Saturday, December 27, 2008

War, Hoo!

Lauren and Jamie left earlier today before the youngest one's next dose of cold/flu medicine. The middle child turns 3 Monday. The oldest one looked at me like I was stupid when I offered to throw, as if it were a ball, some kind of Army rag doll with Lauren's picture as the face. Lauren asked the oldest, "Who's that?" "Mommy! You!"

But in other news, toddlers shouldn't be able to "talk with their eyes" the way this kid can.

Let's not kid around here. The only people this war in Afghanistan has helped are the terrorists and poppy growers and whatever private companies are in charge of "reconstruction."

Can you even think of a war that wasn't waged because one side wanted something the other side had? Or, in our case, wanted to try some ill-conceived experiment of democracy by force. I mean, really. Democracy by force? Was there no English major to tell the neo-conservatives in BushCo that "democracy by force" is a contradiction in terms?

And what about all the chicken-hawks? Those "patriots" who completely support the military but can't join themselves because they have "other things to do." Yeah. I understand now. Nobody wants to miss the birth of their children or a child's birthday. No mother wants to leave while a child is still sick. (Even though, when I was visiting, the medicine was working, and this little person was dancing like someone auditioning for Soul Train! Well, when it comes to energy and effort if not quite yet craft.) No father wants to miss the milestones in his children's lives like the first time they use the potty. (Only the oldest of Lauren and Jamie's children is potty-trained, which means I'll only offer to baby-sit that one.) Though, you do have the ever so brazen who are perfectly happy sending others to fight the battles they want to win - the chickenhawks.

It's no secret. I have no intentions of ever joining the military. And depending on the circumstances, I'm not willing to marry anyone who did; even if he's been discharged.

But I do have a suggestion or two before our next military adventure. I propose that a change be made to the Constitution that all family members of Congresspeople who vote for pre-emptive war who are fit for battle must join the military. The same goes for the family members of the President who carries out the wishes of the Congress.

Unless we are actually hit by a country, we should never enter war. Yeah, I'm willing to risk those initial American lives. Often, we have enough intelligence to be prepared for such strikes and prevent any acts of terror. We had the intelligence before Pearl Harbor and 9/11. We should start using it and hold in distrust those politicians who don't.

See, violence begets violence. War begets war. I don't know what reasonable excuse we have for not invading Saudi Arabia when 17 of the 19 attackers on 9/11 were Saudis; the royal family doesn't practice religious much less political freedom; the version of Islam that tolerates such violence is taught in schools that receive financial support from individual Saudis, members of the royal family, and even sometimes Saudi Arabia as a nation. But I do know that my cousin and her husband are gone; Americans, Afghans, and Iraqis are dying; and, bin Laden has gotten exactly what he wanted.

"They say we're fighting to keep our freedom, but Lord knows there's got to be a better way" (Whitfield and Strong, 1969). - No1KState, 2008

UPDATE: Car bombs in Iraq kill at least 25, wound 64
As Taliban nears Kabul, shadow gov't takes hold

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas? Um . . . Yeah! Merry Christmas, Indeed!

Today is Christmas. No, not the day Christ was born. It's the day we celebrate his birth because once upon a time, the Catholic Church had to do something to compete with the pagan winter solstice celebrations, and thus Christ-Mass.

Not that I'm hating. Not at all. I love the Lord. I celebrate his birth everytime I consider my life with him. Whew! Thank ya, Jesus!

But, this Christmas is a little odd. My cousin Lauren leaves two days afterwards to join her squadron or whatever before heading to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the man that got us in this mess is living it up at Camp David with his family, including a son-in-law and definitely some nephews who are militarily fit. Uhg! The thought sickens me.

And, I have to add that one of my mom's cousins made me promise to call her today. Not to say, "Merry Christmas," but because her daughter, a chiropractor, adjusted my back yesterday and I couldn't give a glowing, "Oh, my! I feel soooo much better!" Not that I didn't feel the difference. More spacing in my spine. Nice. But I already had a couple of tender spots and she pulled my neck further than what I was ready for, so my back hurts a little and my neck is sore. Don't get me wrong. My back was hurting when I left. And pain in my neck comes and goes. What's more is I think everyone should dump their doctor and get their back adjusted. Seriously. Why take pills for the rest of your life when you could get your back adjusted with all the benefits of having your nervous system in order and none of the side effects of recent treatments that include, but are not limited to, death. My mom's cousin, who shall remain nameless, has even stopped taking her blood pressure medicine. Her doctor doesn't know it, though, and I don't feel like coming up with another fake name.

On the one hand, this Christmas should be a nice relaxing day. Movies. NBA basketball. Mozerella cheese sticks. But it's also a day closer to Lauren leaving and me having to face the fact that I will have a close blood relative in a war zone. Before, Afghanistan was something I could shake my head at and wish the troops could hurry home for their families. There've been at least Christmas I wished Jamie could hurry home for Lauren and the kids. But now . . . :sigh:

It's hard to get thrilled about Christmas when it draws me closer to having to say good-bye to my cousin. And maybe for good. I mean. Like I said, we aren't that close. But we did grow up singing in the church choir together. Me, Lauren, and her sister whom I'll call Willona, ran the church choir. For a while, we even formed our own little singing group. We came in second singing acuppella in a talent contest that we heard of last minute and had only a day to prepare for. Not too bad. Come to think of it, Lauren will probably want to sing at her going-away party. For once, I'll sing without too much prodding. Before, I'd practically make her beg. (Sorry. But singing aggravates my chostochondritis.) If she asks, and there's not guarantee she will, but if she does, I'll sing. I mean, be honest. Obama is planning on escalating the war in Afghanistan. My cousin could die.

She better not. If Bush, who started this mess without finishing it, thought Cindy Sheehan was a walking scandal, he has not met my aunts. I've considered doing a documentary of my mother and her sisters (though, it's her brother's daughter who's leaving) on a road trip. But I always decide against it. Even Lauren agrees I don't wanna besmirch the family name.

But, Christmas. I hate Lauren and Jamie have to leave. I hate even more my brother, who already made plans with his in-laws before my uncle decided to throw the post-Christmas get-together, may not be here to say his good-byes. -And I should add hellos. My cousin's leaving her kids here with her parents. I love seeing Lauren's kids. Of all my cousin's children on this side of the family, hers are the best behaved . . . until they've been here long enough for their other cousins to show them how to act a fool and the adults in the family to spoil them. Too bad for them, one of their biggest fools has a new grandbaby to act a fool over. I always told Lauren to have her children down here to take advantage of the idiocy before it ran out.-

But, I'm not without hope. After all, today is the day we celebrate God's coming down to reclaim humanity for himself. He'll get Lauren and Jamie to Afghanistan and back without a scratch to show for it! They're safe in his hands.

And so am I.

And if you've accepted Christ, so are you. If you haven't, look. Make this Christmas real. Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. That's the real reason to get excited about today. That's the only reason to be excited about any day! It's why I'm excited. Sometime more likely in the spring about 2000 some odd years ago, God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believed wouldn't die, but have life forever.

And I'm so glad I get to be with Jesus, now too! not just when I die; I'm so glad God was willing to become a little baby, I hardly know what to do with myself! If you want to accept Christ, but don't quite know how, just get at me. I can explain it to you just like that! Or check out the link under "Serious Answers to Serious Questions about Religion."

So celebrate today by placing your hope and faith in Christ.

Merry Christmas!

This Christmas - The Temptations

Okay, maybe not what you were expecting. Here's something more traditional.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Are You Happy Now?

And quit with the "self-serving" accusation. Everybody wanted transparency. You wanted to know the whos and whats. You got it. Barack Obama and his transition team are innocent.

Are you happy now?

Obama aide had multiple talks with governor, aides
By NEDRA PICKLER – 7 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — An internal review prepared for President-elect Barack Obama says his incoming chief of staff had multiple conversations with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office, but no one close to Obama suspected that the governor might be trying to sell Obama's Senate seat as prosecutors allege.

The report was released Tuesday as an Obama transition official confirmed that Obama and two of his top aides, Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett, have been interviewed in connection with the federal investigation into Blagojevich.

Incoming White House attorney Greg Craig, who conducted the internal review at Obama's request, found that the president-elect had no contact with Blagojevich or any of his staff about the Senate seat he vacated to take over the presidency.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oh, Shut Up!

If you've read a good number of my posts, you know I support gay rights, including same-sex marriage or at least some legal approximation. (There is a credible argument to be made that throughout history, even Greek history when philosophers were sleeping with their male protegees, marriage has always and only applied to the covenant between a man and a woman.)

