.7 million Americans are unemployed, and you are not one of them. No matter how unhappy you are with your job, or how dissatisfied you are with your pay, there are millions of people who would love to be in your shoes, and would be satisfied working harder for less money.

2. We woke up this morning healthy, and strong with all of our faculties intact, and the activity of our limbs. A couple of weeks ago there was a group of people in Boston who loved exercising and competition so much that they choose to run in a marathon. Those who were maimed in the bombing had no idea when they woke up that morning that it would be the last day that they would be able to use their legs. If nothing else, the tragic outcome of this terrorist attack has allowed us to appreciate some of the things we often take for granted, life and the quality of our lives.

2. We live in America. I could just leave it at that. But I won't. The fact of the matter is that America is still the greatest country in the world. Regardless of what gripes, issues, or concerns you may have, there is no better place to live. The fact that we can openly express our feelings is a blessing in and of itself. There are some countries on this planet where people have no freedom of speech, and can be arrested or lose their lives if they dare to voice an opinion. Here in America, not only can you voice your opinion, you have the write to spread as much nonsense, lies, and propaganda as you please. This is the only country where you could have both a Rush Limbaugh, and a Fox News.
24 hrs a day!

3. The best news of all is.....God is still in control. Despite all of the trouble, stress and strife in the world, there is still a king who sits high and looks low. A merciful God who will bless us and keep no matter what. NOW THAT IS GOOD NEWS!!


Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Problem With Young Black Boys

It has been discussed numerous times in symposiums, and town hall meetings. It is been a subject that has been dissected, analyzed, and presented with great complexity. It has often been my observation that certain subjects when discussed at length over time become conveniently complicated because the answer is often too simple as it pertains to the matter at hand. Some answers present more questions, and the pain, accountability, and awkwardness often involved in tackling a monumental crisis is easier to avoid than to initiate an open and honest dialogue. The problem with black boys is black men.
 Many in the African-American community openly acknowledge the absence of positive male role models in the home, and site many reasons why. Some legitimate, some far reaching, and some conspiratorial in nature. But there is only a minuscule amount of accountability. It has already been established that as African-American men, we exist in a parallel universe that we must navigate with caution. It probably won't change, and it's not likely to change. Racism, and prejudice, has been manifested through cultural conditioning. This will never change. You can call me a pessimist if you insist on defining my character but if the election of President Obama has taught us anything, it should be apparent that bigotry is alive and well. The post in post racism is nonsense, and is a phrase coined by those who are both frustrated and annoyed by our "whining" who are happy to point to Obama as as a tangible progressive symbol of how far we have come as a country. But given the fact that each and everything the President has does has been met with a kind mean-spirited resistance never before seen in the political arena, I think that it is safe to say that racism is alive and well in the U.S.A.

The fact of the matter is that black men have failed black boys in epic proportions. We can spend another decade debating, analyzing, and elaborating on the reasons why, but in the end it all comes down to personal responsibility. If you are an African-American man who grew up without a father, you know your struggle, and you understand want it is like to "wing it" into manhood. You should want substantially more for your son. You can break the chain of dysfunction. Being a father is not easy, even for those of us who grew up with a father. No man has all of the tools. but real men acquire them through prayer and effort. Despite not having all of those tools, we are all born with an innate sense of right and wrong. There are some lessons that do not require teaching, just patience, understanding, and work. Being a father has nothing to do with direct self gratification, and being a man in general means doing a whole lot of things that are not immediately gratifying, or satisfying, if you're doing it right. But great sacrifice equals great reward, and if we take the time to invest in our children we can make a difference one father at a time.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Just When You Thought You Heard It All.........

Tavon White, leader of a jailhouse gang called "The Black Gorilla Family" is in the Baltimore City Detention Center awaiting trial on attempted murder charges. Often times when we hear about anyone in jail we think about hard time, solitary confinement, and inmates not being allowed to lead lives in which they indulge in the pleasures that we all take for granted. This does not hold true for Tavon White who apparently over indulged while incarcerated. White is being accused of impregnating 4 corrections officers who were involved in a criminal enterprise with him.
This "playboy prisoner" is facing an indictment that claims that the gang ran a scheme from inside the detention center and charges gang members and corrections officers with conspiracy, drug possession, distribution and money laundering.

In other "just when you thought you heard it all news", a grandfather in India was arrested this week after selling his newborn grandson on Facebook.
Feroz Khan, 47, of Ludhiana city in the northwestern state of Punjab, allegedly kidnapped his daughter Noori's son from the hospital shortly after he was born on April 3, according to Punjab Newsline. He told Noori that her son had died.
With the help of two temporary employees at the hospital where his daughter gave birth, Khan arranged a deal on Facebook to sell his baby grandson for 45,000 rupees ($830). The newborn baby was sold to Amit Kumar of New Delhi. Noori filed a police report that her son had been kidnapped.
"We acted upon the complaint of the mother, who alleged that her child was stolen from the nursing home in Ludhiana," Ishwar Singh, Ludhiana's Commissioner of Police, told the Telegraph. "After investigations, we found the grandfather of the child had struck a deal with a man in Delhi and had roped-in the nursing staff to smuggle the baby out of the nursing home. We have arrested four people including the grandfather. We have also booked the buyer from Delhi."
Police found the baby at Facebook buyer Kumar’s Ranjit Nagar home on Tuesday, according to the Hindustan Times. The baby was ill and undergoing treatment at Sir Gangaram Hospital.

In an extreme case of the authorities "dropping the ball", a Philadelphia couple serving probation for the 2009 death of their toddler after they turned to prayer instead of a doctor could face new charges now that another son has died.
Herbert and Catherine Schaible belong to a fundamentalist Christian church that believes in faith healing. They lost their 8-month-old son, Brandon, last week after he suffered from diarrhea and breathing problems for at least a week, and stopped eating. Four years ago, another son died from bacterial pneumonia.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that a decision on charges will be made after they get the results of an autopsy.
A jury convicted the Schaibles of involuntary manslaughter in the January 2009 death of their 2-year-old son, Kent. The boy's symptoms had included coughing, congestion, crankiness and a loss of appetite. His parents said he was eating and drinking until the last day, and they had thought he was getting better.
The Schaibles were sentenced to 10 years' probation.
At a hearing Monday, a judge told the couple they had violated the terms of their probation, noting the Schaibles had told investigators that they prayed to God to make Brandon well instead of seeking medical attention.
"You did that once, and the consequences were tragic," Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner said, according to the local news.

Prosecutors on Monday sought to have the couple jailed, but Lerner permitted them to remain free because their seven other children had been placed in foster care.

This is a absolute travesty of justice. If this had been Derrick and Tawana Jackson they'd still be serving time after the death of their first child!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Will he move back? Would you move back?

Timika Rutledge-German finally accepted there was only so much she could do to protect her 15-year-old son Cornelius German, from Chicago's dangerous streets, but when he called for her help, she knew she would go. On Monday night, her son called her for a ride home.

Minutes later, as he lay dying on the South Side of Chicago from a bullet wound to the back, her son called out for her one last time. "Call my mama," he cried out, she later learned. But she could not help him this time. Her son was pronounced dead at 12:50 a.m. Tuesday at the Cook County medical examiner's office, and no one was in custody for his homicide Tuesday evening.

Cornelius is the second 15 year old in the passed 2 months who was murdered 4 blocks away from President Obama's home in Chicago. In February Hadiya Pendleton an honor student, volleyball player, and a majorette in The King College Prep High School Band was also murdered, just weeks after participating in several events during President Obama's inaugural celebration.

