Point of View Columns

Cornel West Makes More Money Than You Do!

Ever since President-elect Barack Obama did not personally deliver a handwritten invitation to his inauguration, Cornel West seems to have been on a personal mission to vilify and insult him at every possible opportunity. While it is Dr. West’s right to say whatever he wants, with rights come responsibility. And by that measure Cornel West has been wildly irresponsible with a dash of hypocrisy thrown in for good measure.

Cornel West, who is clearly a legend in his own mind, has taken it upon himself to label President Obama “a lap dog of Wall Street” and has excoriated him for not being a “revolutionary” and his failure to fully and completely address all of the issues, challenges and problems of the national black community. When queried on the subject he has called Mitt Romney a “catastrophic” choice for a catastrophic time while, in his view, President Obama is a “disastrous” choice for a catastrophic time.

Clearly Cornel West has not bathed in the cold waters of logic or common sense in a long time. It is simply impossible to believe that a presumably well educated professor like Dr. West (he has taught at Harvard, Princeton and currently Union Theological Seminary) could look at Barack Obama’s past statements or the themes and policies of his presidential campaign and that he was the forerunner of some great revolution that was going to commence on January 20, 2009.

While it is clear that a divinity degree does not equip Dr. West to be some kind of sociopolitical expert, since he keeps opining on such subjects he has to be held accountable. The history of American electoral politics has been decidedly reformist with gradual movements to the right and the left. Reform is characterized by gradual change while revolution promises to be immediate.

The United States has never elected a “revolutionary” candidate and it is absurd for anyone to think that the election of Barack Obama was the beginning of a twenty first revolution in this country. And it is dishonest for Dr. West to criticize President Obama because this country has not been reinvented for the better in the three years of his presidency.

Again, Cornel West is entitled to his opinions and he has a perfect right to free speech. However, because he is a noted public figure who speaks around the country for fees ranging from $30,000 – $50,000 per appearance, he has the responsibility of being aware of the effects that his reckless speech may cause.

There are some people in the national black community who will actually listen to and believe Dr. West. It is a natural human instinct to search for the cause(s) of dismay and misery and for some, President Obama makes a useful target. And, giving even a few people a reason for not voting for President Obama could make the difference between him getting a second term and the beginning of a Romney Administration complete with a boatload of Tea Party baggage.

I have written before that there is no way that Dr. Cornel West is going to destroy the support of the black community for Barack Obama. What he can do, however, is corrode and erode small portions of his support in communities across this country, lessening Barack Obama’s vote count just enough to lose so-called battleground states – states that can make the difference between victory and defeat.

It is not an exaggeration to state that the election of Mitt Romney coupled with his support of the draconian Ryan budget agenda will wreak havoc on poor and middle income families. The election of Mitt Romney will place incredible burdens on the national black community and one would think that Cornel West has to know this.

Of course, whether it’s a Obama or a Romney victory, Cornel West will still be able to charge $30,000-$50,000 per speaking engagement, raking in millions of dollars by virtue of his bombast and celebrity, but not because he is providing some useful and constructive ideas and perspectives.

Cornel West will continue to make cameo appearances at the 2013 and 2014 versions of Occupy Wall Street, claiming to speak for oppressed people. Incredibly, he will continue pull off this act with a straight face while making millions of dollars doing it.

But I wonder how Dr. West will sleep on his 5000 thread count sheets knowing that is misguided and destructive rhetoric contributed in some small way to the defeat of Barack Obama and the election of Mitt Romney. What will he say to the women whose healthcare services will be reduced and eliminated? What will he say to the college students who will be denied federal loans to gain the kind of education that he has? What will he say to the residents of communities whose social service benefits will be pared down to the barest minimum? What will he say to the sick and the elderly and to the helpless and the homeless?

And in the quietest of moments before dawn, what will he say to himself?

