Monday, November 24, 2014

People of Color, Women Can’t Afford to Be Average


I have previously written several articles about how most Americans are pretty clueless. The results of the last elections showed that. A lot of Americans stayed home, and people from states that depend heavily on government programs, such as food stamps, welfare and social security, elected Republicans -- the very people who have said they plan to slash these programs.

MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, caught flak for referring to American voters as stupid, but he is right. Bill Maher, who is known for his biting comedy, recently ran a video montage showing all the times he had also expressed that Americans are stupid.  If you need any further evidence of this, a recent YouTube video showed some Texas Tech students who were unable to answer basic questions, such as which side won the Civil War or who was the vice president. Of course, they all knew what show Snookie was on.

As much as we can laugh at these videos, there is something serious going on here. I don’t think people of color and women can afford to be that stupid. They need to be at the top of their game academically. White men will do fine, no matter how dumb they are. If they wear the right clothes, join the right country clubs and stick it out long enough, they will eventually get shunted up the ladder in Corporate America. George W. Bush is a great example. Bush never showed any great academic talent, but still graduated from two Ivy league schools. And after several failed businesses, he finally struck gold with the Texas Rangers, managed to get elected governor of Texas and used his family connections to win the presidency. The good-old boy network is alive and kicking.

I have worked alongside a lot of white men in Corporate America, and while they dominate the field, they are not always the best workers. I’ve seen white men who sexually harassed co workers, refused to show up to work on their first day and showed downright incompetence, yet they weren’t fired. The other white men in Corporate America will generally cut them some slack or overlook their flaws, until it reaches a breaking a point.

Other groups don’t have that opportunity. People of color and women are expected to be darn near perfect in Corporate America. Screw up a few times and you will be out the door. Chris Rock talked about this in an interview for the HBO documentary film “The Black List.” He said he lived on the same street as Jay-Z, and a white guy was his neighbor. The white neighbor was just an ordinary dentist. Rock pointed out he and Jay-Z were at the top of their games in their respective fields, but their neighbor was just an average dentist.

When quizzed about their lack of diversity, CEOs often say they can’t find qualified graduates of color. I find this hard to believe considering all the colleges that are churning out graduates. It is also a false argument because a lot of the white graduates they hire are not the cream of the crop, but they still employ them anyway.

So while white men can still flourish, in spite of being average academically, people of color cannot afford to follow in their footsteps. They need to excel in class. President Barack Obama is a great example. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and yet people still accuse him of being incompetent.

Black people have to be not only book smart, but street smart. A young black man not only has to know how to succeed academically, but also how to avoid the long of the arm law. They have to learn how to navigate the tortuous American criminal justice system and avoid “riding dirty.” Black men are also taught to be very careful in dealings with America’s trigger happy police force, who have a habit of killing them. Black men who decide to rely on street smarts alone often realize they need book learning, especially when they are faced with complex, sports/entertainment contracts. Ignoring the business side of show business is how many entertainers and athletes go broke.

Women are often held up to a higher standard than white men too. Sarah Palin was a good example of a woman who benefitted from white privilege, but also suffered the backlash of sexism. She was unqualified to be vice president, but no one ever asked how someone as dim as her ever got to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? There is no way a person of color, with her kind of baggage, would ever get that chance. And while Palin was pilloried for her lack of intelligence, the press went easier on Dan Quayle and George W. Bush, who were not intellectual titans. Being white men, they were given a bye, after all they looked the part. They had greying hair, played golf and looked good in a business suit. They fit in at the country club. There are plenty of people in Congress who are plain stupid, such as Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert, but they still seem to get elected.

White men might bleat about their supposed loss of status, but they still have a firm grip on the reins of power. (They’re just mad that they don’t have 100 percent of the pie anymore.)  No matter what pseudo-news outlets such as Breitbart.com and FOX News say, the black and brown people and women are not taking over -- at least not yet. According to Diversity, Inc., 1.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are black and only nine black men have ever been elected to the U.S. Senate. White men, even the mediocre, ones are doing just fine.