Given the fact that the President himself is the father of two young girls who will be well into their teens by the time he finishes his second term, I have to wonder if he will resume residence in his home in Chicago.
I would venture to say no. Regardless of the fact that he will have a lifetime of Secret Service protection, there is no reason why he should or would put his family or his girls in harms way. Especially given the fact that he can choose 49 other states to live in. Most of which have a significantly lower murder rate.

I would NEVER return to Chicago if I were him. What sane person would?


Wendell & The Food Desert

I have lost faith in most high profile people. Most do not seem to be concerned with much more than their careers. Very few feel a sense of responsibility to give back to or support the very same communities which have long offered unwavering support to them.
But there are some who heed the call, and fully deserve to be called "stars" because they shine in their deeds, words, and efforts.

Wendell Pierce, who is best known for his roles on "Treme", "The Wire", and "Waiting To Exhale", (Which is one of my personal favorites), has launched Sterling Farms, a chain of grocery and convenience stores in the food deserts of his hometown of New Orleans. In addition to the stores offering fresh and healthy food, they also offer rides home if you spend more than $50.

"The most important thing to me is creating a relationship with the community, creating an economic engine as an opportunity for them just to have access to a decent grocery store," Pierce says.

This is not only inspiring, but it is the sort of activism that addresses real issues, and provides resources that enables progress and growth in disadvantaged communities.

Food deserts can be described as geographic areas where residents’ access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables) is restricted or nonexistent due to the absence of grocery stores within convenient travelling distance. For instance, according to a report prepared for Congress by the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, about 2.3 million people (or 2.2 percent of all US households) live more than one mile away from a supermarket and do not own a car.

In urban areas, access to public transportation may help residents overcome the difficulties posed by distance, but economic forces have driven grocery stores out of many cities in recent years, making them so few and far between that an individual’s food shopping trip may require taking several buses or trains. In suburban and rural areas, public transportation is either very limited or unavailable, with supermarkets often many miles away from people’s homes.

The other defining characteristic of food deserts is socio-economic, that is, they are most commonly found in communities of color and low-income areas (where many people don't have cars). Studies have found that wealthy districts have three times as many supermarkets as poor ones do, that white neighborhoods contain an average of four times as many supermarkets as predominantly black ones do, and that grocery stores in African-American communities are usually smaller with less selection.

People’s choices about what to eat are severely limited by the options available to them and what they can afford—and many food deserts contain an overabundance of fast food chains selling cheap “meat” and dairy-based foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt. Processed foods (such as snack cakes, chips and soda) typically sold by corner delis, convenience stores and liquor stores are usually just as unhealthy.

Those living in food deserts may also find it difficult to locate foods that are culturally appropriate for them, and dietary restrictions, such as lactose intolerance, gluten allergies, etc., also limit the food choices of those who do not have access to larger chain stores that have more selection. Additionally, studies have found that urban residents who purchase groceries at small neighborhood stores pay between 3 and 37 percent more than suburbanites buying the same products at supermarkets.

Healthier foods are generally more expensive than unhealthful foods, particularly in food deserts. For instance, while the overall price of fruits and vegetables in the US increased by nearly 75 percent between 1989 and 2005, the price of fatty foods dropped by more than 26 percent during the same period. While such inflation has strained the food budgets of many families regardless of their financial status, the higher cost of healthy foods often puts them entirely beyond the monetary means of many lower-income people.

A nation is only as strong as its individuals, and, despite what the conservative media would have you believe America is still the land of plenty. The fact that there are some people in this country who do not have access to healthy food options is egregious, and uncontainable. While many concern themselves with the plight of those who lack nutrition in other countries, we must always be conscious of the fact that some of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow Americans are also suffering. I am always amazed by the fact that people forget that charity begins at home.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Changing The Baby

Most communities, or cultures have eccentricities. Some a little stranger than others. Most, of them are rooted in myth and misconception. Others have been practiced, or observed for so long that their validity is not questioned or challenged, but embraced as fact.

The Black community is no different. There are a few long held beliefs when it comes to babies that have been passed on from generation to generation that are not based on facts.

1. Massaging or squeezing a baby's head in order to reshape it or make it smaller.
Not only does this not work, but putting that kind of pressure on a babies delicate skull can cause severe damage.
The only way to insure that your baby will have a "normal" sized head, is to make sure that his father has a "normal" sized head. Otherwise be happy with the gift that God has given you. He NEVER makes mistakes.

2. Pinching a babies nose with a clothes pin in a desperate attempt to make it smaller, or narrower.
This obviously hurts the baby and can damage nasal passages. In addition, choosing vanity over a child's well being does not help them, it gives them a false sense of reality, and fosters an innate sense of insecurity. No child should ever think that one of their parents disliked the way they looked so much that they were willing to hurt them to change their appearance.

3. This is probably the most popular one of all. Taping a quarter over a babies navel.
If a child is born with an "outie",nothing can change it. Nature will always win. The best thing that any new mother can do is keep her quarters in her pocket and put them towards pampers and milk.


Side Bar: Stop squeezing my head!!!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Gun Lobby ( N.R.A.) Wins Again

Last Wednesday the Senate defeated several measures to expand gun control, which did not surprise me at all given the fact that the gun lobby is not only thriving, but has massive amounts of cash. When the NRA suggested that armed teachers could have possibly changed the outcome of Sandy Hook Massacre, it was a tell tale sign of things to come.

Since 1998, the NRA has spent $28.2 million on lobbying in Washington and employed between 16 and 35 lobbyists in any given year. The group has doled out more than $3.3 million in campaign contributions and $44 million on independent efforts to support its favored candidates in the last three federal elections. These are not large numbers.
The group's great clout lies in the sheer number of people it can mobilize. The NRA boasts four million members, whom it spends a large piece of its budget engaging. Communicating with members constituted one fourth of all NRA expenses $57 million in 2010, the most recent year for which tax filings were available. That is a far higher amount than the NRA spends on lobbying or campaign ads, underscoring the grassroots nature of the group. Members also are the biggest source of funds for the NRA, supplying $100 million out of a total of $227 million in revenue in 2010.

According to some current and former aides on Capitol Hill and within the Obama administration the NRA has garnered power by being flexible with its endorsements. Members of both parties routinely beg for its approval (a group that endorsed only Republicans would be written off as a lost cause by Democrats).
More importantly, they said, the group's engaged, dues paying members can be activated on short notice. Several staffers noted how office phone systems would be overwhelmed with calls and complaints. Usually, all the NRA has to do was to remind a lawmaker of its position and the chips fall into place.

A bipartisan compromise to expand background checks for gun buyers, a ban on assault weapons and a ban on high-capacity gun magazines all failed to get the 60 votes needed under an agreement between both parties. Senators also turned back Republican proposals to expand permission to carry concealed weapons and to focus law enforcement efforts on prosecuting gun crimes.

Sitting in the Senate gallery with other survivors of recent mass shootings and their family members, Lori Haas, whose daughter was shot at Virginia Tech, and Patricia Maisch, a survivor of the mass shooting in Arizona, shouted together, “Shame on you.”

President Obama, speaking at the White House after the votes, echoed the cry, calling It, “a pretty shameful day for Washington.”
Opponents of gun control from both parties said that they made their decisions based on logic, and that passions had no place in the making of momentous policy.

“Criminals do not submit to background checks now,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa. “They will not submit to expanded background checks.”

It was a striking defeat for one of President Obama’s highest priorities, on an issue that has consumed much of the country since Adam Lanza opened fire with an assault weapon in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary School in December killing 20 children.