If you've read a good number of my posts, you know I have little respect for the so-called Christians Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. I have referred to them as "gellies" and "fundies." I think they're wrong to focus so much attention on things they have no right to control, like women's bodies and other people's sexuality, while they dismiss and even aggravate the need for racial and economic justice. They ignore the growing prison industrial complex that is ravaging communities and making use of legalized slavery. They ignore our over reliance on the military. They ignore the growing military industrial complex. They ignore the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and Afghans who have died in our ill-conceived "war on terror." They can make no credible claim to concern for "life." Not while the vote against S-CHIP and other attempts to make healthcare affordable and accessible. Not while they sit complacently as our schools return to a pre-integration state in the disparity of money spent per child and children in integrated schools end up racially segregated.

Don't get me wrong. I've read Purpose Driven Life. But I'm a much bigger fan of Rachel Maddow than I am of Rick Warren.

Having said that, I wish the gay community would stop with their whining and crying over Rick Warren giving the invocation at the inauguration. They claim that his presence is a slap in the face and a signal that the LGBT community won't have a seat at the table during Barack Obama's administration. But the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who supports gay rights, including gay marriage, is giving the benediction. What does that mean? Does Rick Warren's presence make anything Joseph Lowery represents as far as gay rights null and void? And if so, why? Cause I know you wouldn't be acting as if Lowery's presence means nothing just because Warren is white and Lowery is black. (Of course, I'm being facetious.)

And quit crying about your social status! You're not at the back of the bus; and if you are, you're certainly not their alone. When you move into a community, people don't rush to move out! The property doesn't go down, it goes up! So shut up with you're whining.

You make the same mistake the gellies and fundies make: you act like your issue is the only one that exists. It's not, and you're both wrong. You act like racism and sexism and economic justice no longer exist. You're both wrong. You act like that only people who matter are white people. You act like only the concerns of white people should be addressed. Again, you're both wrong.

And what's more, shut up complaining like Obama owes you something! All he owes you is living up to his campaign promises. He's been doing that. What I find most especially disturbing is this sense that a group of people beyond Obama's choosing is going to control what he does. I mean, really. Do you think that you're supposed to order him around or something? That he's your White House negro? Come on! I've seen this show before. A black person reaches some position of influence and power, and the white people below and around him/her act as though they're still going to tell him/her what to do. I'm sorry. Try as I might, I can't separate the way the LGBT community is carrying on from race.

Not that Rick Warren is great on issues of race. From what I can see, he'd vote against affirmative action. And still, you don't see people of color carrying on like the sky is falling.

For goodness sake people, it's just an invocation! Some of you don't even believe in God. What do you care who gives the invocation?

It's just an invocation! He's not righting a bill for Obama to sign. Obama's not "pandering" to the evangelical community. How can he be when he has someone who supports gay rights doing the benediction? Or am I missing something.

Yeah, I don't think I'm missing anything. Now, I know the entire LGBT community includes people of color. So, I'll admit, it's really the white LGBT community I find aggravating. Just like their pout-fest over Donnie McClurkin, someone they probably had never heard of, singing at a gospel concert aimed at the black community reeked of white privilege, this whole outcry against Rick Warren stinks, too.

Now again. Don't get me wrong. I disagree with Warren's position on proposition 8. Personally, I'm wrestling with whether to understand homosexuality as a sin or not. I certainly understand it is beyond the person's control. If a person is sexually attracted to people of the opposite, I don't know if there's much to gain from "choosing" to be gay. Or, at least, I don't think many if any heterosexuals "chose" to be straight; it just so happens that they are. So, I reject the exclusionary language a lot of professed Christians use.

But, I also reject the apparent exclusionary track the gay community is taking in regards to Rick Warren. I mean really. He's apparently removed the most offensive language from his website. That's as far as you're going to get. I doubt you'll succeed at changing his mind in regards to the question of whether or not homosexuality is a sin. So, stop the pouting about Rick Warren and move on to something more substantive like "don't ask, don't tell."

Sorry if this post seems even less lucid than usual. My head is foggy, and I'm just really fed up.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm Flabbergasted!

Why? I can't really say. You'd think with my level of cynicism and skepticism, this wouldn't surprise me, much less leave my flabbergasted. UPDATE: Especially since Blackwater was in New Orleans soon after Katrina.

It's not secret I haven't really done the reading and engaging in politics that I started off doing earlier. I needed a break from just this sort of thing. But the lead article for this video was posted on a social networking site I frequent, and I couldn't ignore it.

The most ironic thing is that I'm currently trying to convince myself that the LGBT uproar with President-elect Obama's choice of having Pastor Rick Warren do the invocation to his inauguration has some legitimacy and has nothing to do with the fact that Obama's black. I'm trying not to see a white hood behind every angry white face. But . . . it's not easy. I mean. I don't agree with Rick Warren on a number of issues, same-sex marriage maybe being one. But they are certainly taking his words out of context, if they understand really what he's saying at all. And even if they're upset with Rick Warren for his opposition to proposition 8, his giving the invocation says absolutely nothing about Obama's views and policy towards the LGBT community. (As promised in the previous post, more about my views on the issue later. I was going to address it today, but the doctor's appointment cause some aggravation of my chronic fatigue. And immune dysfunction syndrome. :P )

Here's a video, produced by The Nation and shown below, detailing the anti-black violence that occurred in the days immediately following Katrina. The white shooters defend and even celebrate their actions with the excuse that blacks were engaged in crime and looting - a myth that was spread and believed all too easily. No one has even been charged. There has not even been an investigation, though since he's read the article, Congressman John Conyers is calling for one.

You're probably wondering with Katrina has to do with Obama and the LGBT community. It's that it just seems like white Americans feel they have some right by birth to control black people. It's criminal. It's unjust. It's racism.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Coming Soon . . .

. . . a complete explanation of my views concerning Rick Warren giving the invocation at Barack Obama's inaugural celebration.

I have to perserve my energy tonight and am going to bed early. But let me just quickly say I think both activists on the right and left are ill-served in their ranting against Pastor Rick's invocation.

And, let me first point out some contradictions. First of all, there're lots of gays and lesbians who don't believe in God anyway. You're concerned about presumably a 90 second prayer? And there're lots of gays and lesbians who consider themselves otherwise socially conservative and supported Bush twice and most recently McCain.

Now, I think it is an understatement to say that the passing of proposition 8 was not a moment to celebrate. I empathize with the LGBT community on many concerns: being compared to pedophiles is no more endearing than being compared to monkeys.

Now, I'm heterosexual. I don't consider my heterosexuality a "choice." It just so happens that I'm a woman who's sexually attracted to men. And this is something I've struggled with for a while. I was a tomboy growing up. There was a period of time when I didn't care how I looked, most especially on days I had basketball practice. I've been hit on by lesbians. I can certainly appreciate the sight of an attractive woman; and, given the choice to watch a movie with Angelina Jolie or Miss Jane Pittman, I'll choose Angelina Jolie. Depending on the movie, I may even choose her over George Clooney. But not over Taye Diggs.

One of the most influential women in my life is gay I believe. She was my professor, and I never felt it appropriate to ask about her sexuality. I think she's gay, though, because in a book she wrote, she acknowledges the love and support of her partner, [feminine name here]. Before I ever wondered about her sexuality, I considered her presence in my life a blessing. Assuming she's gay . . . it didn't change her impact on my life. After reading her book and the acknowledgements, I couldn't very well suddenly decide that her impact was somehow less than I originally thought. Neither can I look her in the eye and tell her who she can and can't be with.

So, I've struggled with my own sexuality till one day, sitting still and quiet, I finally accepted the fact that I love sports, can appreciate good looks even in other women, and am heterosexual. See, the thought of being with a women sexually repulses me as much as I imagine a gay man is repulsed.

And now, having said all that, I can't find it in myself to hold against someone their sexuality when, except for the fact that I'm not, I could be gay, too. And would want every right accorded everyone else. And, being straight, I can't hate on you for what was no more a choice for you than heterosexuality a choice for me.

Now, while I sympathize with the LGBT community and feel justice and inequality is for everyone everywhere, I think we're mistaken to declare the "honeymoon" with President-elect Obama over when he has yet to make a policy decision. And the LGBT community and their supporters are being no more tolerant than "Christian" conservatives to wish that Warren be excluded. Especially when Rev. Joseph Lowery, who supports same-sex marriage, is giving the benediction. I hardly see Warren's part in the celebration as a signal that the LGBT community won't have a seat at the table. From everything I've witnessed during the entire campaign and election, the only way the LGBT community won't have a seat is if the LGBT community doesn't take a seat - and all because of who else is at the table? How is that any different from what the LGBT community is railing against?

And really. How is this guilt by invitation any different from the way the right smeared Obama for his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pfleger.

The bigger issue to protest is Warren's advocation of the assasination of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

So, I must rest now. More later.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Give Me a Break!

No, this is not going to be a post referencing the Nell Carter situation comedy.

