Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm Not Buying What Obama's Trying to Sell!

Yesterday, President Obama explained his decision to wage war against Libya. In a nutshell, Obama made the following basic points.  
  • When U.S. interests and values are at stake, America has a responsibility to act.  Failure to act would betray our values. 
  • U.S. action was necessary to prevent a horrific massacre in Libya. A broad coalition, including the Arab League, demanded action.
  • Although there are many places where civilians face brutal violence at the hands of their government, that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what is right. 
  • America's role is limited. There are no ground troops. Responsibility for enforcement of the arms embargo and the no fly zone will transfer to NATO on Wednesday. The U.S. will play a supporting role. 
  • U.S. military will not be used for regime change. The U.S. will use other means to overthrow the Gaddafi regime.
The President is one of the greatest orators of our time.  His speech writers are awesome. However, I'm not buying what Obama is trying to sell.

For the record, I oppose the brutal Gaddafi regime. Innocent civilians should be protected. Yes. There are some situations that warrant the use of military force. However, where does America draw the line? The U.S. cannot be the world's policeman. The President argues that we must act when our values and interests are at stake.

Contrary to the President's argument, U.S. interests are not at stake. Does Libya pose a threat to American national security? Of course not. Libya abandoned its weapons of mass destruction program and established a better relationship with the West. Did Libya recently attack any of its neighbors? No. Libya is no greater threat to emerging democratic movements than Yemen, Bahrain or Saudi Arabia. Like Libya, those countries are brutally suppressing democratic movements.

Why doesn't Obama apply the same arguments for intervention to those nations. I guess the U.S. has no problem tolerating the violence of its allies. The U.S. did nothing when Saudi troops entered Bahrain to repress the people's democratic movement. Even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates acknowledged that no vital U.S. interests were at stake in Libya. Obama's beautiful rhetoric cannot negate that fact.

The Administration's hypocritical response to developments in Yemen, Bahrain and Egypt undermines its argument about values being at stake. Were American values at stake when we sat back and watched civilians slaughtered in Ivory Coast, Darfur, Gaza, Congo, Rwanda and other countries? What about the U.S. violating its own values, i.e. Guantánamo Bay, coddling and defending dictators like Hosni Mubarak, civilian causalities in Afghanistan, soldiers posing with corpses, etc.?

Although I welcome the news that the U.S. will now play a limited role in Libya, I wonder how long that supporting role will last. What does it entail? How much will it cost us in lives and money?

Instead of wasting money on a third war, we should use our resources to address problems here at home such as unemployment, failing schools, poverty and crime.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Obama Gives Gaddafi An Offer He Can't Refuse!

Today, in the gangsta tradition of George W. Bush and the Godfather, President Obama gave Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi an offer he can't refuse. It looks like war is inevitable. I guess that the President decided to heed the advice of the war mongers. Thoughts?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Search for Spiritual Meaning in the Mist of Tragedy

The New York Times reports that:

"Japanese authorities struggled to contain new nuclear emergencies on Tuesday and the death toll continued to climb as search teams began reaching towns and seaports that were flattened by last week’s earthquake and tsunami....

The National Police Agency said Tuesday afternoon that 2,478 people have died, and many thousands were still missing. Some 400,000 people were living in makeshift shelters or evacuation centers, officials said...

An explosion Tuesday morning at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Station — the third reactor blast in four days — damaged the vessel containing the nuclear core at reactor No. 2 , government officials said, and there was a growing fear of a catastrophic meltdown.

Fears of a deepening nuclear crisis led to panic selling on Tuesday that drove down the Nikkei stock index by 10.6 percent...

From the attic window, Ms. Sato said, she saw the floodwaters hurling cars along, with drivers and passengers still inside. Houses broke from their foundations and were carried along, their owners perched on the ridges of the roofs...

“I saw people trying to balance on the rooftops like surfers,” she said. “It didn’t work. It was like hell.”

My sincere prayers and condolences go out to the people of Japan.  May God bless and keep them.

As the earthquake and tsunami disaster continues to unfold in Japan, many people search for the spiritual meaning of it all. Some speculate that this catastrophe may a sign of the last days.  That is difficult to believe.  Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, poverty, famine, slavery, war and disease have plagued mankind since the beginning.  For me, as a person who believes in God, such tragedies raise the timeless philosophical question. 