It appears that the majority of the Senate has been bought and paid for by the gun lobby also known as the N.R.A. Despite the massacre of 20 innocent children this past December at Sandy Hook elementary school, and despite the fact that 90% of Americans are in favor of extensive background checks they have decided to go against the wishes of their constituents. Our only recourse as citizens is to hold these Senators accountable when we exercise our right to vote. We must make sure that they realize, recognize, and understand that they are supposed to work for us, and not against us. We must remind them that they are supposed to be agents of change, instead of politicians for sale trying to make some change.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Bombing Blame In Boston

As soon as the Boston Marathon bombing was described as a terrorist attack, I knew that it would be blamed on Muslim extremists from the Middle East. I believe that most of America felt that way because of 9-11 and other terrorist attacks carried out by such extremists but most people were not too quick to point the finger for fear that these mad men may actually be "home grown" terrorists. But there was one reporter who decided to blatantly single out one group and place the blame on them.

CNN's John King caused some controversy on Wednesday when he said that a potential suspect in the Boston bombings was a "dark-skinned male."
King was the first to report that law enforcement officials had identified a suspect in Monday's bloody attacks.
Eventually, of course, King's entire thesis turned out to be false. Federal authorities made clear that there was no suspect in the attacks yet. At the time, though, he appeared to have a scoop.
"I want to be very careful about this, because people get very sensitive when you say these things," he said. "I was told by one of these sources who is a law enforcement official that this is a dark-skinned male."

That could be every man in my family. But none of us live in Boston, visit Boston, or are terrorists.

King said that there had been a further description given, but he was refraining from sharing it with viewers.
"There are some people who will take offense for even saying that," he said. "I understand that."

In other words he was so hungry for an exclusive that he didn't care who he offended, and so confident in the validity of his information that he ran with it.

King then went on to say, "We can't say whether the person spoke with a foreign accent, or an American accent?" Wolf Blitzer asked. "That would be premature."
King repeated that he was only going to use the "dark-skinned male" description, saying that sometimes information did not turn out to be true.
"I'm making a personal judgment, forgive me, I think it's the right judgment not to try to inflame tensions," King said. "They say it's a dark-skinned male."

Notice he never says who "they" are and he seems determined, and assertive in his claim. He also went on to say that it was his "personal judgement". But what was it based on?

The very next day according to reports, two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer and hurled explosives at police in a car chase and gun battle overnight that left one of them dead and his brother on the loose, authorities said Friday as thousands of officers swarmed the streets in a manhunt that all but paralyzed the Boston area.

The suspects were identified by law enforcement officials and a family member as Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, brothers from a Russian region near Chechnya, which has been plagued by an Islamic insurgency that has carried out deadly bombings. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, an uncle said.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a 26-year-old who had been known to the FBI as Suspect No. 1 and was seen in surveillance footage in a black baseball cap, was killed overnight, officials said. His 19-year-old brother dubbed Suspect No. 2 was seen wearing a white, backward baseball cap in the images from Monday's deadly bombing at the marathon finish line escaped.

Authorities in Boston suspended all mass transit and warned close to 1 million people in the entire city and some of its suburbs to stay indoors as the hunt went on. Businesses were asked not to open. People waiting at bus and subway stops were told to go home.

From Watertown to Cambridge, police SWAT teams, sharpshooters and FBI agents with armored vehicles surrounded various buildings as police helicopters buzzed overhead.

"We believe this man to be a terrorist," said Boston Police commissioner Ed Davis, who urged all nearby residents to stay in their homes unless police are present. "We believe this to be a man who's come here to kill people."

Authorities said surveillance tape recorded late Thursday showed Suspect No. 2 during a robbery of a convenience store in Cambridge, near the campus of MIT, where a university police officer identified as 26-year-old Sean Collier was shot to death while responding to a report of a disturbance, said State Police Col Timothy Alben.

From there, authorities said, the two men carjacked a man in a Mercedes-Benz, keeping him with them in the car for half an hour before releasing him at a gas station in Cambridge. The man was not injured.

The search for the vehicle led to a chase that ended in Watertown, where authorities said the suspects threw explosive devices from the car and exchanged gunfire with police.

Last night while I was writing this, a flurry of applause at the scene of a standoff between police and Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev signaled his capture.

After a nearly two-hour standoff in a Watertown neighborhood, Tsarnaev was taken from the scene by ambulance to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge where he was in serious condition.

“We got him. Thank God we got him,” Mayor Tom Menino told the local media,
as hundreds of police officers and federal authorities drove away from the scene. Large crowds of residents lined the streets applauding, some waving American flags.

“Overwhelming. Relief,” Watertown resident Josh Smith said. “We can sleep tonight.”


Side bar:
These two don't look so dark to me. Unless I look with my eyes closed.

Friday, April 19, 2013

3 Reasons Why You Should Man/Women Up

1. Your problems won't disappear just because you ignore them, or choose not to acknowledge them. If you don't handle your business, your business will handle you. Pray for guidance and then do all that you can do to find a solution.

2. God has never, and will never put more on you than you can bear.

Proverbs 3:5,6

5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

3. There is a lesson to be learned from each and every set back, disappointment, and struggle. Lessons that are designed to make us wise enough to avoid finding ourselves in the same predicament over and over again. The key word is "designed". It is up to us as individuals to see the lessons within our storms, and not to be so distracted by the wind and rain that we forget that our deliverance is our testimony. It is my sincere prayer that those who lack clarity in the midst of trouble find their way.
Storms only last for a moment. But the love of God lasts forever.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

What's In A Name?

I know that after reading this a lot of my African-American brothers and sisters will be mad at me. I know that the truth hurts but it must be told. Especially when it comes to the future of our children. I have never been one to sugar coat the truth. Ok, in the interest if full disclosure, sugar coating is not my particular forte' anyway. But this should not come as a shock to those who read my blog regularly.

It never fails. Each and every time I attend a school event with one of my children, especially my six year old, I cringe and scratch my head when I hear a child being called by his or her complicated name. The level of creativity never ceases to amaze me. Names like, Lakwanasia, Messiah, Quantavia, and Dayshawn have become the standard, and I often wonder if these children's parents had given any significant thought to naming their offspring. Or if they just took creative license and ran with it.

Of course every parent has the absolute right to name their children what ever they please, and many choose names that they feel are unique, meaningful, and special.....to them. So I can't help but wonder if these choices are motivated by a subconscious need for power, and control. Fulfilling a void in lives where both are in short supply by exercising the only bastion of autonomy that they may have, naming their children.
Or maybe some people truly believe that it's cute to name their sons Genesis. Either way, it's just wrong. Pigeon-holing your children by giving them these un-orthodox names is selfish, and nonsensical. Your child will have their names for the rest of their lives. They have to live with it, in a world that they do not control.
Barack Obama became President. But he he worked his behind off to get there. He is the exception and not the rule. Unless your child goes to Harvard, becomes a lawyer, and a state Senator turned presidential candidate who wins an election because the president leaving office displayed such an unimaginable level of ineptitude that anybody different was a wonderful choice, they will not be President.

Our children will be judged by their names, whether we like it or not.