Clavell Jackson is the CEO of URoast, a company that produces personalized online roasts. For more information email clavell.jackson@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/uroast


Friday, November 7, 2014

Teabaggers Hate the Government, But Love Government Programs


I am still recovering from the midterm election results, but I hope two years of a Republican-run Congress will convince voters to get off their asses and put a Democrat in the White House. I often find it hard to take Republicans seriously, because so many of their arguments fall apart under close scrutiny. Republicans are an odd bunch, some of their ideas show many of them have no idea how government works. During the rise of the tea party, there was an infamous quote from a woman at a rally, who said, “Take your government hands off my Medicare!” Who does she think provides Medicare? I never got the mentality behind teabaggers and even their love for President Ronald Reagan. Reagan once said the most frightening words in the English language were, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” He had a general disdain for government, which was odd because he sought the highest government position in the land.


Today’s tea baggers are even more conservative than Reagan, and have absolute contempt for the government. They loath government employees and think the government can’t get anything right, even though thousands of Americans depend on services, such as Social Security and Medicare. Maybe teabaggers’ contempt for the government is the reason why they are quick to push for a government shutdown.


This hatred for the government is actually pretty dishonest. Many teabaggers have benefitted from government programs, they just don’t seem to realize it. My definition of a teabagger is someone who hates all government programs, except for the ones he uses. In 2012, the New York Times ran an in-depth article about Chisago County, Minnesota which had turned into a Republican stronghold. One of the people featured in the article, Gordy Peterson, was a self-described conservative, who railed against government spending. He also later admitted he had been on disability for three decades! The article stated, “Support for Republican candidates, who generally promise to cut government spending, has increased since 1980 in states where the federal government spends more than it collects. The greater the dependence, the greater the support for Republican candidates. Conversely, states that pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits tend to support Democratic candidates. “


I was researching Erik Prince, founder of the notorious mercenary company Blackwater. Prince, who has deep ties to the Republican party, describes himself as a libertarian and thinks the government does things inefficiently. The growth of Blackwater was brought about because the George W. Bush administration decided it wanted the military to focus on fighting wars and many of its services could be outsourced. As a result Blackwater has received more than $1 billion in government contracts. Blackwater soldiers were tasked with protecting American diplomats and even took on some CIA duties. Blackwater is a great example of what Republicans mean when they talk about privatization. What they actually mean is they want to turn over government services to a private company, owned by one of their cronies. And the taxpayer still gets stuck with the bill, but usually gets worse service. 

If your company has received more than $1 billion in taxpayer money, then essentially it’s a government company. You don’t get to turn around and bash the government about being inefficient, when your sucking on the government teat. If you hate the government so much, how about you stop taking its money?  

Another example of this hypocrisy is seen in rising GOP star Joni Ernst, who was recently elected to the Senate. Ernst, who has been compared to Sarah Palin (Is that a good thing?), has bragged about her expertise in castrating hogs as an example of how she would cut pork when she got to DC. She also said she keeps her nine millimeter handy to protect against a potentially tyrannical government.

She conveniently fails to mention that she has spent a lifetime working for the government she supposedly loathes. She is career National Guard and has health care and a nice retirement package paid for by the government. The Des Moines Register writes, “Joni Ernst hates the money government spends, but she sure enjoys the revenue her family receives from the government and will continue to receive from it. She was a county auditor, state senator and National Guard officer. She will receive a military pension at age 60. She is eligible to take advantage of Social Security laws due to the fact that her husband is 61 and will be exempt from her proposed privatization scheme.”

I would take Ernst more seriously if she didn’t benefit from the very government programs she rails against. Tea partiers seem to live by the motto, “I hate the government, but give me my government program.”

Clavell Jackson is the CEO of URoast, a company that produces personalized online roasts. For more information email clavell.jackson@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/uroast


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dumb American Voters Put GOP Back in Power


Midterm election reveals dysfunctional political system 

So, this is the day after Republicans have taken control of the House and the Senate. Their success just proves to me something I have been saying for years, Americans are dumb. And it’s not just me who says it, talk show host Bill Maher says it and so does author and journalist Chris Hedges, who articulated this in his depressing book, “Empire of Illusion.” In the book, he suggests that most Americans are so ill informed and poorly educated, they can’t tell the difference between reality and fiction. And this might explain why the Republicans won on Tuesday night. 

The Republicans convinced Americans to vote against President Barack Obama, even though Osama Bin Laden is dead, the stock market is up, unemployment is down, gas prices are falling and more Americans have health care because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA.)