Why would a just, merciful and all powerful God allow such tragedies to occur?  What greater good is being served by the lost of so many innocent lives?  I know that people of faith are not suppose to ask such questions. I know that God's plan is beyond human comprehension.  I understand that believers should be patient and forbearing.  However, God blessed human beings with intelligence.  Why not use it to probe, analyze and question?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Open Letter to Rapper Lil Wayne

Today, I stumbled upon an inspiring story on the Grio about two courageous little girls from Baltimore. Baltimore stand up! It is great to read about some young people speaking out against misogyny and violence in hip hop. Here are a few excerpts from Dr. Boyce Watkins' article:

"A handful of little girls calling themselves Watoto from the Nile did something that almost no grown man could ever do: They walked up to Lil Wayne and punched him right in the face; well, musically that is. By releasing their song, "Letter to Lil Wayne," the girls sparked a riot of conscientiousness that promises to be the start of something big. Within just one week, the song received nearly one million views on YouTube, and the girls have become an instant Internet sensation. Lil Wayne, one of hip-hop's most magnificent lyrical geniuses of our time, is also one of the most disturbing artists on the music scene. He is a tragic E! True Hollywood Story special waiting to happen, as his misguided life mixes the very worst that rock n' roll and hip-hop have to offer.

"As I listened to the girl's brilliant song about the misogyny and negative messages in hip-hop, I wondered why the adults around them have not been more vocal about stopping the onslaught of destructive imagery in music."

These young girls had the heart to condemn this nonsense. When will the young men in the community stand up and demand more from the artists, the radio stations and the record industry!?!?

Mr. President...Don't Listen to the War Mongers!

Shout out to all my Facebook friends for your thought provoking discussions on this issue.

I support the legitimate aspirations of all people for freedom and democracy. I was outraged when I heard reports of Gaddafi forces attacking and killing nonviolent demonstrators. See my articles Defending the Indefensible and Muammar Gaddafi: "People who don't love me don't deserve to live. If the allegations are true, I support U.N. sanctions and I.C.C. action. However, I do not support calls to impose a no fly zone in Libya. 

President Obama is under intense pressure from Republicans and fellow Democrats to wage war against Libya.  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made it clear that the enforcing a no fly zone in Libya will be an obvious act of war.  As reported in The Hill,

"Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday said the U.S. military could establish a no-fly zone over Libya, but he cautioned that doing so would first require widespread air strikes across that nation.

“If it’s ordered, we can do it,” Gates told the House Appropriations's Defense subcommittee.

But establishing control of Libyan air space would “start with attacks to destroy” Libyan air defense systems. That kind of assault would require more U.S. military aircraft than “you would find on a single aircraft carrier.”

Listen to former President Bill Clinton, Senator John Kerry and Senator John McCain beat the drums of war.

I urge President Obama to ignore this call for war. First of all, U.S. national security is not jeopardized by the civil war in Libya. In fact, U.S. military intervention will pose a threat to our national security. It will help promote the false narrative that America is at war with Islam. Remember the establishment of a no fly zone in Iraq paved the way for the 911 terror attacks. To maintain the no fly zone, the U.S. had to keep troops in Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda's primary grievance against the U.S. was the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, this proposed war is not about human rights or preserving human life. There are numerous armed conflicts around the world. I don't see the U.S. resorting to military intervention in those countries. In fact, when Clinton was in office, he did absolutely nothing to prevent to the genocide in Rwanda. Now, he has the audacity to call for U.S. military intervention in Libya.

Human rights are being violated in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen. For example, as reported in the Washington Post,

"Witnesses in Bahrain said that more than 100 people were injured after police fired tear gas at protesters and attacked them with batons...

In Yemen, police on rooftops fired live bullets and tear gas at protesters, also injuring more than 100 people, a day after security forces killed seven demonstrators in protests around the country."

Since Yemen and Bahrain are U.S. allies, no one is talking about imposing no fly zones in those other countries.

Oil is the real reason why the U.S. is considering waging war in Libya. Corporate interests are probably driving this rush to war. Currently, Libya's oil industry is nationalized. Apparently, U.S. and other Western countries want to seize Libya's oil. No Arab League resolution will change that fact.

How any of our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters must be sacrificed to satisfy the insatiable greed of the oil industry?

