Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Race to the Bottom


Toward the end of an important speech in Washington last month, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said to her audience:

Bob Herbert
“Think of a teacher who is staying up past midnight to prepare her lesson plan... Think of a teacher who is paying for equipment out of his own pocket so his students can conduct science experiments that they otherwise couldn’t do... Think of a teacher who takes her students to a ‘We, the People’ debating competition over the weekend, instead of spending time with her own family.”

Ms. Weingarten was raising a cry against the demonizing of teachers and the widespread, uninformed tendency to cast wholesale blame on teachers for the myriad problems with American public schools. It reminded me of the way autoworkers have been vilified and blamed by so many for the problems plaguing the Big Three automakers.

But Ms. Weingarten’s defense of her members was not the most important part of the speech. The key point was her assertion that with schools in trouble and the economy in a state of near-collapse, she was willing to consider reforms that until now have been anathema to the union, including the way in which tenure is awarded, the manner in which teachers are assigned and merit pay.

It’s time we refocused our lens on American workers and tried to see them in a fairer, more appreciative light.

Working men and women are not getting the credit they deserve for the jobs they do without squawking every day, for the hardships they are enduring in this downturn and for the collective effort they are willing to make to get through the worst economic crisis in the U.S. in decades.

In testimony before the U.S. Senate this month, the president of the United Auto Workers, Ron Gettelfinger, listed some of the sacrifices his members have already made to try and keep the American auto industry viable.

Last year, before the economy went into free fall and before any talk of a government rescue, the autoworkers agreed to a 50 percent cut in wages for new workers at the Big Three, reducing starting pay to a little more than $14 an hour.

That is a development that the society should mourn. The U.A.W. had traditionally been a union through which workers could march into the middle class. Now the march is in the other direction.

Mr. Gettelfinger noted that his members “have not received any base wage increase since 2005 at G.M. and Ford, and since 2006 at Chrysler.”

Some 150,000 jobs at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have vanished outright through downsizing over the past five years. And like the members of Ms. Weingarten’s union (and other workers across the country, whether unionized or not), the autoworkers are prepared to make further sacrifices as required, as long as they are reasonably fair and part of a shared effort with other sectors of the society.

We need some perspective here. It is becoming an article of faith in the discussions over an auto industry rescue, that unionized autoworkers should be taken off of their high horses and shoved into a deal in which they would not make significantly more in wages and benefits than comparable workers at Japanese carmakers like Toyota.

That’s fine if it’s agreed to by the autoworkers themselves in the context of an industry bailout at a time when the country is in the midst of a financial emergency. But it stinks to high heaven as something we should be aspiring to.

The economic downturn, however severe, should not be used as an excuse to send American workers on a race to the bottom, where previously middle-class occupations take a sweatshop’s approach to pay and benefits.

The U.A.W. has been criticized because its retired workers have had generous pensions and health coverage. There’s a horror! I suppose it would have been better if, after 30 or 35 years on the assembly line, those retirees had been considerate enough to die prematurely in poverty, unable to pay for the medical services that could have saved them.

Randi Weingarten and Ron Gettelfinger know the country is going through a terrible period. Their workers, like most Americans, are already getting clobbered and worse is to come.

But there is no downturn so treacherous that it is worth sacrificing the long-term interests — or, equally important — the dignity of their members.

Teachers and autoworkers are two very different cornerstones of American society, but they are cornerstones nonetheless. Our attitudes toward them are a reflection of our attitudes toward working people in general. If we see teachers and autoworkers as our enemies, we are in serious need of an attitude adjustment.

Readers' Comments

From:Stephen B

Chicago has hit a mark it would have preferred to miss: 500 homicides for 2008 with more than a week to go in the year.
Monique Bond, a Police Department spokeswoman, said the 500th slaying unofficially had been Monday night, but she wouldn't immediately identify the victim.
This would mark the most homicides in the city since 2003, yet homicides remain historically low compared with the last four decades.
For the first 11 months of 2008, slayings rose 16.4 percent over the same period in 2007. Yet last year's total of 443 was the lowest since 1965.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Disciples of Hatred,

In Their Own Words and Images


Nazi hunters have made an art of exposing war criminals through photographs taken in the death camp era. This strategy would have worked well against Southern lynch-mob killers who posed for the camera while murdering African-Americans in a campaign of terror that persisted into the mid-20th century.

Black American lives were viewed as expendable in the pre-civil rights South. The murderers who hanged, dismembered or burned black victims alive — before crowds of cheering onlookers — knew well that the law would not act against them. These savage rituals were meant to keep the black community on its knees.

The white men and women who flocked to these carnivals of death sometimes brought along young children, who were photographed no more than an arm’s length away from a mutilated corpse. These photos were often turned into grisly postcards that continued to circulate even after Congress made it illegal to mail them.

A particularly vivid lynching postcard depicts the charred and partially dismembered corpse of Jesse Washington, who was burned before a crowd of thousands in Waco, Tex., in 1916.

The card, which appears to have been written by a white spectator to his parents, is signed “your son Joe.” He refers to the horrific murder — in which the victim’s ears, fingers and sexual organs were severed — as the “barbecue we had last night.” He identifies himself in the crowd by placing a mark in ink about his head.

By permitting images like this one to move through the mail at all, the government tacitly endorsed lynching, along with the presumption that African-Americans were less than human. The mailings also aided a propaganda campaign that was intended to terrorize the black population in the nation as a whole, not just in the South.

Joe from Waco is no doubt long dead. But many of the people who attended lynchings as children in the 1930’s and 40’s must be still alive and walking the streets of the principal states of the lynching belt. They include Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, all of which voted against the first black president.

The nearness of the past was fully evident not long ago in Atlanta, when the collectors James Allen and John Littlefield were trying to mount an exhibition of lynching images that had drawn a huge audience and international attention when shown at the New-York Historical Society’s “Without Sanctuary” exhibition of 2000.

Influential Atlantans equivocated. As a person familiar with the issue told me recently: “There were concerns that people in crowds were still alive. And of course, family members and relatives of those people might come in and have to say, ‘That’s my dad’ or ‘That’s my mom.’ ”

“Without Sanctuary” was shown in Atlanta in 2002 at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and drew more than 175,000 people, three times as many as viewed it in New York. But the tension surrounding the exhibition made it seem unlikely that the images and the accompanying documents would find a permanent home in Georgia or any other lynching belt state.

So it came as a surprise earlier this year when the collection was acquired by Atlanta’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, an ambitious cultural and historical institution that has yet to break ground for its building and plans to open in 2011. The center aspires to emulate the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington in method, linking the civil rights movement to national and international issues of the day.

The notion of housing the lynching material in the same institution as, say, Martin Luther King’s sermons and speeches strikes some as jarring. But this is just as it should be. The civil rights movement can only be properly understood in the context of the reign of terror that gripped black Southerners.

The victims of those public hangings and burnings were sometimes accused of crimes. But they were often guilty of nothing more than seeking the right to vote, speaking truth to white power. Black business owners who challenged white supremacy in the marketplace were favorite targets.

The victims were sometimes killed after they had been marched through the black section of town — with a stop at the school for the colored — and fully exploited as a testament to black powerlessness. Lynching, in other words, was a method of social control.

When visitors to the Center for Civil and Human Rights confront these realities, they will know what the civil rights pioneers faced — and what they feared — when they took those first, perilous steps along the path to freedom.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Beware of Garbage Trucks

Rhonda Washington Campbell (aka Thomas Paul's momma)
"God may not always give us answers, but He always gives us grace."

Impact your life and your peace:

How often do you let other people's nonsense change your mood?
Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss, or an insensitive employee ruin your day?

Unless you're the Terminator, for an instant you're probably set back on your heels.

However, the mark of a successful person is how quickly they can get back to focus on what's important.

Sixteen years ago, I learned this lesson. I learned it in the back of a New York City taxicab.

Here's what happened:

I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were driving in the right lane when, all of a sudden, a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us.
My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car's back end by just inches!

The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started yelling bad words at us.

My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was friendly.
So, I said, "Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!"
And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, "The Law of the Garbage Truck."

Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration,
full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it.
And if you let them, they'll dump it on you. When someone wants to dump on you, don't take it personally.
You just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. You'll be happy you did.

So this was it: The "Law of the Garbage Truck."
I started thinking, how often do I let Garbage Trucks run right over me?
And how often do I take their garbage and spread it to other people: at work, at home, on the streets?
It was that day I said, "I'm not going to do it anymore."

I began to see garbage trucks.
Like in the movie “The Sixth Sense," the little boy said, "I see Dead People."
Well, now "I see Garbage Trucks."
I see the load they're carrying.
I see them coming to drop it off.
And like my Taxi Driver, I don't make it a personal thing;
I just smile, wave, wish them well, and I move on.

One of my favorite football players of all time, Walter Payton, did this every day on the
football field.
He would jump up as quickly as he hit the ground after being tackled.
He never dwelled on a hit. Payton was ready to make the next play his best.
Good leaders know they have to be ready for their next meeting.
Good parents know that they have to welcome their children home from school with hugs and kisses.
Leaders and parents know that they have to be fully present, and at their best for the people they care about.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let Garbage Trucks take over their day.
What about you?