And this is where cognitive dissonance comes in. Take the Affordable Care Act, which is nicknamed Obamacare, for example. In street interviews on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, some Americans said they didn’t like Obamacare, but they were in favor of the ACA, not realizing it was the same, damn thing. A New York Times article said Democrats did badly in states which benefited from expanded health care coverage caused by Obamacare. So Obamacare got more Americans health care coverage, yet they were still mad at Obama and the Democrats. Republicans managed to convince some Democrats that Obama was so toxic, candidates like Alison Lundergran Grimes actually avoided campaigning with him. In an interview, she refused to admit she voted for the president. 

The fact that Americans are this ill informed is helped along by right-wing propaganda outlets like FOX News, which actually works as in reverse as a journalism organization. Journalism is supposed to inform people, but FOX News and other right-wing media, actually makes people less educated. They spout outright lies and the gullible American public laps it up. A university study showed most FOX News viewers believed that Saddam Hussein was behind 911, and so did former presidential candidate Sarah Palin. 

This lack of awareness must be the reason why Americans voted to put the GOP back in power. This is a party that doesn’t believe in evolution, climate change, or even a minimum wage. Steve Adams, a California tea bagger who lost to incumbent Mark Takano in a House race, said he wanted to invade Mexico to free a U.S. Marine who was jailed for illegally crossing the border, while possessing firearms. Fortunately, California voters were smart enough not to send Adams to Washington. But, around the nation, voters reelected awful GOP governors like Floridian Rick Scott, who wasted millions on drug testing welfare recipients while using a company his wife owned, Sam Brownback, whose tea party policies tanked the Kansas economy, and Scott Walker, who waged war on public employees in Wisconsin. 

Some of the candidates elected to congress were even worse. Iowa voters elected Joni Ernst, who has accused Obama of being a dictator and says she is armed in case the government rises up against her. When columnist Charlie Pierce confronted her with the fact only one person died of Ebola in the United States, she said that was “his opinion.” Georgia voters elected Jody Hice, a minister and talk show host (that should be your first warning.) Hice compares abortion to nazism, doesn’t think Muslims should be protected under the First Amendment and thinks gay people prey on children. Colorado voters elected Gordon Klingenschmitt to the state senate. Klingenschmmitt believes gays and Obama are possessed by demons. And these people are going to be setting policy. 

The Republicans won for several reasons. Americans are still upset at Washington over the sluggish economy. I think voters fail to remember how bad the economy was under George W. Bush. The problem with the American political system is it only offers two choices, if you are mad at one party, you vote for the other one, even if they are not going to make things any better. 

The GOP doesn’t have the answer to stagnant wages, rising college costs, healthcare and other problems plaguing working-class Americans. And they know this, that is why they run on wedge issues like gay marriage, prayer in school and abortion, which get voters riled up but have absolutely nothing to do with the economy. Republican policies, such as tax cuts for the rich and deregulation, do nothing for working class people, so the only way they can convince the average American to vote against their interest is by engaging in political bait and switch. This election they focused on anger towards President Obama, and scare tactics such as ebola and ISIS. And although Americans love social programs, such as Medicare and Social Security, they just voted for a party who wants to slash or privatize them.

Republicans also relied on voter suppression tactics and voter ID laws that worked to turn old, poor, black and brown voters away from the polls. In Georgia about 40,000 new registrations from mainly black counties vanished and the Secretary of State’s website crashed on Election Day. In addition, only about 40 percent of voters showed up and many Latino voters also sat out the election. Republicans were also helped by campaign laws which allow billionaires like the Koch brothers to pour million in TV ads. Democrats had to resort to cyberbegging through endless emails pleading for micro payments.

Many Americans simply do not understand how their political system works. Democrats tend to come out in droves for presidential elections, but fail to show up for the midterms. They fail to realize other elected officials, school board members, city council members, state officials, and federal representatives and senators, also play an important part in writing laws that actually affect their lives. The president doesn’t make laws. He can only sign laws presented to him by Congress and those laws depend on if he has liberal or conservative legislators to work with. And the Republicans in Congress have determined to block any legislation Democrats suggested. 

So, if you think reelecting the party who believes tax cuts are a silver bullet to all of the country’s problems is going to improve your life, you are in for a rude awakening. Two terms of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush proved that trickle-down economics don’t work. If they did, we wouldn’t be in the position we are in now. Giving back power to the party of supply side economics is doomed to fail.

