Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The Horrors of Slavery

"Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence. There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world."

Southern Slavery, As It Was

I read an article in the October 28th New York Times that literally kept me from falling asleep. You may have to register to read the article, but it is free.

The article tells the story of Dr. J. Marion Sims, called the father of gynecology. In the 1840s he developed a surgical treatment for vaginal fistulas, which formed because of prolonged labor. Dr. Sims developed his treatment by operating on slave women, without anesthesia. One woman endured the procedure 30 times, without the anesthesia which had then become available.

In his October 28th post, David Neiwert writes in his blog Orcinus about white supremacist efforts to sugar coat slavery and in one case to threaten the life of black Mississippian who plans to establish a museum dedicated to the history of slavey.

I am long overdue in giving David kudos for Orcinus. Before Freedom Rider existed I would email him in response to his posts about fascism. He printed some of my first efforts and in the process encouraged me to keep writing. You can give him partial thanks or blame for Freedom Rider. David performs a great service by writing about white supremacist groups operating throughout the country, a much neglected subject. I also have to thank him for helping me write about Dr. Sims. I didn't know how to channel the pain reading about him caused me.

Do yourself a favor and check out all the links that David gives in his article. By the way, according to the Times there is a monument to Dr. Sims in Central Park. I certainly hope that it will come down.
I am a little tardy in thanking Yesterday they provided a link to my October 23rd post on Orrin Hatch's antics in the Senate Judiciary Committee. I had also neglected to provide a link to that great site. Better late than never.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Presidential Prayer Team

In yesterday's post I should have explained more fully why I think the Presidential Prayer Team is fascist. In their FAQs they claim that their goal is to pray for leaders of future administrations as well as for Bush. Sounds good, but I see no prayer requests for Al Sharpton, Howard Dean or John Kerry. The only requests are for Bush cabinet members.

There is also a profile of Lt. Gen. William Boykin. Boykin has been in the news for saying that God put Bush in the White House and that his God is bigger than Allah. I guess size does matter. The Prayer Team thinks Boykin is OK.

Let's see. We have a group that requests prayers for one political party and not the other, and extols the virtues of political leaders who insult millions of people around the world. It gets better.

Their Adopt Our Troops Campaign asks us to pray for the President and "his troops." I didn't know that the U.S. military belongs to George W. Bush. They are my troops just as much as they are the President's. This is a democracy, at least for now. But it still gets better.

The goals of Adopt Our Troops are to insure that every member of the armed services is prayed for and to "...counteract the negative aspects of anti-war protests and anti-American sentiment."

I know that calling a group fascist is a serious charge to make, but if that group uses a religious pretext to favor one political party over another, claims that troops in a democratic nation belong to the leader of the spiritually favored party and feels it necessary to elicit prayers to counteract the exercise of our free speech rights then I have to say that the shoe fits and the Presidential Prayer Team should wear it.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Slacker Weekend

Scary and Funny

Being a web surfer can be a curse. Sometimes you discover things you would rather not have known about. The Presidential Prayer Team is one such item. Be sure to stay on the site long enough to see your 2003 President Prayer Team Christmans Ornament pop up ad. I suppose that means there are ornaments for other years as well. On my October 7th post "Pray for Rush and Bush" and on October 9th "Nitwits?" I discussed this very frightening move towards fascism. Worshiping a political leader is fascist. Period.

I now feel obligated to give my readers a cheap laugh. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Orrin Hatch, Stunt Man

Despicable! Americans dying in Iraq five months after the mission was supposedly accomplished? Outrageous! Workers loosing their livelihoods because their jobs have been sent to India? Offensive! Disparities in drug sentencing that give Limbaugh rehab for using and distributing but 65-year old Tommy Chong jail time and a fine for selling bongs? The hyperbole is not directed at any of these situations, but at a political cartoon.

During yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Senator Orrin Hatch used theatrics to throw Democrats off stride during Janice Rogers Brown's confirmation hearing by using a cartoon from Read Black Commentator's article on the hearing fireworks and on Judge Brown's scary background. If you have a media player you can see the two and a half hour hearing on C-Span. The anti-cartoon demagoguery starts almost at the very beginning of the hearing.

Just to set the record straight, 165 Bush judicial nominees have been confirmed, only three did not make it to a vote on the Senate floor. Two percent of Bush nominees have been rejected. How many Clinton nominees were never voted upon? A total of 63, 20% of his nominations were left without resolution.

Hatch and other conservatives accused Democrats of being anti-Hispanic when they rejected Miguel Estrada. They called their colleagues anti-Catholic when William Pryor was not confirmed (see my September 24th post). This time around anyone who questions Judge Rogers Brown will be labeled a racist discriminating against a conservative because she is black. Hatch and friends displayed the cartoon prominently during the hearing and watched gleefully as democratic senators out did one other in coming up with adjectives to decry the evils of a political cartoon.

Conservatives are terribly thin skinned. They can't take the Boondocks, Black Commentator, or made for tv movies about their idol Ronald Reagan. Now they are once again claiming persecution because a judge rated as less than qualified is nominated as a lifetime appointee to the federal judiciary. God forbid anyone question them.

As usual this is the real issue with the right wing. The rest of us are supposed to be quiet and let them have their way with us, sort of like the women groped by Governor-elect Schwarzenegger. In the case of judicial appointments Bush and company prove their strategic mettle by choosing nominees they know will not be confirmed. They then use the rejection as a means of attacking democrats and making it appear that the right are being treated unfairly.

When will Democrats wake up and smell the coffee? When Bush is inaugurated again in January 2005? I don't even know if that will do it. Is their a Democrat who will take Hatch on the next time he uses a political cartoon, or race baiting, or faith baiting to smear Democrats? Will the Democrats ever create vacancies on the federal bench the way Republicans did when Clinton was President?

We know the answers to these questions. I am still trying to figure out if democratic acquiescence is a matter of stupidity, expediency, or fear. Are we like the deer caught in headlights who sees the oncoming car but freezes in its tracks? Well, we aren't deer. We are human beings with the capacity to think and hopefully learn from our experiences. Our experiences on the senator Judiciary Committee should teach us to give no quarter to Orrin Hatch the next time he tries to pull another political stunt.

It seems that in my zeal to expose Bush administration lying I have concluded that every Zogby on earth is the pollster John Zogby.

In yesterday's post I provided a link giving details of how the Bushies have spun Iraq poll data. The poll was conducted by John Zogby, the article I referenced is written by James Zogby. I apologize for the mix up, but not for pointing out manipulation used to justify war.

I have to thank my cyber pal Steve Bates for pulling my coat tail.

Black Commentator
In case you didn't know, Senator Orrin Hatch gave a starring role in yesterday's confirmation hearing for Judge Janice Brown. It is a great site. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Thanks for Nothing George

We all look older than we did in 1997. But suppose you involved yourself in a war that most of the world opposed with a man most of the world despises or fears? I think you would age worse than the rest of us do. If you were recently diagnosed with an irregular heart beat it wouldn't be surprising either. Judge for yourself.

I Told You So

In my October 7th post I discussed the way the Bushies have lied about the results of polls conducted in Iraq. John Zogby, whose poll results were manipulated, gives more details.

On September 28th I discussed the dangers of Americans knowing so little about Iraqi culture. We Americans don't know a lot about our own culture after all. The New York Times give us the sad details. Maybe someone in the U.S. military might consider developing a crash course in Iraqi etiquette if not in the Arabic language.

How foolish of me to even think such a thing. I'm sorry. I must have been dreaming. The Freedom Rider is definitely too tired to write another word this evening. Good night.
Ronald Reagan and Elizabeth Smart

Some years ago America began a new and cruel tradition that takes place in February, May and November every year. This horror is known as television sweeps months.

Someone, whose identity is best left a mystery, thought it would be a great idea to determine advertising rates based on these months of the year. The results are television schedules that make no sense (reruns in December) and dopey made for television movies.

Well November is just around the corner and what are we anticipating? The parents of a kidnapped and no doubt sexually abused child making a buck off of her ordeal and soap suds about Ronald Reagan that have caused a collective conservative temper tantrum.

Why are conservatives whining? It seems that stealing a presidential election, the California governor's office and Texas redistricting isn't enough for them. Any depiction of Ronald Reagan has to show how he "won" the cold war. Get over it. It is not a documentary, it is a sweeps months flick. Of course it will be all about Nancy and the astrologer. If conservatives really want to show their concern for the way history is portrayed on television they should flex their considerable muscle and advocate for documentary production on network television. Once upon a time the networks produced documentaries.