America is already squandering tremendous financial and human resources in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, politicians are urging the President to waste more lives and money in Libya.  Frankly, it is fascinating how those deficit hawks have no problem slashing valuable social programs. Yet, they always find enough money to wage war.

Moreover, the U.S. government probably knows virtually nothing about those Libyan insurgents. In addition to imposing no fly zones, some prominent politicians and pundits assert that the U.S. should provide military assistance to Gaddafi's opposition. For all we know, such actions may aid the Libyan version of the Taliban. In 1980s, the U.S. supported the Afghan groups opposing the Soviets. Some of those groups included the Taliban and Al Qaeda. We do not need to repeat that colossal mistake.

Many of us voted for Obama because of his opposition to the Iraq war. We viewed Obama as the candidate of peace, hope and change. We did not vote for war and political calculation. I urge the President to put the interests of the American people over the interests of the oil companies. During his inauguration and Cairo speeches, Obama discussed extending a hand to the Arab world. Bombing Libya will undermine that hopeful message. Mr. President, please don't listen to the war mongers.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Peter King Should Cancel His Despicable Witch Hunt Now!

This Thursday, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King (R) plans to hold hearings on the radicalization of Muslim Americans. Rep. King told the Associated Press that:

"There is a real threat to the country from the Muslim community and the only way to get to the bottom of it is to investigate what is happening."

Peter King should cancel his despicable witch hunt for four reasons.

First, the hearings will only fuel bigotry and hatred. Rep. King's broad generalizations create the misconception that most Muslims Americans are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. As a matter of fact, the terrorists are a tiny minority within the Muslim world community. We must bear in mind that none of the 911 terrorists were Americans. An entire religion should not be put on trial because of the actions of a few heinous murderers.

Second, the hearings will discourage many Muslims from cooperating with law enforcements thereby making us all less safe. Instead of perpetuating fear and suspicion, the government should look for ways to build bridges of communication and trust with the Muslim American community.

Third, the federal government has more far important things to do. Instead of wasting the American people's time and money demonizing Muslims and fear mongering, Congress should focus on issues that really matter to the American people like unemployment, poverty, the war in Afghanistan, etc.

Finally, the hearings will pave the way for the harassment and persecution of other groups. During the McCarthy era, it was the communists. Today, it is Islam and Muslims. Tomorrow, it could be Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists or your particular religious or ethnic group.

Are White People Oppressed in this Age of Obama?

One of my friends from college posted a provocative CNN article entitled Are Whites Racially Oppressed on Facebook. In the article, John Blake writes:

"We went from being a privileged group to all of a sudden becoming whites, the new victims,'' says Charles Gallagher, a sociologist at La Salle University in Pennsylvania who researches white racial attitudes and was baffled to find that whites see themselves as a minority.

"You have this perception out there that whites are no longer in control or the majority. Whites are the new minority group."

Call it racial jujitsu: A growing number of white Americans are acting like a racially oppressed majority. They are adopting the language and protest tactics of an embattled minority group, scholars and commentators say.

They point to these signs of racial anxiety:

• A recent Public Religion Research Institute poll found 44% of Americans surveyed identify discrimination against whites as being just as big as bigotry aimed at blacks and other minorities. The poll found 61% of those identifying with the Tea Party held that view, as did 56% of Republicans and 57% of white evangelicals.

• More colleges are offering courses in "Whiteness Studies" as white Americans cope with becoming what one commentator calls a "dispossessed majority group."

• A Texas group recently formed the "Former Majority Association for Equality" to offer college scholarships to needy white men. Colby Bohannan, the group's president, says white men don't have scholarship options available to minorities. "White males are definitely not a majority" anymore, he says.

• U.S. Census Bureau projections that whites will become a minority by 2050 are fueling fears that whiteness no longer represents the norm. This fear has been compounded by the recent recession, which hit whites hard.

• Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh argued in a radio show that Republicans are an "oppressed minority" in need of a "civil rights movement" because its members willingly sit in the "back of the bus" and "are afraid of the fire hoses and the dogs."

• Conservative news outlets ran a number of stories last summer highlighting an incident from the 2008 elections, in which activists from the New Black Panther Party appeared to be intimidating voters at a polling place. Those claims were never proven.

• Fox talk-show host Glenn Beck led a march on Washington (attended primarily by white people) to "restore honor," and once called President Obama a racist with a "deep-seated hatred for white people and white culture." He later said he regretted making that comment.

