African Americans

The Battle For America: The Past Vs. The Future, Old Vs. Young

It is becoming very clear that the crisis in America regarding its future is centered around age, the past vs. the future, the Old Vs. Young.

The past is an America of the 1950s, when most women, except for the poor, stayed at home; when African Americans were segregated and treated in a very discriminatory manner; when Jews and Catholics and Puerto Ricans were considered the only minorities other than African Americans in a nation dominated by white Anglo Saxon Protestants; when very few Americans had attended and graduated a college or university; when the military draft existed; when Americans believed that nuclear war was an imminent possibility; when young people had not yet rebelled against a society in which suburbia was developing, as whites escaped cities for the “better life”; when the total number of sports teams in the four major sports numbered only 42; when Americans knew little about the dangers of tobacco, liquor, and illegal drugs on their health; and where very few families took vacations, because the concept of vacation for most Americans was going to the beach or a local park.

The future was one of almost all women working, and many making greater incomes than their husbands or male family members if they remain single; an African American populations no longer willing to face police abuse and mistreatment or other denials of equal treatment under the law; where Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Middle East immigrants have created a very mixed population, both racial and religious; where a majority of Americans have attended college and a third have graduated college; where there is no military draft but constantly growing threats to national security from international and domestic terrorism; where young people accept diversity of all kinds willingly and openly, including that of gays and lesbians being part of society and having the opportunity to marry; where more people are abandoning the suburbs and moving back to the cities; where the number of sports teams in the four major sports numbers more than 120 in number; where health knowledge is greater than every before, but marijuana is becoming legal in different areas across the country; and where many Americans do extensive travel and tourism as routine parts of their lives; but where poverty, homelessness and deprivation still exist, and the aim seems to be to punish those who are poor!

When one examines the changes, one realizes that, to a great extent, this is a battle of the past vs. the future, the Old Vs. the Young, and the way society is advancing is the elimination of the old ideas by the reality of the aging process, and the demise of the elderly generations over time and their 1950s image, which is so out of date, and counterproductive in the second, and soon to be third, decade of the 21st century! So the opposition to change is rapidly being eliminated by the passage of time.

It is therefore ironic that it is two old billionaires in their 70s (Charles and David Koch), and an old billionaire in his 80s (Sheldon Adelson)–all three of whom will be dead likely in the next decade to 15 years—who are distorting and corrupting our government and politics and being pursued by Republican Presidential wannabes, when they are so old fashioned and out of tune with changing times, which will erase their influence by 2030!

And it seems clear that it is the Democratic Party which is looking into the future with a progressive vision, which insures their ultimate triumph long term over the Republican Party, which so represents the ideals of the 1950s, which are rapidly in decline, taking with them the “Old” America and being replaced by the “New” America!

150 Years Since Final Confederate Surrender Of Robert E. Lee To Ulysses S. Grant At Appomattox Court House In Virginia, Ending Civil War!

Today, April 9, marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War between the Union and the Confederacy, with General Robert E. Lee, the leading Confederate general, surrendering to Union General and future President Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

This tragic war ended a four year conflict, just three days before its fourth anniversary, having killed an estimated 620,000 men, with the Union military losing about 360,000 and the Confederate military losing about 260,000 men.

The Civil War ended slavery forever, and upheld nationalism over states rights, and was an inspiration to many people in England and France, which saw it as a movement toward the evolution of democracy.

But sadly, the end of the war did not change the minds of many white Southerners, and over the generations, the Democrats of the South continued to promote Jim Crow segregation; brutal lynchings of African Americans and others, including Jews and Catholics; and fought toot and nail against civil liberties and civil rights, while parading the Confederate flag, which even today flies in South Carolina and some other Southern states.

And when civil rights laws were forced on the South fifty years ago under Lyndon B. Johnson, the Democrats lost their tight control of the South, and the Republicans, the party that had freed the slaves under Abraham Lincoln and promoted civil rights under Dwight D. Eisenhower, abandoned their principles and decency and became the new party of Southern resistance to justice and civil rights. Today, all of the Southern governors, with the exception of Virginia, and the Senate, with the exception of the two members from Virginia and one from Florida, are Republicans, working to undermine voting rights and promote racism and nativism at full speed, a total disgrace.