Clavell Jackson is the CEO of URoast, a company that produces personalized online roasts. For more information email clavell.jackson@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/uroast

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Some Black Obama Critics Are Motivated By Personal Agendas


If you hadn’t noticed, there have been a lot of attacks on President Barack Obama coming from so-called black intellectuals. Self-proclaimed black leaders, such as Dr. Cornel West and media personality Tavis Smiley have always had a bone to pick with Obama, ever since he got elected. They even went as far as organizing a multi-city bus tour to highlight poverty, which was highly ironic. I am sure the money spent on the bus tour would have probably been better spent on actually helping poor people. But it gave the pair some media publicity and allowed them to peddle their products.

Both West and Smiley’s animosity towards Obama is highly suspect. Smiley is still smarting from a perceived snub. He is upset that when invited he Obama to his annual State of Black America conference in 2008, Obama offered to send his wife instead. Apparently, Smiley was miffed Obama refused to kiss his ring and honor his position as King of the Negroes. West is upset at Obama because he failed to receive enough tickets to the inauguration. Unfortunately, both of these characters have their own petty agendas.

The latest black intellectual to hop on board the hate Obama train is Dr. Boyce Watkins, a finance professor, author and media personality. He has recently been pushing several social media posts, memes and articles stating that Black Americans are worse off under Obama. He recently made a Facebook post where he said black people had been conned into voting for Obama, who was “six years of George W. Bush in blackface.”

Watkins says black wealth has not increased under Obama. However, the United States has been undergoing seismic economic changes in the last 40 years. Manufacturing jobs, which a lot of blacks relied on, have been going overseas. Also much of the black wealth was tied up in real estate and was largely wiped out by the 2008 crash. The problems that led to the real estate bubble can be pinned on both parties, not Obama alone.

Yes, the middle class and Black America is still suffering, but that is largely due to the policies of past governments. I remember talking to a white liberal friend of mine in 2008, who said it might take more than two terms to recover from the damage done by the George W. Bush administration. According to the Washington Post, the George W. Bush administration pushed the deficit over $5 trillion. This was mainly caused by starting two wars and cutting taxes. Paul Krugman, a Nobel prize-winning economist, said no country in the history of mankind has gone to war and actually reduced taxes. Krugman also recently penned a Rolling Stone article praising the successes of the Obama administration.

Watkins has handily posted several anti-Obama articles that link back to websites he owns. (One of these sites pays a whopping $4 per post.) Smiley recently said there was no reason for blacks and Latinos to vote at all. You have to wonder why all of this anti-Obama propaganda is coming out just before an election. There are many polls and stories in the media designed to cultivate despondency among Democrats. This is sophisticated propaganda produced to encourage Democratic voters to give up. Republicans want Democratic voters to stay home on election day and believe there is no point in voting, because they are going to lose anyway.

And they are not beyond funneling money to liberal groups to encourage them to snipe at Democrats. According to the Village Voice, Al Sharpton’s 2004 presidential campaign was funded by Republicans, who wanted to siphon away votes from the eventual nominee, John Kerry.

I am very disappointed Watkins has become a firebagger, a liberal who is so anti Obama he sounds like a teabagger. I have my issues with Obama too -- I don’t think he is liberal enough -- but I do realize he has to work within the constraints of an almost dysfunctional political system. He also has to work with the Congress and Republicans, who seemed to determined to block any legislation he suggests. Obama is also hamstrung by his race. He has passed some legislation that has benefited Africans Americans, such as Obamacare, reduced drug sentencing, extending unemployment, the black farmers' settlement, ect., but that is not enough for some black people. They don’t seem to realize Obama is president of the United States, not Black America. Also, if he made any attempt to exclusively aid Black Americans, he would be hammered by the Republicans and right-wing media.

If liberals want more progressive legislation, universal health care, more social programs, a higher minimum wage, ect., then they need to vote for representatives and senators who support those policies. Unfortunately, it is darn near impossible for true liberals to get elected, especially to higher offices such as the presidency. Elections are expensive, it takes money to pay for campaign workers, political advertising and travel expenses. In order to fund a campaign, politicians have to raise money from wealthy individuals and corporations. So it's unlikely that, when elected, they will pass laws that will hurt those corporations and individuals.

Some liberals might want to get behind candidates such as Ralph Nader and Sen. Bernie Sanders. But Nader has never won an election in his life. Sanders, an independent, has somehow managed to get elected, but he comes from one of the most liberal states in the union, Vermont. Sanders is one of the few politicians who articulates the problems facing the shrinking middle class, declining wages, healthcare, skyrocketing college education, ect., but I don’t think he will ever be elected president. He is a democratic socialist. And while Americans love their socialist programs, such as public schools, libraries and Medicare, they think socialism is akin to devil worship.