Mass rallies in Washington, voter intimidation at the polls, creating ethnic studies programs at colleges to promote racial self-awareness -- it sounds like a script from a civil rights documentary."

The notion that whites are an oppressed minority is an outrageous absurdity.  The Center for American Progress' article State of Communities of Color in the U.S. Economy is an eye opening reminder that African Americans and Hispanics remain at the lower rungs of American society.  Whites remain at the top.  The article states that:
"Substantial differences in economic security exist by race and ethnicity. The unemployment rate for African Americans, for instance, was 15.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to 12.9 percent for Latinos, 7.3 percent for Asian Americans, and 8.7 percent for whites.

Homeownership rates tell a similar story. In the third quarter of 2010, the homeownership rate for African Americans was 45.0 percent. The homeownership rate for Latinos was 47.0 percent, and the homeownership rate for whites was 74.7 percent.

The numbers indicate that Latinos and African Americans continue to hold lower-quality jobs relative to  their white and Asian-American counterparts as they typically earn significantly  less money per week. As of the third quarter of 2010, the last period for which we have data, African Americans’ usual median weekly earnings were $623 in 2009  dollars and Latinos earned $532. In comparison, whites made $774 each week, while Asians earned $871.

In 2009, the last year with available data, median household incomes were substantially lower for communities of color than for whites. The median household income of African Americans was $32,584 in 2009 dollars, more than 40 percent less than that of whites, who earned $54,461. And Latinos had a median income of $34,088, or about 30 percent below that of whites in 2009. Asian Americans had a median income of $65,469 in 2009, which was about 20 percent higher than that of whites.

In 2009, more than one in four Latino (25.3 percent) and African-American families (25.8 percent) lived below the poverty line. Conversely, poverty rates among white Americans and Asian Americans were 9.4 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively.

The number of uninsured African Americans was 9.0 percent higher than white Americans in 2009, with 21.0 percent. Latinos had the largest share of uninsured people with 32.4 percent in 2009. And 17.2 percent of Asian Americans lacked health insurance in 2009.

The current foreclosure rate on loans issued between 2005 and 2008 was 4.52 percent for whites. For Asian Americans, the rate was 4.60 percent. Latinos and African Americans had significantly higher foreclosure rates, at 7.69 percent for Latinos and 7.90 percent for African Americans."

The National Urban League's State of Black America Report for 2010 points out additional racial disparities in education and criminal justice.

"For the population over 25, whites are more than one and a half times as likely as blacks and two and a half times likely as Hispanics to hold a bachelo's degree.

..2008 data indicates that blacks are six times more likely and Hispanics are three times more likely than whites to be incarcerated."

So, people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and other far right extremists need to just STFU.

In conclusion, here is my message to all the angry, conservative white people. You are not an oppressed racial group. Were you kidnapped, shackled and crammed into slave ships? Were you robbed of your language, your culture and your religion? Were you enslaved and beaten for over 200 years? Were you segregated, lynched and castrated? Instead of blaming minorities for your problems, you should stand up to the corporate interests that exploit us all.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Defending the Indefensible: Farrakhan on Muammar Gaddafi

During the Nation of Islam's Savior's Day, Minister Louis Farrakhan defended his friend, Muammar Gaddafi. He asserted that no leader receives 100 percent of the people's support. Incredibly, Farrakhan proceeded to compare the ruthless dictator's plight to the persecution of Jesus.

Instead of condemning Gaddafi's deadly attacks on nonviolent protesters, Farrakhan asserted that if Gaddafi is tried before the International Criminal Court then former President George W. Bush and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should be tried for war crimes as well. Farrakhan went on to argue that America would do the same thing if there was an uprising here.

Although I have respect for Farrakhan, I strongly disagree with him on this. Justice should be universal. It should apply to friends and foes alike. If the U.S. shot down nonviolent demonstrators, Farrakhan would raise righteous hell. Yet, he excuses Gaddafi.

The same standard applies to American foreign policy. On one hand, the U.S. to coddles repressive so-called "friendly" dictators in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordon, etc. The U.S. also condones Israel's repeated violations of human rights and international law. Conversely, America calls for immediate actions against its enemies, i.e. Iran, Libya, etc. Such hypocrisy is unjust.