One of my favorite books is a book entitled "Freakanomocs" by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book Gladwell talked about the results of his research which basically entailed the impact, cause, and effect certain circumstances had on every day life. In one study he sent resumes with equal credentials to a prospective employer. One resume, had a common name like (Michael, John, Jennifer, or Gail) and the other had a name which was unique to African-Americans. The results were astounding. Employers overwhelmingly chose to follow up on the resume with the racially ambiguous or common name regardless of the fact that both applicants were equally qualified.
As much as some of us would like to believe that we live in a post racial America, the fact of the matter is, due to rampant cultural conditioning, racism still manifests itself in the choices that people make. This is the world that we live in, and I believe that naming a child Messiah is doing him a dis-service unless he actually is one. This moniker is going to guarantee that he faces undue scrutiny, and prejudice. Even if you believe that I am wrong. Why take a chance with your child's future? Children should have every advantage possible to succeed, thrive, and grow. As parents we must ask ourselves if we are taking the necessary steps to makes this possible or are we impeding their progress.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Allowed To Be Crazy

The First Amendment (freedom of speech) is perhaps one of the most abused, yet cherished amendments in the constitution. Some people use their right for just causes, others use it to promote agendas that can be considered dubious at best, and others may actually use it to speak out against injustice. The latter seems to be on the verge of becoming extinct given the fact that the number psychos with opinions who are being given a platform on which to preach to their respective choir's is increasing, even if the message is out of tune with anything that remotely resembles lucidity.

These days all that you need is a famous name, a voice, and an idea. It doesn't necessarily have to be a good idea. It just has to be outrageous enough so that a sound bite can be looped numerous times throughout a 24 hour news cycle.

The latest nut job extremist who insists on spewing his special brand of ignorance is geriatric former rock star Ted Nugent. Over the past few years Nugent has made a number of deplorable comments in reference to President Obama and others which have been largely ignored by the media. In his attempt to remain relevant Nugent has even made some comments that basically amount to terrorist threats.

Nugent: "If Barack Obama Becomes The President In November, Again, I Will Either Be Dead Or In Jail By This Time Next Year."
This sounds like a threat to me. Yesterday officially marked 1 year since he made this comment. Yet, he is neither dead, or in jail. Where is the justice?

Nugent: "Our president, attorney general, our vice president, Hillary Clinton, they're criminals. They're criminals. That guy on the radio the other day said, 'Well, name the crimes.' About 10 minutes later, I said, "Have you had enough?" I mean, who doesn't know the crimes our government is committing?"

He has absolutely no proof of these incendiary allegations because they are baseless.

Nugent: "Piece Of Sh--t" Obama Should "Suck On My Machine Gun." From an August 22, 2007 concert where an assault-rifle-wielding Nugent also referred to then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as "a worthless bitch".

If George Clinton had threatened George Bush like this, the authorities would have put both him and parliament funkadelic under the jail.

Nugent: Civil Rights Leaders Jackson And Sharpton Speak In "Ebonic Mumbo-Jumbo." In a February 10 column for birther website WND, Nugent claimed that if a Republican president had the same drone policy as the Obama administration, "Jesse Jackson and Al Not-So-Sharpton would be lisping their ebonic mumbo-jumbo that the policy and the president are racist and bigoted."

Pot meet kettle!
Nugent is not just a terrorist, but he is also (not surprisingly), a unabashed racist.

Nugent: "I'm Beginning To Wonder If It Would Have Been Best Had The South Won The Civil War."

No words.

These are just a fraction of the insane comments made by a right wing extremist who desperately wants to become relevant again. The rantings of a dangerous, demented lunatic who has no sense of discretion. But perhaps what is most disturbing about Ted Nugent is the fact that he also echoes the sentiments of a certain segment of Americans.

Maybe that is why there has been very little media coverage in reference to this mad man. Or maybe his reckless outbursts are not being taken seriously because our President is not being taken seriously. Either way the fact that Nugent has been allowed to act like a maniac is disturbing.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Boston Marathon Bombing

My wife told me about it. But I did not feel the full impact of this tragedy until I turned on the TV, and saw the footage. Billowing gray smoke coming from an unidentifiable building proceeded by an explosion of fragmented debris, made me feel as if I was watching the terrorist attack on 9/11 all over again. People screaming and running for their lives as chaos began to unfold disturbing the decades old sporting event that is the Boston marathon.

As investigators combed through what Boston's top police official described as "the most complex crime scene we've dealt with in the history of our department," leaders vowed to emerge unbowed from Monday's terror attack.

"Moments like this and our response to them define who we are," Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said, a day after 2 bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring 176.

Investigators spent Monday going over the 12-block crime scene and fanning out to interview witnesses, with FBI Boston Field Office Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers vowing to go to the "ends of the earth" to find out who was behind the bombing.

He said Tuesday that there was no known imminent threat in the wake of the bombings. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick stressed that, despite earlier reports, there were no unexploded bombs discovered after the attack.

Authorities pleaded for the public to submit cell phone images and video that could help unravel the mystery of who created such carnage and pandemonium at one of the nation's most storied sporting traditions. The narrative usually ends with one winner victoriously breaking the ribbon at the finish line. The blasts, which killed an 8-year-old boy and two other people, marked a grotesque end to what should have been a celebration of triumph.

One man's legs were instantly blown off, yet he kept trying to stand up. Exhausted marathoners had to muster up the energy to flee the bloody scene, while some 176 people sought treatment at area hospitals, some of them were gravely wounded.

Investigators don't know the motive for the bombings and don't have a specific suspect, nor have they found any surveillance video showing the bombs being placed. President Obama has said that the terrorists will be found and will be subject to the "full weight" of the law.

A day after the bombings, as Pope Francis told Bostonians to "combat evil with good", and runners in Atlanta staged a silent run to commemorate the victims, Americans alternately mourned and nervously wondered who was behind the violence.
The blasts happened in quick succession, near the row of international flags that led up to the finish line. The impact was so powerful, it whipped the limp flags straight out, as if they were caught in a hurricane, or a storm

Some runners said they thought the first blast was from a celebratory cannon. Any such illusions were shattered when the second blast erupted, startling the exhausted runners out of their post-race daze.

Of the 176 people who were treated at hospitals, at least 17 were in critical condition and 41 in serious condition, according to hospital officials. At least nine of the wounded were children. Some of the wounded kids have already left the hospital, Boston Children's Hospital spokeswoman Meghan Weber said.

Dr. Albert Pendleton, an orthopedic surgeon who was helping staff the race's medical tent, told the local news on Tuesday it was "basically like the bomb took out the legs of everybody."
"Boston will overcome," Mayor Thomas Menino promised.

There is no doubt in my mind that Boston will overcome. But I cannot help but wonder if this bombing is a sign of things to come or a deadly isolated incident.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Good Grades For Welfare (update)

One person really can make a difference, no matter how small they are, or what age they may be. When it comes to faith, the only requirement is having the amount of a mustard seed, and the courage to take action.

Last week I wrote about a bill in Tennessee that would cut welfare benefits by 30% from parents with children performing poorly in school. The bill cleared both the House and Senate committees but the lawmaker behind the bill dropped his support for the bill, claiming further research on the impact on families was necessary.

According to local media reports, Sen. Stacey Campfield (R) may have dropped the bill because of a powerful, tenacious 8-year-old girl.

Before the session, activists organized a demonstration in the corridors of Legislative Plaza and the state Capitol, and in a brilliant stroke of genius an 8-year-old girl confronted Campfield with a petition signed by opponents of the bill, and a choir of about 60 people, including some in clerical garb, sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children” outside the Senate chamber as lawmakers filed in.

Campfield walked away from the confrontation, saying repeatedly that he didn’t think children should be used as political props. But it was a long walk, and the confrontation extended over several minutes as video cameras recorded the back-and-forth.

After chasing Campfield up a Capitol escalator, 8 year old Aamira Fetuga asked him, "Why do you want to cut benefits for people?" Fetuga went on to follow Campfield after the camera stop rolling.

