Last month, an interesting "Letter to the Editor" was printed here in the main Richmond newspaper (the Times-Dispatch). The writer had a unique perspective, and a warning to all those who are voting for change this year just for the sake of change.
When the young leader spoke eloquently and passionately and denounced the old system, the press fell in love with him. They never questioned who his friends were or what he really believed in. When he said he would help the farmers and the poor and bring free medical care and education to all, everyone followed. When he said he would bring justice and equality to all, everyone said "Praise the Lord." And when the young leader said, "I will be for change and I'll bring you change," everyone yelled, "Viva Fidel!"
The author finally escaped Cuba and the promised "change" in 1968, and his letter is brief but extremely powerful and quite relevant. Read the whole thing here (skip down to the heading, "Beware Charismatic Men Who Preach 'Change'").
More and more people – including left-leaning libs like the leaders of La Raza and the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle – seem to be grumbling about Sen. Obama's willingness to talk to the people of this great nation:
Presidential candidate Barack Obama addressed the nation's largest Latino civil rights group here Sunday, but the appearance before the National Council of La Raza raised questions about whether the Democrat - who declined a town hall appearance here with GOP rival John McCain - is too shielded from off-the-cuff grilling from voters and the press.
Obama told [La Raza] he is "not taking a single Latino vote for granted," adding, "I know how powerful this community is - and by the way, so does John McCain."
But in making the La Raza appearance, Obama rejected McCain's challenge for a joint town hall appearance before the organization, which gathered 15,000 people in San Diego this weekend - and represented the capstone of a week in which both candidates addressed Latino issues in several major venues across the country.
Obama delivered his 30-minute remarks Sunday without accepting questions from the audience, or later from the state and local media - a contrast with the Arizona senator, who has generally held a town hall meeting weekly as part of his campaign events, and whose "Straight Talk Express" bus rides with reporters have been a hallmark of his campaign.
McCain will address the La Raza group today and has scheduled a town hall session for the public Tuesday in Albuquerque, expected to draw a largely Latino audience.
Apparently, this is the closest Obama came to mixing and meeting with actual voters during his San Diego stay:
Of course, this is not the first "town hall" question and answer opportunity that Obama has refused, nor I am sure will it be his last. As radio host Laura Ingraham reported in her latest daily e-blast, Obama has as yet refused to take part in a similar town hall meeting and debate with McCain in front of the military servicemen he hopes to soon lead (or abandon, as the case may be):
POTENTIAL COMMANDER-"OF"-CHIEF AVOIDS MILITARY: We'd like to know what incredibly important event Barack Obama has scheduled on August 11 that prevents him from participating in a debate at Texas' Fort Hood. The townhall event, sponsored by an array of military support groups, hopes to offer the 6,000-strong audience (predominantly veterans and military families) an opportunity to directly question their next commander-in-chief. John McCain is ready and willing, but so far the Obama just can't find an opening. We wonder what scares him most -- a face-to-face matchup with McCain, potential heckles, or simply not being in front of his customary mass gathering of zombies. Whatever the explanation, Obama looks weak in front an audience that needs to respect him as their commander. Not a good start.
I wonder if the San Francisco Chronicle will push the good senator on this missed opportunity as well...
I have been asked quite often in the last year by friends, co-workers and even family members how I can reconcile not supporting the first black man to have a legitimate chance of becoming president of the United States. I always answer that I do not vote for the color of a person's skin, or their hair color, gender, height, weight or other physical attributes. I try instead to always vote for the candidate who most closely resembles and represents my own beliefs, morals and politics, and who I believe will best represent, protect and lead our great nation. Barack Obama does not fit anywhere in that definition.