What would happen in your life, starting today, if you let more garbage trucks pass you by?

Here's my bet: You'll be happier.

Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so..
Love the people who treat you right.
Forget about the one s who don't.
Believe that everything happens for a reason.
If you get a chance , TAKE IT!
If it changes your life , LET IT!
Nobody said it would be easy...
They just promised it would be worth it! J
Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.
I don't worry about tomorrow, TODAY IS A BLESSING!
Time is a dressmaker, specializing in alterations.
Any place that anyone can learn something useful from someone with experience is an educational institution.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Senate to Middle Class: Drop Dead

From: "Michael Moore"
They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers start building only cars and mass transit that reduce our dependency on oil.
They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers build cars that reduce global warming.
They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers withdraw their many lawsuits against state governments in their attempts to not comply with our environmental laws.
They could have given the loan on the condition that the management team which drove these once-great manufacturers into the ground resign and be replaced with a team who understands the transportation needs of the 21st century.
Yes, they could have given the loan for any of these reasons because, in the end, to lose our manufacturing infrastructure and throw 3 million people out of work would be a catastrophe.
But instead, the Senate said, we'll give you the loan only if the factory workers take a $20 an hour cut in wages, pension and health care. That's right. After giving BILLIONS to Wall Street hucksters and criminal investment bankers -- billions with no strings attached and, as we have since learned, no oversight whatsoever -- the Senate decided it is more important to break a union, more important to throw middle class wage earners into the ranks of the working poor than to prevent the total collapse of industrial America.
We have a little more than a month to go of this madness. As I sit here in Michigan today, tens of thousands of hard working, honest, decent Americans do not believe they can make it to January 20th. The malaise here is astounding. Why must they suffer because of the mistakes of every CEO from Roger Smith to Rick Wagoner? Make management and the boards of directors and the shareholders pay for this.
Of course that is heresy to the 31 Republicans who decided to blame the poor, miserable autoworkers for this mess. And our wonderful media complied with their spin on the morning news shows: "UAW Refuses to Give Concessions Killing Auto Bailout Bill." In fact the UAW has given concession after concession, reduced their benefits, agreed to get rid of the Jobs Bank and agreed to make it harder for their retirees to live from week to week. Yes! That's what we need to do! It's the Jobs Bank and the old people who have led the nation to economic ruin!
But even doing all that wasn't enough to satisfy the bastard Republicans. These Senate vampires wanted blood. Blue collar blood. You see, they weren't opposed to the bailout because they believed in the free market or capitalism. No, they were opposed to the bailout because they're opposed to workers making a decent wage. In their rage, they were driven to destroy the backbone of this country, not because the UAW hadn't given back enough, but because the UAW hadn't given up.
It appears that the sitting President has been looking for a way to end his reign by one magnanimous act, just like a warlord on his feast day. He will put his finger in the dyke, and the fragile mess of an auto industry will eke through the next few months.
That will give the Senate enough time to demand that the bankers and investment sharks who've already swiped nearly half of the $700 billion gift a chance to make the offer of cutting their pay.
Fat chance.
Michael Moore

Monday, December 8, 2008

Good Morning Dunbar Family and Friends: Let's help our school and the children to attend this historic event. I will pick up your donation if you desire or you can send it to the school: 3000 S King Drive, 60616. The faculty and administration and certainly the students appreciate your support.
Tommie L. Williams, Comptroller
Community Mental Health Council, Inc.
773-457-2078 cell

Hello Mr. Williams,

The Dunbar Vocational Mighty Marching Band will be going to the Inauguration in Washington DC. We are in need of donations to help defray costs for the students. Would you please assist us in getting the word out? Donations can be made payable to Dunbar Vocational Career Academy. Memo section should state: donation for band. We are leaving Sunday, January 18, 2009 and returning on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.

I am in the process of having new bleachers installed in the gym. When the project is complete, I am inviting all alumni to return for the ceremony. Details to follow.

Dr. Hall, Principal

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hello everyone,

My sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, will be conducting a two part work shop to assist individual with,

Preparation of individuals in our community to pursue work;
Assistance in resume preparation;
Participation in interview workshops;
Communication of positive customer service skills.
If you know of anyone who could benefit from this workshop please forward this email on. If you can't think of anyone right of send it to all your friends and family as them may know of someone.

Lisa Adams

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

'Crash taxes' add hefty fees for aid

If this tax is ever proposed in Illinois or Chicago it should be opposed by every taxpayer in the state and city. What the hell do we pay taxes for in the first place!?!
Tommie L. Williams, Comptroller

It's bad enough to be in a car accident, but getting billed for the police and/or fire department response can make matters worse. And your insurance may not cover that.

Published Dec. 2, 2008

By Peter Lewis

Imagine you're cruising down the road when you hit a patch of black ice and slide into a guardrail. A passing motorist calls 911. Soon firetrucks and police arrive.

Weeks later, a $1,400 bill does, too -- for the cost of the police and firefighters who answered the call. What's worse, it's not covered by insurance, and it might scar your credit if you ignore it.

Sound implausible? It's happening in a number of towns, cities and counties in at least 24 states. And given today's cratering economy (and property-tax revenue), more strapped local governments may be tempted to authorize so-called accident response fees.

Private vendors that promote such programs show up at city council meetings and police and fire chief conventions with model ordinances and fee schedules in hand. The vendors typically take a 10% cut of what's recovered.

Though five states (Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Tennessee) have banned "crash taxes" outright, insurers, lawmakers and vendors are squaring off elsewhere, even setting up warring Web sites such as Municipal Fee Facts and Who's caught in the middle? Drivers like you.

That'll be $2,200
Two years ago, Luke Gutilla lost control of his motorcycle along a road in Richland Township in Cambria County, Pa. He suffered a leg injury and was taken by ambulance to get treatment, which his insurance covered.

Several months later, Gutilla received a bill for nearly $2,200 for the services of seven firefighters, an assistant chief, two fire vehicles, three police cruises and three officers. The bill also itemized things like "brooms and mops and things that were just kind of strange," he recounted recently.

Gutilla, 26, a cable-company technician in Johnstown, Pa., said he started receiving a string of demand letters from a third-party vendor. "I threw away the papers they sent me and just ignored them," he recalled.

He never paid the bill -- sent "inadvertently," according to the vendor -- and nothing showed up on his credit report.

Insurance trade groups estimate the typical bill for nonmedical accident response fees at between $100 and $300, although some run considerably higher. Ordinances establishing crash response fees typically distinguish between resident and nonresident, who's at fault and who has insurance. They usually go after the out-of-towners, especially if there's an interstate highway nearby that spurs the bulk of accident responses.

A sampling of fees from across Florida:

$28 an hour for a police officer.

$200 an hour for a fire chief.

$435 for a fire/rescue response to no-injury accident.

$1,000 for complex accident extrication.

Why doesn't insurance cover this?
Medical services, including ambulance transportation, have always been covered under medical payments, personal-injury protection and no-fault provisions, according to Jessica Hanson, a spokeswoman with Property Casualty Insurance Association of America.

But Joe Thesing, an industry lobbyist with the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, said the typical policy does not cover accident response fees because "it is our belief that local taxes pay for those."

It's up to each company to determine, based on policy language, whether to pay the fees. "But most instances that we learn of do not provide coverage," Hanson said.

The insurance industry contends that if accident response fees catch on, it will drive up everybody's rates. Without a consistent fee structure, it's impossible to estimate how much higher policies might run, according to Mary Bonelli, an Ohio Insurance Institute spokeswoman who has been tracking the issue for five years.

"You wouldn't get something for nothing," she said. Or, she said, a carrier might place a cap on such coverage, similar to the $500 allowed under homeowners policies for fire department runs.

Some examples
To get a broader sense of the kinds of accident response bills its customers have received, State Farm provided MSN Money with some edited summaries of incidents that took place in Ohio since 2004. The company said it never paid any of them, except for legitimate medical charges:

"$350 Billed -- This accident happened in front of a fire station. Our insured driver was at fault. He reports no fire vehicles left the station. He recalls five firefighters walked from the station to the accident scene. The fire department run sheet indicates they were on scene for 20 minutes, which calculates to $1,050 per hour."

"$593 Billed -- Our insured rolled into the rear of another car. There was no damage to either car. The fire department was at the scene for less than 15 minutes."

"$350 Billed -- This accident was at an intersection controlled by a traffic signal. Both drivers claimed to have a green light. There were no witnesses. The police investigation could not determine fault. The municipality decided to bill the insured driver $350 for scene response."

"$600 Billed -- The fire department billed $300 per person to take the vital signs of the driver and passenger. Neither was transported. They were not injured and didn't have any medical treatment after the accident. The fire department reduced the bill to $100 per person. The bills were paid under the medical payments coverage."

The case for fees
Fire Chief Chad Croft in Live Oak, Fla., says his small department would continue to exist without the $2,000 to $3,000 a month it gets from accident response fees but that its service would be diminished.

The additional revenue has made it possible to afford a new $600,000 ladder truck and saved local residents from tax increases. The new truck has also improved the community's overall insurance rating, reducing commercial and residential premiums, Croft said.