Campfield says he withdrew his bill because he didn’t have a full understanding of how the law would affect groups.

“Did I know what the final result was going to be? No, I never do,” Campfield said on the Senate Floor on Thursday. “I got a lot of good feedback from people. … I think a lot of people were really close (to supporting it) but were just looking for a little bit more.”

It was easy for him to propose a bill that would be detrimental to the poor and disenfranchised as long as they had no face. But seeing the face of little Aamira Fetuga evidently appealed to Campfield's sense of humanity, and forced him to re-evaluate this bill. This gives the phrase "out of the mouths of babes", a whole new meaning.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Un-Lucky Bag Operation

About 2 years ago I watched a weekly episodic television series called "Bait Car". The shows premise was to arrest people who were thieves believing the fact that they were greedy enough to steal a car is a clear sign that they are criminals. The officers would leave a "nice" car parked in an urban area with the keys in the ignition, and the engine running. The officers would then wait for someone to come along and steal the car. Once the unsuspecting individual began to drive off in the vehicle, the officers on location would activate a remote "kill switch" shutting off the engine. At which time a number of officers from the auto-theft unit would burst out of the shadows and place the driver under arrest.

I realize that the general consensus is that they should not have tried to drive off in a car that did not belong to them, and I get that, because I had the same thought. But the whole thing just seemed wrong. It's kind of like dangling a carrot in front of a rabbit and expecting it not to take a nibble. The Police Officers seemed to revel in their triumph, and celebrate each arrest as if it they were career making moments, often administering stern lectures to handcuffed suspects once in custody. After watching the show for a few weeks I actually started rooting for the car thieves. I know it was wrong, and I did feel a little guilty for hoping that they got away but, It wasn't like their crime was one of premeditation. More like crimes of opportunity. Ok, I know that it doesn't make it right, and all of my Christian brother's, and sister's will probably chastise me, but I'm just being honest. My question is. Why not move the operation to the suburbs? I'm sure that there is no shortage of greedy popportunist's who live on those tree-lined streets. I thought that this was the most blatant form of entrapment until I heard this story.

It's a tactic the New York Police Department has used for years. They leave cars and bags loaded with valuables in plain sight to see if anyone takes the bait. Sometimes the bait is a small amount of cash in a stray wallet. Or a credit card. Even a pack of cigarettes can do the trick. Those who leave without trying to turn in the valuables are arrested.

Police in New York City leave the items unattended on subway platforms, on park benches, in cars, and wait to see if someone grabs them.

The New York Police Department says the practice has been a valuable tool for catching career criminals and deterring thefts in public places. As usual, innocent people end up becoming innocent victims. A recent court ruling throwing out a larceny case against a Bronx woman cast a harsh light on this dubious tactic.

Judge Linda Poust Lopez found that there was no proof Deirdre Myers tried to steal anything, and that she was framed by a sting that took the tactic way too far. Upholding the charges "would greatly damage the confidence and trust of the public in the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, and rightly so," the judge wrote.

Myers, a 40 year-old single mother with no criminal record, has since sued the city, claiming she and her daughter were traumatized by a wrongful arrest in 2010.

"You know how embarrassing and humiliating this was?" Myers said.
"I'd never been stopped by the police for anything in my life."

The city Law Department is still reviewing Myers' lawsuit, city attorney Raju Sundaran said in a statement. But, he added, "undercover sting operations are lawful and help reduce crime."
In addition to terrorizing the poor in a still recovering economy, and turning law abiding citizens into collateral damage.

The judge suggested that Myers' brush with the law had its roots in the so called lucky bag operation that the NYPD began in 2006 to deter thefts of wallets, shopping bags, smartphones and other valuables in the subways.

A typical scenario was for a plainclothes officer to place a handbag with cash on a train platform and briefly look or step away. Anyone who took the bag, then passed up chances to return it to the undercover cop or to report it to a uniformed officer posted nearby could be locked up.

At the time, police credited the subway operation with driving down crime there. They say they still use the tactic when they see a spike in thefts of personal property in public places such as Grand Central Terminal or Central Park. But they now require more evidence of intent a suspect trying to hide a wallet or taking cash out of it and throwing it away before making an arrest.

Last year, police arrested a tourist from Atlanta in Central Park after he picked up a purse and took out $27 stashed inside, according to court papers in another pending civil case. He ended up paying a $120 fine as part of a plea bargain. Something tells me that this was probably his first and last time seeing the Statue of Liberty. His vacation tale of finding $27 in what is perhaps the most famous park in the world, was turned into a nightmarish encounter with the N.Y.P.D.


Friday, April 12, 2013

3 Reasons Why You Should Listen To Your Parents

Don't tell him that I said this, but my father has always been right when it comes to the advice that he has given me over the years. I am not about to pretend that I always listened to him. The truth is, even though I heard each and every wise word, I was much too busy being grown to care about anything more than what I desired, and there were times that I paid the price. I know for a fact that God looks out for babies and fools, because quite a few times,.....lets just say that I wasn't a baby.

While there are many reasons why we should listen to our mother's and father's, these are my top 3.

1. 9 times out of 10, your parents have been where you are, and have learned important lessons that last a lifetime. It is only in our foolish youth that we actually believe that we know more than someone who has lived and experienced more than we will ever know.

2. If you're not sure of anything else, you can be sure of one thing. Your parents love you more than you love yourself, and would never hurt you. With that being said, who can you trust more than them?
Besides maybe your spouse. But then again, that depends on who you're married to.

3. I Know that at the ripe old age of 23, 33, 43, you think you know it all. You've lived a few years, paid some dues, and you may even by a parent yourself by now. But wisdom is something that we can never have enough of, and no matter how much you think you know, your mother knows far more than you do and always will. Remember being smart does not make you wise.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Deepest Cut

Many of us Obama supporters have been urging our families, friends, and co-worker's to be patient with him. I've said, "he has to do what he has to do to get re-elected. Just wait until his 2nd term", more times than I care to remember. I want to believe that each and everything that he does is some kind of ingenious, calculated strategy designed to thwart Republican advances. But as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I just can't help but feel betrayed, and maybe even a little disappointed.
I know that President Obama is first and foremost a politician, but it was difficult not to get caught up in history, given the monumental significance of his election and his presidency. But 5 years in, I have begun to grow tired of the presidents desperate need for bipartisanship, and abject failure to directly address the issues of his constituents. Being slow to address the issues is one thing. But being on the wrong side of an issue that is considered sacred to your constituents is quite another.

President Obama has upset loyal Democrats by tossing Social Security onto the table in his poker game with Republicans. Not to worry. I have a theory as to how this story ends. A year from now, when the 2014 congressional campaigns are hot underway, Republicans will be running against "Obama The Butcher", promising to protect Social Security from the bloodthirsty Democrats.

By then, having lost on his "I am smarter than they are." strategy, the president will be reduced to lamely reassuring old folks, that he didn't actually intend to cut their benefits, really he didn’t. It was just a ploy to get tightwad conservatives to give in a little on tax increases. Republicans can pull out the videotapes in which Obama and team explain their high-minded purpose, sacrificing the Democratic party’s sacred honor in order to get Republicans to play nice.

But is it worth it? If Obama insists on playing his own idealized form of chess, social security should not be the pawn that he uses. For many, social security is the only insurance that they will have in their old age. Those who have paid into the system deserve to reap the benefits. Social security is not charity, or an entitlement program. Social security is a right, not a bargaining chip for wealthy politicians.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Beating His Daughters

When I was growing up, getting a beating was common. When you did something wrong you got the belt. You learned your lesson, and you never did it again. I didn't get many beating, maybe 2 or 3 that I can remember. My parents never looked for a reason to punish me. But if I lied, stoled, was disobedient, or mistreated someone I really left my parents no choice. I NEVER got the impression that they liked having to do it. Actually it was quite the contrary. It was always done out of love, and I learned that there are consequences for my actions. By today's politically correct, intrusive standards this would be called child abuse. But back in the 70's and 80's this was called discipline.