But I must say, I like the answer put forth recently by Ms. Barbra Howard, the Florida state chair for Congress of Racial Equality, and another strong black conservative Republican:
"Therefore, when [Sen. Barack Obama] says he wants to tax the windfall profits of the 'evil' oil companies, I do the math and see that instead of hurting them, it will ultimately be the consumers who will end up paying the price. And when he talks about bringing Republicans and Democrats together for the good of the country, I look at the fact that he is the most liberal of Democrats with no evidence of being bipartisan. But when he promises to make America the leader of the free world like it 'used to be,' I can't help but look at his friends who don't even like America -- like domestic terrorists Bernardine Dohrn and William Ayers, who were sorry they didn't bomb enough buildings on American soil. He opposes vouchers, which comprise one of the single most effective strategies that helped low income black mothers provide the same quality education for their children as middle class mothers do. He said Iran and Venezuela were 'little countries' that didn't pose a threat to America. It is of no consequence to him that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promotes 'Death to America' or that his friend, Venezuelan dictator President Hugo Chavez, stood in Harlem ranting against President Bush, calling him 'El Diablo.' Funny you can't go to Venezuela and call Chavez anything but El Presidente and not disappear. But let's not let facts get in the way of our euphoric, hypnotic trance. We must bask in the glory that only 40 years ago, Democrats were beating blacks who just wanted to vote. If Obama wins, we can pop the champagne, and when our taxes go up, we can just blame Bush again and pay the piper."
Conservatives in the gay marriage debate often make the argument that allowing same-sex couples to marry is just one step away from allowing marriages between three-or-more individuals, between immediate family members, or even between humans and other species.
Their liberal opponents counter that these are ridiculous assertions are unfounded, that no one is (currently) asking for them, and that U.S. lawmakers would never allow such partnerships to become legal.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government has legalized gay marriage, reduced the influence of the Catholic Church in education and set up an Equality Ministry.
Spain's parliament voiced its support on Wednesday for the rights of great apes to life and freedom [ed.: and the pursuit of happiness?] in what will apparently be the first time any national legislature has called for such rights for non-humans. Parliament's environmental committee approved resolutions urging Spain to comply with the Great Apes Project, devised by scientists and philosophers who say our closest genetic relatives deserve rights hitherto limited to humans.
I fully expect the first order of business once this passes to be a lawsuit brought by the Grape Ape Project against anyone referring to wedding tuxedos as "monkey suits."
Move over Michael Vick and Latrell Sprewell – there's a new sports bad boy in town. Unfortunately, it's our town he's in.
The Houston Astros must have thought they were getting a good deal when they signed pitcher Shawn Chacon to a one-year contract earlier this year. Despite a tendency to start well and then quickly fall apart (see his records with the Rockies and the Yankees), the Astros front office jumped at the chance to bag the one-time All-Star. Chacon worked hard during spring training, earned a spot on the rotation, and by the end of May was still holding his own in the starting lineup. Then, true to nature, his numbers started dropping. Then tumbling. And by last weekend, Wade and Astros manager Cooper had little choice but to demote him to the bullpen.
But the bottom didn't fall out until Wednesday, when Chacon refused a summons to Coop's office. GM Ed Wade confronted Chacon in the lunchroom, and somebody lost control. According to Chacon, he was sitting – quietly and innocently minding his own business – when Wade sauntered up and started yelling and cursing at him. Uh-huh.
"... So at that point I lost my cool, and I grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the ground. I jumped on top of him, because at that point I wanted to beat his (behind). Words were exchanged."
I realize I don't get paid $2 million per year, but if I was having trouble at work and was beginning to worry about my job, my first reaction would not be to throttle my boss, throw him down and start pounding on him. Oh, and then "words were exchanged." That, my friends, takes some read Chacon-es, if you know what I mean.
This, of course, is where I realize how much I miss having Craig Biggio in the clubhouse. Biggio had the reputation of being a real leader on the team, and would often take new teammate aside and "let them know" how Astros players were expected to behave. And if Bigg's soft-spoken words weren't enough, his best bud Bagwell could always come over and sit on you for a bit. I'm pretty sure they held a strict "no choking the coaching staff" policy back in the good old days.
Owner Drayton McLane has already made up his mind about the ex-starter: he won't be throwing any more hardballs for the home team at Minute Maid Park.
"We can't have anarchy," McLane said. "You can't have rebellion. If he disagreed with what Cecil wanted him to do, he should have had the courage to sit down and talk to him."
McLane went on to say, "If you shoved a policeman down or any other public servant ... can you imagine shoving a principal in a school? It was in full view of several players. Players pulled Chacon and restrained him. There's absolutely no way."
"Maybe it shouldn't have happened," Chacon said. "But when you do those things and you're yelling at somebody and you're cussing you better know what type of person you're dealing with. If there's any regret, I just wish they had just let me alone."
