Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving approaches and there are always reasons to give thanks…..and to there are always reasons to pause and consider:

Requiem for a Heavyweight

This past week the bi-partisan House Ethics Committee voted 9-1 to censure Congressman Charles Rangel setting the stage for a sad ending to a confluence of ethical standards and hypocrisy.

While the counsel for the Committee stated for the record that none of the actions of Congressman Rangel were “corrupt” or “self-aggrandizing”, the Committee voted to subject him the same punishment meted out to Congressman who were convicted of payroll fraud, sexual misconduct and the acceptance of bribes. One wonders if the other 434 members of Congress could withstand the scrutiny focused upon Congressman Rangel and whether censure would be the appropriate punishment in the final accounting.

Congressman Rangel asked for a delay in his hearing as he could no longer afford counsel. It turns out that the law firm that had been paid $2 million would not continue to represent him unless it could be assured that he could pay another $1 million.

Even if one can assume that this law firm actually rendered $ 2 million worth of legal service and counsel, how this firm could be so intransigent in its billing policy that it could not work out a fee payment arrangement with a client that had already paid millions of dollars is distressing and a depressing commentary on the practice of law.

Finally, newspaper columnists, bloggers and talking heads have been crowing and bellowing over the presumed demise of Congressman Rangel’s political career. An ounce of humanity or a drop of compassion is clearly in short supply these days. But it is worth pointing out that there are thousands of men and women who have been able to go to school, pursue careers, obtain decent housing and take care of their families because of the efforts of Congressman Rangel. His acknowledged imperfections cannot tarnish his accomplishments.

Those who sit in judgment of Charles Rangel, whether they are in Congress or in the media or in the street should look in the mirror to see if they measure up to the standards of accomplishment of the man that they now choose to pillory.

“Scottsboro Boys” – cont’d

The more that I learn about this travesty of a minstrel musical (it turns out that Rosa Parks makes a cameo appearance – the flesh crawls at this arrogant absence of good taste), I am baffled that there is so little protest.

It is not only black Americans that should be outraged. People of goodwill and good judgment should know that offensive material that poses as art should be subject to criticism at the very least.

I hasten to add that this is not a First Amendment issue. The producers and directors of this buck and wing spectacle posing as an historical perspective have every right to come up with whatever drivel that they choose. I am simply surprised at how anesthetized and desensitized too many of us have become.

Perhaps the outrages of the Tea Party and Glenn Beck, et. al. have permanently lowered our standards when it comes to good taste. If that is the case, then shame on us all.

Driving Miss Ginni Crazy

In a recent Point of View “Weekend Edition” I wrote about Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and her right wing of the right wing conservative organization. I then wrote about Mrs. Thomas and her bizarre post-dawn phone call to Anita Hill soliciting an apology to her husband.

Now it has been announced that Virginia Thomas is suspending the activities of her conservative cheerleading outfit because of “too much controversy”. Perhaps after the elections of November 2nd she feels like her mission has been accomplished. We can only hope that we have heard the last of her.

But I doubt it.

Have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – September 17, 2010

Fall has arrived. Once the NFL season begins in earnest there is no meteorological dispute. Summer may officially depart next week, but autumn has definitely arrived. And, now that all of the midterm primaries are concluded, the silly but deadly serious season has also arrived:

Enough is Enough!!!
In the most recent edition of Forbes magazine, an article, “How Obama Thinks” written by Dinesh D’Souza needs to be read at http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0927/politics-socialism-capitalism-private-enterprises-obama-business-problem.html?boxes=Homepagetoprated – I commend this piece of journalistic offal posing as an erudite analysis of President Obama because it calls our attention to the very deep and deadly dangers coursing through the veins of the body politic these days. Please read this one quote from this damned and damnable architect of hate and confusion:

“Our president is trapped in his father’s time machine. Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son.”

To make matters worse Newt Gingrich, that well-known paragon of justice, fairness and intelligent insight, picked up D’Souza’s filthy baton and ran another few media laps with it. Gingrich proclaimed that the bizarre and illogical analysis articulated by D’Souza clearly demonstrates the dangerous path that President Obama has chosen for these United States.

I think that it’s about time to understand and to clearly state that the critiques and criticisms being directed against Barack Obama have little or nothing to do with policy differences and are most certainly rooted in the ancient muck of racism and bigotry. The fact that Forbes magazine would print such a scurrilous and intellectually useless article about the President of the United States can only be explained by the deep seated racial and ethnic prejudices that still infect this country.