Let me clarify, I am not talking about being beat bloody, and I am not talking about getting beat with a "hot wheels" track, a hanger, or an extension cord.
(Some of you may remember that hot wheels track.)
What I am talking about is a couple of whacks with the belt. Hard enough to hurt, and long enough to learn. But in all reality it would still get a parent arrested today. The government has taken away our autonomy when it comes to raising our children, giving them a false sense of reality. They have become self appointed disciplinarian's who choose to lock up our children for school yard fighting, and classroom misbehavior, instead of allowing us to teach them self control, and self discipline at home in the way that we see fit. At least at home punishments do not involve saddling elementary school children with criminal records. The school's teach children that there are no loser's or winner's in life, and then seek to punish them when they become non-functioning adults.

Proverbs 13:24
24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

The latest story involves an Ohio father who decided to beat his daughters with a video cable for staying out late, and posting a video of themselves "twerking" on Facebook. "Twerking" is a sexual suggestive dance that would cause any father to get upset knowing that his daughters thought that it was not only a "cute" thing to do, but "cute" enough to post on the internet. The father has been charged with child endangerment and corporal punishment, according to news sources, 35-year-old Greg Horn whipped his two daughters ages 12 & 14 with the cable so hard they had welts on their legs with open wounds. Detectives noted that Horn struck his children while they were visiting him at his house. Their mother notified police after seeing the injuries.
The 30-second video of Horn beating his daughters has sparked strong outcry.
“No matter what those kids did, no one deserves to be beaten to that extent. How can you keep going when your child is screaming like that?,” one commenter on the video asked.

It was definitely over kill, and a bit much. The video footage is so severe that YouTube has removed it.
Was Horn wrong for beating his daughters in the way that he did? Absolutely! Did they deserve some form of punishment definitely! Did he deserve to be arrested? I'm not so sure. It is always easier to judge a situation from the outside looking in as a perfect parent who raises their children perfectly. But unfortunately, and this may come as a shock to some people, but there is no such thing as a perfect parent's.
I am annoyed by the fact that these two "grown behind" girls ages 12, and 14 most likely haven't learned a lesson from all of this, besides the fact that they could probably get away with murder without being disciplined. No one has acknowledged the fact that these children posted their sexual suggestive dance moves on Facebook. I guess their questionable behavior got lost in the midst of this story. The question is. If these girls become pregnant as a result of this behavior, are the same people who are outraged over their fathers actions be willing to donate the funds necessary to help take care of these children's, children?
I don't think so.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Is There Such A Thing As Unintentional Racism?

Racism is probably the most damaging aspect of our society. If you dissect many social issues, and analyze their root causes, you are bound to find racism and or prejudice present on some level. The concept of race as a criteria for ones character is ridiculous, invalid, and void of all reason. It is nothing more than a thorn in the side of the human condition. But the question that I have often struggled with is whether racism is always intentional. On many occasions while pondering this notion I have made an effort to erase this question from my mind. Writing it off as over analysis, mainly because I have a habit of over analyzing. Figuring, of course, that all of the hatred, violence and discrimination directed toward minorities has to be intentional given the premeditated nature of the beast. But as I get older I have begun to realize that much of our behavior as human beings is 50 percent learned, 25 percent conditioning, and 25 percent habit.
This does not excuse the behavior because the vast majority of us are cognoscente and capable of making informed decisions, if we choose too. But cultural conditioning is so pervasive in the world that it's grip and influence are virtually inescapable. In a multi-media driven world, bias, prejudice, and racism are slanted according to the agenda of those who control these outlets. As a result, stereotypes are reinforced and promoted without objectivity, and people can find like minded talking heads to validate their ignorance, not even knowing that they are ignorant.

So while I do not believe that racism is always intentional, I do believe that the decision to stay uninformed, ignorant, and in the dark, is. Simply because, for some it is easier to move a mountain than to use their minds. Anything that contradicts the general consensus of the tribe is too ludicrous to be considered because each and every member considers themselves one of the enlightened few. In other words if everyone inside of a bubble is content with the world and the concepts created and validated there in. There is no desire for most to venture out. If a persons perception of knowledge is that they know all that they need to know, there is no point or purpose in learning, and the condition continues to be a tradition.


Monday, April 8, 2013

An Inmate Said, (“Pop me one of them beers open, man,”)

Anyone who has ever read this blog knows that I am an outspoken critic of prisons, and the criminal justice system as a whole. The criminal justice system has turned incarceration into big business in which inmates are utilized as slave labor to fuel the prison industrial complex. Any and all intentions of correcting criminal behavior have long been abandoned, and the fact that it is still referred to as department's of correction's in some parts of the country is a joke.

With that being said, punishment is still necessary. I would be remiss if I did not admit that there are those who actually belong in jail. No matter what the reasons are, or what the statistics say, there are some people who act with depraved indifference, and others who just deserve to be in jail. But all prisons are not created equal. Some are worse than others.

The New Orleans Parish Prison complex is being called the worst city jail in America. The fact that information has emerged from a federal courtroom this week which depicts the jail as one that has been plagued by violence, inmate suicides, overcrowding, dilapidation, and mismanagement certainly makes a great case for this dubious distinction. A local news correspondent has reported that a “national prison consultant called the Orleans Parish Prison complex one of the worst jails he’s ever seen, and one of the worst large city jails in the whole country.”

On top of all that, the prison is facing a viral video scandal. The court was treated to a highlight reel that makes it seem like Sheriff Marlin Gusman takes his management cues from Michael Scott (Steve Carell's character on "The Office"). The video shows inmates openly drinking, gambling, chatting on cell phones, and abusing drugs. At one point, a group of cheerful inmates relax in their cell with cans of Budweiser retrieved from a yellow cooler. (“Pop me one of them beers open, man,” the guy doing the filming says.) One inmate even leaves the jail for a night of carousing on Bourbon Street. One inmate actually had a gun.

This sounds more like a house party, but apparently it's a prison party.

If you were an inmate at Orleans Parish Prison, I guess you’d want to leave, too. Though the complex is called “Orleans Parish Prison,” it is actually a jail, meaning that, at any given time, most of the people incarcerated there are pre trial detainees who have not yet been convicted of the crimes with which they’ve been charged. Inmates have testified to rampant physical and sexual violence inside the complex’s walls. This past week, one inmate “talked of being hog-tied, beaten with a mop handle and bucket, doused in urine and more,” and said that he would have been killed if he’d called for a guard. Another testified to the disgusting conditions in the medical unit: “mold on the walls, leaking toilets, water on the floor.”

How does a jail deteriorate like this? It seems to come down to financial hardship and extreme mismanagement. Some have noted that the prisoners must have had help from the prison staff to successfully smuggle contraband inside.
Really?! What a genius conclusion!
This idea is reinforced in the video, when a cell phone-flaunting inmate notes that “the the guards love money. They’ll do anything for money. So we getting it in.”

Sheriff Marlin Gusman came across as an absentee landlord in court yesterday. According to the reports, Gusman denied the most extreme allegations and “testified that he can't recall even reading the reports of experts who found egregious conditions at the jail in recent years." He also said he only scanned, but did not carefully read, key court documents that preceded his signing of a federal consent decree in December that would govern a list of reforms for the Orleans Parish jail system.” Who has time to read boring legal documents when there’s a hot dice game going on over in Cellblock B.