He said his department has done business with Cost Recovery, an Ohio company that collects fees on behalf of municipalities, for about two years. Croft said the money "has helped us keep the standard of care that we need." He said the additional money amounts to "10% to 15% of our budget on the operations side."

A lot of tourists pass through the area en route to Disney World or Florida's beaches, and the chief estimates that 75% of the calls his 25-man department (including 10 volunteers) responds to each year are vehicle accidents on interstates.

No charges are assessed unless blame can be attributed to a particular driver, and the department seeks to collect only from at-fault motorists who don't live in the county, he said. Among motorists fitting those criteria, the department collects 30% to 40% of the time, he said.

The outlook
Cost Recovery President Regina Moore said she collects on behalf of "hundreds" of local governments across the country and said her business is "growing exponentially."

Her largest customer is Toledo, Ohio, with a population of more than 300,000. Recently, her company has been picking up smaller cities in rural parts of Florida, and it just entered Kansas, she said.

Even the insurance industry sees more growth ahead.

"There's going to be more and more pressure on cities as their budgets are tightened or cut and on fire and police departments who obviously never have enough money to run their departments," predicted Mark Lane, a lawyer and lobbyist for State Farm who opposes accident response fees. "If they can do it and earn a little extra, more are more likely to try it."

But political pressure can be just as powerful. Dozens of cities have begun the process, only to back away or later repeal.

Do you really have to pay?
How many customers or carriers actually honor these bills is unclear. Moore asserted that more than half the insurance companies she bills -- 56% -- pay up.

By contrast, a survey conducted by the Ohio Insurance Institute indicated that more than 82% of carriers reject bills for uncovered accident response services.

Bob Brown said most folks have paid when, as fire chief in the Denver suburb of Castle Rock, he established such a program. "We might have gotten $25,000 a year" for services such as mopping up hazardous materials and putting out vehicle fires on a nearby interstate, he said.

Castle Rock handled the billing internally and charged only those who weren't local, he said. And even then, it didn't bother billing if it was "only a fender bender and we didn't do anything," he added.

The majority of ordinances aim to collect only from insurance companies, but that doesn't mean you won't receive a bill. In fact, Moore's position is that while payment from carriers is "voluntary," individuals are ultimately responsible because they benefited directly. Even so, she said "less than 5%" of bills get referred to collection agencies when individuals refuse to pay.

If you get billed for accident response, you should:

Contact your insurer and forward the bill.

Get a copy of a police report detailing what medical assistance, if any, was required.

Check into any criminal liability. In at least one municipality -- Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. -- nonpayment is a misdemeanor.

Consider contacting the consumer-protection division of your state attorney general's office if you and your insurance carrier determine the bill is not warranted.

Consider disputing the charge with credit reporting agencies if the bill is sent to a collection agency.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Anonymous Responds..."Black Men Missing"

Being a black male I have but one question to ask: what part do African American women play in these numbers, because when I was in high school the girls were more likely to go with the "THUG" than the would a brother that was cool, fun, and was an all around good guy.

The burden of proof is on both men and women. Let us not focus on blame or difficult or disagreeable obligation; the task at hand, is to begin focusing on that disconnect. When, Where, and How did this disconnect occur, and how can we begin to rebuild and correct our wrongs. Let us just agree that we have failed our black men and we (male and Female) must initiate correcting our wrongs.Cheech Ref: Feb 08'Black Men Missing on this blog page

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Re-imagining the Future With Obama:

Being Aware, Organized and Engaged by Dr. Maulana Karenga
DR. MAULANA KARENGA / Los Angeles Sentinel - It is not difficult to recognize or respect the remarkable moment in the history of this country that the election of Barack Obama represents, nor the profound and particular meaning it has for us as a people; or the significance it holds for all progressives who contributed to it; and the promise it can hold for the world, if we reimagine the future in life-affirming and life-enhancing ways and dare continue the struggle to bring it into being. It is our foremother Anna Julia Cooper who reminds us, however, to be careful about our tendency to assume a singular person's achievement represents advancement of our people instead of simply an opening that still must be widened so that all can enter. She says, "we too often mistake individuals' honor for race development". And likewise, "we often mistake foliage for fruit and overestimate or wrongly estimate brilliant results". Certainly, the Obama victory is a brilliant result, but the fruit of full freedom, equal justice, real equality and shared power for us as a people is still to be cultivated, consummated and harvested. And thus the struggle must and does continue. But there is, still and rightfully so, a need to celebrate this moment in history which brings to mind and heart a wide range of thoughts and feelings: i.e., a shared happiness with and for our people; reverent remembrance and respect for our ancestors whose work and struggle before us brought us to this place; a sense of relief and redirection for the country; anticipation of new possibilities for us and the world; and a deepened appreciation for the need to continue the struggle to forge the good future we all hope for and deserve.
Indeed, Obama himself has said the campaign was a chance for change, not change itself. Likewise, the election is a change of the guardian of state interests, but not the change the Obama campaign promised of a new way to relate to each other and the world. And if Obama is to be more than a new moral mask for the established order and a political muzzle for us to preempt and prevent needed social criticism, we must honor our social justice tradition, continue the unfinished struggle and challenge him to do likewise.
So yes, I share the happiness of our people in their sense of winning a long-coming and hard-fought victory and vindication, their celebration of making the long journey from enslavement to the highest office of leadership of the very society that enslaved us and of winning within a system that didn't favor us, and that, it was said, was not ready to receive us in such a position of prominence, prestige and power. And yet we did it.
I also remember with reverent respect the ancestors and elders, those who opened the way down which we still walk on this long and unfinished journey and taught us the way to walk with dignity, strength, and determination in the world: Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Martin Delaney, Marcus Garvey, Mary McLeod Bethune, Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin L. King, and others too numerous to name. And I pay hommage also to those who ran the political race before Obama, especially those who ran the presidential race-Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton, all who taught possibility, widened the circle of inclusion and kept alive the hope and commitment to change eventually chanted by Obama advocates during the campaign and victory celebrations around the world.
And there is this palpable sense of relief and redirection for the country, a hopeful feeling that an Obama administration will rescue the country from the Bush night-and-day-mare of corporate corruption, violations of human and civil rights, economic collapse and the cheap peddling of vulgar flag pin- wearing patriotism framed and fermented in fear and hatred against peoples of the world.
In its place is the need to respect the right and insure the capacity of the people of New Orleans to return and rebuild their lives and future; and to address issues of adequate and affordable housing, universal health care, employment, education, rebuilding the economy, improving multicultural relations and the practice of peace as central to U.S. recovery, respect and positive reassertion in the world. But again, relief and redirection will come not from a single man surrounded by corporate colleagues, lobbyists of every kind and conservative congresspersons who will caution slowness, minimum motion forward and maintenance of a system of trade-offs and back- slapping set in place centuries ago. Only an aware, organized and engaged people can call for and compel the steps needed to turn hope into policy and promise into practice.
All over the world, there is this widespread anticipation of the proposal and pursuit of new possibilities, beyond the Bush years of imperial illusions and aggressiveness, unjust and unjustifiable wars, institutionalized torture and state terror against citizens and various peoples of the world, efforts to dominate and occupy rather than cooperate and the military-might-as-right claim to the resources of the world. And in place of this international banditry and bludgeoning are perceived possibilities of non- interventionist aid for the people of Darfur, Haiti, Congo, Africa as a whole, and the rest of the world, the end of occupation and a just peace and repair for Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, and framing of a future of common interests and cooperation. As a people who remain a key moral and social vanguard in this country, we must be in the front ranks of those who dare develop and put forth an agenda for ourselves and the country, to help frame the issues, to reimagine the future, and to inform and guide the work ahead to build a politics of social justice, just peace and a shared good in this country and the world. Dr. Ron Daniels, President, Institute of the Black World 21st Century, has called us to conference next week 2008 November 19-23 in New Orleans and we urge all to attend and participate in this historic dialog.
This State of the Black World Conference is the first national planning conference since Obama's election. It will engage African American leaders from around the country, representatives from African nations and other countries in the Diaspora in an intergenerational dialog to think thru issues in politics, culture, economics, community organizing and the academy, as we move beyond the election to turning ideas into action, hope into public policy, and the energy cultivated during the election to rebuilding and sustaining a movement for real, experienced and uplifting change. (To register visit:
Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor of Africana Studies, California State University-Long Beach, Chair of The Organization Us, Creator of Kwanzaa, and author of Kawaida and Questions of Life and Struggle: African American, Pan-African and Global Issues.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Today, that new world is struggling to be born

Out of these troubled times, our objective: a new world order
can emerge, Today, that new world is struggling to be born,
a world quite different from the one we have known."
-- George H. W. Bush told the U.N. on September 11th 1990

our penalty was having George W. Bush as president for 8 years, when we could've made a difference by using our right to vote a long time ago. too many of our people have died in the past for us to wait for President Obama to show our strength at the polls. lets not let this happen again!! continue to stay aware of our suroundings and our countries policies ( laws and finance ) because they do effect all of us! that's when we will be free at last! Peace.