Point of View Columns

There is Such a Thing as Too Smart

If you live long enough and pay attention you can learn why some old sayings stand the test of time. Most of us have at some point learned that it is better to be safe than sorry, that a bird in the hand is usually better than two in the bush and that looking before you leap is almost always a good thing. Billionaire Peter Andreas Thiel has suggested that young people in America forgo college and become entrepreneurs, thereby proving that there actually is such a thing as being too smart.

A little background – Peter Thiel is a German-born entrepreneur who has accumulated a multibillion dollar fortune as a venture capitalist and hedge fund manager. His most famous accomplishment to date is that he was the founder of Pay Pal. He is noted for his extreme libertarian views and has financed numerous initiatives that spread the gospel that the American government is too big and too intrusive. He has also been one of the major financial backers of Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, which tells you something right there.

It is useful to point out that Mr. Thiel has not been able to explain how this same American government created an environment in which he was able to make several billions of dollars as an immigrant. I am not aware of many immigrants to Germany or France or Japan becoming billionaires. There is a lot that needs correcting in the United States but it does seem allow some people to become fabulously rich, Mr. Thiel included.

Not content with biting the institutional hand that has fed him, Mr. Thiel has now unleashed this outstandingly stupid idea that college is a waste of time and that young people in America should forgo college, or drop out, and become entrepreneurs. And, putting his money where his very busy mouth is, Mr. Thiel is actually awarding $100,000 grants to young applicants to the Thiel Foundation who come up with “winning” entrepreneurial ideas.

The word “winning” is in quotes, because $100,000 is rarely enough to start up a viable business. It is enough to entice some young, impressionable and ambitious young people to drop out of school. Pointing to the examples of famous college dropouts like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, Thiel is trying to be the Pied Piper that will lead young people down the road to success.

One of the problems in this world is that there is an assumption that if someone is wealthy then they must be very smart. The smartest wealthy people know that they have become rich because of a combination of applied intelligence, timing and good fortune. And then you have people like Peter Thiel who actually believe that a few billion dollars has made him so damn smart that he can put forward this very dangerous idea to very impressionable young people.

Unfortunately, zealots like Thiel who are absolutely convinced of their brilliance, do not let inconvenient facts get in the way. The fact is that most start up businesses fail. The fact is that most successful entrepreneurs have persisted through several failures before they achieve even a modicum of success.

The fact is that most people are not cut out to be entrepreneurs. The fact is that while higher education is severely overpriced, it provides skill sets which are indispensable to a successful career and a fulfilling life. It is important to learn biology, architecture, and history and computer science. It is equally important to appreciate art, literature and the diversity of cultures that make up this planet. It is hard to learn about any of these things as a nineteen year old entrepreneur.

Pointing to Jobs, Zuckerberg and Gates as role models is disingenuous at best, ignorant at worst. Bill Gates did indeed drop out of Harvard to start his computer software company. But it is important to know that through good fortune and timing Gates spent thousands of hours learning computer programming at the University of Washington as a precocious high school student. Gates’ father was a partner in a Seattle law firm that represented numerous venture capital companies.

Steve Jobs did drop out of Reed College with no thought of becoming an entrepreneur. After backpacking around India he did get some insight into the business that made him a success. But it was not a direct path.

Mark Zuckerberg did drop out of Harvard and Facebook has made him a multibillionaire. As this column is being written the stock of Facebook is dropping just one day after its less than glorious initial public offering. In any event, Mr. Zuckerberg will be a billionaire. How much better the world is because of Facebook is a matter of debate.

Encouraging young people to be more focused in their studies makes sense. Encouraging young people to build a range of skills and perspectives that will enhance their personal career agility makes sense. Encouraging young people to explore entrepreneurial alternatives makes sense.

But Peter Thiel should know better than to encourage young people to drop out of school or to forego higher education altogether. By the way, Mr. Thiel has undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford University – so much for practicing what you preach. And Mr. Thiel has to know that his personal genius alone did not make him a billionaire – hard work, timing and luck have all played a role in his personal narrative of financial success.