So while we celebrate the end of the Southern rebellion a century and a half ago, in many ways, the rebellion still lives on, poisoning the political atmosphere in many states, and in the national government, and particularly so with the very clear disrespect of Southern office holders for the African American President of the United States, who has been vilified in a manner unlike anyone since Abraham Lincoln!

Rand Paul: An Interesting, But Flawed Candidate For President Who Cannot Fulfill His Promises!

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky became the second declared candidate for President yesterday, and he gave a fiery speech, surrounded by his admirers who are clearly very loyal and committed to him.

But to believe that Rand Paul can become the GOP nominee for President, and occupy the White House after January 20, 2017, requires a lot of illusion, and “smoke and mirrors”. It will, most certainly, NOT happen!

Rand Paul has appealing elements, no question about it. These include the need to protect our civil liberties from government encroachment by the National Security Agency; the need to rebuild our economy and help forgotten Americans to gain economic advancement, both middle class and poor; the need to stay out of foreign intervention unless essential, and avoid so many bases and expenses overseas, including no more increased spending on foreign aid; and changing the law enforcement system, including the unfair justice system that imprisons too many young African Americans for overly severe jail terms.

But at the same time, Rand Paul talks about balancing a budget, by cutting fundamental programs that are an entitlement for Americans through their payment of taxes (including Social Security and Medicare); has no solution for health care for millions on ObamaCare and those without ObamaCare and not able to gain Medicaid; talks about limiting federal intrusion in our privacy, a goal almost impossible to accomplish in an age of terrorism; has expressed doubts about the civil rights laws, including the basic one passed in 1964 under Lyndon B. Johnson; has to deal with the influence of his father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul who is much more controversial with his public record of actions and utterances that many Paul supporters seem to be aware of; and has major opposition and criticism from the massive hawkish influence within his party in the Senate and from the neoconservatives, who seem to want war with Iran, and do not want to cut defense spending dramatically, if at all!

Additionally, Rand Paul is anti abortion and anti gay marriage, and while that will please the Republican Party, it will undermine his opportunity to attract a majority of women and young people, despite the fact that many young people claim to be libertarian, but mostly because they are truly ignorant of what the true nature of libertarianism is. Libertarianism will NOT gain power in America, and is a bankrupt philosophy not achievable in the real world!

Rand Paul will certainly make the Presidential race more interesting, but his connection to the Tea Party will also undermine him, and no scenario that is realistic puts him down as the 45th President of the United States!

Indiana Governor Mike Pence Allowing Religious Prejudice To Discriminate Against Gays And Lesbians: Violation Of Civil Rights!

Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a possible Republican Presidential candidate, has just demonstrated why he is not acceptable as the nominee of his party or as President of the United States!

America is not about to elect a man who allows the religious prejudice of right wing evangelical Christians toward gays and lesbians to become a law, one which violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in regards to public accommodations!

If a business can refuse to serve people because of their sexual orientation, the next step is to say that a business can refuse to serve African Americans, as has now happened in a South Carolina restaurant!

Or a business could use their right wing evangelical Christianity to justify not serving Jews, or Latinos, or disabled people, or senior citizens, or Muslims, or Asian Americans, or Native Americans!

This violation of human rights, using the excuse of religion to promote and advocate prejudice, needs an injunction to stop the enforcement, until it is reviewed by the judiciary in Indiana, and ultimately, the Supreme Court, as otherwise, it will lead to other states doing the same thing!

One must not forget that in the Christian faith, we have seen past discrimination against Jews and African Americans in the name of Jesus Christ, as if Jesus would have approved of the kind of bigotry so often practiced, including endorsement of antisemitism, slavery, and racial segregation!

All businesses must get a license to operate, and part of the requirements for any business should be legal agreements that ban any discrimination against anyone seeking to work in the business, or any customers of the business!