"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is
that you end up being governed by your inferiors."
-- Plato

Friday, November 21, 2008

Leatha Patton

Words from Leatha. Thank You! Cheech

I went to your blog just minutes ago and, frankly, could not get past the first article because it was so preposterous that I could not believe what I was reading. The American people would rather have mediocrity because they are so very used to it, right? Am I actually reading that to speak in perfect, well structured sentences is incorrect or being a show off, and that we have succumbed to celebrating the past eight years of George W. Bushville as a hallmark? So I am to believe that now dumb is better, is that it?

Okay, and so...let's cite some of the problems that run roughshod over this country like scorched earth. I want to inject a sobering note and halt this train wreck. After enduring this country's longest, most grueling campaign (21 months), Barack Obama, because of his intellect, political shrewdness, a superior staff, and impeccable organizational skills (berated by his opponents, I might add), raised more money than any other campaign in this country's history, which enabled him to ascend to President-Elect, enabling him to become President of the United States of America on January 20, 2009. But let us not lose sight of the following facts: the country is on the brink of bankruptcy, in two (2) wars for which it currently spends $10 billion per month, is globally unpopular thanks to "W", homelessness abounds, health care is the pits, child hunger is approaching alarming rates, our jobs pay less, and other than our flailing automobile industry, we are at the mercy of products made any and everywhere. The list is long and I will stop there. And now, at last, at last, we have a Black man that we will soon address as Mr. President, and the complaint is that he's a show off and his speech is too grammatically correct? Huh? What?

Perhaps, just maybe, do you think this is why we are in such dire straights? Have we grown so accustomed to being in the ditch that deepens day by day that we can no longer see the sun and are are losing sight on what prosperity is all about? Do the American people want to continue to have parking lots (like in Santa Barbara) opened from late night to early morning so that the homeless can sleep in their cars? Do we want the rich to continue to prey on the American people? That act of Grand Theft (the $700 Billion Bailout at the expense of the taxpayers) was superb and, secondly, those in "high places" have dumbed us down, with the assistance of the news (faux) media, to the point that we actually believe the subprime lending scam is the fault of the American people. Not to elaborate at length, but just briefly, for the enlightenment of those unaware that this scam includes the following: hidden fees, padded fees, exorbitant ARMS (Adjustable Rate Mortgages) vicious and deliberate, repackaged loans, and the list goes on. Thousands of them were ominously calculated, written so that the victim (mortgagers) were destined for failure so that they could be repackaged and sold again. And now Wall Street, one of the prime orchestrators of this fiasco as they directing it from on high, together with all the other criminals, are attempting to blame the homeowners. Meanwhile, taxpayers are now stuck with bailing out the criminals, especially Wall Street. Furthermore, do the American people know that GMAC, the financial services group of GM, was also in on this? GM, whose CEO, separately, as did the other two, all in their corporate jets, flew to Washington a few days ago, hat in hand, begging for government dollars. As one of the senators said the other day to all the CEOs of the Big Three (Ford, GM, Chrysler), and he was not laughing: It is like showing up at a soup kitchen in top hat and a tuxedo. Please read the book "Plunder: Investigating our Economic Calamity and the Subprime Scandal" by Danny Schechter which reveals this fact among countless others. Folks, the term he used constantly was complicit meaning criminal. However, I dare say, the American people are literally numb with ignorance because they do not read, get all their news from NBC, CNN, MSNBC, etc., much to lazy to simply get involved and do their homework so that we discontinue our descent down this slippery slope. And now, and now, we want to judge being articulate as being a show off.

Now I am going to address my neck of the woods, the Black folks. Although I am proud of the fact that Obama won, cast my vote for him and even made donations, I do not want us to lose sight on the prize that should continuously remain part of our agenda so that we ultimately become a self-sustaining and independent people within this nation. Perhaps this feat achieved by Barack Obama can be the inspirational catalyst to move us a little closer to that goal because, for a start, an example of what a full sentence, grammatically correct with the verb, noun, adjective, etc., in place, is exactly what we need. Let us for once allow the majority society to backpedal, if they dare. For once, let us as a people not be derailed with no one steering the train or afloat with no one at the helm. I contend that we are people with strengths mostly unrealized and untapped. If the majority of the American people are clamoring for mediocrity, let them. It's time we are fully alert. Let's begin to also awaken that substantial number of us who are unfocused and willing to languish in a state of false euphoria while every other group is charting their course of action. We need to join them by also laying out an agenda of our demands. Obama received 95% of our vote, people. Did you know that the Jewish, Hispanic and Asian communities have already presented their demands to Obama even thought the Inauguration has yet to take place? Trust me, this is true. They listened carefully and they intend to have The Change We Can Believe In. And so, the singing, the tears, the applause, the chants and the voting, all of it is now over. I repeat, the election is over. We gave Obama 95% of our vote and cannot afford to simply be content that a Black man will sit in the Oval Office. Proof of this mindset is in the e-mails that I continuously receive that never utter one word about what comes next as if now we have arrived. I even received a calendar and thought it nice until I turned to view the last two pages. On every other page, Martin appeared, but now he was gone with only a picture of Obama remaining. To add insult, the last page read "Free at last, etc. Big, big mistake. I do not want us to be lulled asleep while each and every other ethnic group moves on and, as usual, leaves us behind with nothing but a good feeling.

As I have stated before to others, this ascension to the presidency is historical for Barack Obama's posterity (as the 44th president of the U.S.), inevitably impacting his family and his children, but remain mostly symbolic for the rest of us as an aspiration of future generations. Yes, the Obamas will live in the White House that our ancestors had a decisive hand in building. If not all, a lot of it. (They are now stating that even the immigrants were in on the construction of the White House!) I contend it is not called the White House without emphasis on who was to forever live there. I am sure some do not wish to hear this, but this accomplishment can be an inspirational stepping stone only if we use it as such. Listen up, everybody. We have not arrived, but are just a little closer to the prize by allowing this historical junctiure to become the corner stone for many future generations by continuously promoting excellence, hard work to move us from destabilization toward stabilization of our communities by STOPPING THE KILLING, the DRUGS, promoting higher education, quiet streets that are clean and orderly, and the list goes on.

Yes, beginning January 20th there will be a Black family in the White House. However, do not forget we will still live in our same houses, sleep in the same beds, go to the same jobs if we have a job at all, and life will go on as usual. Let us not lose sight on what is achievable, but only if we accept what has occurred as a giant step toward the bigger and brighter picture.

Back in 1929 Financial Crash it was said that some Wall Street Stockbrokers and Bankers JUMPED from their office windows and committed suicide when confronted with the news of their firms and clients financial ruin . . . Many people were said to almost feel a little sorry for them . . . . . .

In 2008 the attitude has changed somewhat:


I never cease to be amazed at how individuals feel intimidated and insecure!!

How can one who speaks a language in the form and art in which it was meant to be spoken be critized?

I'd say that is a terrible thing for those who are "threatened" by President-Elect Barack Obama's correct and appropriate use of the English language in its proper grammatical form to feel the need to express this publicly, allowing the public to see their weakness.

Journalists have strived for years to master this language in its written form and have failed dismally. News reporters have not even come close to mastering this art form of a language….so…critics….learn from the master who will soon become OUR president.

What's up London!!!! Cheech..

Obama's Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy

Obama's Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy
Stunning Break with Last Eight Years

In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect Barack Obama has
broken with a tradition established over the past eight years through his
controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say.

Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama's appearance on CBS' "Sixty
Minutes" on Sunday witnessed the president-elect's unorthodox verbal tick,
which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually
every time he opened his mouth.

But Mr. Obama's decision to use complete sentences in his public
pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight
years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.

According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of
Minnesota, some Americans might find it "alienating" to have a President
who speaks English as if it were his first language.

"Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in
agreement," says Mr. Logsdon. "If he keeps it up, he is running the risk
of sounding like an elitist."

The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete sentences in
his speeches, the public may find itself saying, "Okay, subject, predicate,
subject predicate - we get it, stop showing off."

The President-elect's stubborn insistence on using complete sentences has
already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov. Sarah
Palin of Alaska.

"Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way that
ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can't really
do there, I think needing to do that isn't tapping into what Americans are
needing also," she said.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Tommie Williams has agreed to promote support for the Steppers' Party
and I would appreciate it if you would keep him posted as things
develop. His e-mail address is and his cell phone is
(773) 457-2078.

Thanks for everything.

Lacy ........ Details below

Fundraiser for Lacy L. Thomas

Fundraiser for Lacy L. Thomas

Here is the information for the party on Thursday, November 20, 2008 -
Bar Louie on Taylor
1321 W. Taylor
500pm -800pm
After Work Cocktail Reception
$25.00 ticket donation
Cash Bar - Hors d'oeuvres Served
Thanks for all your help. If people want to write checks, they can make
them out to Lacy L.Thomas

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kenyada--"Inauguration Ball 2009":

Thanks for posting my essay. I've been overwhelmed by the positive response to this piece that I first posted on the Internet about one week before the election. Somehow I knew Obama would win, mainly because he was standing on the shoulders of these giants. A longer version of the essay is included in my new book, Reflections in the Dark Room, available in January. Thanks again and Best Wishes.


Kenyada, please keep us posted when your new book "Reflections in the Dark Room", becomes available. Thanks so much for sharing Patrice.......