In other words, it wasn't his fault. Wasn't his fault that he was pitching lousy, losing games, not focusing. He's a star, he's entitled to that starting position! And if they try to take that away from him, well, he's not responsible for what might happen.
I wonder how long it will take before he starts claiming racial discrimination.
Justices Kennedy, Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer struck down a Louisiana state law allowing the death penalty for rape of a child.
Justice Kennedy ... wrote that executing someone for that crime, assuming that the victim was not killed, violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, which draws its meaning from "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society."
Apparently, we the people of the United States of America have evolved (devolved?) to such a point where our standards should permit an adult who knowingly and purposely violates a defenseless child should be allowed to live, no matter the extent of the crime or damage inflicted.
Justice Alito wrote a dissent lamenting that the majority had ruled out executing someone for raping a child "no matter how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many children the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted, and no matter how heinous the perpetrator's prior criminal record may be."
However, as all good liberals tend to be, the justices seemed more concerned for the rights of the convicted criminals than those of the innocent, defenseless victims. After all, as Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority, "sentencing someone to death for raping a child could have terrible, unintended consequences.
And speaking of cruel and unusual punishments, a Massachusetts state congressman (and defense attorney) recently vowed to further victimize the victims of child rape if his fellow lawmakers passed Jessica's Law, mandating stiffer penalties for child sex offenders.
"I'm gonna rip them apart," Fagan said of young victims during his testimony on the bill. "I'm going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined, that when they're 8 years old, they throw up; when they're 12 years old, they won't sleep; when they're 19 years old, they'll have nightmares and they'll never have a relationship with anybody."
Too many of these victims already experience those same repercussions from their ordeal, necessitating such stringent measures as Jessica's Law legislature and Louisiana's death penalty laws.
"Because of the 5-4 decision, a criminal convicted of multiple brutal acts of child rape will be treated less severely than one who commits treason or espionage," said Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. "While we will abide by the court's judgment, Texas will continue to seek the toughest penalties [for] the most barbaric child predators."
UPDATE: There is a very good discussion of the court's comments and decision on Lone Star Times.
Looking back at years past, a number of interesting and important events have occurred on this day in history.
In 1776, the Virginia Convention of Delegates adopted a formal Declaration of Rights affirming the inherent natural rights of men, including the right to "reform, alter, or abolish" any government "found inadequate" to sustaining the "common benefit, protection, and security" of its citizens. This document was the predecessor to the United States Declaration of Independent and the Bill of Rights.
In 1967, the Supreme Court struck down state laws that prohibited interracial marriages, deeming such laws to be illegal under the Fourteenth Amendment and to be "odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality."
Oh, and in 1987, some guy made some speech or something.
It has been a rather topsy-turvy week for the two (viable) remaining presidential candidates. First, the John McCain camp seemingly spit in the eyes of Christian conservatives in their total disinterest and somewhat brusque refusal to meet with the ailing evangelist Rev. Billy Graham (and then apparently tried to cover their tracks with what appears to be, at best, half-truths).
Then today a rather outspoken Democratic Congressman came out against his party's candidate for being too liberal:
Democratic Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma said Tuesday Barack Obama is "the most liberal senator" in Congress and he has no intention of endorsing him for the White House.
And as for Obama's promises to forge a less partisan Washington?
Boren ... said that while Obama has talked about working with Republicans, "unfortunately, his record does not reflect working in a bipartisan fashion."
Record? Who needs to look at his record? This is the Black Messiah we're talking about!
When a performance artist set up shop in Manhattan yesterday with signs referencing "The Assassination of Hillary Clinton" and "The Assassination of Barack Obama," the Secret Service and New York's finest didn't take it lightly:
By 9:30 a.m., New York City police detectives and Secret Service agents had shut down the exhibition, and building workers had quickly covered over the inflammatory title with large sheets of brown paper and blue masking tape.
Mr. Arboleda, who is 27, said in an interview: "It's art. It's not supposed to be harmful. It's about character assassination — about how Obama and Hillary have been portrayed by the media." He added, "It's about the media."