This is about the media treatment of President-elect Barack Obama in wake of the Blagojevich scandal.

Listen people. There is no indication that Obama was involved in selling his senate seat. If nothing else, we all should know that Blagojevich was pissed because all Obama would offer for his appointed of someone Obama pre-approved was "appreciation." Okay? So, duh! Yes, there was some contact from staff to staff, and perhaps staff to Blagojevich. But there is no evidence Obama or anyone representing him was involved in anything untoward.

So quit with the sudden substantial questions and quit acting like Obama needs to be more open. Cause if nothing else, at this point, we won't be going to war due to your lax treatment of the president-elect. Had you treated BushCo like this, maybe we could have avoided at least one war and now, this financial disaster. If you would treat BushCo like this, maybe we would know more about the illegal wire-tapping and other acts, or mis-acts, of the current and still administration.

Now, I don't wanna jump to conclusions that this is about race. But really. Give me a break!

A Sunday Kind of Love

I hadn't heard that song until it came out on a commercial about jeans. But then, I listened to it online and fell in love with it. It expresses what many women, and even men, dare I say, feel. That includes me.

Of course, in today's world, many people wonder if that's still possible. Young adults are coming through some "hook up" phase and apparently never building the social skills that undergird a successful relationship. I haven't built those skills, either. Not because I was involved in "hooking up," but because I resisted "hooking up." Only recently have I even realized that other people see as attractive as I see myself. And, coincidentally, it's only recently that I've really turned any substantial attention to the possibility of being in a relationship. Not "hooking up," but an honest relationship.

I'm old enough now to really consider marriage. The way I see it, sex can wait for marriage. I'm a Christian and make no bones about the fact that true love waits.

What's more is I know what I want in a spouse. I have a pretty good idea of what I need in a spouse. Getting to know people, I feel, is great. But here's my point, I'm personally not interested in purposeless relationships. I'm interested in what's been called "courtship." We spend time getting to know each other to know if God has plans for us to be marriage. We don't just "date" to learn how we feel about each other. You can have any number of very close relationships without any leading to marriage. And . . . well, we'll save my thoughts about marriage for another post. Suffice it to say here that I feel that both spouses in a marriage should be equally fulfilled.

My point now is that I'm not sure I have either the patience or health for some of the little "games" you're supposed to play. For example, the "chase." Let me put it simply - I do not have enough energy to run. But as far as I'm concerned, that's okay. I'm high maintenance. Just because I'm upfront about how I feel and may pre-empt the "chase," doesn't mean there still isn't some work to be done.

I mean, in my little part of the world, I roll with the big wigs. Can you handle that? Or will you shrink in the spot light? And I don't plan to be limited to my little part of the world forever. My intentions are to obtain an MDiv, MBA with a concentration in nonprofit management or community organization, and eventually a PhD in history. Can you handle that? Or will you one day complain about my use of multi-syllabic words? And I don't have time or energy to worry about "meeting your needs" all the time. So what's your relationship with the Lord? I want your faithfulness to be based on your commitment to please God, not whether or not I've pleased you in the last week or so. Can you handle that? Cause you can best be believing, once will be forgiven but twice and I'll be leaving.

I plan to change the world. You? Or are you satisfied with the world as is? Maybe you're not particularly satisfied, but you're willing to leave the heavy lifting to starry-eyed idealists and radicalists like me?

And, oh! You know what really impressed me so about one guy that I spilled the beans about liking him before he said a word about liking me? He rejected the notion of assimilation. So, I'm going to need you to reject assimilation, too.

Because I also believe marriage should be a joint venture to some degree. I mean, it does depend on how much and if the two plan on impacting the world. But, there's a quote by Correta Scott King that I can't quite remember, but has something to do with being a partner with Martin in what she knew would be his future. Now, I disagree with her to some extent on whether or not it's permissible for black people to request segregation. I know I've had some strong feelings about having my fill of white people. In fact, I'm actually on tape, if it was never erased, stating my feelings that after 8 hours of mainstream culture and being the only black person in the class, or the only one of a very few, the last thing I wanted was to have to be around more white people. A bi-racial friend of mine, well, up until this point, told me about the reaction to my comments; she laughed and said I had given all the wrong answers. But I told my mentor professor about it, and she agreed with me. The feeling is that though attending a majority white college, I wasn't there to enrich the experience of the white students. I wasn't my duty to make sure the white students had a "multicultural" experience, but the duty of white students to avail themselves of the multicultural events held on campus.

I mean, these spoiled brats complained about feeling "unwanted" after spending 5 minutes in the Black Cultural Center. Big deal! I have to be around you all the time.

But I digress. Marriage. It's kinda like with my brother. There was never any doubt he was going to be a minister and perhaps even the executive pastor of a church one day. His wife would have to be a "minister's wife." That's what knocked one of his exes out of the game. Although she was willing to do whatever it took to be a good wife to Big Head, or at least that's what she told me when I asked her, she wouldn't make a good minister's wife if her life depended on it. Not even in an Episcopalian church, and we're southern Black baptists. The girl who's now my sister-in-law grew up with a pastor for a father.

Don't get me wrong. They're not together just because of that. There is . . . let's just say I couldn't stand being around them the first few months before and after the wedding. Too much . . . affection.

So, basically, there's where I'm at in the scheme of things as it concerns relationships. Now, why am I writing about this? :sigh: Well. I honestly spent high school and college in the social wilderness. I really wasn't open to the potential of a relationship. I also had to face the fact that even should I be interested in someone, at some point, my fear of emotional intimacy would eventually ruin the relationship anyway.

Now, I'm open to relationship, but can be as excited about it as a kid on Christmas. The whole thing would be new ground to some extent for me. I don't want to leave the impression that I've never had a boyfriend. Just that those relationships only lasted as long as they were superficial and interesting. So, you can see how I subconsciously doomed relationships from the beginning. And now, with my health, I can hardly had my giddiness at the prospects of a new adventure and someone to hang out with on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. But, I going to want to know upfront exactly what I'm getting myself into. If you only have time to talk two days a week, tell me upfront. Don't let days go by without communication then act like I'm the idiot for having expected a message, an email, something! And if you're not ready for a purposeful relationship, say that upfront, too. Don't try to hide behind needing to be friends. And if you're not interested, say that! I'm a big girl and I got plenty of friends. Don't try to run some, "we need to be friends first," game on me to avoid a more serious relationship. It's not as though I haven't used that line myself. It's also not as though I don't know if a man is really interested in a woman, he will make time to talk. Even if it's just long enough to say, "Hello. Can't talk long. Just wanted to say, 'Hi.'"

Because me? I want a Sunday kind of love.

Friday, December 12, 2008

You Know What This Reminds Me Of?

This whole moment in US presidential history. With the economy in it's worst shape since the Great Depression and the Republicans voting to make present times the Not Too Bad Depression; two wars and Gitmo; rising healthcare cost; failing infrastructure; and, suddenly the willingness to vote for an African American as president . . . It reminds me of, well, you remember how during segregated education, they give the white schools brand new books and give black schools as new books the discarded books from the white schools . . .

That's what all this reminds me of.

My Two Soldiers

Blagojevich smalojevich. Barack Obama has had nothing to do with this pay-for-play scandal. Whatever Blago had in mind, it's clear he knew that bleeping Obama was only interested in giving him bleeping appreciation.

And to the US Senate Republicans: come of it! Stop hating on the UAW. The labor union isn't the problem. US auto companies haven't been making cars people want to buy. When I buy a car, I don't even have intentions of buying from the US auto industry. So, if you wanna clear out the ranks of upper-level, executive management, please do. But leave the union alone. Cause the way I see it, you're coming up against to philosophical contradictions. One is that the cost of workers in the North is too high, especially do to healthcare cost. One way to get rid of the healthcare cost burden on employers would be some sort-of "socialized medicine" via national medicaid/medicare for all, some sort-of single payer system. At the very least, we got to get rid of the system we have know: healthcare for profit. Sorry. People's lives shouldn't depend on insurance companies' bottom lines. And some form of "socialized medicine" will help cut costs for American business - and that's important to you, right?

The other contradiction you're up against is this notion of the free-market. The way I've understood it, in a free market, labor is a form of capital. Why are you so willing to help one side of the free market, business, but not the other, labor? In a truly free market, labor is allowed to make the same self-interested decisions that business is allowed to make. So, in the end, quit hating on a system you purport to support.

Now that I've expressed my feelings about that, I'm moving on. The Republicans are idiots. They're being obnoxious to block the American auto bail-out, or rather, bridge loan. And they're being especially obnoxious to demand Obama come clean about any contact and talk he or his staff or any emissary may have had with Blagojevish. I repeat: if we know nothing else, we do know that Blagojevich was angry that Obama wouldn't play game with him. Doesn't that clear Obama? Quit trying to paint him with Illinois corruption and call me when the Cubs win the Series, or the Bulls win the Finals. I have bigger fish to fry.