Friday, November 14, 2008

Eugene Allen, 89, a retired White House butler

Eugene Allen, 89, a retired White House butler, tries on his old tuxedo for a photo. Allen, who served eight presidents during a period when America's racial history was being rewritten, is marveling at the election of Barack Obama.

Now retired, he started when blacks were in the kitchen.

By Wil Haygood

Reporting from Washington -- For more than three decades, Eugene Allen worked in the White House, a black man unknown to the headlines. During some of those years, harsh segregation laws lay upon the land.

He trekked home every night to his wife, Helene, who kept him out of her kitchen.

At the White House, he worked closer to the dirty dishes than to the Oval Office. Helene didn't care; she just beamed with pride.

President Truman called him Gene. President Ford liked to talk golf with him. He saw eight presidential administrations come and go, often working six days a week.

"I never missed a day of work," Allen said.

He was there while racial history was made: Brown vs. Board of Education, the Little Rock school crisis, the 1963 March on Washington, the cities burning, the civil rights bills, the assassinations.

When he started at the White House in 1952, he couldn't even use the public restrooms when he ventured back to his native Virginia. "We had never had anything," Allen, 89, recalled of black America at the time. "I was always hoping things would get better."

In its long history, the White House -- note the name -- has had a complex and vexing relationship with black Americans.

"The history is not so uneven at the lower level, in the kitchen," said Ted Sorensen, who served as counselor to President Kennedy. "In the kitchen, the folks h ave always been black. Even the folks at the door -- black."

Before Gene Allen landed his White House job, he worked as a waiter at a resort in Hot Springs, Va., and then at a country club in Washington.

He and wife Helene, 86, were sitting in the living room of their Washington home. Her voice was musical, in a Lena Horne kind of way. She called him "Honey." They met at a birthday party in 1942. He was too shy to ask for her number, so she tracked his down. They married a year later.

In 1952, a lady told him of a job opening in the White House. "I wasn't even looking for a job," he said. "I was happy where I was working, but she told me to go on over there and meet with a guy by the name of Alonzo Fields."

Fields was a maitre d', and he immediately liked Allen.

Allen was offered a job as a "pantry man." He washed dishes, stocked cabinets and shined silverware. He started at $2,400 a year.

There was, in time, a promotion to butler. "Shook t he hand of all the presidents I ever worked for," he said.

"I was there, honey," Helene said. "In the back maybe. But I shook their hands too." She was referring to White House holiday parties, Easter egg hunts.

They have one son, Charles, who works as an investigator with the State Department.

"President Ford's birthday and my birthday were on the same day," he said. "He'd have a birthday party at the White House. Everybody would be there. And Mrs. Ford would say, 'It's Gene's birthday too!' "

And so they'd sing a little ditty to the butler. And the butler, who wore a tuxedo to work every day, would blush.

"Jack Kennedy was very nice," he went on. "And so was Mrs. Kennedy."

He was in the White House kitchen the day Kennedy was slain. He got an invitation to the funeral. But he volunteered for other duty: "Somebody had to be at the White House to serve everyone after they came from the funeral."

The whole family of President Carter made Helene chuckle: "They were country. And I'm talking Lillian and Rosalynn both." It came out as the highest compliment.

First Lady Nancy Reagan came looking for him in the kitchen one day. She wanted to remind him about the upcoming state dinner for German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. She told him he would not be working that night.

"She said, 'You and Helene are coming to the state dinner as guests of President Reagan and myself.' I'm telling you! I believe I'm the only butler to get invited to a state dinner."

Husbands and wives don't sit together at these events, and Helene was nervous about trying to make small tal k with world leaders. "And my son said, 'Momma, just talk about your high school. They won't know the difference.'

"The senators were all talking about the colleges and universities that they went to," she said. "I was doing as much talking as they were.

"Had champagne that night," she said, looking over at her husband.

He just grinned: He was the man who stacked the champagne at the White House.

Colin L. Powell would become the highest ranking black of any White House to that point when he was named Reagan's national security advisor in 1987. Condoleezza Rice would have that position under President George W. Bush.

Gene Allen was promoted to maitre d' in 1980. He left the White House in 1986, after 34 years. President Reagan wrote him a sweet note. Nancy Reagan hugged him tight.

Interviewed at their home last week, Gene and Helene speculated about what it would mean if a black man were elected president.

"Just imagine," she said.

"It'd be really something," he said.

"We're pretty much past the going-out stage," she said. "But you never know. If he gets in there, it'd sure be nice to go over there again."

They talked about praying to help Barack Obama get to the White House. They'd go vote together. She'd lean on her cane with one hand, and him with the other, while walking down to the precinct. And she'd get supper going afterward. They went over their election day plans more than once.

"Imagine," she said.

"That's right," he said.

On Monday, Helene had a doctor's appointment. Gene woke and nudged her once, then again. He shuffled around to her side of the bed. He nudged Helene again.

He was all alone.

"I woke up and my wife didn't," he said later.

Some friends and family members rushed over. He wanted to make c offee. They had to shoo the butler out of the kitchen.

The lady he married 65 years ago will be buried today.

The butler cast his vote for Obama on Tuesday. He so missed telling his Helene about the black man bound for the Oval Office.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Inauguration Ball 2009

Guests began arriving early. There are no place cards and
no name tags. Everyone knows everyone else here. Now, there's a grand
foursome - Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz sharing laughs with Martin and Coretta
Scott King. Looks like Hosea Williams refused the limo again, keeping it
real. And my goodness; is that Rosa Parks out there on the dance floor
with A. Phillip Randolph? Seated at a nearby table, Frederick Douglass has a captive audience in W.E.B. DuBois and Fannie Lou Hamer, and Medgar Evers has just joined them.

Marian Anderson was asked to sing tonight, but she only agreed to do it if
accompanied by Marvin Gaye, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix.
Look, there's Harriet Tubman. No one knows how she arrived, but there she
is. And my guess is that, when the time comes, no one will see her leave.
There's Jackie Robinson swiftly making his way through
the hall as the crowd parts like the Red Sea to the unmistakable sound of
applause. "Run, Jackie, run!"Along the way he is embraced by Jessie Owens.
Three beautiful young women arrive with their escorts - Schwerner, Goodman and
Chaney. Ms. Viola Liuzzo flew in from Michigan, exclaiming, "I could not
miss this." Richard Pryor promised to be on his best behavior.
"But I can't make any guarantees for Redd Foxx and Moms Mabley," he
chuckled. Joe Louis just faked a quick jab to the chin of Jack Johnson, who smiled broadly while slipping it. We saw Billy Eckstine and Nat King Cole greet Luther
Vandross. James Brown and Josh Gibson stopped at Walter Payton's table
to say hello.
I spotted Congressman Adam Clayton Powell of Harlem having
a lively political discussion with Eldredge Cleaver. Pearl Harbor WWII
hero Dorie Miller shared a few thoughts with Crispus Attucks,
a hero of the Revolutionary War. And there is Madam C.J. Walker talking
with Marcus Garvey about exporting goods to Africa.
General Benjamin O. Davis flew into Washington safely with
an escort from the 99th Fighter Squadron - better known as The Tuskegee
Airmen. At the table on the left are three formidable women - Shirley
Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, and Barbara Jordan - gathered for a little
girl-talk... about world politics. As usual, all the science nerds seem to have gathered off in a corner, talking shop.
There's Granville T. Woods and Lewis Latimer needling each other about whose inventions are better. Someone jokingly asked Benjamin Banneker if he had needed directions to Washington. And George Washington Carver was overheard asking, "What, no peanuts?"

Dueling bands? Anytime Duke Ellington and Count Basie get
together, you know the place will be jumping. Tonight is special, of course,
so we have Miles, Dizzy, and Satchmo sitting in on trumpet, with Coltrane,
Cannonball, and Bird on sax. Everyone's attention is directed to the
dance floor where Bill "Bojangles" Robinson is tap dancing. Right beside
him is Sammy Davis Jr., doing his Bojangles routine. And behind his back, Gregory
Hines is imitating them both. Applause and laughter abound! The Hollywood
contingent has just arrived from the Coast. Led by filmmaker Oscar Micheau,
Paul Robeson, and Hattie McDaniel, they find their way to their
tables. Dorothy Dandridge, looking exquisite in gold lamé, is seen
signaling to her husband, Harold Nicholas, who is standing on the floor with brother
Fayard watching Gregory Hines dance. "Hold me back," quips
Harold, "before I show that youngster how it's done." Much laughter!

Then a sudden hush comes over the room.
The guests of honor have arrived.
The President and Mrs. Obama looked out across the enormous
ballroom at all the historic faces. Very many smiles, precious few dry eyes.
Someone shouted out, "You did it! You did it!"
And President Obama replied,
"No sir, you did it; you all - each and every one of you - did it.
Your guidance and encouragement; your hard work and perseverance. .."
Obama paused, perhaps holding back a tear.
"I look at your faces - your beautiful faces - and I
am reminded that The White House was built by faces that looked just like yours.
On October 3, 1792, the cornerstone of the White House was laid, and the
foundations and main residence of The White House were built mostly by both
enslaved and free African Americans and paid Europeans. In fact, most of
the other construction work was performed by immigrants, many of whom
had not yet become citizens. Much of the brick and plaster work was
performed by Irish and Italian immigrants. The sandstone walls were built by
Scottish immigrants. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that The White House is,
ultimately, The People's House, with each President serving as its steward. Since 1792
The People have trimmed its hedges, mowed its
lawn, stood guard at the gate, cooked meals in the kitchen, and scrubbed its
toilet bowls. But 216 years later, The People are taking it back!
"Today, Michelle and I usher in a new era. But while
we and our family look toward the future with so much hope, we know that we must
also acknowledge fully this milestone in our journey. We want to thank each
and every one of you for all you have done to make this day possible. I
stand here before you, humbled and in awe of your accomplishments and
sacrifice, and I will dedicate my Presidency, in your honor, to the principles of
peace, liberty and freedom.

If it ever appears that I'm forgetting that, I know I can count on you to remind me."
Then he pointed to me near the stage..."Kenyada, isn't it time for you to wake up for work?
Isn't it time for all of us to wake up and get to work?"
Suddenly I awake and sit up in bed with a knowing smile. My wife stirs and sleepily asks if I'm OK. "I've never been better," I replied, "Never better. It's gonna be a good day."

by Kenyada

http://www.dailykos .com/story/ 2008/10/29/ 1643/9807/ 819/645987

Monday, November 3, 2008

Obama-Inspired Black Voters Warm to Politics

This is why Senator Obama will be elected by a landslide victory. The pollsters are polling most likely voters and he is still ahead. There are a lot of newly registered voters and first time voters and those who have not voted on a regular basis that will go to the polls tomorrow. The media is aware of that but they are taking advantage of it to make more money. This election has been over for some time now. However, WE STILL MUST GET OUT AND VOTE!!!

Tommie L. Williams, Comptroller

Published: November 1, 2008
Growing up in St. Louis in the 1950s and ’60s, Deddrick Battle came to believe that the political process was not for people like him — a struggling black man whose vote, he was convinced, surely would not count for much of anything. The thought became ingrained as an adult, almost like common sense.

Armento Meredith, 43, right, a first-time voter, waited hours in Atlanta to vote on Thursday. “It’s time for a change,” he said.
Percy Matthews, 25, of Chicago, has voted just once in his life, but said he wasn’t certain for whom. This election is different.
But a month ago, at age 55, Mr. Battle registered to vote for the first time. Senator Barack Obama was the reason.

“This is huge,” Mr. Battle, a janitor, said after his overnight shift cleaning a movie theater. “This is bigger than life itself. When I was coming up, I always thought they put in who they wanted to put in. I didn’t think my vote mattered. But I don’t think that anymore.”

Across the country, black men and women like Mr. Battle who have long been disaffected, apolitical, discouraged or just plain bored with politics say they have snapped to attention this year, according to dozens of interviews conducted in the last several days in six states. They are people like Percy Matthews of the South Side of Chicago, a 25-year-old who did vote once but whose experience was so forgettable that he cannot recall with certainty whom he cast a ballot for or even what year it was. Now an enthusiastic Democrat, he says the old days are gone.

And Shandell Wilcox, 29, who registered to vote in Jacksonville, Fla., when she was 18, then proceeded to ignore every election other than the current one. She voted for the first time on Wednesday.

Over and again, first-time and relatively new voters like Mr. Matthews and Ms. Wilcox, far past the legal voting age, said they were inspired by the singularity of the 2008 election and the power of Mr. Obama’s magnetism. Many also said they were loath to miss out on their part in writing what could be a new chapter of American history — the chance to vote for a black president.

Mr. Battle, for one, remembers growing up in the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis and how intimidated the adults were about voting, and that left an impression on him. The older women he knew were afraid to walk to the polls, he said, for fear of being attacked. “I didn’t think it was for black people, period,” he said of politics before the Civil Rights era. “We didn’t have any rights, really. We were just coming into voting and everything.”

Fast-forwarding to the present, he continued: “I never thought that I’d see this day. I never thought I’d see the day where an African-American was standing at the podium getting ready to be president.”

The swelling ranks of the newly enthusiastic are also the result of extensive nationwide voter registration drives and new early voting procedures in many states that have made the process easier and more accessible.

David A. Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, said the states with the largest increases in early voting had been those where the black population was proportionally the highest. In Georgia, for instance, blacks represented a quarter of all voters in the 2004 presidential election. So far this year in early voting alone, they make up 35 percent of all voters.

“I am fully expecting record black turnout,” Mr. Bositis said. “It’s not just a question of Obama as the first black nominee; it’s also that African-Americans have suffered substantially under the Bush years and African-Americans have been the single most anti-Iraq-war group in the population.”

“Obama is like the icing on the cake,” he added, “but it’s not just a question of Obama.”

One early voter in Georgia was Armento Meredith, 43, who waited in line for two hours Thursday at the Fulton County Government Building in downtown Atlanta to vote for the first time. “It’s time for a change,” said Mr. Meredith, a telephone operator. “I want to see something different.”

The result is likely to be a level of black participation in the electoral process that is higher than ever before. If sustained, some of those interviewed said, it might also translate into a reinvigorated sprit of democracy in some communities where it has been long dormant.

“In the black community, I see a great many people coming out who were apathetic since ’84,” said Bob Law, 63, an activist in New York City and former radio host who worked on the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s campaign for the presidency in 1984, the first time a black candidate was a serious national contender. But in the years since, he said, blacks’ enthusiasm had waned.

“People didn’t vote before because they really didn’t think their vote was going to make a difference,” Mr. Law said. “Whenever black voters felt like there was a reason to vote, like it might mean something, they’ve turned out.”

That is exactly how Mr. Battle, the janitor in St. Louis, feels. In the past, he said, “I felt like Democrat or Republican, it didn’t matter who won.”

“But my guy Obama?” he continued. “I think it’s going to be a change if he wins. He’s speaking my language.”

For some black men and women, the sense of pride is overwhelming, as is the feeling that they are participating in what could become a touchstone moment, something that children and grandchildren will want to hear about.

“I’d feel bad forever if I didn’t get out this time,” said Ms. Wilcox of Jacksonville, a cafeteria worker. “I’d feel like I didn’t do my part to put him in the office. How would I explain that to my little girl? ‘Oh, I had something better to do?’ And sure, it’s partially because he’s African-American. But he also says there will be change, and I believe him.”

Timothy Hairston, 47, a bartender in Brooklyn who has never voted before, shared that point of view. “I wanted to be a part of a historical moment,” Mr. Hairston said, “to say that I was involved in history in the making, that I was an active participant as opposed to someone on the sidelines rooting for change but not involved in the process of making change.”

He added of Mr. Obama: “I think it’s a testament to his campaign that he can inspire. At the end of the day, no matter what party you vote for, I think every once in a while there are inspirational moments that call for people to wake up from their deep sleep and become alive and get involved. And I think Barack at the very least is an inspirational figure.”

For some, coming back to political life was a slow process that unfolded over months. Others said they were struck by something in Mr. Obama’s life or what he stands for and that conversion was immediate.

Ms. Wilcox saw some of her own biography reflected in Mr. Obama’s. They were both born to single mothers and raised mostly by their grandparents in modest settings. She said she felt validated, motivated and inspired all at once when she first heard Mr. Obama’s life story during the primary season. “I began to think that we had a lot of life features in common,” she said. “It gave me hope.”

Bianca Williams, 20, a hair stylist in Brooklyn, said the campaign had changed her life. After seeing Mr. Obama in the first debate, Ms. Williams decided to go back to community college part-time. “After seeing his success, I started thinking maybe I could help my community like he did,” she said. “If he could do it then I could do it. It woke me up, careerwise. It just gave me the willpower to go on.”

That is true for Mr. Matthews, who works in a Chicago coffee shop. Not too long ago, he said, he lied to his mother about having voted in an election so she would stop nagging him to get out and vote. What a difference this year has made: he said he watched the party conventions and three of the four presidential and vice-presidential debates. He followed coverage of the candidates in the local papers. He voted in the primary, and he cannot wait to vote on Tuesday.

“As I’m talking now,” he said, “I’m getting goose bumps.”

For Darnell Harris of Cleveland, an 18-year-old private in the Marines, the legal voting age could not come fast enough. “I’m excited that the first time I get to vote, it’s for Barack,” he said. And echoing many others, he said that race is only part of the reason. “Obama cares about everybody, whether they’re white, black, Chinese, whatever. He’s not just for one little group.”

For some new voters, family and peer pressure certainly played a role.

“Most of my life I didn’t want to get involved with anything political,” said Damien Henderson, a 26-year-old merchant seaman. “But everywhere I go lately, people are talking about Barack Obama. I could be standing in line at a grocery, and somebody’s going to ask me what I think about Barack Obama.”

Mr. Henderson said he started paying attention and fell for Mr. Obama’s charisma. He voted on Monday for the first time, for Mr. Obama.

How did it feel to cast that first vote?

“It actually felt really good,” he said.

Reporting was contributed by Robbie Brown, Catrin Einhorn, Malcolm Gay, Christopher Maag and Karen Zraick.

Friday, October 31, 2008

James M. Henderson, Sr.