Watkins and other black Obama critics, love to pontificate, but they don’t offer solutions. Watkins, West and Smiley have all never served in elected office and I don’t hear them offering realistic answers to America’s political and economic problems. I would take these critics more seriously if they weren't motivated by their own agendas. I’m all for realistic criticism of Obama’s policies, but when you compare him to George W. Bush, one of the worst presidents of the 20th century, that’s just ridiculous.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Birthers, Crackpots Are Destroying the Right Wing


Larry Klayman 

President Barack Obama is coming into the final stretch of his presidency and he will go down as the most disrespected man who ever occupied the White House. Republicans hated Bill Clinton for having the temerity to defeat George H. W. Bush and take a post they considered to be their birthright. But, the level of hatred directed at Obama is astonishing. This is not just dislike, it’s naked enmity. Much of the vitriol directed at the president has long gone beyond reasonable and is just downright ridiculous. Liberal writers have labelled this rage as Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS), where right-wingers are so mad at the idea of an Obama presidency, they lose touch with reality.


The accusations are often ridiculous. Obama has been accused of being the son of Malcolm X; the son of Franklin Marshall Davis, a writer and labor activist; gay; a secret Muslim (whatever that is); a communist and even a CIA spy. The conspiracy theories are so convoluted, they’re difficult to keep track off. But of all the conspiracy theories, the most ridiculous one must be the birther nonsense, which stubbornly refuses to die.


We have seen two birth certificates, newspaper records, the doctor who delivered the baby and even the governor of Hawaii certify the records. But there are still birthers who believe there is a conspiracy to hide the president’s records. This conspiracy is patently ridiculous. For starters, why would Stanley Ann Dunham, a young white woman, travel to a developing African country in the 1960s, and deliver a baby in their rudimentary health care system? Even today in the 21st century, wealthy African women fly to the West to deliver their babies, because they don’t trust local doctors. And if the president was born outside the United States, which he wasn’t, it wouldn’t have mattered because since his mother was an American, that would also make him a citizen. You have to ask why would his parents try to fake his birth certificate, unless they could somehow see into the future and know he would eventually run for president. And if they had faked his birth certificate, don’t you think that in almost 20 years of public service someone would have discovered it by now?


MSNBC anchors have dedicated several programs to the reasons behind the continued popularity of birtherism. In some cases, like with the lunatic right-wing website World Net Daily (WND,) it’s a business decision. Birtherism has become a cottage industry, much like JFK conspiracies, and there is money to be made peddling birther crap, books, stickers, buttons, etc., to other right-wing nuts. WND realizes that birther stories are click bait and drive their hits up. Fake billionaire Donald Trump got into the birtherism scam a few years ago, but he was only doing it to drum up publicity for his reality show, “The Apprentice.” MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell was scathing in his criticism of Trump’s shenanigans.


Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who Rolling Stone billed as the “most racist cop in America,” also got into the act and directed his band of Keystone cops to investigate Obama’s birth records. Arpaio still claims that Obama’s birth certificate is false. Bear in mind, this comes from a corrupt tyrant who is currently under federal indictment. According to Rolling Stone, Arpaio once sicked his henchman on the editor and CEO of the Phoenix News Times, who had written articles that were critical of his shady real estate dealings. He had them arrested and marched out of their homes in the middle of the night. (The charges were eventually thrown out.) One of Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse, who was also pimping a birther book, claimed he had evidence showing Obama’s birth certificate was fraudulent. Cops already have a diminishing reputation and Arpaio and his cronies don’t help when they get on TV and tell bald-faced lies.


If these allegations weren’t bad enough, the latest stunt by crackpot lawyer, Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch, a government watchdog, really takes the cake. Klayman, who sued his own mother, recently filed papers stating Obama falsified his birth records. He also requested the Department of Homeland Security deport its own boss. This claim is staggeringly stupid. Even if Obama was an illegal alien, he is married to an American citizen and has American children, which would make him near impossible to deport.


I guess, you have to laugh at these people, because they are effectively destroying the conservative movement. Some right wingers now know people who push ridiculous lies as the truth only hurt their credibility. The right-wing media may have nurtured these loons, when they were convenient, but they now realize they’re not helping their cause. We liberals don’t have to do anything to destroy the conservative movement, it’s doing a great job of eating itself. All we have is to do is pull up a comfortable chair, grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Can Bernie Sanders Be President?