My cousin and her husband are due to be ship out to Afghanistan in early January. Hence, my title. And, quite frankly, I'm conflicted about the situation. I understand we need to finish the job in Afghanistan's, and I'm pissed that lame-a, er, -duck Bush didn't do so in the beginning. And the latest reports are that Afghans aren't do any better than they were before. For some, especially women, the situation has become worse. Just a few months ago, I watched part of a special about Afghan women setting themselves on fire as acts of rebellion against someone, be it an abusive husband or an abusive mother-in-law. (I don't know whether or not they had access to guns. But I do know that women aren't likely to use guns to commit suicide. And, I suppose, watching "your" woman burn to death at her decision can stick in the craw of the men who claim control of them.) I only watched part of the special because my stomach couldn't take it. Many of these women were unsuccessful at the quick suicide they intended and eventually died slow, painful deaths. They lived long enough to tell their story, so I guess that's something to support. But watching these talking faces with charred skin and lips noses burned off was more than I can take. Don't get me wrong. When it comes to the crime dramas I love so much, I can stomach stuff like that. I know it's fake. But when it's real, it causes not just my stomach to ache, but my heart as well.

So, part of me understands we may need the military to stabilize the situation enough so that, I would hope, we could send in more nonmilitary aid. But I hate that my cousin and her husband's lives are at risk. Now, I must confess, my cousin, who I'll call Lauren, and I aren't that close. I haven't really spoken to her in almost a year. But she's my cousin, and I love her. And I think she was dumb to have joined the army in the first place. I mean. First of all, I don't believe the myth that for this country is all that honorable. I mean, for me, it kinda depends on the war. I don't know. I just don't think America is worth my life. It's kind of hard to explain, so I'll leave it for a later post. Suffice it to say I think dying for America means you've died to maintain a system that cause more harm than good. And, I just can't accept the notion of dying for America in the face of having committed my life to Christ. I and anyone else who professes to be a Christian is supposed to be seeking God's kingdom and righteousness, and I just don't think America represents either one.

Plus, all the military deaths I can think of post-WWII haven't been for "freedom." They've been for oil or just maintaining control of the world. All this hype about winning the Cold War without bloodshed is just that - hype. Hundreds of thousands have died in the "Cold" War between Russia and America. Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing the situation never came to a war of nuclear weapons, but really. Do you really think someone would've turned America into a communist nation against our will? If you do, it's no wonder you think Al Qeada or any other terrorist organization could turn us into a Muslim country against our will. Or that the immigrants from south of the border will suddenly turn us into a Spanish-speaking 3rd world country. You're delusional.

Did I mention I'm actually angry at Lauren for having joined the Army in the first place? That's why I'm a bit conflicted about her and her husband, who I'll call Jamie, being called to Afghanistan. That's a choice they made as much as a mess BushCo. created. Now, from what I understand, the army was a way out for him. But her? She just initially joined the National Guard for the grad school money. It's not like she couldn't have earned scholarships or my aunt and uncle couldn't have chipped in. In fact, another aunt of ours said they would've gone door to door raising money for my cousin to go to school. For generations, our family has supported education, starting with my great-grandfather who opened a school.

And here's what really bothers me. Lauren and Jamie have three children. Three. One child should be two-years-old by now. Another turns three after Christmas. The oldest turns four in February. So, with 12-16 month tours, my cousin and her husband are going to miss the birthdays of their children, and the missing starts right away.

And what happens if Lauren and Jamie die? I know all of my family will do whatever we can to take care of the children. In fact, that's not even anything I personally have to worry about. But it's something the children will have to deal with. One memory I have of the oldest when she wasn't quite one is of her picking up telephones and remote controls and saying into them, "Elno. Doing!" as though she were expecting Lauren on the other end. And I can hear my cousin always answering the phone, "Hello? How you doing?" I'm not sure the children are old enough to understand death. In my mind, I can only imagine how long they'll expect their parents to be on the other side of a ringing phone or opening door.

Then again, what happens if Lauren and Jamie both survive? We know that post-traumatic stress disorder is under-reported and undertreated. Are they going to be the same parents the children remember?

I'm just conflicted about this whole thing.

And to top it off, cause I feel it needs to be, bin Laden has lived to see his nefarious plan come to fruition. At this point, over 4200 American soldiers have died in Iraq alone. That's more than the number of people who died in the 9/11/01 attacks. 540 Americans have died in Afghanistan. I haven't even started on the number of dead, injured, or displaced Iraqi and Afghan civilians. The total is well over 2 million. Closer to 3 million I would venture to guess. And for what? Are we really any safer? Isn't Obama still sending out messages? And last I heard, this whole Gitmo/torture/rendition method has been working against us; and, according to someone who's talked to foreign insurgents in Iraq, there's an untold number of American deaths due to US torture of so-called enemy combatants.

And now, the Mumbai attacks.

What of my cousin? What of her husband? What of their children? What of them and other families like them. Has this venture really been worth it? If you think it has, you're either delusional or evil. Maybe both.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Me Getting Back in the Game

I came across this while I was online.

My health took a downturn this pass month. Hopefully, this is the beginning of an upswing. It's not as though I haven't had any thoughts. I have many. Like . . . why do commentators keep questioning Obama's decisions? Didn't he win without taking their advice? And I don't know about anyone else, but I knew "change" was in the ideas and manner of governance, not necessarily the faces. Anyone can change faces and bring in people with the same old ideas. That's cosmetic. Real change occurs with leadership and ideas - ideas like the ones lined out in this video and ideas like making these vlogs.

Mostly, though, this pass month, I've been wondering about the world and my place in it. How to go about making the changes I think are necessary in the way I think is best. How to join the elite black intelligentsia that still pushes and strives for justice and equality for all.

Of course, there was Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the football games. I enjoyed the food and the family. My RN cousin had worked the night shift the previous night and warned us to call 911 if anything happened to anyone cause, as she put it, "I'm off the clock."

But it wasn't lost upon me that America was acquired by means of mass genocide and that my presence here in America represents other crimes against humanity.

Now, I'm caught between a couple of life decisions. Whether to follow the advice of my pastor, which wasn't really "advice"; or, to do what I think is right and best for me. Not that I would personally have any problem not taking his advice, I just gotta consider the impact it might have later. You know? How the people I seek to help might take such move. And then there's opportunities at another church, which may allow me the flexibility I seek and the opportunity to serve that I desire so much.

Oh, and let me not even start on my trouble with men. I could've sworn this guy liked me. Even after I explained some of my circumstances and some other things, he was still down. Then, almost 10 days past without a word from him! Was I really wrong for saying that was rude? I mean, really?

The Mumbia attacks strike me as almost inevitable and certainly foreseeable. The only question is will the West continue the cultural and economic hegemony that creates the circumstances that nurture such hate. Not that murder is ever justifiable. But I get the point they were trying to make; and, sometimes, that's the only way to get the attention of the powers that be. The problem that be often would rather continue to be powerful rather than humble.

I'm still around. Thinking and praying for guidance. And those of you who know the words of prayer, pray for me (A little shout out to the southern Black Church.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Courtesy of Institute for SouthernStudies

SPECIAL REPORT: Virginia "Ground Zero" for Election Day Voting Controversies

Below is a report we sent out at 4 pm this afternoon, summarizing some of our key coverage of voting rights and election issues in the South. Visit Facing South for more updates and analysis!

VOTING RIGHTS WATCH - Election Day Special Report

Virginia, Florida and Georgia lead states with voting rights controversies on historic Election Day
NOVEMBER 4, 2008, 4 P.M. -- Florida, Georgia, and especially Virginia have been "ground zero" for voting controversies today in a historic election marked by record turnout across the South.

Several voting rights and election issues have cropped up in the major battleground state of Virginia, where Barack Obama holds a narrow lead in the presidential race:

BLOCK THE VOTE: College-aged voters are 40% of new voters in Virginia, but students have faced big hurdles. The polling site for Virginia Tech has twice as many voters as it's legally authorized to accommodate, and a hacker at George Mason University sent bogus emails to students telling them to vote on Wednesday, Nov. 5. The Republican Party has also threatened to challenge several hundred student votes.

OVERWHELMED PRECINCTS: As voting rights advocates had feared, Virginia has been overwhelmed by high turnout; as of this morning, the national Election Protection hotline had received 200 calls from VA voters about polling site problems and 120 about machine malfunctions. Election Protection has called for extending voting hours to ensure everyone still gets a chance to vote.