Sadly, Frank is not his father, whose legacy is better found in these words:

"Faithfulness to the Lordship of Christ means using the constitutional processes while we still have them. .... The Lordship of Christ means using these processes to speak and to act on the basis of the principles set forth in the Bible. .... We implore those of you who are Christians to exert all your influence to fight against the increasing loss of humanness--through legislation, social action, and other means at your disposal, both privately and publicly, individually and collectively, in all areas of your lives. .... On the basis of an unweakened Bible, we must teach and act, in our individual lives and as citizens, on the fact that every individual has unique value as made in the image of God. This is so from a child just conceived in the womb to the old with their last gasping breath and beyond . . . ."

C. Everett Koop and Francis Schaeffer, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, pgs. 132-34.

Thanks Cheryl!!!

Very few of you know how special my paternal grandfather, who died in 1994, was to me -- he looked, walked, and talked like Fred Sanford :-).

I dont regret much of anything for reasons that I won't outline here, but one relative regret I have is that he did not live to see the armada movement towards this historical presidential election. So, today as I prepared to head for my early voting station, I decided to take him with me and my son, Micah.

I took his cane that he used to walk with - thankfully I didn't need to use it :-). I chuckled to myself as all three of us went to vote. I signed us in and we patiently waited in a ten person line.

As we got to the booth I had Micah to sit in the chair in fromt of the screen and vote - I stood behind him. It was just as important for him to experience the civil right moment as it was for me to create the moment. The touch screen machine is a 17-page document and it was about half way through that another proud moment came. It was there that I thought to "back-page" to page 1 and 'revote' (not to mention that Micah had accidentally selected the wrong appellate court judge). On the touch screen, to change your vote, you retouch your choice to get a fresh screen. I did so. But I stopped to reach over and grab Fred Sanford's walking stick, I hung it on the voting machine to the right and allowed him to vote for Barack Obama.

I know ya'll are trippin' on me, but it was a cool moment. For one, it conceptualized and contextualized all of this political hype for Micah and two, I was able to connect the past with the present and the very near future. I felt great. Please experience it. Take a picture, jewelry, piece of clothing, obituary, the spirit of an ancestor to vote...


"Our existence is sequestered by both the known and the unknown

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Crispus Attucks fell so that Rosa Parks could sit, Rosa Parks sat so that Dr. Martin Luther King could march, Dr. Martin Luther King marched so that Barack Obama could run, and Barack Obama is running so that our children and grandchildren can fly.'

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rescuing Capitalism

It would be fairly easy to dismiss the gleeful boast by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France that American-style capitalism is over, to file it with French critiques of fast food and American pop culture.

Except that the United States government now owns stakes in the nation’s biggest banks. It controls one of the biggest insurance companies in the world. It guarantees more than half the mortgages in the country. Finance — the lifeblood of capitalism — has to a substantial degree been taken over by the state.

Even Alan Greenspan, the high priest of unfettered capitalism and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, conceded this week that he had “found a flaw” in his bedrock belief of “40 years or more” that markets would regulate themselves. “I made a mistake,” he said.

The question is what new direction capitalism should take. In a globally interconnected world, the United States cannot simply march back to the gray flannel capitalism of the 1950s and 1960s when regulations were tough and coddled monopolies dominated the corporate world. Still, the next president will have a chance, not to be missed, to re-evaluate some tenets of the freewheeling, deregulated version of a market economy that has dominated America since the Reagan administration.

Financial deregulation enabled our boom-and-bust dynamic — removing barriers to capital flows, allowing unrestricted trading of abstruse financial products and letting financial institutions take on more and more debt. Cheap money, from China or the Federal Reserve, fueled the fire. But America’s virtually unregulated shadow financial institutions — brokerages, hedge funds and other nonbank banks — played a particularly important role at the center of this process.

The solution will require rethinking the rules of finance. The amount of capital that banks must keep in reserve will have to rise; deregulated financial institutions will have to be regulated. Yet much more will be needed than just putting the bridle back on American banks.

The next government must re-establish some notion of equity of opportunity. Investment is desperately needed in health care, education, infrastructure. The social contract and the government’s role in it should be examined anew. Addressing these challenges will be an enormous task — especially amid the bitter recession that most economists expect over the next year or so. But they must be faced. Fixing finance is merely the start.

Thanks Aunt Sarah......

Good Morning My People -

After watching the final debate last week it dawned on me that Obama
could actually win this thing. If that happens there will be a lot of
people (some of our co-workers included) who will be afraid that an
Obama presidency will usher in the end of days. They'll be watching us
on November 5th (the day after the election) for signs of the end times.
To keep the peace and keep a lot of folks from getting nervous, I think
we should develop a list of acceptable celebrations and behaviors we
should probably avoid - at least for the first few days:

1. No crying, hugging or shouting 'Thank you Lord' (at least not in
public). {Don't be ashamed}

2. No high-fives - at least not unless the area is clear and there are
no witnesses.
3. No laughing at the McCain/Palin supporters (those poor suckers).

4. No calling in sick on November 5th . They'll get nervous if too many
of us don't show up.

5. We're allowed to give each other knowing winks or nods in passing.
Just try to keep from grinning too hard.

6. No singing loudly, We've come this Far By Faith (it will be
acceptable to hum softly)

7. No bringing of barbeque ribs or fried chicken for lunch in the
company lunchroom for at least a week (no chittlings at all). This may
make us seem too 'ethnic.'

8. No leaving kool-aid packages at the water fountain (this might be a
sign that poor folks might be getting a breakthrough).

9. No Cupid Shuffle during breaks (this could indicate a little too much

10. Please no 'Moving on Up' music (we are going to try to remain

11. No threats of painting the White House black (there are many other beautiful earthtone colors to choose from)

If I've missed anything feel free to add to the list. I just want to
make sure we're all on the same page when Obama brings this thing home
on November 5th. Now go get your early vote on and let's make this
thing happen!!!

-Author unknown

Monday, October 27, 2008

Barack Obama for President

The United States is battered and drifting after eight years of President Bush’s failed leadership. He is saddling his successor with two wars, a scarred global image and a government systematically stripped of its ability to protect and help its citizens — whether they are fleeing a hurricane’s floodwaters, searching for affordable health care or struggling to hold on to their homes, jobs, savings and pensions in the midst of a financial crisis that was foretold and preventable.

As tough as the times are, the selection of a new president is easy. After nearly two years of a grueling and ugly campaign, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has proved that he is the right choice to be the 44th president of the United States.

Mr. Obama has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change. He has shown a cool head and sound judgment. We believe he has the will and the ability to forge the broad political consensus that is essential to finding solutions to this nation’s problems.

In the same time, Senator John McCain of Arizona has retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism. His policies and worldview are mired in the past. His choice of a running mate so evidently unfit for the office was a final act of opportunism and bad judgment that eclipsed the accomplishments of 26 years in Congress.

Given the particularly ugly nature of Mr. McCain’s campaign, the urge to choose on the basis of raw emotion is strong. But there is a greater value in looking closely at the facts of life in America today and at the prescriptions the candidates offer. The differences are profound.

Mr. McCain offers more of the Republican every-man-for-himself ideology, now lying in shards on Wall Street and in Americans’ bank accounts. Mr. Obama has another vision of government’s role and responsibilities.

In his convention speech in Denver, Mr. Obama said, “Government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves: protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.”

Since the financial crisis, he has correctly identified the abject failure of government regulation that has brought the markets to the brink of collapse.

The Economy

The American financial system is the victim of decades of Republican deregulatory and anti-tax policies. Those ideas have been proved wrong at an unfathomable price, but Mr. McCain — a self-proclaimed “foot soldier in the Reagan revolution” — is still a believer.

Mr. Obama sees that far-reaching reforms will be needed to protect Americans and American business.

Mr. McCain talks about reform a lot, but his vision is pinched. His answer to any economic question is to eliminate pork-barrel spending — about $18 billion in a $3 trillion budget — cut taxes and wait for unfettered markets to solve the problem.

Mr. Obama is clear that the nation’s tax structure must be changed to make it fairer. That means the well-off Americans who have benefited disproportionately from Mr. Bush’s tax cuts will have to pay some more. Working Americans, who have seen their standard of living fall and their children’s options narrow, will benefit. Mr. Obama wants to raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation, restore a climate in which workers are able to organize unions if they wish and expand educational opportunities.

Mr. McCain, who once opposed President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy as fiscally irresponsible, now wants to make them permanent. And while he talks about keeping taxes low for everyone, his proposed cuts would overwhelmingly benefit the top 1 percent of Americans while digging the country into a deeper fiscal hole.

National Security

The American military — its people and equipment — is dangerously overstretched. Mr. Bush has neglected the necessary war in Afghanistan, which now threatens to spiral into defeat. The unnecessary and staggeringly costly war in Iraq must be ended as quickly and responsibly as possible.

While Iraq’s leaders insist on a swift drawdown of American troops and a deadline for the end of the occupation, Mr. McCain is still talking about some ill-defined “victory.” As a result, he has offered no real plan for extracting American troops and limiting any further damage to Iraq and its neighbors.

Mr. Obama was an early and thoughtful opponent of the war in Iraq, and he has presented a military and diplomatic plan for withdrawing American forces. Mr. Obama also has correctly warned that until the Pentagon starts pulling troops out of Iraq, there will not be enough troops to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Mr. McCain, like Mr. Bush, has only belatedly focused on Afghanistan’s dangerous unraveling and the threat that neighboring Pakistan may quickly follow.