I recently turned a friend of mine on to Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Independent from Vermont, who is making noises about running for president in 2016. She recently read about Sanders’ platform and was impressed by what he said about the failing two-party system, and the vanishing American middle class.

I have known about Sanders for several years. I have followed him online and seen his frequent appearances on TV. He has been a regular guest on Bill Maher’s “Real Time,” several MSNBC shows and also has a weekly spot on Thom Hartmann’s liberal radio show.

Sanders is probably my favorite politician, because he makes the sanest arguments about the American political and economic system. Sanders, who describes himself as a Democratic socialist, is anti-war, pro environment, pro universal healthcare and has often talked about the skyrocketing cost of college education. I’m amazed at how he even managed to get elected in the first place, but Sanders hails from Vermont, a very liberal state. Vermont is the only state in the union that has a single-payer healthcare system.

With Sanders views about working Americans and defense spending, he should have a huge following, but he is still widely unknown in most parts of the country.  He is rarely invited on network news or the Sunday morning political talk shows. And as much as I like Sanders, I seriously doubt if he could win the presidency. Here are some of the problems a potential Sanders run would face:
  • Lack of support from the Democrats. Sanders is a self-declared Independent, although he regularly caucuses with the Democrats. However, the Dems have moved to the right, and I can’t see the party nominating a leftist candidate like Sanders, to be their presidential nominee. The only way Sanders could run would be as an Independent.
  • Funding. American political campaigns are damn expensive and it takes millions of dollars to get elected. I have talked to local politicians, and even they say a politician is not judged by his electability, but on how much money he can raise. It costs money to pay for political advertising, campaign workers and campaign trips. Unfortunately, since American elections are not publicly funded, politicians have to spend much of their time raising money from billionaires and corporations, who they are later beholden to. And this is the frustrating thing about the American political system. How can we expect politicians to effect change, when they are taking money from the same corporations, who benefit from them not doing anything? Unfortunately, the Democrats take money from the same banks and corporations that Republicans do. This makes it seem as if we don’t have a functioning democracy, but have a corporatocracy, an issue that Sanders has talked about at length. However, if Sanders were able to harness online funding, the way Obama did, he might be able to raise enough money to run an effective campaign.
  • He is a Democratic Socialist. Most Americans are so ill-informed about the political process, that they think anything that smacks of socialism is akin to satanism. Most Americans enjoy public education, college loans, Medicare, the Veterans’ Administration and Social Security, which are all socialist policies. However they balk at the idea of actual socialism. Democratic socialists believe that some parts of the economy, education and healthcare for example, should be controlled by the government. Many European countries, such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland, have successful democratic socialist governments with high standards of living and low poverty rates.
  • The Military Industrial Complex. This reason is more sinister. Some leftists are upset that Obama has not dismantled the Military Industrial Complex (MIC.) However, Obama is a savvy political operator, he couldn’t have got to the highest office in the land without being one. The last president to go up against the MIC was John F. Kennedy and we all know how that turned out. I think Obama is secretly afraid that something nasty could happen to him if he slashed military funding. I can only wonder how much money and dirt the defense industry would throw at a candidate like Sanders, who was anti Vietnam and anti-Iraq war.
  • His age. Sanders is currently 73, and would be 75, if he ran for president. If elected he would be pushing 80, towards the end of his first term.

Sanders would make a great president, but his views are too left-wing for mainstream America. The best we can hope, is he will run and force Hillary, or whoever the Democratic nominee is, to move to the left. Maybe, Sanders will go down as one of the greatest presidents we never had.  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Homophobia Is the West’s Latest Export to Africa



Africa has long been a dumping ground for expired Western goods and ideas. When I lived in Nigeria, we often heard stories of Western countries shipping toxic waste to nations with non-existent or lax environmental laws. Also, expired Western food and medicine would regularly turn up in African markets.  One could argue, Western Europe also exported the idea of Christianity to Africa, which is ironic because much of Europe is now secular. However, Christianity is thriving in Africa, and unfortunately that has made it fertile soil for homophobia.

African homophobia is not just motivated by the church, but it also springs from a very conservative culture. Most African countries still believe in traditional gender roles, and the main reason for getting married is to produce children. Sadly, being gay is simply unacceptable in many African countries, with the exception of South Africa and Namibia. Gays do exist in Africa, but they stay underground.