His message is deceptive, dangerous and shameful and another example of a wealthy denizen of the right wing of the right wing thinking that they know how the rest of the world should live their lives.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – May 18, 2012

The aftermath of President Obama’s expression of support for same sex marriage has been, as noted before, predictable, both in the nature of the support and the opposition. Nevertheless, there is a gaggle of black ministers who are engaging in behavior that can only be described as mystifying. And this week it was announced that last year was the first year in American history when there were more non-white births than white births. The browning of America continues. And finally, in New York City, a federal court has commented on the seeming unconstitutional nature of the NYPD Stop and Frisk policy. And it’s about time.

Nose Cutting Time

“Cutting of your nose to spite your face” is an old expression with a meaning that is very clear. Damaging yourself in order to respond to a real or imagined wrong simply doesn’t make any sense.

And that’s why the frightening number of black ministers who have proclaimed their intention not to support Barack Obama’s reelection campaign because of his stance on same sex marriage is puzzling. Let us put aside the fact that the gay community has been a very real part of the black church for a very long time. Let us also put aside the fact that homosexual and heterosexual indiscretions are an unspoken part of the narrative that describes the black church in America.

While we are all entitled to our minor hypocrisies, these black pastors should not be permitted to erode and corrode the support of one of President Obama’s key constituencies over an issue that defines neither this president or the critical needs and challenges of the black community.

Gay men and women are not the reason for the unspeakable levels of black on black violence in the black community. The gay community is not wrecking the financial system nor is it shredding the social safety net that endangers the lives and welfare of so many black men, women and children.

Certainly unemployment, poor housing, poor education and mindless media assaults present greater dangers to the institution of marriage than men who love men and women who love women. And I am not aware of any gay leadership in the Tea Party movement that threatens to take this country back to the 19th century.

But finally and most importantly, where will these pompous and self-righteous pastors go to hide their stained and miserable consciences if their statements of moral indignation serve to facilitate the election of Mitt Romney and open the floodgates to the Tea Party hordes that are hammering at the gates of good government?

Problem Solved

The recent announcement that non-white births are now exceeding white births in this country might help to solve a nagging question. For the past few years I have wondered at the willingness of the Teapublicans and the right wing of the right wing to abandon the future for the sake of the present.

While proclaiming concern for “the children of future generations”, the Teapublican agenda has called for “shrinking government to a size where it can be drowned in a bath tub”. This paints a very dull and gray picture for these “future generations”.

However, it may be that the Teapublicans have been reading their tea leaves and have seen the writing on the demographic wall. If indeed America is going to be less white and more black and brown, it seems that the singularly monochromatic Teapublicans do not want this darker future generation to have access to the public benefits that whiter generations of the past enjoyed. And they certainly do not intend to pay for it.

This would explain the contention that Americans will need to be more “self-reliant” and that the age of so-called entitlements will have to come to an end. And all along diminishing tax revenues so that government services will contract is the daily catechism of the right wing of the right wing.

The underlying rationale for the Teapublican philosophy is before us in black and white and brown.

The Saga of Stop and Frisk

I have previously pointed out the unconstitutional aspect of the New York Police Department “stopping and frisking” hundreds of thousands of black and Latino young men in the name of crime prevention. The fact that New York has enjoyed a reduction in crime does not justify this most severe intrusion into the lives of innocent people. Indeed, if everyone were to be arrested then there would be no crime but hopefully no one thinks that is a good idea….yet.

Now a federal court has indicated that there is a very real possibility that this policing policy may be declared unconstitutional. New York Mayor Bloomberg and New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are staunch supporters of “stop and frisk” and minimize the impact of over 600,000 such stops in the past year (over 80% of the “stopped” individuals were black and Latino).

