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Dead Duck

November 7, 2011

Herman Cain’s Presidential campaign, regardless of the callous indifference of some polled GOP voters, is dead. Today a fourth woman has accused him of sexual harrassment. But this time, there is no gag order keeping the accuser quiet. Sharon Bialek at a press conference earlier today described an incident in 1997 where Herman Cain “reached up her skirt and tried to force her head to his crotch while the pair were in Cain’s car.” 

I hope the American public is really taking notice here. The lunatics running the asylum known as the GOP Tea Party are so willing to derail the country with their radical agenda, that they will prop up this gutter-snipe to the highest office in the land. I do not want to hear anything from anybody about his presumed innocence. Look at the evidence we can see. The women in opposition to Herman Cain’s innocence are willing to talk, they want to have their gag orders nullified, and the latest accuser is holding press conferences detailing his lechery.

He is unelectable GOP! More than 50% of the American electorate is female. Stick a fork in him! He’s a dead duck. 

Now whose going to play distraction for Mitt Romney?

Dear MSNBC – You’re Employing a Racist

October 26, 2011

Apparently the management of  MSNBC, the cable news network supposedly at odds with FOX, does not know what a racist is. I come to this conclusion based primarily on their continuing to employee one Patrick J. Buchanan as an analyst.

Allow me to help you MSNBC. Patrick Buchanan is a racist. In fact, he is so racist he could probably run for Grand Wizard. If you don’t want to believe me, a cursory review of his latest work of fiction “Suicide Of A Superpower,”should literally “pull the cover off ” for you. If the titles of some of the chapters don’t give you pause, just review some of these choice musings spotlighted on TPM’s review “Twelve Pretty Racist Or Just Crazy Quotes From Pat Buchanan’s New Book”.

If you aren’t readers, here’s a gem that should stop anyone in their track from the chapter: Equality and Freedom:

“Not until the 1960s did courts begin to use the Fourteenth Amendment to impose a concept of equality that the authors of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, The Federalist Papers, and the Gettysburg Address never believed in. Before the 1960s, equality meant every citizen enjoyed the same constitutional rights and the equal protection of existing laws. Nothing in the Constitution or federal law mandated social, racial, or gender equality.”

Soak it in folks. That’s racism.

Apparently MSNBC management, forgot the reprehensible way Pat Buchanan addressed the race issue during the 2008 Presidential race, when Barack Obama made one of the most eloquent appeals to dialogue on the issue that we have heard.  I was so outraged by Buchanan’s reply to then Senator Obama’s call to conscience that I penned one of my posts especially for his benefit.  I think a reprise of that post is due, so here it is:

Dear Mr. Buchanan,

For a moment let me discuss the Black church experience in America.

It was our experience to be excluded from the American church. Ministers and lay leaders of the white Christian churches flatly refused to include us in their worshipful community.  It was our experience to be given an uneven gospel, a gospel that spoke half truths, a gospel that condone – no – promoted cattle slavery, a gospel that demanded fealty without reason and piety without the end being reward (since there remained a question of whether or not we had souls). It was our experience to be denied the truth that Jesus was of African descent and that many of the principals that defined his “Good News” were indelibly African; and it is this experience that taught us, it was this experience that gave root to the African-American preachers prophetic voice, his liberation, his theology.

This is the experience that caused James Baldwin to pen the words

“To be an Afro-American, or an American black, is to be in the situation, intolerably exaggerated, of all those who have ever found themselves part of a civilization which they could in no wise honorably defend – which they were compelled, indeed, endlessly to attack and condemn – and who yet spoke out of the most passionate love, hoping to make the kingdom new, to make it honorable and worthy of life.”

and it is this divine and prophetic voice that was voiced by Black America’s great theologian Howard Thurman, former Dean of the noted and historic Howard University Rankin Chapel, who explained the soul of the American Blacks Christian mission

“The disinherited man has a sense of gross injury. He finds it well-nigh impossible to forgive, because his injury is often gratuitous. It is not for something that he has done, an action resulting from a deliberate violation of another. He is penalized for what he is in the eyes and the standards of another. Somehow he must free himself of the will to retaliation that keeps alive his hatred.”