If we continue to wait for “reasonable” conservatives and mainstream pundits to finally say enough is enough, we will be waiting for a very long time. And it is not enough to shrug off pseudo intellectuals like D’Souza and wannabe leaders like Gingrich, assuming that most of the American public will not take this foolishness seriously.

Consider that more Americans think that Barack Obama is a Muslim today than when he was elected President. More Americans today think that Barack Obama was born outside of the United States (and therefore is not legitimately the President) than before he was elected to the office.

While the Obama presidency is submitted to a death of a thousand rhetorical cuts, too many of his supporters have remained mute. It is clearly time to push the “unmute” button before the waves of disinformation, distraction and pure hate that are spewing over the national landscape become insurmountable.

You can comment on http://www.Forbes.com, you can ask your elected officials to speak on your behalf. This is the media era, you can send in your own op-ed articles or comment on Point of View. The point is – DO SOMETHING! Enough is enough!

Remember 9/15
Just as it will always be important to remember 9/11, we should never forget September 15, 1963. It was on that day, a Sunday, in the morning in Birmingham, Alabama that bloody and vicious aspects of racism surfaced again in this country. This time through the bombing of a church that resulted in the deaths of four black girls.

This awful and unspeakable act was damnable in the absolute. What was worse is that the bombing was intended to kill the young people in the choir who were about to prepare for the church services.

And what was the offending act that motivated this bestial outrage? It was the sustained and extended protests by the black community in Birmingham against racial discrimination in the city and state and country in which they lived.
Ultimately the disgust and dismay engendered by the Birmingham church bombing added to the rising tide of sentiment and common sense that resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing most types of racial segregation and discrimination throughout Alabama and the rest of the United States.

So in a very real way the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a memorial to the four black girls who were killed on September 15, 1963 along with the hundreds and thousands of other black and white people who died and suffered in furtherance of the greatest social change in this country in the twentieth century.

And it is this same Civil Rights Act that Tea Party activists, conservative Republicans and so-called strict constitutional constructionists would eviscerate or eliminate if given the opportunity to do so. Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for senator in Kentucky is on record as saying that he would not have voted for this bill if he was a senator in 1964. United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has publicly cast doubts on the constitutional viability of this historic legislation and has gone further to say that he would have voted against the majority in the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision that ruled that racially segregated schools were unconstitutional.

As November 2nd and election day approaches, it is important to note that those who would dismiss the meaning and import of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – which now addresses issues of discrimination in addition to racism, such as gender discrimination and rights for the disabled – are dismissing a major moment in the history of this country.

That Act was the result of sacrifice and dedication and determination to change this country. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a memorial to many sacrifices and those who dismiss it dishonor those sacrifices and the men and women…………and children who died in making it a reality.

Whatever Happened To……Fairness?
Advocates of messages of every sort are regularly counseled to “stay on message”. Whatever distracting facts or circumstances might arise, it is important to stick to the basic themes of that message.

I had always believed, however, that news reporting was supposed to present the facts, not a message. Clearly that message has not gotten through to Mr. Raymond Hernandez, a reporter for The New York Times.

On September 14th the Democratic primary election in New York had a number of interesting results. The primary that garnered national attention was the one that involved Congressman Charles Rangel.

There have been some supporters of Congressman Rangel who are of the opinion that one source of his travails and adversity has been the press. It is a very subjective perspective indeed, and one not easily proven or supported by facts.

And yet…..I was at the Rangel campaign celebration on the evening of September 14th and I witnessed a large and jubilant crowd at the Uptown Grand supper club in Harlem. At 11:30 p.m. Congressman Rangel gave a rousing speech after his electoral victory had been confirmed.

Mr. Rodriguez reported that this speech was given to a crowd of 75 people.
Having been present I was surprised, as were other attendees, to read in the September 15th edition of the Times that 75 people were in attendance as we collectively recalled a crowd of at least 200 and perhaps closer to 300 were in attendance at precisely 11:30 p.m.

It is hard to believe that a trained and respected reporter like Mr. Rodriguez could be off the mark by a factor of 3 or 4 in estimating the crowd. It is even harder to believe that he and his colleagues at the Times would be complicit in some effort to intentionally diminish the size of the crowd cheering Rangel.

But that subjective perspective regarding the press and Congressman Rangel held by more than a few is a little bit easier to understand.

Have a great weekend!

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