However, the children of privileged and secure white men are not being stopped. I doubt that Mayor Bloomberg or Commissioner Kelly have any personal acquaintances whose children have been “stopped and frisked”. The institutional assault on the rights and privacy of hundreds of thousands of young men cannot have a good long term result.

Certainly the community resentment and cynicism in the long term far outweighs any short term crime reduction that may be taking place. Chipping away at respect for law enforcement and building enmity just doesn’t sound like a plan for the future on which we can rely.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Glass House Residents

Last week President Obama took the historic step of being the first sitting U.S. president to endorse the concept of gay marriage. The national reaction was both predictable and troubling. The right wing of the right wing turned over the engine on the Lie Mobile to claim that this was more evidence that Barack Obama is an enemy of America. Gay Republicans claimed that he didn’t do enough to warrant their support even as Mitt Romney doubled down on his opposition to same sex marriage. The Catholic Church and too many black churches once more revealed that they are mired in loveless opposition thinly disguised as dogma.

A few facts are useful at this point. Same sex marriage is not recognized by the federal government pursuant to the ridiculously entitled Defense of Marriage Act. Same sex marriage is banned by statute in twelve states and banned by the state constitution in 30 states. So it would be a mistake to think that President’s Obama’s announcement was akin to an Emancipation Proclamation for the gay community.

Nevertheless, by affirming the right of American men and women to live and love as they please President Obama articulated what should by now be a basic fact of civil life in this country. Prejudging and confining men and women based upon gender, gender preference, race, religion or physical disability is wrong.

There is no doubt that there remains a major gap between the reality of this country and its stated ideals. Its Declaration of Independence and Constitution proclaimed the rights of all mankind while black people were treated as chattel and women had no rights except those granted to them by their fathers or husbands.

The Constitution (and the Bible) was used to justify genocide against Native Americans and to codify racial segregation. And the Constitution was construed to permit the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II (but not German Americans or Italian Americans).

Nevertheless the Constitution is now seen as the guarantor of basic rights and liberties for all Americans. Race, gender, religion and physical disabilities are no longer seen as justifiable reasons for discrimination. The fact too many Americans are comfortable with discriminating against men and women based upon gender preference says more about their bigotry than it does about their victims.

Mitt Romney and the Teapublicans (and too many Democrats) proclaim that marriage must be between a man and a woman. They refer to the Bible and presumably the Book of Mormon to justify that position.

Assuming that the Biblical and Mormon interpretations are correct, how can religious principles define constitutional and legislative agendas? Freedom of religion means that we are free to practice our religion as we see fit. Freedom of religion also means that we are free from the precepts, practices and mandates of other religions.

Catholics and the Catholic Church have known much bigotry, hate and discrimination in this country. Why the Catholic Church would so vigorously oppose same sex marriage by non-Catholics is baffling. Church prelates can exercise their prerogative to ban same sex marriages within the Catholic Church. But the Catholic Church and the rest of the religious establishment should have no say over the private lives of Americans outside of the church.

And it is worth mentioning that during the past two decades the passion that the Catholic Church expresses in opposing same sex marriage has been notably missing as the thousands of sexual abuse cases have been revealed within the Church. One would think that an institution that has had so many leaders who have enabled, empowered, protected and defended predators of children would be more focused on its own glass house as opposed to the glass houses of others.

The role of the black church in this controversy is particularly troubling. As long as there have been black churches there have been members of the gay community in those churches. Further, black Americans have been the victims of so much state-sponsored suffering, terrorism and legalized discrimination and marginalization that it is truly bizarre for black pastors and ministers to claim that their interpretation of “God’s law” now calls them to discriminate and marginalize.

What is particularly shameful is that too many of these black pastors and ministers have gone so far as to withdraw their support for President Obama. If even a few black parishioners follow their boneheaded example it could result in Barack Obama’s defeat.

This would open the doors for a Romney administration that will inject Tea Party madness throughout the federal government and throughout this country. Black Americans will suffer the brunt of this particularly despicable turn of events.