This, in essence is what the mission of the Black clergy and Black church has always been. To bridge the space between the sense of injury that is inherent in the African-American’s history and the desire to take an ultimately unrewarding vengeance.  It is to call men to

“let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! – Amos 5:24”

It is this truth that Sen. Obama has plied himself to, and Pat Buchanan has refused.

Today, I read the further spewing of Buchanan’s opinion of Rev. Wright and Sen. Obama, in his column “A Brief for Whitey”.  A treatise which served to abdicate white American culpability for any of the problems Sen. Obama discussed in his monumentally intelligent speech. Now, I never quote Buchanan, but I found this bit of his drivel so breathtaking I must share it, if only to express the level of ignorance many of the conservative media harbor.

“Barack says we need to have a conversation about race in America.

Fair enough. But this time, it has to be a two-way conversation. White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to.

This time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard. And among them are these:

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.”

Stunningly stupid, I know.  In a nutshell, it appears Buchanan thinks we should be praising the slave traders for delivering us like cattle to the auction blocks of Boston and Charleston – as if those slave traders had some good intention. Alas, this statement in more ways than one explains why Buchanan could not like most of us identify with Sen. Obama, or like many of us with Rev. Wright.  Buchanan like many Christians know only a partial gospel, and a incomplete Christian mission.

The unfortunate truth about Buchanan’s form of Christianity, is that it is without the balance of justice.

He wholly attributes the American church (white)  as the bastion of Christian salvation, a love centered, forgiving institution where redemption is free, but without the justice that its Bible requires. It is justice that Wright railed against the machine for, and not the justice that most Christians believe in.  Not the damning of a soul to a fire hell, not the shallow vengeance of a God to terrible to be loving. No, the justice that God (at least the true Christ) would see is the equity of all achieved, and by that equity the law of God fulfilled

“to love your neighbor as yourself”

That is the Black church’s message, that was what Rev. Wright wanted to convey – that is what Obama tried to articulate in his speech this week – that is what the ignorant racism of Pat Buchanan can’t see.

Maybe if he attended a couple of services at Trinity he’d see the LIGHT!

Powers and Principalities

October 21, 2011
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”. – Ephesians 6:12
As a follower of Jesus, for me there is no more relevant scripture than Ephesians 6:12. For this battle we find ourselves in is not just a protest, it is not just a fight for social justice – it is a spiritual fight. To be assured, being a follower of Jesus is at it’s essence a call to act. When huge banks and wall street gamblers hijack our economic systems and our courts and a significant portion of our legislators reduce democracy to a historical artifact, we must not lock themselves away in our churches or mosques, synagogues and temples.
 
It has often been asked, “What Would Jesus Do?” I submit that we already know:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors” – Luke 4: 18-19
 
Jesus would act on behalf of the oppressed. Oppression is found in many forms. It is the sophisticated racism of the 21st century. It is the economic injustice being suffered by 99% of our citizens. It is the callous opposition to all economic stimulus proposals that involve spending money on jobs by Republican Representatives and Senators.
 
Yesterday, the latest evidence of our current oppression went to a great extent unheralded. While the world news rejoiced in the death of Gadhafi,  silently Republican and three conservative democrats blocked a floor debate on a key portion of President Obama’s jobs bill, which would have provided states $35 billion to hire or retain teachers and emergency responders. Imagine that the “most deliberative legislative body” in the world refused to deliberate, to discuss the merits of providing funding for states to keep their good teachers and necessary emergency workers. Why? Because it would be paid in-full by a 0.5% tax on multi-millionaires.  
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. I say it again — it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”  – Matthew 19: 23-24
 
We must follow Jesus out of our churches and into the streets to stand in solidarity with all who fight for justice and fairness. Our faith never tells us to run and hide from evil, but to confront it head on with the knowledge that evil shall not succeed. It is not enough for the church to say “Blessed are the poor”. What are we doing to help them? Do we dare speak the truth to power in love? Are we willing to lay aside our comfort and complacency to be a voice crying in the wilderness against systems of oppression and exploitation? We cannot just say what Jesus said. We must do what Jesus did and is still doing today: setting the captives free. Let us turn our prayers into action. Let us follow Jesus, the Emancipator; the Jesus who suffered no one to be mistreated. The Jesus who would not allow those on the margin to go unseen.
 