DIRTY TRICKS: Not just students have been targeted with deceptive tactics. VA voters have reported receiving anonymous robo-calls that give the wrong precinct for voting and fliers distributed in the Hampton Roads area informed Democrats they should vote on Nov. 5. The state decided against prosecuting those responsible,calling it an "office joke."

Voting Rights Watch has helped bring national attention to several other critical election issues across the South:

FLORIDA HURRICANE: A surge in voting -- especially in South Florida -- helped push Florida to the top of states with calls to the Election Protection hotline before Election Day. Key issues have been ex-felon voting and confusion over Florida's "no match" list -- now numbering over 10,000 voters -- which has been inconsistently applied and possibly disenfranchised legitimate voters.

GEORGIA PURGES: Election Protection has received over 1,000 calls from Georgia, mostly about registration problems. Secretary of State Karen Handel recently drew a rebuke from the Department of Justice and federal judges for her state's aggressive efforts to purge voters.

GULF COAST CONFUSION: Voters in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast -- many displaced by Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Ike -- have faced major barriers to confirming registrations and polling locations -- especially worrisome after 21,000 Louisiana voters were purged.

MORE DECEPTIVE TACTICS: CNN reports that voters in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas have received text-messages telling them to vote on Nov. 5; fliers with the same bogus information cropped up in North Carolina.

-- Chris Kromm, Sue Sturgis and Desiree Evans for Facing South/Voting Rights Watch

Courtesy of Don't Forget To Vote

Election 2008 Voting Information

Today, November 4th, is Election Day! Remember to vote--not just for Barack Obama, but for Congressional, state and local candidates as well.

Where and when do I vote?

Find your polling place, voting times, and other important information by checking out these sites and the hotline below. These resources are good, but not perfect. To be doubly sure, you can also contact your local elections office.

Obama's VoteForChange site:
League of Women Voters site:
Obama's voter hotline: (877) US4-OBAMA (or 877-874-6226)

    What should I do before I go?
  • After you've entered your address on either Vote For Change or Vote411, read the voting instructions and special rules for your state.

  • Voting ID laws vary from state to state, but if you have ID, bring it.

  • Check out all the voting myths and misinformation to look out for:

What if something goes wrong?

  • Not on the voter list? Make sure you're at the right polling place, then demand a provisional ballot.

  • If you're voting on an electronic machine with a paper record, verify that the record is accurate.

  • Need legal help? Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE

  • Try to get video of the problem and submit it to

Want to do more?

  • Text all of your friends: "Vote Obama today! Pass it on!"

  • Volunteer at your local Obama office. Find an office here or here.

  • Make calls from home for Obama.

Now everybody go vote!!!

John Legend: If You're Out There

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Condolenses and My Time

First, my condolenses to the Obama and Dunham families as Barack's grandmother has died of cancer.

Second, I'm making calls for the Obama campaign. If you would like to join, and you should, click below:

Somalia: Girl Stoned to Death

This is not an indictment against either Islam or religion in general. And just to be sure, this isn't an indictment against people of color around the world, and Africa in particular. So read this article and think, "Those people. It's an indictment against global sexism, and global includes the US. Part of changing the world will be empowering women; and, part of empowering women is making sure the men in the family are able and willing to protect them, especially as children.

What does that mean here in the US? Should we go over to Somalia and change their regime? No! And besides, we're already ever though fighting "terror," right? Somehow, this slipped by. And as you'll see, more weapons are not needed.

For the US, it means a couple of things. It means supporting Somalian and international NGOs whose mission it is to empower, protect, and heal women.

This also means we're really gonna have to clamp down on domestic violence and violence agianst women. We're gonna have to empower women by raising the minimum wage. And even more importantly, we're going have to pay more to jobs usually left to women, ie childcare, elderly care, teaching, secretarial work, etc and so on. No, money can't buy happiness; but it can sure as hell by freedom and a sense self-empowerment.

What I mean to say is this - If we're really going to end these sorts of barbarity against women in the world, we're going to have start by ended our more sophisticated by still barbarious treatment of women here in this country. And that means more than just maintaining a structure that benefits corporate masculinity. We're going to have radically chagne the entire system if we really want to put an end to sexism hear and around the world.

And before I finish with me thought, sexism isn't the reason Hillary Clinton lost. And sexism isn't why Sarah Palin's clothing brought so much attention. I mean, Clinton didn't even compete in 11 primary elections, and remember all the attention John Edwards got for his $400 USD haircut? - No1KState

October, 31 2008

Somalia: Girl stoned was a child of 13

Contrary to earlier news reports, the girl stoned to death in Somalia this week was 13, not 23, Amnesty International can reveal.

Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was killed on Monday, 27 October, by a group of 50 men who stoned her to death in a stadium in the southern port of Kismayu, in front of around 1,000 spectators.

Some of the Somali journalists who had reported she was 23 have told Amnesty International that this age was based upon a judgement of her age from her physical appearance.

She was accused of adultery in breach of Islamic law but, her father and other sources told Amnesty International that she had in fact been raped by three men, and had attempted to report this rape to the al-Shabab militia who control Kismayo, and it was this act that resulted in her being accused of adultery and detained. None of men she accused of rape were arrested.

“This was not justice, nor was it an execution. This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups who currently control Kismayo,” said David Copeman, Amnesty International's Somalia Campaigner.

“This killing is yet another human rights abuse committed by the combatants to the conflict in Somalia, and again demonstrates the importance of international action to investigate and document such abuses, through an International Commission of Inquiry.”

Amnesty International has learnt that:

Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was reported as being 23, based upon a judgement on her physical appearance, according to one of the journalists who had reported the stoning. Her actual age was confirmed to Amnesty International by other sources, including her father.

Her father said she had only travelled to Kismayo from Hagardeer refugee camp in north eastern Kenya three months earlier.

She was detained by militia of the Kismayo authorities, a coalition of Al-shabab and clan militias. During this time, she was reportedly extremely distressed, with some individuals stating she had become mentally unstable.

A truckload of stones was brought into the stadium to be used in the stoning.

At one point during the stoning, Amnesty International has been told by numerous eyewitnesses that nurses were instructed to check whether Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was still alive when buried in the ground. They removed her from the ground, declared that she was, and she was replaced in the hole where she had been buried for the stoning to continue.

An individual calling himself Sheik Hayakalah, was quoted on Radio Shabelle saying:``The evidence came from her side and she officially confirmed her guilt, while she told us that she is happy with the punishment under Islamic law.'' In contradiction to this claim, a number of eye witnesses have told Amnesty International she struggled with her captors and had to be forcibly carried into the stadium.

Inside the stadium, militia members opened fire when some of the witnesses to the killing attempted to save her life, and shot dead a boy who was a bystander. An al-Shabab spokeperson was later reported to have apologized for the death of the child, and said the milita member would be punished.


Amnesty International has campaigned to end the use of the punishment of stoning, calling it gruesome and horrific. This killing of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow demonstrates the cruelty and the inherent discrimination against women of this punishment.

The reports on this killing should be understood within the climate of fear that armed insurgent groups such as al-Shabab have created within the areas they control in Somalia. As Amnesty International has documented previously, government officials, journalists and human rights defenders face death threats and killing if they are perceived to have spoken against al-Shabab, who have waged a campaign of intimidation against the Somali people through such killings.

Since the death, a number of individuals have told Amnesty International they have fled from Kismayo out of fear of suffering a similar fate to Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow.

Surprising Voter Fraud - And a Proud Perpetrator to Boot!

I had planned to write a post about the importance of voting later Monday. And add some John Legend to the post. I may still do the John Legend thing, but for now, this will have to suffice. And it doesn't matter what party it's coming from, it's not right. It's not legal. - No1KState

Voters Across Nation Hit by Dirty Tricks
By Deborah Hastings, AP

(Nov. 2) - In the hours before Election Day, as inevitable as winter, comes an onslaught of dirty tricks — confusing emails, disturbing phone calls and insinuating fliers left on doorsteps during the night.

The intent, almost always, is to keep folks from voting or to confuse them, usually through intimidation or misinformation. But in this presidential race, in which a black man leads most polls, some of the deceit has a decidedly racist bent.

Complaints have surfaced in predominantly African-American neighborhoods of Philadelphia where fliers have circulated, warning voters they could be arrested at the polls if they had unpaid parking tickets or if they had criminal convictions.

Over the weekend in Virginia, bogus fliers with an authentic-looking commonwealth seal said fears of high voter turnout had prompted election officials to hold two elections — one on Tuesday for Republicans and another on Wednesday for Democrats.

In New Mexico, two Hispanic women filed a lawsuit last week claiming they were harassed by a private investigator working for a Republican lawyer who came to their homes and threatened to call immigration authorities, even though they are U.S. citizens.