Civil Liberties And The Presidency: From John Adams To Barack Obama

When it comes to the issue of the Presidency and the Bill of Rights, many Presidents have scored at an alarmingly low rate, often despite many other virtues that these Presidents have possessed.

John Adams set a terrible standard when he signed into law the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.

Andrew Jackson forcibly decreed the removal of five Native American tribes (The Trail Of Tears) from their ancestral lands and relocation in Oklahoma, supposedly forever, but with the discovery of oil in Tulsa, the territory was opened to whites in 1889, and reservation life became the norm.

John Tyler, through negotiation to add Texas to the Union, and accepting its institution of slavery, helped to create the slavery expansion issue as one which would divide the nation and lead to Civil War, and Tyler was part of the Confederate government and gave up his American citizenship.

James K. Polk further promoted the expansion of slavery through war with Mexico, and had no issue with slavery anywhere and everywhere.

Millard Fillmore, signing the Compromise of 1850, allowed the South to pursue fugitive slaves in the North.

Franklin Pierce, signing the Kansas Nebraska Act in 1854, made the expansion of slavery develop into the Kansas Civil War, which led to the Civil War.

James Buchanan endorsed the Dred Scott Decision, which allowed expansion of slavery everywhere in the nation, if a slave owner chose to move to the North with his slaves.

Abraham Lincoln suppressed press freedom; allowed preventive detention; and imposed a military draft that one could escape only by paying a fee that only wealthy people could afford.

Andrew Johnson wanted to restrict the rights of African Americans after the Civil War, and was an open racist, much more than anyone.

Grover Cleveland promoted the reservation life and adaptation to white culture for Native Americans through his signing of the Dawes Act in 1887.

Theodore Roosevelt spoke and wrote often about superior and inferior races, seeing only intellectual accomplishment and military strength as the basis to admire individuals of other races, but believing in white supremacy and the “Anglo Saxon” race.

Woodrow Wilson backed restrictions on citizens during World War I, and presided over the Red Scare under Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer after the war, as well as showing racist tendencies toward African Americans and Japan. He signed the Sedition Act of 1918, and issued an executive order segregating African Americans in Washington, DC.

Franklin D. Roosevelt interned Japanese Americans under executive order during World War II, and did little to deal with the racial problem in the South.

Richard Nixon arranged for bugging and wiretapping of his “enemies”; arranged break ins and “dirty tricks”; and became engaged in obstruction of justice and abuse of power, leading to moves toward impeachment and his eventual resignation from the Presidency, due to the Watergate Scandal.

Ronald Reagan cut back on civil rights enforcement, and showed insensitivity on the issue of apartheid in South Africa.

George W. Bush pushed through the Patriot Act, and the government engaged in constant civil liberties violations as part of the War on Terror.

Barack Obama also promoted violations of civil liberties, as part of the continued threat of international terrorism.

So 17 Presidents, at the least, have undermined our civil liberties and civil rights, often overlapping.

In 2015, What Does It Mean To Be Middle Class?

Just about everyone likes to say they are part of the vast “middle class” in America, whether they are really poor, working class, struggling middle class, upper middle class, or wealthy, as it is the “in” thing to be!

The vast middle class concept developed in the years after World War II, when millions of Americans moved to the suburbs, more Americans went to college, and the idea of “conspicuous consumption” became part of the “American dream.”

That dream has vanished for tens of millions, including many who live in the suburbs, many of which are deteriorating, and with property values often down, and many in bankruptcy or near bankruptcy.

Many college graduates now are working in minimum wage or near such income jobs, far removed from their earlier expectations, and tens of millions live paycheck to paycheck and have no savings for retirement; do not have adequate or any health care; cannot afford to take vacations that educate and enlighten them and their children; have very few benefits of any kind at work since labor unions, which created the middle class to a great extent, have declined rapidly since the time of Ronald Reagan; and have no expectation that life will get better anytime soon.

This rapidly declining middle class includes millions of minority population, both African American and Latino; but also untold many millions more who are white and thought that by their race alone, they had an advantage, but no longer the case.

Banks and corporations have caused a great deal of this growing poverty in the former middle class, both from their abuse of their work force, but also from encouraging materialism and greed on the part of people who cannot pay for what they desire, but get suckered into signing on the dotted line of their credit cards and mortgages, automobiles and boats, second homes, and more personal acquisitions than they ever need, but are seen as essential to leave the image to others that they are “well to do,” when that is precisely what they are not.

Capitalism is looked at as the promoter of wealth, when for most Americans, it has made them slaves for the truly wealthy, the billionaires, and the super multimillionaires!

Classy Senator Barbara Mikulski Of Maryland To Retire After Longest Service Of Any Woman In Congressional History!

A true giant of the US Senate, willing to fight for her liberal beliefs over 40 years, Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, has announced her retirement in 2016, joining another outstanding woman Senator, Barbara Boxer of California, in choosing to retire.

Mikulski will have served five terms, 30 years in the Senate, the all time record, and also served ten years in the House, making her 40 years an all time record for women in Congress. She surpassed the 35 years of Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers, Republican of Massachusetts, who served from 1925 to 1960 in the House of Representatives.

Along the way, Mikulski has “raised hell”, and always been there for her constituents, the average people of her state of Maryland, fighting the good fight as a leading progressive on all issues. She began her career as a community organizer, the same activity that Barack Obama was engaged in, and often ridiculed, which is horrible, as community organizers work with the poor. Why should anyone deplore such people, who truly commit themselves to those less fortunate? And yet, we live in a nation in 2015 where this is seen as a negative, rather than the positive impact that it has on those not privileged in our society!

The likelihood is that former Governor Martin O’Malley, who wants to be President, but has almost no chance to seek it now with Hillary Clinton far ahead in all polls and O’Malley hardly registering at all in the polls, will seek to go to the Senate. However, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Congressman Elijah Cummings, and Congresswoman Donna Edwards are likely to compete for the seat as well, with the latter two being African Americans.

College Education And The Presidency In 21st Century America: Is It Necessary? YES!

Today, in 2015, approximately 31 percent of adults over 25 have at least a four year college degree as part of their credentials. This is an all time high.

In American history, all but eleven Presidents have had at least a four year college degree, much of the time when only a sliver of Americans had such a degree.

A college education does NOT guarantee success; does NOT guarantee excellence in one’s occupational pursuits; does NOT make any person automatically “better” than those without a college education!

What does a college education do that is beneficial?

It promotes the growth of critical thinking skills; it promotes empathy and compassion for those less fortunate; it promotes ability to analyze and evaluate materials; it promotes intellectual inquiry and curiosity, which is a good thing; it promotes ability to interpret events and happenings with a background of knowledge; it promotes tolerance and open mindedness!

Should not one, therefore, expect that a President of the United States have, at the least, a four year degree that has promoted these values?

Yes, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln did not have a college education, but that was 225 and 150 years ago, in a much less complex world than we have now!

Yes, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, and Harry Truman did not have a college education, but they all were highly motivated to learn, to read books, to have intellectual curiosity.

Would not Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, and Zachary Taylor, all military figures, have gained a more tolerant attitude if they had had more education, and maybe not killed as many Native Americans?

Would not Andrew Johnson have learned to work better with people and been more tolerant toward African Americans if he had had some more education?

Would not Martin Van Buren and Millard Fillmore have gained, also, by some more education? Ironically, despite lack of education, Fillmore founded the State University of NY Buffalo institution, which at least demonstrated his understanding of the value of higher education!

So with this background on Presidents and education, should it matter that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker dropped out of college at Marquette University in Milwaukee, in his senior year, and never finished his college degree, all for a job opportunity?

The answer is YES, as just because one takes on a job, does not mean one cannot finish a college degree, as many millions of others have done!