That is the Jesus we have failed to follow out of our churches. This is our  mission: to stand against the powers – against the principalities – against injustice. To say to the enemies of fairness, those friends of the status quo that we will not stand for your blocking progress for the sake of your political aspirations. We will not stand for the continued redistribution of wealth upward;  or as the 20th century prophet Bob Marley said:
 

If you are the big, big tree

We are the small axe

Ready to cut you down…well sharp

To cut you down – (Small Axe, Bob Marley)

 
 
 
 

Herman Cain: This Week’s Joke

October 18, 2011

Tea-Party favorite, and Republican flavor of the week, or Joke of the Week never ceases to amaze me. Not with his clarity of thought and penetrating vision, but with the inanity of his policy positions. On Sunday, Mr. Cain’s interview on NBC’s Meet the Press was literally must see television. If you didn’t see it, watch it online, because in it was a look into the mind of a political fraud.

I won’t go into all the man’s positions, but some highlights were his strong support of outlawing abortion even in the case of rape and incest; and if the mother’s life were in jeapordy – the family gets to decide then. His ideal vision of a Supreme Court Justice would be another Clarence Thomas (a position he reverentially espoused); and he refuses to be identified as African-American and only as Black American, because his origins are America. I guess his ancestors comes from Black Land….hmm, need to find that on the map.

That’s enough to disqualify Mr. Cain as a candidate for me, but the point I really have to scratch my head on is his economics. His 9-9-9 plan. I’m not an economist nor a mathematician, but of all the things the man touts this has got to be the biggest joke of all. His performance on Meet the Press, and it was a performance had to bring you to that conclusion. As he spoke about “sneak attacks” and hidden “invisible” taxes, while David Gregory quoted the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and even the shows own independent economic experts on the dubious nature of his 9-9-9 plan. The most agreed upon point being that it will increase the tax burden of the poor and middle-class!

Cain thinks that’s an acceptable outcome. Why? Because the only people who will incur more taxation are those who spend their income on “new goods”. Well…hello, who buys used milk?! Here are the facts: Poor people (meaning those making under $13K a year) don’t pay income taxes now. Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan if implemented would increase their taxes from 0% to a definite 9% and a probable 18% (9% Income tax + 9% National Sales tax). In actuality it will be a definite 18% because poor people spend the majority of their money on new goods! Food, clothing and gas! So working poor and those of you in poverty, make sure you shop at the Goodwill Grocery Store. Oh…what’s that? There is no such thing…sorry.

That’s ridiculous enough, but then it becomes preposterous when you hear him refuse to combine the new 9-9-9 tax structure with existing state tax constructs. There are only a few states that have no sales tax. The majority of the states do, at usually 6-7%. So the increased tax burden would be 25-26% for those in poverty and the working poor. I’m not a rocket scientist folks – but it looks like the majority of workers are going to pay more taxes.

Apparently Mr. Cain is either the worst mathematician to ever come out of Morehouse (the prestigious institution that gave us great men such as Martin Luther King, Julian Bond and Howard Thurman) or intellectually disingenuous.

For me he’s just a joke.

The Republican Block

October 12, 2011

If you didn’t know corporate America has been very successful during this recession.

It is recording historic profit margins.

It is not hiring.

Why? The economy is terrible. Not for them, certainly not for their shareholders. The economy is terrible for their consumers. You and I. We no longer have the disposable levels of income to spend on their products so business is holding higher cash balances than they have in decades as a buffer for their projected loss of income.

Yesterday, President Obama met with his Presidential Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. A big business, top heavy, council of the leaders of the countries most profitable companies charged with advising the President on ways to get corporate America hiring. There major recommendation, there number one point to the President and therefore to the country was – drum roll please….infrastructure spending.