The bottom line is that the public is not overly concerned with prison conditions, or prisoners being treated humanely. The general consensus is that those incarcerated are not worthy of being treated with decency and respect. This is why prison sentences have increased over the years, and solitary confinement has been encouraged. The emphasis on corrective behavior has been abandoned in favor of harsh punishments, and if there is any action taken at all as a result of this story it will be because the inmates were reportedly enjoying themselves. If this story was solely based on the squalid conditions at at Orleans Parish Prison this story would die within days of being reported. Indifference in favor of just deserts for those who are exactly where they belong.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

The True Face Of P.E.T.A.

PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals), is probably my least favorite organization simply because of the fact that they will gladly sacrifice human lives to save the lives of animals. At least, thats what I thought, This terrorist organization has been linked bombing many of the labs which test animals in product or chemical development, and killing innocent people in the process. While I agree that all life is precious, I am not in favor murdering human beings to save animals. It does not seem like a fair trade to me. Another reason why I am not particularly fond of PETA is because of the fact that their ad campaigns are extreme (I saw one recently where a naked woman was wrapped, and packaged in plastic, with a sign that read, "Human Meat"), and their form of protest is to assault fur clad individual's by splashing red paint on them to represent the blood of a dead animal. PETA, and organizations like it wreak of hypocrisy, and seek to strong arm all who disagree with their mission. If they expect their views to be respected, they should respect the right of those who disagree to do so. Unfortunately everything that they profess to believe in is nothing more than a lie. A farce of epic proportions, and a shocking twist for those who have donated millions to this non-profit organization, and the world.

Approximately 2,000 animals pass through PETA's front door every year and very few make it out alive. The vast majority, 96 percent in 2011, exit the facility out the back door after they have been killed, when Pet Cremation Services of Tidewater stops by on their regular visits to pick up their remains. Between these visits, the bodies are stored in the giant walk-in freezer PETA installed for this very purpose. It is a freezer that cost $9,370 and, like the company which incinerates the bodies of PETA's victims, was paid for with the donations of animal lovers who could never have imagined that the money they donated to help animals would be used to end their lives instead. In fact, in the last 11 years, PETA has killed 29,426 dogs, cats, rabbits, and other domestic animals.

The PETA headquarters is on the appropriately named Front Street. While claiming to be an animal rights organization, PETA does not believe animals have a right to live. Instead, it believes that people have a right to kill them, as long as the killing is done "humanely," which PETA interprets to mean poisoning them with an overdose of barbiturates, even if the animals are not suffering. In 2012, 733 dogs entered this building. They killed 602 of them. Only 12 were adopted. Also in 2012, they impounded 1,110 cats. 1,045 were put to death. Seven of them were adopted. They also took in 34 other companion animals, such as rabbits, of which 28 were put to death. Only four were adopted.

The concept of "humane killing" sounds like a perverse oxymoron to me. Either their mission is to save animals or kill animals. If PETA is under the impression that killing, and saving are one in the same then they should acquire an updated dictionary with definitions that are rooted in reality.

A mother cat and her two kittens, were all perfectly healthy and adoptable and none in danger of being killed until they were given to PETA by a veterinarian who was trying to find them homes and was told by PETA employees that they would have no problem adopting them out. PETA lied to him and the mother and her kittens were entrusted to their care, they reportedly killed them, within minutes, in the back of a van, a donor funded slaughterhouse on wheels. Despite $35,000,000 in annual revenues and millions of "animal-loving" members, PETA does not even try to find them homes. PETA has no adoption hours, does no adoption promotion, has no adoption floor, but is registered with the State of Virginia as a "humane society" or "animal shelter."

It's sounds like a scam to me. A deadly shell game, or three card monty for multi-million dollar profit. Apparently they run their facility like a death camp for animals.

According to inspection reports by the Virginia Department of Agriculture, the PETA facility "does not contain sufficient animal enclosures to routinely house the number of animals annually reported as taken into custody... The shelter is not accessible to the public, promoted, or engaged in efforts to facilitate the adoption of animals taken into custody."

Routine inspections often found "no animals to be housed in the facility" or, at best "few animals in custody," despite thousands of them impounded by PETA annually. Since they take in thousands per year, where were they? "90% of the animals were euthanized within the first 24 hours of custody," according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture inspector. How can people adopt animals from PETA when they kill the animals they acquire within minutes without ever making them available for adoption? How can people adopt animals when they have no adoption hours, do no adoption promotion, and do not show animals for adoption, choosing to kill them without doing so? In fact, when asked by a reporter what efforts they make to find
animals homes, PETA had no comment.

No adoption, no effort, no comment, and no ethics.

Many animal lovers who have publicly condemned PETA for their killing have received a letter from the PETA legal department, threatening a lawsuit. However, because a lawsuit would allow for subpoenas of PETA employees past and present -- leading to under-oath testimonies about the grisly reality of what has and is going on at PETA headquarters it is unlikely that PETA would ever follow-through with these empty threats.

By defending regressive and cruel shelters and sheltering policies that mandate killing, by calling for the death of certain groups of animals entering shelters and by injecting thousands of animals with a fatal dose of poison every year, these actions are not only inconsistent with the mission of an animal rights organization, they are the antithesis of one. Only one question remains,
Why is anyone still donating to PETA?


Friday, April 5, 2013

Good Grades For Welfare

Every so often some conservative governing body somewhere decides once and for all that they are going to do something about the welfare "crisis", and the others wait with baited breathe to see if the latest attempt will work. Last year conservatives in the state of Florida thought that it would be a good idea to subject all of those who receive public assistance to random drug testing, and as a result, only 1% of those tested came up positive. It was a complete failure. But the damage has already been done through connotation, and innuendo. When people are tested for drugs it is usually under the assumption that they are using, will use, or have used. So it creates a misnomer. Making those on public assistance synonymous with drug abuse. They exploit a stereotype, spin reality and create a boogeyman to blame for society's ill's.
"If you lose your job? Blame entitlement programs. Your taxes went up? Blame entitlement programs." It's seems as if so called "entitlement programs" like welfare are being blamed for everything, and they would have us to believe that a significant amount of government spending is allocated to public assistance. The fact of the matter is that it only accounts for 16% of the total federal budget.
But I suppose demonizing the poor has always been an effective way to get votes.

The latest attempt to oppress welfare recipients comes in the form of a new piece of legislation, which if passed, will penalize low-income families in Tennessee by reducing their welfare benefits if their child performs poorly in school. Thus making the child responsible for his family.
Sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) and Rep. Vance Dennis (R-Savannah), the bill “requires the reduction of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) payments for parents or caretakers of TANF recipients whose children fail to maintain satisfactory progress in school.

Campfield says the law would help "break the cycle of poverty." In a blog post comparing academic excellence to a three-legged stool, Campfield writes that "the third leg of the stool (probably the most important leg) is the parents," he explained. "We have done little to hold them accountable for their child's performance...This bill is giving them motivation to do more to help their children learn in school."

Should a low-income family’s child not meet satisfactory levels in the subject areas of mathematics and reading or language arts, the family’s welfare benefits will be reduced by 30%.
The bill (Senate Bill 132, House Bill 261) applies to low-income families, with no mention of penalties to middle or high-income families whose children perform poorly in school.

Tennessee state representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) calls the bill “discriminatory.”
“It’s just one more way to punish families who have fallen on hard times,”
Johnson said.
“I don’t believe for a second this will do anything to improve a child’s education.”