One wonders what will become of these shepherds who would lead their flocks so far astray on their personal judgment day.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – May 11, 2012

Saint Santorum ate a great big fat helping of humble pie as he endorsed Mitt Romney in a late night e-mail. I bet THAT made him want to throw up. Meanwhile Aesop and the Brothers Grimm better move over as Mitt Romney is clearing making a move into the fable and fairy tale industry sector by claiming credit for the recovery of the auto industry. And finally, almost fifty years ago the writer James Baldwin warned us of “the fire next time”. He also issued some another warning that is worth heeding a half century later.

Love That Humble Pie!

Saint Santorum has spent the better part of a year telling us that Mitt Romney is a terrible person and a horrible choice to be the Teapublican nominee for president. He went so far as to exclaim that Romney would be “the worst person to be the Republican nominee”. Those are pretty strong and unambiguous words coming from the Pennsylvania Zealot.

You may recall Saint Santorum famously telling the world that a speech by John F. Kennedy advocating religious freedom in the political arena made him “want to throw up”. So we have to wonder how Saint Santorum’s delicate tummy reacted when he endorsed “the worst person to be the Republican nominee” to actually be the Republican nominee.

Of course the world of politics is full of accommodations and compromises. Indeed accommodations and compromise are what permits the political process to function in a useful fashion.

But we have been led to believe that, on the Planet Santorum, there are only absolutes and there is no room for compromise on issues like taxation, reproductive choice or social service strategies.

Clearly, on the Planet Santorum there is plenty of room for compromise and accommodation when it will benefit the political career of Saint Santorum, the patron saint of the Planet Santorum.

Romney’s Fairy Tales

Mary had a little lamb. Jack and Jill went up the hill. Little Miss Muffett sat on a tuffet. Add to that Mitt Romney being responsible for saving the American auto industry.

It appears that, in addition to running for president, Mitt Romney intends to vie for the position of story teller-in-chief. Last week he actually stated that he deserves a lot of the credit for the recovery of the auto industry because the affected companies followed his suggestion to restructure and reconfigure their business strategies.

Mitt Romney must have been stricken with a rare case of selective amnesia because in 2007 he personally wrote an op-ed article clearly advocating letting American auto companies go bankrupt. During the recent Teapublican primaries he severely and regularly criticizes President Obama for “bailing out” the auto industry with
taxpayer funds.

In point of fact, if Romney’s 2007 proposal was followed well over one million American workers (auto industry and related businesses) would be permanently out of work. If President Obama had not shown the leadership by calling for the investment of taxpayer dollars in an industry that is critical to the American economy the Bush-Cheney Depression would have been even more severe.

For Mitt Romney to claim credit for the recovery of the auto industry would be like (to use one of his favorite phrases) the rooster taking credit for the sun coming up.

On November 6th Mr. Romney will learn that the American people just aren’t as stupid as he thinks. He may be suffering from convenient bouts of amnesia but not everyone else is.

Remembering James Baldwin

James Baldwin was simply a great American writer who gained public notice and fame in the 1960’s. He is known for such great works as “The Fire Next Time”, “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and “Giovanni’s Room”. He was a great novelist, playwright and………..essayist. Here is a quote from James Baldwin that is almost fifty years old:
“Ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have”

As we ponder the shameful machinations of the money machine fueled by the Koch brothers the Billionaires Boys Club, we can clearly see the impact of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision which empowers ignorant and malignant political policy. Attacks on civil rights, human rights, women’s rights and the environment are now a part of the everyday news cycle.

Denial of evolution, global warming and the importance of the social contract are no longer academic exercises in backwater colleges and universities. We are on the verge of policies born of incredible ignorance reshaping the every aspect of this country’s existence.

Of course it has also been written that evil triumphs when good people do nothing. It would seem that, after fifty years, it is time to pay attention to what James Baldwin wrote.