The interview was abruptly ended as Mr. Arboleda was led off to the Midtown South police precinct station for what he called an interrogation.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, speaking to reporters at 1 Police Plaza around noon, said, "...[W]e want to determine what his motives are. Obviously they could be interpreted as advocating harm to protectees; both of the senators, of course, are now being provided Secret Service protection, that's why the Secret Service was interested; both of them are federal employees, so, ah, of course it is a concern to federal authorities as it is to ourselves."
It is interesting to note, however, that no such concern was voiced by New York authorities or most American media outlets when the British film Death of a President -- a so-called "fictional documentary" about the assassination of President George W. Bush -- played for several months in New York theaters last year. In fact, the movie received high acclaim from film critics in Europe, and received both an Emmy Award and an award from the Toronto Film Festival.
Apparently whether or not a performance is "art" depends at least in part on the intended target or victim of the so-called assassination.
Our Party needs to pull together, and we need to do it now.
Never in memory have the Democrats, liberal special interests groups, labor unions and unregulated "527" soft-money groups come together with so much money and so much determination toward one purpose: Defeating Republicans.
Is it just me, or does anyone else find it somewhat ironic that the man who helped empower these 527 groups (via the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002) is now complaining that the Democrats are using it against him?
To make this plea for money even more interesting, clicking on any of the numerous "Donate Now!" links in the email takes you to this web site, which begins:
Grassroots Republicans like you will play a crucial role in the 2008 presidential election. Our Party leaders and candidates are counting on your active support of Victory 2008 to make sure our Party has the resources to reach out to voters and promote our positive, conservative agenda.
Although I don't always agree with former Congressman Tom DeLay, he points out quite effectively that Senator McCain's agenda is not necessarily known for being all that conservative:
Vice President Dick Cheney did a whirlwind tour through Richmond last week, flying in to stump (and raise a little money) for John McCain and heading back out again in a matter of hours. His speech reportedly focused on the traditional Republican issues of national security, lower taxes and limiting government.
One might wish he had stuck to those talking points at the National Press Club yesterday, where an ill-advised joke about West Virginian inbreeding turned into a media firestorm. The quote? "So I had Cheneys on both sides of the family -- and we don't even live in West Virginia." I've heard worse in almost every Aggie joke that has been thrown my way in the past thirty years.
Yes, the comment was in poor taste, especially coming from a sitting vice president. And sure, you would expect West Virginians to be grumbling about it, and even to hear the requisite wailing and gnashing of teeth from their representatives in Washington.
But nothing could have prepared me for this ironic response from West Virginia's own pride and joy, Senator Robert Byrd:
"That a man who has ascended to the seat of vice president of the United States would openly display such contempt and astounding ignorance toward his own countrymen is an insult to all Americans," Byrd says in a statement.
This, coming from a one-time Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan? And considering the Democratic Party's years of exploitation of the black voters who have unexplainably continued to support them, Byrd's next statement is even more incongruous:
"This pitiful comment is not entirely surprising when you consider the source," Byrd adds. "Vice President Cheney's words reflect the attitude of an administration and a party that says what they must to get elected and then turns their backs on those they promised to represent."
...[Archaeology professor Paul] Zimansky would have liked Indy to be a more realistic role model. "I wish he'd take more notes and things. What's his publication record?" Zimansky said.
The reality of archeological field work is not a lone hero dashing into hidden chambers with a bullwhip and a pistol and coming away with a priceless relic. It's large groups of academics and students painstakingly sifting through grids to retrieve artifacts as mundane as pottery fragments.
Say it ain't so, Indy!
Next thing you know, they will be telling us real spies do not drive souped-up Aston Martins and bed the most beautiful girls in the world. Or that crime scene investigators are not some special breed of super-cops (who, of course, always bed the most beautiful girls in the world). Or that ... well, you get the message.
I am almost surprised they didn't save this ground-breaking story for Sweeps Week.
Hillary Clinton is so obviously Apollo Creed, not Rocky Balboa. It was Creed who had it all, let himself grow deluded with entitlement, surrounded himself with an entourage of yes-men who never thought for even a second that their fighter might actually have to fight.
A reminder: when you see a member of our armed forces or a veteran, take the time to express your gratitude for their service. It can be a simple gesture, but let them know it comes from the bottom of your heart.