It is an issue of steadfastness, of dedication, of the old adage: “Finish what you start!” The extra effort required to finish is always worth it, as finishing a degree is a major accomplishment! If a politician wishes to be President, therefore, it should be expected that he shows persistence and commitment to follow through on any commitment he makes in life! He is not just one of us, where two thirds have not gone to or finished college. He is supposed to be the “best among us”, a figure we can look up to, and our children can see as a model!

Under those parameters, Scott Walker should not become President, without even mentioning his innumerable shortcomings, otherwise! He has failed a basic test of Presidential leadership!

Diversity In The Presidential Race? Not Really As Much As Advertised!

The Republican Party, which has gained a reputation of being anti black, anti Hispanic immigrant, anti women is trying to convince Americans that they are really a diverse party, when it comes to the Presidential competition for 2016.

So they will point out the following:

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is Cuban American.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is Cuban American.

Pediatric surgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson is African American.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is Asia American (India)

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is female.

Many potential GOP candidates are Catholic, including Rubio, Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Rick Santorum.

But of course, the fact that Rubio and Cruz are Cuban Americans means they represent about three percent of the Hispanic community, and it is highly unlikely that Mexican Americans (65 percent) and Puerto Rican Americans (about 25 percent) would support them in large numbers, with both groups being heavily Democratic.

And the odds that any of the above will be the Republican nominee for President is extremely low, other than Jeb Bush, who has switched his religious beliefs to Catholicism.

But the Democrats, in a much shorter list of potential candidates, also have diversity.

Hillary Clinton and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren are females.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is Jewish.

Vice President Joe Biden, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo are Catholics.

If Hillary Clinton were not a prohibitive favorite, it would be likely that New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, both African Americans; and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, a female, would have entered the race.

Barack Obama And Religious Extremism: Totally Accurate Statement, So Why The Outcry?

President Barack Obama spoke up on Thursday at the Annual Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC on the dangers of religious extremism, promotion of one’s own faith as the only true faith, and legitimizing bloodshed and violence in the name of one’s God.

This was in reaction to the horrors that have been perpetrated by ISIL (ISIS) in the Middle East, including beheadings of Americans, British, and Japanese hostages; and the even more horrific act of taking a Jordanian pilot, captured while attacking ISIL targets, and setting him on fire, causing him to be burned to death.

What Obama said was that any religion that endorses or promotes such bloodshed and violence should be condemned, and he reminded our nation, much of it totally unaware of our history, that we had seen the lynching, butchering, and setting on fire of a few thousand African American men and boys in the American South and Midwest over a period of more than a hundred years of Jim Crow segregation in the 19th and 20th century and Ku Klux Klan influence; had also experienced nearly 250 years of slavery, which included similar mistreatment; and that world wide, there had been the Christian war on Islam during the Crusades; and the Catholic Church Inquisition of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance period.

Obama did not specifically mention the horrible persecution of Jews by Christians over two millenniums, and not just the Catholic Church, but also Protestant groups, including Martin Luther and the Lutheran Church; or the mass murder of Catholics vs Protestants in Northern Ireland, as recently as the period of the Irish Republican Army between 1969 and 1998.

And of course, in the Middle East, today, as shown by the setting on fire of a Jordanian who was Muslim, the old holy war of Shiite and Sunni Muslims continues unabated, as it has for 13 centuries; and there is also bloodshed between Muslims and Hindus in India; and turmoil in the Balkans, that led to mass murder by Christians against Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s.

From what Obama reminded us of, plus the additional information provided here by the author, and well known to scholars, it is clear how devastating organized religion has been in its promotion of narrow mindedness and hate, and commitment to torture and extermination in the name of God, no matter which religion.

So Obama was offering a moral lesson, but yet the outcry by right wingers, who do not wish to be reminded of the sins of Christianity fanatics, and only wish to look at the Muslim fanatics today, and imagine that this is the whole story of religion in history, is very troubling. They fail to realize that many more Muslims have been killed by the barbarism of ISIL (ISIS), and their refusal to accept and recognize the history of Christianity as being just as full, historically, of violence and bloodshed, bodes ill for the future ability to understand and accept religious differences and promote religious tolerance!