Have a great weekend and Happy Mother’s Day!

Point of View Columns

Because the Bible Tells Me So?

On Tuesday, May 8, 2012, the State of North Carolina is predicted to take this country on another spin of the spiral towards a theocracy in the United States. The Amendment One referendum effectively bans gay marriage or civil unions and its supporters contend that they are acting in accordance with the dictates of the Bible. The separation of church and state is one of the founding principles of this country. And now we see the right wing of the right wing trample this concept as wave after wave of zealots establish a society that fits their interpretation of their religious values.

The so-called Founding Fathers were far from perfect as they included slave owners (Thomas Jefferson), womanizers (Benjamin Franklin) and unabashed social climbers (George Washington). But they got it right when they articulated in the Constitution the separation of the church (or mosque or temple) and state.
The freedom for every citizen to worship in the manner in which they wished also meant that no one could impose their religious beliefs and principles on another person.
It seems so elementary in retrospect. There is no freedom of religion if religion can be imposed on another.

This concept has been reiterated and restated by every President, by the United States Congress and the Supreme Court countless times. Despite the ritual invoking of the Creator by countless politicians, few have had the temerity to suggest that the government should adopt and impose values based upon any particular religious disposition.

But that was then and this is now. The zealots have been emboldened by the right wing firestorm that has spread through much of this country. And it is this negative energy that has given rise to such initiatives as Amendment One in North Carolina. Much of the opposition to gay marriage and same sex unions bubbles up from deep seated phobias that would require brigades of psychiatrists and psychologists to unravel.

It is difficult to understand to how any civil rights can be the subject of a referendum or public vote. Civil rights accompany the citizenship of every person in this country. If citizens have the right to vote or to use public facilities their race, gender or sexual preference simply cannot be an issue.

Once we begin making distinctions in terms of which citizens are entitled to enjoy which rights we will find ourselves in a society where more people will be restricted because of the will of the majority. Rights cannot be subject to majority rule –either they exist for all citizens or they don’t really exist for any citizens.

In North Carolina a relentless band of right wing, bible-toting, God-fearing Christian zealots have moved Amendment One forward based upon their interpretation of the Bible. Pursuant to that interpretation it is claimed that gay marriage and same sex unions are banned by the Good Book. Based upon that interpretation, thousands of men and women in North Carolina are going to be denied their right to marry and to have legally recognized families.

It is interesting to note that the Bible has been used to justify all kinds of behavior that we now find to be reprehensible. The Bible was used to rationalize slavery as well as the genocide committed against Native Americans. The Bible has been used to justify the subjugation of women and to deny women the right to vote.

And the Bible has certainly been used to justify the bloodshed and carnage that accompanies every war from The Crusades to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Bible has certainly been referred to in imposing segregation in the United States and apartheid in South African. And the Bible has certainly been referenced in promoting one hate-filled ideology after another.

The point is that referring to the Bible to deny certain men and women basic civil rights is obscene and shameful. What is worse is that Amendment One is the precursor to any number of constitutional initiatives and referenda that will result in this country becoming the theocracy that it was never supposed to be.

It is certainly bizarre that throughout this country we have seen the fear of Islamic Sharia law being imposed upon unwitting innocents. Meanwhile, we are seeing Christian-based biblical law being imposed and proposed.

It is said that if you want to boil a frog you put the reptile in a pot of cold water and slowly heat it. The gradual heating of the water is not noticed by the frog until it is too late.

Hopefully we are not that frog.


Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – May 4, 2012

President Obama went to Afghanistan to make history while Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani had pizza in a firehouse in Lower Manhattan. There’s a message in there somewhere, starting with the hypocrisy of Romney and Giuliani being in that firehouse. Meanwhile there are some real head cases in the NBA and its going to get worse before it gets better unless someone starts treating the matter seriously. And finally, Nina Simone wrote a song over fifty years ago entitled “Mississippi Goddamn!” Guess what? The tune still fits.

Lies and Damned Lies

President Obama flew to Afghanistan last week to formalize an agreement whereby U.S. (and NATO) troops will essentially withdraw from that country by 2014. That means that 90,000 American troops will remain in a country where the President of the United States has to fly in and out under the cover of darkness because the place is so dangerous. It also means, however, that finally there is an end in sight to this war born of warped and certifiably insane neo-con strategy.

As fate would have it, President Obama was in Afghanistan on the day that Osama bin Laden was killed pursuant to his direct order one year ago. Predictably, the Teapublican sound machine started the wailing siren, claiming that President Obama was “politicizing” the anniversary and that he was wrongfully taking credit for the actions of the Navy SEALs who actually killed bin Laden.

The G.O.Tea Party has long gone off the tracks of logic and common sense and this most recent reaction/response is one more example. It might help to point out that President George W. Bush played dress up on the navy aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, posing as the fighter pilot that he was supposed that he was supposed to be during the Vietnam War but never was claiming “mission accomplished” in Iraq – after which over 4000 American military personnel were killed and well over a trillion dollars was spent until the nebulous “mission” in Iraq (which ultimately became just getting the hell out of Iraq) was accomplished.

Teapublican stalwarts Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney decided to commemorate the killing of bin Laden by having pizza at a firehouse near Ground Zero. That would be the same Rudy Giuliani who not only politicized the 9/11 tragedy but made a small fortune pretending to be the hero that he never was while simultaneously pretending to be the law enforcement and security expert that he most certainly never was and never will be.

Somehow on the Planet Teapublican, Barack Obama is wrong for taking credit for making bold executive decisions that worked, while Teapublicans can take credit for accomplishments that never existed. No one expects the Disloyal Opposition to be fair, but it would be a welcome change if it would shed the cloak of hypocrisy and try to make some sense.

Headaches in the NBA

Almost two weeks ago Metta World Peace (the basketball mayhem artist formerly known as Ron Artest) of the Los Angeles Lakers blindsided James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the head with an elbow that could have killed him. For readers who think that this is an exaggeration, please keep in mind that Mr. World Peace is 6’6” tall and weighs 250 pounds and is reputed to be one of the strongest men in the NBA.

Fortunately for Mr. Harden his is still alive. Whether he is well is another story as he did suffer a concussion and the recent suicide of football star Junior Seau is a reminder that head injuries can have horrific results years after the actual injury.

In any penitentiary worth its name Metta World Peace would be receiving a righteous beat down for such a cowardly and punk-like move. However, Metta World Peace is not in prison, he is not in jail; he is not in any kind of custody (for his protection or for the protection of the rest of the planet). NBA Commissioner David Stern responded to this attempted murder/aggravated assault on national television by suspending Metta World Peace for seven games. A seven game suspension for an act that would result in a 5-10 year sentence in any city in these United States sends the worst kind of wrong message.

The NBA has countenanced, encouraged and enabled outrageous and potentially murderous behavior. And somehow the young men and women who watched this sad and dismal deed are supposed to understand that wrongful behavior has consequences.

A seven game suspension doesn’t sound like much in the way of consequences or deterrence. Perhaps we should ask James Harden in about ten years what he thinks of David Stern’s decision.

Mississippi Goddamn!

Some recent statistics came to light which sound a lot like old statistics. Mississippi leads the nation in illiteracy. It also leads the nation in obesity and infant mortality. And, for good measure, it also leads the nation in Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.

It is a very sad commentary on the quality of life in one of the United States. We should also keep in mind that Mississippi is a Teapublican stronghold that has elected one Republican governor after another for over two decades. And there is little or no indication that Mississippi will change its ways anytime soon.

When you wonder what that country might look like after a few decades of unadulterated Teapublican-approved policies, take a look at Mississippi.

As Nina Simone once sang, “Mississippi Goddamn!”

Have a great weekend!