Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 15, 2013

This past week saw the presidential elections in Kenya conclude with Uhuru Kenyatta being declared the winner. The United States commended the Kenyan people on having orderly elections – one can only hope that some people noted the irony. Meanwhile recent news articles have detailed numerous black and Latino advocacy groups allying themselves with soda manufacturers. This is more than ironic, it is shameful. And finally, in some random reading I came across the Emmitt Till Unsolved Crimes Act of 2007. That there is a need for such a law speaks volumes.

The Land of the Blind the One-Eyed Man is King

The Kenyan presidential elections concluded with Uhuru Kenyatta being declared the winner and the new president. Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of the legendary liberator, Jomo Kenyatta, and he was elected by a narrow margin. So narrow that his opponent is challenging the election results in court as you are reading this.

The United States State Department issued a statement commended the Kenyan people on holding free, fair and peaceful elections. And at first glance it would seem a gracious commendation from the bastion of democracy to an emerging democracy in a key African country.

But we cannot escape the irony. The United States is where over 25 state legislatures have proposed legislation specifically limiting the right to vote in order to suppress voting by minorities and the poor. The United States is where the Voting Rights Act of 1964 is under attack and on the Supreme Court chopping block.

And then there is this scenario – a presidential candidate loses the popular vote but is able to contest the election through irregularities in a state where his brother is the governor. The election is decided by a Supreme Court where two of the nine judges were appointed by that candidate’s father. One of the judges refuses to recuse himself when it is discovered that his son is a partner in the firm arguing in favor of the candidate. And the candidate wins by stealing the election.

Did this happen in Kenya? Nope.

Try the United States of America in 2000. George W. Bush was the candidate. Jeb Bush was his brother governor. George H.W. Bush was the father president who appointed the judges. Antonin Scalia was the Supreme Court justice who refused to recuse himself.

It would seem that the good old USA needs to do some serious housecleaning before pronouncing judgment on other democracies, emerging or otherwise.

Sugar Shame

News reports last week detailed a (perhaps not) so strange relationship between numerous black and Latino advocacy groups and the soda industry. That would be the same soda industry that is vigorously fighting any attempt to limit their ability to persuade Americans to guzzle more and more cheap empty calories in the name of refreshment and…………get this…………..freedom.

Unfortunately it is common knowledge that diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease are plagues in the black and Latino communities. Guzzling huge amounts of soda and eating gargantuan portions of fatty, salty fast food only exacerbate this crisis.
So why would black and Latino advocacy groups partner with the purveyors of slow death in their communities. As the saying goes, “follow the dollar”.
And that is a sugar shame.

The American Nightmare

There is something called the Emmitt Till Unsolved Crimes Act of 2007 that was passed with bipartisan support by the Congress and signed into law by George W. Bush. The purpose of the law was to reopen investigations into 112 unsolved murders in the South that were almost certainly perpetrated by white supremacist terrorists. Imagine such a bill being passed today!

The fact that such a law was necessary is truly a sad commentary on the history of the civil rights movement in this country. The fact that six years later 90 of those 112 cases are still unsolved is shameful.

But in this age of right wing partisanship, Teapublican assaults on government and the faux “post-racial” wonder dust that is being sprinkled around, it is unlikely that the resources necessary to bring about justice will be allocated anytime soon.

Justice delayed is justice denied.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 3, 2011

The G.O.Tea Party seems to be running a contest for “America’s Dumbest” in searching for a candidate to run against Barack Obama. Now Mike Huckabee has stumbled into the lead by falsely claiming that President Obama was raised by his Kenyan father in……..Kenya! We should not, however, take our eyes off Africa as the winds of change seem to be on the verge of heading south from Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. We should, however, avert our eyes from the Charlie Sheen debacle.

America’s Dumbest!

In a radio interview earlier this week, Mike Huckabee claimed that President Obama had a different view of the world because “he was raised in Kenya by his Kenyan father and grandfather”.

He went on to claim that this was where he obtained his anti-imperialist views (presumably a bad thing on the Planet Huckabee) and also where he learned to sympathize with the Mau Maus.

Perhaps Governor Huckabee was mangling the Gospel according to Dinesh D ‘Souza who has also opined that President Obama was channeling the philosophy of his anti-colonialist father.

The facts are that Barack Obama never lived in Kenya, that he was born in Hawaii that he spent a few years of his early childhood in Indonesia and “grew up” in the United States. Clearly Mike Huckabee won’t let facts get in the way of a good lie.

Of course this is all part of a damnable effort to demonize and delegitimize Barack Obama. It is important to people like Mike Huckabee to turn President Obama into the “other” so that useful debates regarding ability, quality of thought and vision never enter take place.

It would appear that people like Huckabee and other neo-birthers feel that they will come up short if the political discourse addresses ability, quality of thought and vision instead of fairy tales.

Eyes on Africa

Mohammed “Mo” Ibrahim is a name that we should all know. Mo Ibrahim is a billionaire who made his fortune bringing cell phone systems to Africa.

He has now established a multimillion dollar “Ibrahim Prize” to reward African leaders who actually lead and engage in good governance. In an excellent article in the New Yorker magazine – http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/03/07/110307fa_fact_auletta – Ken Auletta profiles Mr. Ibrahim and his dream of a progressive Africa led by progressive leaders.

This may not be just a dream. Remember that in last week’s “Weekend Edition” I mentioned some of dynasties and oligarchies that were standing in the way of progress in Africa – Teodoro Obiang – Equatorial Guinea – 32 years, Robert Mugabe – Zimbabwe – 24 years, Yoweri Museveni – 25 years, the Bongo family – Gabon – 43 years.

As of this writing these African oligarchies persist. But events move rapidly as Hosni Mubarak can attest. Keep an eye on Mo Ibrahim and his movement.

Sick Transit Charlie Sheen

During the past week we have been inundated with Charlie Sheen screeds, rants and ravings. Clearly there is no news or entertainment value in viewing to what is an increasingly sad meltdown.

It is also sad that there is a voyeuristic aspect to the news and entertainment industries that makes people want to watch self destruction in real time.

Richie Havens once wrote, “Hey, c’mon, you’ve got something better to do.”

Have a great weekend!

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