“He was questioning her status, saying that he needed to see her papers and documents to show that she was a U.S. citizen and was a legitimate voter,” said Guadalupe Bojorquez, speaking on behalf of her mother, Dora Escobedo, a 67-yearold Albuquerque resident who speaks only Spanish. “He totally, totally scared the heck out of her.”

In Pennsylvania, e-mails appeared linking Democrat Barack Obama to the Holocaust. “Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, Nov. 4,” said the electronic message, paid for by an entity calling itself the Republican Federal Committee. “Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake.”

Laughlin McDonald, who leads the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said he has never seen “an election where there was more interest and more voter turnout, and more efforts to suppress registration and turnout. And that has a real impact on minorities.”

The Obama campaign and civil rights advocacy groups have signed up millions of new voters for this presidential race. In Ohio alone, some 600,000 have submitted new voter registration cards.

Across the country, many of these firsttime voters are young and strong Obama supporters. Many are also black and Hispanic.

Activist groups say it is this fresh crop of ballot-minded citizens that makes some Republicans very nervous. And they say they expect the dirty tricks to get dirtier in final hours before Tuesday.

“Oh, there’s plenty of time for things to get ugly,” said Zachary Stalberg, president of The Committee of Seventy, a Philadelphia-based government watchdog group that is nonpartisan.

Other reports of intimidation efforts in the hotly contested state of Pennsylvania include leaflets taped to picnic benches at Drexel University, warning students that police would be at the polls on Tuesday to arrest would-be voters with prior criminal offenses.

In his Jewish neighborhood, Stalberg said, fliers were recently left claiming Obama was more sympathetic to Palestinians than to Israel, and showed a photograph of him speaking in Germany.

“It shows up between the screen door and the front door in the middle of the night,” Stalberg said. “Why couldn’t someone knock on the door and hand that to me in the middle of the day? In a sense, it’s very smartly done. The message gets through. It’s done carefully enough that people might read it.”

Such tactics are common, and are often impossible to trace. Robo-calls, in which automated, bogus phone messages are sent over and over, are very hard to trace to their source, say voting advocates. Emails fall into the same category.

In Nevada, for example, Latino voters said they had received calls from people describing themselves as Obama volunteers, urging them to cast their ballot over the phone.

The calls were reported to Election Protection, a nonprofit advocacy group that runs a hot line for election troubles. The organization does not know who orchestrated them.

“The Voting Rights Act makes it a crime to misled and intimidate voters,” said McDonald. “If you can find out who’s doing it, those people should be prosecuted. But sometimes it’s just difficult to know who’s doing what. Some of it’s just anonymous.”

Trying to mislead voters is nothing new.

“We see this every year,” said Jonah Goldman of the advocacy group Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “It all happens around this time when there’s too much other stuff going on in the campaigns, and it doesn’t get investigated.”

In 2006, automated phone calls in the final days leading to the federal election wrongly warned voters they would not be allowed to vote without a photo ID. In Colorado and Virginia, people reported receiving calls that told them their registrations had expired and they would be arrested if they showed up to vote.

The White House contest of 2004 was marked by similar deceptions. In Milwaukee, fliers went up advising people “if you’ve already voted in any election this year, you can’t vote in the presidential election.” In Pennsylvania, a letter bearing what appeared to be the McCandless Township seal falsely proclaimed that in order to cut long voting lines, Republicans would cast ballots on Nov. 2 and Democrats would vote on Nov. 3.

E-mail assaults have become increasingly popular this year, keeping pace with the proliferation of blogging and Obama’s massive online campaign efforts, according to voting activists.

“It is newer and more furious than it ever has been before,” Goldman said.

And Republicans are not exempt. “Part of it is that election campaigns are more online than ever before,” said Goldman. “During the primaries, a lot of Web sites went up that seemed to be for (GOP candidate Rudy) Giuliani, but actually were attack sites.”

New York City’s former mayor and his high-profile colleagues Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney were also targeted in fake Internet sites that featured “quotes” from the candidates espousing support for extreme positions they never endorsed.

Then, I was looking for a post easier to edit and I found this on the Brooklyn Blog Message Boards:

I also made a video of it. While I was doing so , the lady responsible for posting that warning came in to the building. - That's from the woman who actually found the note.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Voting Rights Watch: Red Alert in Georgia!!

In a bold move this week, Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) announced she was sending letters to 4,770 registered voters that they may have to cast "challenge" ballots that won't be counted on election day.

In a striking announcement, she also declared that regular citizens could respond to the problem of non-citizen voting by contesting the citizenship of fellow voters at the polls -- forcing them to also cast challenged ballots that won't be included in election day tallies.

The surprising announcement is the latest in a winding saga between Handel, voters, the Department of Justice and a panel of federal judges over a new and aggressive Georgia policy to flag voters whose citizenship is in question.

Earlier this month, the ACLU sued the state of Georgia on behalf of Jose Morales, a Cherokee County voter who was wrongfully targeted to be purged from the roles despite having become a citizen in November 2007. Earlier, the Department of Justice had argued that Georgia's citizenship purge violated the Voting Rights Act because it had not be pre-cleared with the DOJ, something Georgia must do because it falls under the Act.

After the DOJ questioned the purges, many counties stopped mailing letters to flagged voters. A three-judge panel of federal judges said on Monday of this week that the state must notify those who have been flagged and find a way to allow them to vote.

But it's not at all clear that Handel's decision to do an end-run around the counties and directly mail letters to 4,770 flagged voters will in reality allow them to vote. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

Those whose citizenship is in question can go to a county elections office before Election Day and produce documents proving their citizenship and resolve the issue, Carrothers said.
But if the letters were only mailed Wednesday, that means that many flagged voters will only be receiving the letters today -- giving them only 1-2 business days at crowded election offices to resolve the problem. If they're not able to, Handel has made it clear the votes might not count:

The letter from Handel’s office tells the voters that if they appear at their polling place with the issue still unresolved, they will be given a “challenge” ballot —- a paper version of the ballot that appears on electronic voting machines. The ballot will not be included in the precinct’s vote totals, Handel said.
Even more worrisome is that Handel made a point of stating that any voter's citizenship can be contested by any other voter, a policy which could be used to target the state's rapidly-growing Latino population and other racial groups. As the AJC reports:

Any voter can challenge another’s qualifications to cast a ballot by notifying a precinct poll manager, Handel said. That voter then would be given a challenge ballot and would have to go before the election board.
And as Handel has made clear, "challenge ballots" will not be counted, forcing those who are challenged to prove their citizenship later.

Handel seems to admit the approach opens the door for vigilante racially-targeted voter intimidation at the polls, but dismissed the threat:

If large numbers of challenges are made on Election Day, Handel said, her office will investigate whether they are part of an orchestrated effort to influence the election’s outcome.

But, she said, “I’m not anticipating any kind of huge issue there.”
Handel has been roundly criticized for her partisan approach to running Georgia's elections. In a scathing editorial today, the AJC editorial board looks at other controversies surrounding Handel and finds her reputation damaged:

No matter the outcome of Tuesday’s election, a loser has emerged —- Secretary of State Karen Handel.

Her relentless crusade to bounce Democratic Public Service Commission candidate Jim Powell from the ballot, her posturing over yet-to-be-seen voter fraud and her flippant dismissal of voter delays this week have tarnished her and her office.

UPDATE: Several other states have laws on the books like Georgia's that allow voters to challenge other voters. For example, Republicans recently pushed through a similar law in Florida which provoked widespread controversy:

Challengers [in Florida] need not prove their accusations. Instead, the challenged voter has two days to justify his right to cast a ballot.

State Republican lawmakers who pushed the law say it will help combat fraud. Democrats call it a vote-suppression measure

What seems especially pernicious about what's happening in Georgia is that Secretary of State Handel appears to be encouraging Georgians to use the law as a way to deal with the "problem" she and Republicans see of non-citizens voting on election day. In a tight election with these controversies making big headlines in Georgia, that seems very dangerous.

UPDATE 2: Karen Handel takes great pride in being a zealous leader of the Republican "anti-voter fraud" movement. On her own website Handel boasts of supporting controversial laws beyond her own state:

Secretary Handel filed a brief of amicus curiae in December 2007 in support of Indiana’s photo ID voting requirement. Handel’s amicus brief noted that since the Murphy ruling "there has not been one single demonstrated deprivation of any right to vote or any other violation of a constitutional or statutory right resulting from the photo ID requirement."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

We're #1! Can't Be #2! We're Gonna Knock the Dookie Outta You!

Thursday, October 30, 2008
With stars coming back, North Carolina is unanimous preseason No. 1

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- news services

Eventual champion Kansas knocked off North Carolina in the semifinals of last year's NCAA tournament, but it's the Tar Heels who are the big favorite heading into the 2008-09 season.

North Carolina received all 31 first-place votes as the unanimous No. 1 in the preseason ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, which was released Thursday. After losing a big chunk of its roster, the Jayhawks debut at No. 23 following a 37-3 season.