Mr. Obama would have a learning curve on foreign affairs, but he has already showed sounder judgment than his opponent on these critical issues. His choice of Senator Joseph Biden — who has deep foreign-policy expertise — as his running mate is another sign of that sound judgment. Mr. McCain’s long interest in foreign policy and the many dangers this country now faces make his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska more irresponsible.

Both presidential candidates talk about strengthening alliances in Europe and Asia, including NATO, and strongly support Israel. Both candidates talk about repairing America’s image in the world. But it seems clear to us that Mr. Obama is far more likely to do that — and not just because the first black president would present a new American face to the world.

Mr. Obama wants to reform the United Nations, while Mr. McCain wants to create a new entity, the League of Democracies — a move that would incite even fiercer anti-American furies around the world.

Unfortunately, Mr. McCain, like Mr. Bush, sees the world as divided into friends (like Georgia) and adversaries (like Russia). He proposed kicking Russia out of the Group of 8 industrialized nations even before the invasion of Georgia. We have no sympathy for Moscow’s bullying, but we also have no desire to replay the cold war. The United States must find a way to constrain the Russians’ worst impulses, while preserving the ability to work with them on arms control and other vital initiatives.

Both candidates talk tough on terrorism, and neither has ruled out military action to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But Mr. Obama has called for a serious effort to try to wean Tehran from its nuclear ambitions with more credible diplomatic overtures and tougher sanctions. Mr. McCain’s willingness to joke about bombing Iran was frightening.

The Constitution and the Rule of Law

Under Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the justice system and the separation of powers have come under relentless attack. Mr. Bush chose to exploit the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, the moment in which he looked like the president of a unified nation, to try to place himself above the law.

Mr. Bush has arrogated the power to imprison men without charges and browbeat Congress into granting an unfettered authority to spy on Americans. He has created untold numbers of “black” programs, including secret prisons and outsourced torture. The president has issued hundreds, if not thousands, of secret orders. We fear it will take years of forensic research to discover how many basic rights have been violated.

Both candidates have renounced torture and are committed to closing the prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

But Mr. Obama has gone beyond that, promising to identify and correct Mr. Bush’s attacks on the democratic system. Mr. McCain has been silent on the subject.

Mr. McCain improved protections for detainees. But then he helped the White House push through the appalling Military Commissions Act of 2006, which denied detainees the right to a hearing in a real court and put Washington in conflict with the Geneva Conventions, greatly increasing the risk to American troops.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Frank Schaeffer

Share Print CommentsSenator Obama would be ahead in the polls by twenty to twenty-five points if he was white. I can prove it.

With the economy in the toilet, an unnecessary war dragging on, America's standing at the lowest point it's ever been in the world, our dollar worthless, our educational system in free fall, any minimally fit Democrat would be dizzyingly ahead in the polls... if he happened to be white.

The Democrats have put forward the brightest, most compelling and inspiring candidate since Franklin Roosevelt. I say this as a white, fifty-six year-old life-long Republican and former Evangelical leader, who was turned into an independent voter and ardent Obama supporter by my disgust with the hijacking of the Republican Party by a bunch of anti-American revolutionaries. (See my book to better understand what I mean by the term "anti-American revolutionaries." Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back.)

Senator Obama won scholarships to America's top academic institutions, was voted by his peers to be editor of the Harvard Law Review, is a family man with an exemplary and obviously loving marriage, has a wife who is a brilliant charismatic woman, two lovely children, is a churchgoing born-again Christian comfortable with his faith, has avoided making the fast buck in the new gilded age of greed when he could have, served his community, is thoughtful, considered in his opinions, slow to anger, proved right in his judgment about the Iraq war, looks at every side of a question before making a decision, and is not given to grandstanding. He would be vastly ahead in the polls, even in polls of Evangelical voters who, after all, are also watching their savings and home values evaporate... unless he happened to be... black.

I speak as someone who was brought up in an Evangelical household by famous and influential Evangelical leaders (Francis and Edith Schaeffer). And this year even I've learned something new about my old Evangelical/Republican tribe! This election has shown the true nature of the Evangelical/Republican establishment as never before.

Turns out the Evangelicals would rather vote for a pagan reprobate compulsive gambler windbag philanderer of mediocre intellectual capability than for a well qualified fellow Christian (both in word and deed) because the reprobate windbag is white and their fellow Christian is black.

Everything else is just an excuse. Why? Because everything the Evangelicals and "conservatives" claim they are against is what McCain is. And everything they say they are for-compassion, justice, mercy, decency, family values, clean living, prudence and even temperament -- is what Obama is. (Note: Former diplomat African-American Alan Keyes, perpetual far right, the Rapture is on the way, support Israel, kill all Arabs, all-abortion-is-murder-from-zygot on, free-market purist, anti-welfare, anti-affirmative action Republican pro-Wall Street, trickle down, lower-taxes-on-the-rich candidate, never got more than tepid support from the same Republicans that have wildly embraced equally loony -- and white -- ideologue, Sarah Palin. So much for being "correct" on the issues!)

My point here is to cast a light on the gross hypocrisy of the Evangelical/Republican base using their own standards. By the Evangelical/Republican moral rule book McCain should be beyond the pale!

Here is how, say, Dr. Dobson or Pat Robertson or Rick Warren might describe McCain under other circumstances, say if he was running against a white Democrat:

According to a long exhaustive New York Times report (Sunday, Sept 28, 2008) McCain is a compulsive casino gambler and thus a waster of his God-given resources.

McCain is a man who has wasted hundreds of thousands of his wife's beer-empire dollars on blackjack tables across the country.

McCain has received millions of dollars in campaign funding from the casino industry and all the shady characters within that vice-saturated netherworld.

McCain is personally (and virtually solely) responsible for the spread of the Indian tribe casinos across the country that he both "regulates" (in the Senate) gambles in and receives money from.

McCain would bring with him to the Oval Office the stench of a high-flying and utterly corrupt (and corrupting) vice-based industry.

McCain has deep personal connections to the corrupt politicians and lobbyists in the pockets of the casino industry.

McCain has a reckless personal gambling habit, one that destroys untold American lives and families and drains tens of billions of dollars from those who can least afford it.

McCain pays for his gambling addiction with the money he got by dumping his first wife in favor of a rich young blond with who he had an affair before leaving his wife...

And this is the guy the "Evangelicals" are following!

As we head into the last weeks of this election season let's be very clear: in still supporting John McCain instead of defecting to Obama, the Evangelical/Republican base has shown that it's all about race. This is even the case when it comes to abortion.

The Republican policies of gutting social programs have led to more abortions not less. But the Republican/Evangelical base would rather have more abortions than vote for a black president who's programs would reduce the actual numbers of abortions.

Obama believes that abortion ought to remain legal, but he also believes in real and practical programs that would reduce abortion by doing everything possible to help women, babies and families. McCain says he believes that abortion should be illegal, but knows very well that no matter what, even if the Supreme Court reversed Roe, abortion will remain legal in almost all states since all the Court would do is return the issue to the states. So McCain's posturing is just that: more meaningless contemptible grandstanding while not actually caring about reducing abortion.

Anyone who wants more babies born than aborted would vote for Obama. Everything else is an excuse, just another smoke screen.

The Evangelical/Republican base is also ready to back Gambler McCain even though his choice of running mate is just another irresponsible gamble, roll of the national dice for personal political gain. Evangelicals will vote for a white man, even if he has shown himself to be recklessly unpatriotic, as has McCain instead of a black man who had the good sense to choose a qualified running mate.

McCain, by gambling with our future at this critical moment with his "I can see Russia from my window" Palin stunt has shown that he puts himself first, not his country. Evangelicals know, as do all Americans, that Palin is a joke. But, judging by the close poll numbers, they'd rather live in a joke country in ruins than one with a qualified black man for president.

The choice is clear. When we vote we'll be choosing between Obama; the most intellectually and emotionally even-tempered and best equipped candidate this country has produced in most Americans lifetimes' on the one hand, and McCain, a philandering gambling addict with deep and corrupting ties to one of the most dubious socially destructive industries in United States, who is emotionally reckless and unstable and willing to risk the entire future of his country by appointing a grossly unqualified running mate.

In this election we Americans will be:

1) Voting for a president and vice president.

But also...

2) Passing or failing the greatest moral test of our time; the "exam question" is: will we elect the self-evidently better candidate regardless of his race?

There is irony at work here, and a chance for grace. How sweetly ironic that the best chance the United States has to restore our standing in the world, and to overcome our self-inflicted wounds, comes to us in the form of a thoughtful, self-effacing and brilliant young black man!

By voting for our first black president we Americans may begin the slow climb back to the moral sunlight and send a message to ourselves (and the world) that we have -- at last!--turned the page on our sordid racism. We will also save our country from four more years of Bush/McCain/Palin.

We are about to learn who we are. Will we vote race or conscience, for common sense or prejudice, for national redemption or the mindless continuation of the Bush apocalypse?

In Obama we have been given two extraordinary gifts; a great candidate and a national mirror. We are about to learn who we really are.

Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back, now in paperback

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