The unholy alliance of tradition and religiosity has led some African countries to enact legislation opposing homosexuality. One of the more prominent cases is seen in Uganda, a former British colony in East Africa, which is more than 80 percent Christian. While homosexuality has always been frowned upon, in 2013, the Uganda legislature passed what the Western media called the “Kill the Gays” bill. The law originally called for anyone caught practicing homosexuality to be put to death. That was later changed to life in prison.

Apart from legal sanctions against being gay, Ugandan homosexuals also face a hostile social environment. The local police turns a blind eye to attacks on gays, and a few years ago a local magazine called Rolling Stone, published the names and addresses of prominent gays urging for them to “be hanged.” David Kato, a local gay rights activist, was a co-plaintiff in a successful lawsuit against the magazine. However, he was later killed in an attack dubbed “a home invasion.”

It’s bad enough that Uganda has passed these draconian laws. What’s even worse is these laws are promoted by American Evangelicals, such as Scott Lively, an American anti-gay activist. Lively, who believes that homosexuality should be discouraged or banned in America, thinks prayer can make gays straight. Caleb Brundidge, a self-proclaimed ex gay, and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, a Christian organization that believes prayer can deliver homosexuals, and Lively toured Uganda in 2009. The group gave speeches warning how the West wanted to import gay values, which would break up African families and seduce children.

Apart from motivating Ugandan politicians to pass anti-gay laws, these American Evangelicals also encouraged the rantings of Martin Ssempa, a virulently anti-gay preacher, who tours Uganda putting on presentations featuring hard-core gay pornogaphy. He displays slide shows, including pictures of annilingus, and claims this is an example of the type of corruption Western gays plan to bring to Uganda.

Unfortunately, much of Africa has not changed since the end of colonialism. A lot of Africa is still uneducated and naive. Not everyone has access to the Internet or satellite television and It’s easy to sell Africans a false bill of goods. A slick white preacher, armed with glossy brochures and professionally-shot videos, is likely to be lapped up by the African masses, who are still in awe of anything imported from Europe or America.

Lively and his cohorts are exporting a morally bankrupt philosophy. Psychologists have discredited reparative gay therapy, which is banned in California. In addition, so-called ex gays, who claim to have gone straight, have a terrible track record. John Paulk, a former chairman of Exodus International North America, was busted in a gay bar. John Smid, a self-proclaimed ex gay and minister, eventually resigned his position, renounced his past work and says that he is still gay. Several other ex gays have also renounced the ex gay movement and Exodus International eventually disbanded in 2003, after President Alan Chamber had a change of heart on the role of gays in Christianity. In addition, the two men who founded Exodus International, eventually left the movement, fell in love and moved in with each other!

Lively and his band of spiritual hucksters realize they have essentially lost the culture war in America. Gay rights have been largely accepted, even by segments of the Republican party, and gay marriage is eventually going to happen in the United States. Like the tobacco companies, anti-gay preachers realize their product is toxic in the Western world. They are concentrating on growth markets in Africa, with its huge population of callow, young minds, who think a strict interpretation of the Bible is going to turn their underdeveloped countries into heaven on Earth. African teenagers are also a lot less jaded and cynical than Western youths, who are abandoning the church.

Of course this is nothing new. You could argue that the West knew they were selling Africans a line of bull when they first introduced Christianity. Christianity walks hand-in-hand with imperialism, it was an effective tool in subjugating Africans. There is an old African saying that when the white man came, he came with the gun in one hand and the bible in the other. I find it intriguing that in Europe, which exported Christianity to Africa, the church is on its death bed. Most Europeans are secular, I think they have outgrown Christianity a long time ago. While in Africa, crippled by crumbling infrastructure, disease and rampant corruption, people tend to believe they need a supernatural solution to their everyday problems.

Fortunately, Lively’s activities have not been ignored in the West, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has done extensive reporting on the link between American evangelical preachers and the deadly anti-gay sentiment sweeping Uganda. African gay activists have also used Western tools to strike back at Lively. He is currently being sued by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), on behalf of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) for violating their human rights. Hopefully, Lively will be eventually held accountable for his anti-human rights agenda in Uganda. But until then, Ugandan gays have to cower in fear or seek asylum as their countrymen are whipped into a homophobic frenzy by American snake oil salesmen.