Since ESPN began participating in the coaches' poll in 1997-98 -- USA Today began the poll in 1991 -- the Tar Heels are the first unanimous preseason No. 1. They're also the top-ranked team for the second straight preseason.

The other Final Four teams from 2008 earned strong rankings. UCLA came in at No. 4 and national runner-up Memphis landed at No. 12. The Tigers and Bruins have been ranked in the coaches' Top 25 for 61 consecutive weeks, the longest active streak.

Connecticut and Louisville are No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, as the Big East set a record with seven teams among the preseason Top 25. Previously, a conference had five preseason Top 25 teams on seven occasions.

The top 10 is rounded out by Duke at No. 5; Pittsburgh sixth; Michigan State seventh; Texas eighth; Notre Dame ninth, and Purdue 10th. Duke is the only program that has been ranked every year in the preseason Top 25 since 1997-98. The Blue Devils and Michigan State have tied Kansas for the most appearances (nine) by any team in a preseason top 10.

In the history of the poll, only two preseason No. 1 teams -- Florida in 2006-07 and Connecticut in 2003-04 -- have gone on to win the national title. The eventual champs have been in the preseason top 10 in nine of the 11 years ESPN has participated in the poll.

North Carolina's candidacy as the nation's top-ranked team and national championship favorite got a significant boost last spring when player of the year Tyler Hansbrough announced he would return for his senior season. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 22.6 points and 10.2 rebounds in leading the Tar Heels (36-3) to the winningest season in school history while sweeping the major national player of the year awards.

Hansbrough already has qualified to become the eighth player in school history to have his jersey retired and can add several more records to his resume in his final season. He will be the first returning Associated Press national player of the year since LSU's Shaquille O'Neal in 1991.

Meanwhile, Jayhawks saw three players depart early for the NBA; Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush went in the first round, while Mario Chalmers was selected in the second round. Memphis' hopes of returning to the title game were hurt when Derrick Rose declared for the draft and went No. 1 to the Chicago Bulls.

The second 10 is led by Gonzaga, which is followed by Memphis, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Miami of Florida, Marquette, Georgetown, Florida and Davidson. USC and Wisconsin (tied at No. 21), the Jayhawks, Wake Forest and Villanova round out the poll.

Kentucky was among 19 teams receiving votes, the first time the Wildcats were not part of the preseason Top 25.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Also, Via

Tell John McCain and Sarah Palin to Reject the Politics of Division

The Republican nominees are increasingly relying on a strategy of race-baiting and fear-mongering to win this election. It's completely unacceptable and it has to stop.
— Click here to see the email we sent to our members. —

Watch the video from Brave New Films showing the McCain/Palin campaign and its supporters in action. Then, please sign the open letter demanding that they reject the politics of division and fear. We'll publicize the letter and make the sure the McCain campaign has to respond.

When you're done, please pass the video and the letter on to your friends and family and ask them to do the same.

Back to Politics!:5 Ways to Protect Your Vote

Why would anyone want to stop you from voting? It's simple -- because when you can control who votes, you can control who wins. Check out this compelling new video put together by the folks at VideoTheVote. It's fun, dynamic, and does a great job of telling the story of what's at stake and the power of our vote.

This year, with so many Black voters, young voters, and folks from all backgrounds who want change participating in huge numbers, those who want to hold onto power by suppressing the vote are in full force. But they can't stop us.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you successfully cast your vote, and to help others do the same.

If there's one thing we see every election, it's that Republicans will try to manipulate the rules any way they can to prevent some people from voting. Don't be discouraged--be prepared. If we're armed with the right information, we can beat most of these dirty tricks.

1 - Be Prepared, and Conquer the Lines. We can't let long lines stop anyone from voting. There are several ways you can reduce lines and make sure they don't prevent you or anyone else from voting:

*Vote early if you can. You can find early voting times and locations at
*Double-check your polling location before you go to vote. You can look it up at

*Have a Plan & Have Fun. Have a plan in case there are lines. Bring some food, drinks, friends, books, games, a chair -- anything that will prevent you and other voters from walking away. Have fun while you wait and encourage your friends and neighbors to stay in line so their vote is counted.
*Don't give up--don't walk away without voting.

2 - Two numbers you should have in your phone. Put these numbers in your phone so you're prepared to report problems and help other voters find their polling place:

*866-OUR-VOTE is a hotline that's been set up to collect information about problems on election day--lawyers and election protection advocates are ready to respond. It's the best way to make sure someone addresses any problems you see.
*The number for your local election board--in case you need to tell someone where they can vote. Enter you zip code at, then look for "Contact [your county] election officials" on the right.

3 - Beware of lies, misinformation and dirty tricks; spread the truth.
Republican operatives are spreading plain lies to frighten new voters. In Philadelphia, anonymous flyers in Black neighborhoods have falsely claimed that voters with unpaid traffic tickets or outstanding warrants will be arrested at the polls. If you hear a scary rumor, it's probably a lie. Call your local election officials to check it out--and make sure your friends and neighbors know the truth.

4 - Leave the Obama gear at home.
In some places, you won't be allowed into the polling place if you're wearing clothes and pins that support a given candidate. This isn't true everywhere, but it's best to play it safe. You can contact your local board of elections to find out if it's a problem in your area. If it is, bring some extra plain T-shirts or sweaters to loan neighbors who show up unaware of the rule.

5 - Read the ballot carefully, and ask questions!
Some ballots can be confusing even for smart and informed voters. Read instructions on the ballot carefully, and if you're not sure you understand something, ask a poll worker to explain. Remember what happened in 2000 in Florida--a confusing ballot caused thousands of people to mistakenly vote for the wrong Presidential candidate. Don't let that happen to you!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Evolution II

Well . . . since I spent yesterday describing my evolution, I suppose I need to explain how I got through the really tough times. I mean, the nights when I couldn't sleep but knew I need to avoid the kitchen because there were knives there, I had to really call on Jesus.

That's the truth. That's why I just can't for the life of me imagine renouncing or converting from my Christian faith.

Now, let me say I did avail myself of counseling/therapy. If you feel you need to talk, but don't have think you can afford it, you probably can. Do some calling around and there is probably a mental health facility in your county that provides services that, depending on your situation, can range from free to your insurance co-pay with no upfront cost.

Then there're a few scriptures that helped me out, too.

When graduation came and I had no plans, hadn't applied to grad school or for any job, hadn't even taken the GRE, Jeremiah 29: 11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (NIV)." Now, I place emphasis on what really spoke to me at the time I needed it. The fact that God knew the plans he had for me meant that . . . I didn't have to know. What's said in the Black Church is usually, "I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow." Eh . . . that didn't quite do it for me at the time. I was freaking No1KState and I was supposed to have plans. I was supposed to be on my way to a PhD. Not knowing what "tomorrow held" just "won't getting it."

But one day, I was reading that verse expecting "plans to prosper" to soothe my anxiety. It didn't. But every time I read through, "I know the plans I have for you," my spirit calmed. And that finally did it for me. I knew I had to quit fighting God on the issue and just let him have his way (By the by, Hezekiah Walker has a song that says exactly that. I listened to it endlessly. Can't find it online, but I'll keep looking.). I had to, as David says in Psalms 131, stop worrying about things I had no control over, and just trust God like a child trusts her mother (I paraphrased.) And honestly, that kept me from . . . Let's just say it kept me. (There's a song with those lyrics, too, by the way.)

Then, as far as finally receiving God's love for me, well, the involves all of the book of Ephesians as well as some other New Testament passages, and most especially a book by Robert McGee titled, The Search for Significance. I strongly suggest you read the book yourself and get the workbook, too. I most confess, the college staff member of The Impact Movement who was assigned to UNC gave a group of us all the book with workbook for free my second year. I was so full of myself then, I really didn't pay it much attention. I "graciously" went through it with the rest of the group because really . . . I'm No1KState. I felt I was the very definition of "being significant."

Er . . . uh . . . yeah. That kind of pride will lead to a bit of a battle with God. Hence, perhaps, the whole episode prior to graduation of not having any plans.

It was till just a few years ago that I read the book seriously. To say it changed my life would not be an overstatement. It helped me open myself and my heart to love. It helped me reject the lies I had believed about myself. Oh, I'm still working on trusting God with my heart. But, I used to respond to the staff member, who is now I dear, dear friend, saying "I love you," with a disbelieving shake of my head. She would tell me how I was such a sweetheart, and I would respond that she really didn't know me. She would argue that she thought she did, and I'd just let her win. I didn't see the point in a needless argument with someone who didn't know me.

Now, I can say, "I love you," first. This morning even, I told my parents I loved them. That's a big deal for me! I mean, it's not that I didn't love people the way Christians are supposed to love everyone, I just didn't hold anyone in any special affection.

