Monday, March 24, 2008
THE AUDACITY OF HATE
Surely there are rarely ever periods which tend to generate hope, although some may be more conducive to the emergence of that feeling than others. This has not been a time which stimulates hope. Neither has this been an era which nourishes hope that is spontaneously generated amongst us.
That the spirit of hope should arise, find form, and spring free from a religious hearth of hostility is most certainly an anomaly.
The nation has been exposed over and over to the anger in those video sermons from Chicago. Those simply do not play well among most citizens, not even among those who have made an effort to understand and to empathize with the harsh history of the Black experience in this land. Perhaps they are particularly disappointing to some of the latter.
At this crucial juncture in the political history of America, the audacity of hate has trumped the audacity of hope.
At least momentarily, this is so. Will that be a transient triumph?
In seeking to express the pent up anger of his race, the Reverend presents an incongruous picture. A marine veteran himself, he screams venom at the country for which he cared enough to serve. His personal actions and history do not portray a subversive.
One finds much hyperbole in these speeches, unfortunately a pattern of exaggeration in rhetoric which characterizes too many writings and verbalizations in the political arena. It appears that a certain flair for drama and oratory is also demonstratively present.
It is said that the Reverend spoke from the heart of an historically oppressed people. He is credited with speaking from the angst of generations of victims. However, this is no longer viewed as the reality of today by most.
Instead the Reverend’s angry shouts are viewed as just that. Their content is offensive. These are seen as perpetuating hostilities and differences, rather than as being useful toward social change.
Unfortunately, these utterances will no doubt be employed to generate similar emotions on the opposite pole during the political season ahead.
Hate speech is hate speech, no matter who is delivering it, in what environment, or from what motives or history. If we are intolerant of hate speech from any social sector, then we must be intolerant of hate speech from all social sectors.
Out of the ashes of such fires, will the phoenix of hope rise again -- audaciously?
Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate
Sunday, March 16, 2008
A CRUSADER BROUGHT DOWN
Who did it? How? Why? Perhaps the answers are not all in, but some are.
If we had confidence that our federal system of justice works objectively and free of political considerations, then we would not now be raising questions.
But we need to be reminded of the backdrop of the unsettled controversy over politicized U.S. District Attorneys, the Attorney General’s resignation, and departure of Rove from the White House.
Evidence indicates that the prosecution powers of district attorneys had been perverted into political vendettas against democratic politicians in key races. Congress cannot get its subpoenas or contempt citations enforced by the Bush Justice Department to ferret out the details.
The prior democratic governor of Alabama is in prison on what appears to media analysts as trumped up charges and crooked political prosecution. Media observers are calling for his release, and discipline for those involved in that process. This, too, is a part of the backdrop.
Now, what are we told about how Mr. Spitzer’s indiscretions with the prostitution organization were found? Was there some local investigation of the prostitution ring where his name appeared as was true of other similar political cases in Washington? No?
Then just how did all this start? Was Mr. Spitzer a federal target? The answer is “Yes,” acknowledged by government spokespersons.
Apparently the laws designed to track drug money, organized crime activity, and tax evasion are applicable to any of us writing checks or transferring cash in amounts of $5,000 (or perhaps less). So, the IRS and the Justice Department can use this law selectively to snoop on public figures and any private citizens upon whom they desire to keep check. They admit doing so for Mr. Spitzer, a government figure.
This “routine” IRS check, which we had believed happens selectively to criminals or randomly to everybody, led to calling in the Justice Department and the FBI to launch a full scale investigation of these transactions. Finding that the funds had gone to suspicious entities that turned out to be fronts for prostitution, the FBI and federal prosecutors then sought and obtained a federal judge’s permission to wiretap of the governor’s telephones, monitor his e-mail mails, and text-messaging surveillance.
Sure enough, with all these resources brought to focus on Mr. Spitzer and his private affairs, they eventually wound up with his voice endangering the nation by arranging for services to be provided at the Mayflower Hotel.
Do we really believe that Mr. Spitzer has been caught and is probably guilty of procuring services of prostitutes as alleged? Sure.
Do we believe that his bank just happened to report Spitzer’s account for suspicious activity without a flag? Do we believe that federal tax officials just happened to be looking over his bank reports and spotted Mr. Spitzer’s transactions accidentally?
Do we believe that the IRS involves the whole federal machinery to investigate any and all such transactions for just anybody? Do we believe that Mr. Spitzer’s prominence as a democrat political leader had nothing at all to do with his records being examined, or with full federal investigative and prosecutorial power being brought to focus his personal affairs?
It would take a huge measure of credulity to answer “yes” to these questions. But if we cannot answer “yes” with any certainty, then we must raise the more significant questions of selective prosecution and political subversion of the federal regulatory and justice system.
If indeed the federal justice system has again been brought to bear upon either a guilty or an innocent individual for personal, partisan, or political reasons, then this is by far the most serious offense involved.
Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate
Monday, March 10, 2008
ENOUGH TO MAKE A BODY ILL
Although the two still look mismatched, awkward, and uncomfortable together, Candidate McCain in his “acceptance” speech earlier went right down the line endorsing Mr. Bush’s policies, proposals, and actions.
He endorsed the invasion of Iraq to rid the world of Saddam Hussein, and even said he thought there had been some Al Quida there. (Weapons of mass destruction weren’t mentioned.) He endorsed the rejected Bush plan for trashing Social Security and Medicare. He endorsed the status quo in health insurance, but would try to make costs affordable to more people.
He advocated tax cuts and favors for the rich and for business in order to create jobs (for peon workers). He praised global free trade, but did not mention it bringing our workers’ standard of living down to the lowest common denominator.
He says that if we stop occupying Iraq and leave, then that is “surrendering.” We may have to keep troops there a hundred years, he has said.
What is there not to like about Candidate McCain, if you are a Bush republican? Where did we get the idea he was different?
Candidate McCain has revealed himself to be a great disappointment to many moderates in his party, and to us moderates of the other party as well.
Other than problem utterances of his own, allegations have been published regarding excess companionship with a female lobbyist. Admitted facts about a corps of lobbyists engaged in running his campaign may be even more shocking to those who thought McCain to be Mr. Clean.
Perhaps having lobbyists imbedded with a candidate might not be so unusual, if this were not the purportedly squeaky clean John McCain. These make his “holier than thou” stance toward lobbyist activity with others appear to be just a false public persona.
The New York Times was much criticized for breaking the story, yet independent journalists have confirmed most of the allegations.
Newsweek interviewed two sources of its own and write that they were told that McCain’s staff had indeed warned him about his frequent association with the female lobbyist whose client had business with his committee. Newsweek also confirmed that staff had warned the female lobbyist away, prompting an angry response.
It was said that in Washington journalists are friendly with politicians to get an inside news story, and politicians are friendly with journalists in order to spin their stories. Further, it is said that lobbyists are friendly with politicians in order to get support for their clients, and politicians are friendly with lobbyists in order to get campaign donations.
The thrust line is that if you want a real friend in Washington, get a dog.
All this appears to support the notion that there is indeed a cloud of corruption around our government in Washington. To pretend somehow to be above it, or immune to it, may readily expose one to the charge of hypocrisy.
Candidate McCain’s defensive public statements that the lobbyists who are staffing his campaign are honorable people might be true. When he says that he has never betrayed the public trust in his activities and association with lobbyists, in spite of evidence such as his letters, witnesses, and other statements to the contrary, that might also be true. It may be true that Candidate McCain has never been, nor will he ever be, influenced in his performance of duties by any of this.
It does, however, strain the limits of credulity.
Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate