Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – July 26, 2013

With his recent remarks disparaging Latino immigrants Congressman Steve King has once again proven that Teapublicans never run out of racist sewage. Meanwhile Attorney General Eric Holder has taken on the state of Texas and its vicious voter suppression plan. And finally, Jay-Z is a wealthy superstar, adored by millions of fans around the world, but he is no match for Harry Belafonte.

This King is a Pauper

In explaining why he opposes just about everything related to immigration reform except self-deportation and higher walls, Congressman Steve King slimed the millions of men, women and children who have come to this country in recent years as he neatly sanctifies his own immigrant forebears.

Serving a bizarre stew of fiction, fantasy and racism, Congressman King claims that most immigrants coming from Mexico are drug mules. He even went so far as to say that many of these immigrants “have calves as big as cantaloupes” from carrying so much drug weight.

Unfortunately, his employment of racist myth to support his lily white America fantasy is nothing new. And when questioned, King was unapologetic and repeated his slimy statements.

And sadly for this country, Representative Steve King is also representative of the new leadership in the Teapublican Party.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Immediately upon the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 states, counties and local governments rushed to implement some of the most restrictive voter suppression measures since the high cotton days of Jim Crow. That the paperwork was already completed before the Shelby v. Holder decision was even announced shows how eager some white people are to suppress the vote of anyone who is not white.

Now Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Department of Justice will take the state of Texas to federal court to challenge the transparently racial and racist redistricting measures that will ensure white rule even as the demographics of the state turn darker every day. For this Attorney General Holder should be congratulated since thanks to the SCOTUS VRA travesty the Department of Justice will have to fight for voter rights trench by trench, case by case – hand to hand combat in every courtroom in every jurisdiction where voter suppression raises its ugly head.

And this is a good time to ask what do you think an Attorney General appointed by President Mitt Romney would be doing? Playing golf or just working on his tan?

Harry Belafonte v. Jay-Z

During the past few weeks there has been a media match going on as a result of lyrics in a song recently released by Jay-Z. Leaving out the profanity and the self-hating racist references, it appears that Jay-Z is criticizing Harry Belafonte for criticizing him for not demonstrating enough social responsibility.

Referring to the iconic Harry Belafonte as “boy”, Jay-Z basically deflects Mr. Belafonte’s criticism by alluding to his own charitable contributions. And we can give Mr. Sean Carter the benefit of the doubt that he and his wife, Beyonce, give significant sums of money to charity.

But Mr. Carter misses the point of Mr. Belafonte’s criticism. Social responsibility is more than giving away turkeys or dollars to the needy. Al Capone used to do that and drug dealers and gang leaders still do it.

Because of his success and popularity Jay-Z has the potential to follow in the footsteps of Paul Robeson and yes….Harry Belafonte. But to do that he would have to contribute to the enrichment of the lives and environment of his fans and supporters and that would mean reversing the decades that he has spent writing and singing lyrics glorifying and romanticizing violence while demeaning and degrading women all the while turning an incredibly racist epithet into some kind of bizarro term of endearment.

That might be a lot for Mr. Carter to do – but wouldn’t it be great to see him try.

Have a great weekend and stay strong!

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – February 8, 2013

If you are anywhere in the Northeastern part of the United States you can see snow just by looking out your window. The blizzardpocalypse that suddenly showed up is one more opportunity for the climate change deniers to visit that famous river in Egypt – DeNile. Meanwhile, as you went through your weekly routine the Royal Bank of Scotland paid $610 million in fines to American and British authorities as a penalty for rigging LIBOR. Can you say slap on the wrist? And finally, the Super Bowl seeming had something for everyone including a blackout and an exciting game – but did Beyoncé really need to be the pole dancer du jour?

The Egyptian River

The weather is in the news more and more. Supersized hurricanes are preceded by apocalyptic firestorms – and the tsunami in the South Pacific this past week barely got a mention in the papers. Now a mega-blizzard, not seen in over a century, is lashing the United States from Maine to New York.

The incredible extremes of weather events are impossible to ignore. And there are boatloads of reputable scientists who connect the dots of these weather events to climate change caused by global warming.

Nevertheless, the climate change deniers, many of whom also believe that Adam and Eve walked with the dinosaurs when God created the Earth 6000 years ago somehow have a voice in this very serious discussion about how to save the planet. Of course it is very difficult to keep a ship from sinking when some of the passengers and crew don’t believe that the ship is even sinking in the first place.

Meanwhile, let it snow, let it snow!

Highland Heist

While you were basking in the afterglow of the Super Bowl and were still trying to decide which commercial you liked best, it was quietly announced that the Royal Bank of Scotland is paying $610 million in fines to American and British authorities for rigging LIBOR over a period of years. By any standard $610 million seems like a pretty hefty penalty. But….

…..the London Interbank Offered Rate or LIBOR is the rate by which almost every financing on the planet is established. That would include your home mortgage, your credit card interest rate and the financing charges on your cellphone bill. Just imagine how much undeserved and illegal profit a major financial institution could amass if it was part of the rigging of LIBOR. That would be the Royal Bank of Scotland, among other banking firms.
When you think about it $610 million is a mere slap on the wrist, the cost of doing business. I have to believe that RBS made a whole lot more than $610 by rigging LIBOR over the years. But slaps on the wrist are what pass for enforcement on the planet of the rich. Jail terms are clearly for those who actually use ski masks.

By the way, RBS announced that all of its employees who were involved in this scandal have been fired or reprimanded. Not a word about returning any money.

What could I be thinking?

Super Bowl Shuffle

The latest Super Bowl was a lot of fun. Great game, entertaining commercials and a cavalcade of African American women that was stunning and impressive. Jennifer Hudson was memorable, Alicia Keys was elegant and Beyoncé…..well, I am wondering if I am the only person who thought that her pole dance/lap dance.

I am wondering what kind of image she sought to convey to the millions of African American girls who literally idolize her. In a costume and dance routine that literally left nothing to the imagination I have to believe that somehow, someway Beyoncé could have done something different and better when presented an opportunity to convey a message of dignity.

Have a great weekend!