As a high school special education teacher, Johnson said that this kind of bill is not what at risk students need.
Johnson then went on to say.

“To add the responsibility of the family budget on these kids, it’s not going to help these kids. It’s not going to move them forward. This bill sets up a terrible relationship between families and educators,” Johnson continued.
”It sets up animosity between school and home.”

This controversial bill has given many cause for deep concern including Linda O'Neal, director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.
"The maximum benefit for a mother with two children is $185 a month," said O'Neal. "That's already low. If you take $60 plus dollars away, you're just further limiting people who already have extremely few resources."

According to the bill, "satisfactory academic progress" means progressing from one grade to the next and "receiving a score of proficient or advanced on required state examinations in the subject areas of mathematics and reading/language arts."

This bill does nothing more than punish those families who have fallen on hard times. It there was a legitimate concern for children getting an education then there would be penalties in place for the parents of all failing children, instead of those children who are least likely to get a good education. The only real concern is the desire to save a buck.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Who Comes First?

We live in a "me first" society. Most people's main focus is having their needs fulfilled. The frame of mind is not "what I can give" but, "what can I get". Simply because giving, involves sacrifice on some level, and the very idea of sacrifice is fast becoming out dated in a world where egocentricity has become the norm. As a result marriage is becoming a disposable gesture, that can be cast aside as soon as the thrill is gone.

Just yesterday one of my cousins posted a very profound, yet poignant question on Facebook, "In a family, who comes first, your spouse or your children?" This question is profound in its simplicity, yet poignant in a sense that most of us, have unknowingly made a choice. I believe that the vast majority of us automatically put our children first, and as appropriate as this may seem, it is not based on biblical principal. When you get married, you become one with your husband or wife.

Your children are a natural a part of you. But you and your children are not one. They are gifts from God that we are to love and care for until they are mature enough to take care of themselves. If you cling to your children and make them the center of the universe they will never become productive adults.

A husband and wife should grow together, and be on one accord taking care of one another, understanding and satisfying each others needs. Putting God first in all that they do, and praying for guidance every step of the way. If the marriage is strong, and whole, then the children will also reap the rewards of being raised by a mother and father who are not just Mommy and Daddy, but partners who are united to achieve one common goal. A house with a cracked foundation is a house that is in danger of falling.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Rape Rap

I grew up listening to rap music. Before C.D.'s existed, and mp3's became the norm, (yes I am that old), and before rappers even made albums I was listening to rap or hip hop music. Over the years the music has gone through an extreme metamorphosis. The music of my youth has gone from being a vehicle that gave a voice to the voiceless, to being a money driven machine exploited by any and everybody who has the ability to drop a "hot 16" (most rap songs have 16 bars, or 16 lines of lyrics). Rap music has become more and more controversial over the years because of the level of misogyny and violence in some songs. But besides the occasional corny 2 Live Crew song, or NWA record, most artists have had sort of a respectful ambiguity when it comes to their messages. Nothing too overt, but insinuated or implied. When asked to explain their songs most said that their music reflected their reality. These days, some rappers have become parodies of themselves. It would almost be like life imitating art, if the music had any artistic value. Some have become cartoonish figures who's aim is to sell enough records to get rich and stay rich, no matter what. But sometimes these artist go too far.

William Leonard Roberts II, aka Rick Ross, aka "The Bearded Bear", has made a career out of his false persona. Ross had made and estimated $28 million recording songs about the same subject matter over and over again using a different beat. Money, cars, girls, watches, money, and more money is all that he raps about. Catchy hooks, with lyrics as deep as a kitty pool. But now he has crossed the line. Ross has released a new song giving advice on how to romance your lady even if she doesn't want to be romanced, drug her, get her drunk and rape her while she's unconscious so she never knows what happened. In his new song "U.O.E.N.O." Ross raps,
"Put molly all in her champagne / She ain't even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that / She ain't even know it." "Molly" is slang for the drug MDMA, or Ecstasy.

Now outraged fans and foes are calling on Reebok to drop Ross as a spokesman. An online petition states,
"His lyrics aren't vague, he's not hinting that he raped a woman he's clearly and proudly saying that he drugged and raped a woman who was not capable of consent."

"By holding Rick Ross up as something to aspire to, Reebok is sending the message that raping a woman is cool and that's a dangerous message to send to the boys and young men that Reebok markets to. This is what rape culture is."

I agree whole heartedly. He should lose his Reebok endorsement. I fail to see how this verse is open to interpretation, and artists like Ross who feel that they can say whatever they want, whenever they want, should he held accountable.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Reebok? Really!?
I guess you don't have to look like the picture of health to endorse fitness.......
What was Reebok thinking?

It looks like Leonard is in big trouble. In a desperate attempt at damage control, he went on the radio in Louisiana last week to defend his lyrics and called it all a big misunderstanding.

"Woman is the most precious gift known to man. And there was a misunderstanding with a lyric, a misinterpretation," he told 93.3 in New Orleans.

"I would never use the term rape in my records, in my lyrics. And as far as my camp, hip hop don't condone that, the streets don't condone that, nobody condones that."

You don't have to use the word rape to imply rape. His intentions were clear. He said what he meant, and he meant what he said.

"I just want to reach out to all my queens that's on my timeline, all the sexy ladies, the beautiful ladies that have been reaching out to me with the misunderstanding: We don't condone rape, and I'm not with that," he said.

But it could be too little, too late. 50,000 people have already signed the petition.
Reebok has not yet commented.
Perhaps the only one who is happy about this whole Rick Ross debacle is Lil' Wayne, because it ALMOST makes us forget about his idiotic Emmett Till reference.


Side Bar:
This is your body, & this is your body on bacon!............ Any questions?

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Lesson In Forgiveness

Forgiving had always been the hardest thing for me to do, hands down. I have accomplished and conquered many things in my life, and I have overcome some obstacles. But I had struggled with forgiveness for years. I choose to use the word had and speak about it in the past tense because I do not want to claim it through affirmation. But I still have days where I deal with, so that it won't deal with me. But, I have found strength in the word of God.

Matthew 28:31-35

31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. 33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. 34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Although Peter pledged his allegiance, to Jesus, and said that he would not deny him even if it costs him his life. Jesus knew that Peter would deny him 3 times.
Knowing this, he still allowed Peter to be in his inner circle.

John 18:15-17

15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. 16 But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. 17 Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.”

John:18 25-27

25 Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not!” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.

So Jesus' prophesy was fulfilled, and Peter denied him 3 times. But why did he allow Peter to follow him?

John 20: 1-2

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Although Peter denied him, according to the scripture, he allowed him to be one of the first of his disciples to bear witness to his resurrection. If that isn't rforgiveness, what is?

John 21:15-22

15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

Notice the significance of 3 in the text. Simon Peter denied Jesus 3 times, and Jesus made him confess his love for him 3 times. The scripture said that Peter was grieved because Jesus asked him a third time because he understood the connotation.
Jesus told Peter to not only follow him, but to "tend to his sheep", and to "feed his lambs". Meaning, preach and teach the word to all of those who followed him. He chose Peter to tend his sheep as opposed to the disciple that he loved because he saw past Peter's flaws, and saw his heart. Peter was both forgiven and restored.
Has anyone ever denied you 3 times to save themselves before you were crucified? No! So if Jesus Christ can forgive Peter for denying him, who are we to hold a grudge for our nonsense. Surely nothing in our lives can compare to Jesus' betrayal. If he forgave so can we.
A wise person once said, forgiveness is for us, not for the other person. It is impossible to go forward living in the past.