“…repairing and modernizing our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways, ports, dams, schools, waterways and waste water systems are classic two-fers”

What two things do these luminaries of the board rooms say this will do?

  1. Create jobs
  2. Promote long term competitiveness by having a more productive economy

This from the GOPs beloved “job creators”.

On the same day that these recommendations are being published Republican Senators voted as a bloc to block the the Presidents “American Jobs Act.” Legislation rife with infrastructure spending in line with the recommendations of the America’s  “job creators”. In fact, they have gone so far as to vote as one to deny the debate of the merits of the legislation in the Senate.

The intentions of the GOP should be clear now. But let’s state them point of factly:

Republicans have no intention of passing any legislation backed by President Barack Obama.

Further, they will vote NO to whatever ideas are suggested by the President, even if they are philisophicaly their own. Look at their recent history:

  • 2010 – 50 Republican Senators support infrastructure spending legislation
  • 2010 – 37 Republican Senators support cutting payroll taxes for small business

Sounds like the President’s jobs bill. Dead on arrival with the same Republican Senate.

To quote the carpenter from Nazareth “Woe to you Pharisees. Hypocrites!”

The Republicans, and 2 Democrat dissentors (Jim Webb, D – VA; Ben Nelson D – ME)  have no intention of aiding the American people unless they can remain ideologically pure. Meaning no revenues – no tax increases. Even when those proposed taxes would only effect the top 0.1% of the country.

The Presidents jobs bill was to be paid in full:

  1. Large cuts in payroll taxes
  2. tax provisions to make it cheaper for employers to hire new workers
  3. Extension of unemployment  benefits and job training
  4. $50B in building projects
  5. $30B for school renevation and rehiring civil servants

All  paid for by a 5.6% surtax on personal incomes over $1M. A surtax that effects 0.1% of the population. Let me clarify, the surtax would only tax incomes over the first $1M earned. That means if you just make $1M a year, you don’t get any further taxes levied against you. It only applies to those whose incomes are annually in the  multi-millions!

It is unconscionable for Senators and Congressmen who are not going hungry to keep jobs out of the reach of the fading middle-class and the voluminous poor. It is inexcusible to not even debate the merits of legislation that would provide 2M jobs to our economy. It is irresponsible to put divisive political gain ahead of our countries interest.

There is no justice, no equity in GOP politics. That’s clear – that is irrefutable, and that is unacceptable. I know many have been disappointed (me included) in many of  President Obama’s priority decisions. With his choices in economic advisors and his seeming reflexive style of negotiation. But the enemy is still the plain to see. They are the same ones who ideologically stand against, as A Philip Randolph said in 1963:

“Medicare, high minimum wages, social security, federal aid to education”

I would add to Randolph’s list full voting rights, fair taxes, collective bargaining, a vibrant middle-class, modern infrastructure.

That my friends is the Republican Party.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

October 10, 2011

At the on-set of his public ministry, Jesus, who would be known as the Christ, set out to fulfill a mission:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,”

In this simple statement of purpose, Jesus declared the nature of his anointing – and by means of transference the Christian’s call. It is a mission of liberation, and contrary to the mainstream nature of the church today, it is not only an inward reflection pushing us toward repentance from some wrong we have done, but a mission of reclamation. He seeks to reclaim the inprisoned, to reclaim freedom lost and attain justice for those oppressed.

That is the nature of ministry the Christian church was founded upon. That is prophetic/holistic ministry. Throughout the African-American struggle for civil rights, this bedrock of Christ’s consciousness was the impetus for our movement. The SCLC was an expression of the prophetic call for justice; it was the impetus for the sermons of Vernon Johns, Dr. Martin Luther King’s predecessor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, in Montgomery Alabama, and mentor to Wyatt T. Walker and Ralph Abernathy; and most certainly the spirit behind “the Dream”.

I often wonder if this spirit remains at work in the modern church. For we are in need of that kind of power. As a minister, I often reflect on the call I believe mandated my ministry, and if I am living up to its high ideals. I’m sure many of my brother and sister clergy, Christian or otherwise, have done the same, and if so many of you must, as I have, come away from those reflections chagrined by the realization that you have not always carried your weight.