Except my little cousin who's my "little sister."

That's part of what I love so much about my church family Palmer Grove. You know what, this is my blog, I'll tell you exactly what happened. I heard a woman call out my name, I just smiled and waved in the direction of the voice. Then Minister Thurman grabbed my shoulder and asked if I knew who she was. I didn't. She explained who she was and how she knew me, and that's when I realized that there were people who held me in special affection . . . just for me! Granted, folks were always impressed and sometimes proud of my accomplishments. But, it wasn't till that moment that I realized she was showing affection to me, not because of my family connections or accomplishments, but because of me. I mean, lots of people were greeting me because I had just joined the church. But the look on her face when I confessed I didn't know who she was (because I previously didn't care - she doesn't know that), let me know she was interested in me. Me. Not No1KState. Not the lead soprano or trumpet player or the basketball player or the genius. Me.

And guess what? Me, myself and I am sweet. I am a sweetheart. A number of people, strangers, have told me I have a beautiful spirit. At a group of young adults meeting together to minister to each other, a woman just all of a sudden hugged me tight and kissed my head. Once, a visitor at church pulled me aside and said he just wanted to speak because I had such a beautiful spirit. Apparently, that means just in my presence, people feel loved. That's what the strange hugging lady explained to me.

That's the truth. That's my truth. If I've accepted you as a part of my "circle," I do love you; and, I love you strongly and unconditionally. That has always been the case. I have always been willing to fight on behalf of my family, even if that meant I'd get beat up. And excepting God's love for me has made loving others all the more easier.

I'll end with this verse: Zechariah 11: 4 "This is what the LORD my God says: "Pasture the flock marked for slaughter. 5 Their buyers slaughter them and go unpunished. Those who sell them say, 'Praise the LORD, I am rich!' Their own shepherds do not spare them. 6 For I will no longer have pity on the people of the land," declares the LORD. "I will hand everyone over to his neighbor and his king. They will oppress the land, and I will not rescue them from their hands." 7 So I pastured the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock."

Yeah, few people actually get to the part of the Bible. (I'll save my thoughts about Evangelicals and Fundamentalists for another post.) But, that's what inspires and prompts my quest to change the world, to fight racism, sexism, capitalism, and other oppressions. And now that I'm broadening my horizons to international issues, nationalism. At first, it was just American nationalism that bothered me, but now that I've learned about Turkey - I'm taking that on, too.

So, basically, I'm still celebrating turning 27. It's my own tradition to celebrate my birthday for at least a couple of weeks. Especially since my brother thought I was his early birthday present, I take the liberty of extending my own celebration past his. I'm not sure I'll be blogging about my personal growth again for a day or so, but. :sigh: My next posts will probably be about some political or international issue. It's just that, I'm so proud of myself for how far I've come. I'm thrilled that I'm finally receiving sufficient treatment for my CFIDS. I can hardly contain myself. I mean, of course, I have to. My health can't take a lot of hoopla, no matter the cause. But, I'm just excited about another day and another year.

Listen. Life is an adventure. I'm on this adventure with Elohim, another name for God, which, by the way, is Hebrew feminine plural, and a couple of other friends. I'm finally living life to the full and I love it! I wish you the same peace, contentment, and anticipation I have!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Evolution

Today's my birthday. I'm 27 today.

Yeah. I know 27 isn't a special birthday. It's not like I'm getting my driver license or anything. And, I'm not going crazy like my closest friend did last year when she cried, "Now, I'm just 3 years from 30!"

Actually, I'm looking forward to my 30s.

But for now, I'm 27. Not that 26 wasn't good. It was. But, this birthday is special to me. Even now, I can feel eyes watering. It's because of how far I've come since . . . ever.

You know. Usually, when I give my personal testimony, I recall how I couldn't believe Jesus loved me so much that he became a baby just for me. And the fact that he came back to life with Papa Smurf's help did it for me. I was sold! It was gonna be me and Jesus for life.

I was 4 when I accepted Christ. And don't worry. If I didn't know what I was doing then, and I did, I certainly do now. Nothing's changed about that testimony. That God would put on flesh and limitations of humanity just to pay for my sins still sends shivers down my spine, and that he was cruxicified and arose without a defibilator still blows me mind. I'm still sold. It's still me and Jesus for life.

But, I've never told anyone the entire truth of why accepted Christ. It wasn't that I didn't know anyone who loved me more. I didn't think I knew anyone who loved me. Yeah. Odd for a four year-old, and my mother would hate to hear that, but that's how I felt.

I used to have a hard time accepting or believing anyone loved me. Unconditionally, I mean. Even through my teens. You don't know my family, and this would make more sense. My mom is a local politician and has a lot of influence in the black community. My grandparents' and uncle owned their own business. I was a star student and basketball player. So, when people smiled and hugged me or shook my hand, I always thought it had more to do with mom than me. Or because my grades or basketball play impressed them. Even when older women would comment to my mom how pretty I was, I didn't pay that much attention. I thought that was more a compliment for my mom than for me; everyone swore how much I looked like her. And boys, well . . . let's say I was aiming for an academic scholarship and I wasn't interested in high school sex. I mean really. Having sex with someone who walked around with his pants hanging off his hips and couldn't remember to bring paper and pencil to school? Yeah, um, no.

College wasn't much different. Of hundreds of classmates, I only managed to remember close to 60 or 70 or their names, and most of that was due to some nudging. So, I really didn't care much for other people. Only a few people really stuck.

Oh. And that was just school. I was star in religious circles, too. Not a bad singer. Pretty good speaker (when I wasn't full of myself at the time).

But now, and granted it's took sometime, I actually believe people love me for me. And I can actually love them back. Nothing's changed in the way my family demonstrates affections, but I even believe my mom loves me. That wasn't always the case.

So, now that melodrama's been explained, there's actually more.

I know who I am now. Growing up, there were some lies I believed about myself. One was that I had a mean streak. That was punctuated by the fact that I could successfully discipline a youth choir of 15 kids without much hometraining. But now, I know who I am. I like sports, but I'm not gay. I can be quite prissy actually. But, going through life believing the worst about yourself just isn't a way to live. . . . Unless it's true, then, it's time for some self-examination I'd say.

And I know what I want from life. I know who I want in life. I don't wake up every morning hoping to die because the pain and exhaustion of chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction is so disorienting.

The best part is that I'm not afraid of the future any more. I'm not absolutely sure what the future holds for me, but I'm not afraid to meet it.

And here is where I digress a bit for the purpose of making a point. Contrary to what evangelicals and fundamentalists believe, not all lives are worth living. Terry Shiavo's husband was doing the right thing. Her parents didn't care about her. They just wanted to have their need for her presense met. Waking up hurting places you didn't realize you had isn't a way to live. So, let your loved ones go. Don't make them suffer for your own selfish reasons.

Back to me. I have been suicidal. It started during adolesenses. Part of the reason I spent over half my life thinking my mother didn't love me isn't just that she didn't say it; it's because she was always fussing at me about something. And there seemed to be nothing I could do that she wouldn't critique. And parents, that's not a way for your kids to live, either. What I didn't know was how she bragged about me to other people, including my brother. He and I both thought the other was the favorite child - parents, don't do that to your kids. Everything doesn't have to be perfect. Don't get me wrong. My mom didn't miss a basketball game. Even if all she talked about on the way home was how I didn't hold my follow through long enough.

But I've put all that behind me. I'm responsible for what I feel and think about myself. And, I'm taking God's word for it that I'm the apple of God's eye.

So, basically. Since life has no more meaning that what you're able to put into it, and I know that, I'm not afraid of the future. I know I have plenty to put into life. And know I have definite plans. In college, it killed me that I didn't have a clue as to what I'd be doing after graduation. Plus, I was sick and didn't know. Think it's bad having a doctor tell you there's nothing left for them to do and you only have a few months to live. Try just turning 22 and have a doctor look you in the eyes and say, "I know something's wrong. I just don't know what." My world crashed. I could hear and see my life shattering like broken glass. Like I had been in a head on without a seat belt, but not dead. I wish I could say no pain . . . but well, unbeknownst to me and the doctor, I had CFIDS.

Now, treatments are getting better. I finally have enough pain medicine, none of which is narcotic - but if you got an extra vicodine or something from oral surgery . . . Ha ha ha! I'm just kidding.

Not really. So, I was afraid of a future that virtually had little to nothing to offer. But now, I'm 27. I'm not as afraid to share my heart as I was just a few months ago. I don't know exactly what I'll be doing the next few years, but you can believe the world will change as far I can reach it.

I've come a long way in what's really a short time. I'm 27. And I'm making my life happen.

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But Don't Jack My Genuis