I say this because there is no doubt, that we are experiencing one of the most significant moments this country has known. There have been other galvanizing moments, to be sure, but none that has been so ubiquitous. We are a community undertow by waves of economic injustice and every portion of our beloved family has been pulled into its aggressive current. The great challenge of this generations clergy is to awaken from its slumber and take hold again of the plow of justice.

The call to action has never rung clearer than the pain filled cries of people, who continue to go marginalized by dangerous optimism and conservative hubris. On one hand there is an intransigent and unrelenting republican/tea-party that wishes to return to our unequal past; and on the other a paradox of progress, which has held us like Rip Van Winkle in fantastical stasis do to the success of the election of Pres. Barack Obama, and other African-American leaders, though the gains our struggle delivered unravel around us. 

I find myself asking: Where is my generation’s King? Who is our Malcolm? Who are our “Shining Black Princes and Princesses?” Those prophets who will not stand idle while millions go hungry, or succumb to debilitating diseases. Who are the evangelists for justice who still know that we are caught in an “inescapable network of mutuality?”

 This generation of clergy must reclaim its moral imperative to be “Good news to the poor,” to serve the broken hearted and set at liberty the captivated. We must act. Our voices as clergy persons are critical at this moment. It takes leadership and spiritual power to summon men to real change.

 Before his life was cut short, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought to build a ground swell of people power with his Poor People’s Campaign, bringing the plight of the nations most aggrieved citizens to the forefront of the national consciousness. Today, that most at risk population is African-America, the poor and the middle-class. Our community needs its prophets to stand again at the vanguard with its students and unions and Occupiers in the fight for justice and fairness!

So many times I hear the question asked in derision,

“Where are these preachers?!”

I would say we’ve been secluded behind our doors. (Not all, but certainly most)

Maya Angelou, at the celebration of Coretta Scott-King’s life began her reflections with this refrain:

“I opened my mouth to the Looord a long time ago, and I won’t turn back nooo. I will go. I shall go. I’ll see what the end –  is going to be.”

Today, I’m sounding the alarm of a spiritual revival. I’m calling us, preachers/prophets, to take again the moral high ground. To set your eyes again on the prize of your high callings.  To walk circumspectly in them – to do the work of the ministry.  I know I have decided like Mother Angelou:

“I opened my mouth to the Looord a long time ago, and I won’t turn back nooo. I will go. I shall go. I’ll see what the end –  is going to be.”

Will you?

99%

October 7, 2011

“We are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.”

This is the mantra of the movement we now know as “Occupy Wall Street”. A protest that began three weeks ago to NO media fanfare. In contrast to the Tea Party media blitz that launched it (unfortunately) into a political power.

Thankfully this has not dulled the fire that is fueling this multi-faceted concensus of America. I believe that this movement will grow, further, that more movements like it will grow. Why?

  • Because the injustices being perpetrated on the people of this country are increasing in this time of struggle while the desperity between the immensely privileged and working class widens.
  • Because members of the unconscionable 1% are behind the scenes funding state legislated voter suppression.
  • Because for the last decade 88% of the wealth of the nation has gone to that 1%.
  • Because Wall Street plutocrats still award themselves princely ransoms while laying off workers.
  • Because banks are foreclosing on people who have paid there mortgages religiously, but have lost their jobs.

I can go on ad nausea with reasons why this movement could and will bloom – but the most important is that it is on the side of right. I am heartend to see that Unions and other more mainstream entities have decided to embrace the movement. One of the things that has been missing in the push to popularize the fight against corporate oligarchy is the absence of a consensus, a group move that galvanizes the strength of our numbers.  I don’t know if Occupy can provide that.  Leaderless resistance can do a lot, but eventually the 99% will have to speak as one become more than an expression of  discontent.

Dr. King and those leaders of the civil rights movement were able to move the indicator from an expression of injustice to an impact on public policy. That’s what made them dangerous – that’s what made them world changers. That’s what we need to be.

We are the 99%