I could take the conservatives seriously if they would aim their venom at a target perfectly ripe for villification, the Smart family. How in the world can a family whose child was kidnapped by a perverted religious fanatic make money off of her ordeal? I wonder if the upcoming made for television movie will tell the story of Richard Ricci. Richard Ricci was a neighbor of the Smarts who had a criminal record. The "experts" of tabloid cable shows decided he was guilty. The police were under pressure to solve the case and found a reason to put him in jail. He died in jail. He was innocent.

As for the Reagan biopic, I am incensed about another issue. It is obvious that Hollywood hates older women. Hates them so much in fact that they will not allow an older actress to portray an older woman. Judy Davis is too young to portray Nancy Reagan. This problem is especially obvious with First Lady portrayals. Was I the only one who thought that 30ish Joan Allen was oh, 30 years too young to play Pat Nixon in the crummy Oliver Stone Nixon film? HBO did Stone one better when Felicity Huffman portrayed Lady Bird Johnson in Path to War. That was not the only bad casting. Michael Gambon, who could not lose his British accent, portrayed LBJ. But I digress.

If Bill Bennett is going to huff and puff about sweeps months travesties he should get back to the business of preaching to the rest of us about something important. If he starts with Katie Couric interviewing a traumatized child I would lay off the right wing for a while. I might even praise them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Short Takes

The Freedom Rider is having a very busy week so she is slacking off a little. She will never forget her loyal readers so she is taking the easy way out with a few short takes.

Rummy's morale problems.gif
According to this Washington Post story, Rummy has more than a hot foot to worry about. It seems that some soldiers on leave are "missing" flights back to Iraq. If you want to know why check out my October 19th post.

Turn the sound on for this cartoon. In 2004 Florida was stolen months before election day when Jeb Bush and friends took as many as 90,000 likely democratic voters off the rolls. They can't do that again but they have found something new.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Freedom Rider Update

Look for my weekly column in Black Commentator. This entry is a nice way to end, hopefully forever, Marriage Protection Week.

A Fool's Errand

In my October 17th post I questioned the wisdom of young people seeking to improve their lot in life through military service.

Now comes word that Army Reserve and National Guard troops at Fort Stewart, Georgia are being denied medical care. Some have untreated injuries while others are suffering neurological problems that may be connected to vaccines. The Army's response is to say that their conditions were pre-existing. That lets Uncle Sam off the hook for medical care. Be all that you can be, if they don't kill you first.

The variety of illnesses categorized as Gulf War Syndrome may also have been caused by vaccines that were meant to protect against chemical weapons attack. I have to add here that when Saddam Hussein was actually using chemical weapons in the 1980s he was America's friend.

The next time you watch the news and see Rumsfeld making the case for war, remember this picture of him and his then buddy Saddam Hussein.

If you want to read more about the suffering of U.S. troops in Iraq go here, here, and here.

No, Congressman Rangel, we don't need to reinstitute the draft. We need to say no to the madness of militarism. The armed forces should exist to protect our nation and to intercede when necessary to save lives. Neither scenario applied in Iraq.
A Yellow Dog

It may be hard to believe now, but there was a time when the south was solidly democratic. It was said that southerners would vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for republicans. Of course, this was before the civil rights movement became identified with democrats. Slowly but surely the electoral landscape became solidly republican for white southerners.

But there are always exceptions, even in the state of Bush and DeLay. One of the links on this site is for the The Yellow Doggerel Democrat. Do yourself a favor and check it out. You will learn that there are progressives all over the land, some of whom are working against the tide in the Lone Star State.

In his latest post Steve Bates, the yellow dog, give us updates on the Patriot Act, environmental racism, warnings about our savings and frightening news of a Christian supremacist zealot who is Rumsfeld's right hand man.

By the way, as the title of the site indicates, Steve is also a great poet.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Taking It to the Streets

The purpose of the military is to make war. It is not a job training program, it is not a college scholarship program and we need to explain these facts to young people in the most emphatic way.

The army is using hip-hop culture and Source magazine to recruit black kids and the promise of citizenship to lure Latino immigrants.

It is time to tell young people not to join up. Charles Rangel and others concerned about the disproportionate numbers of recruits of color say we should reinstitute the draft. We had a draft during Vietnam and it didn't keep the George W. Bush's of the world from getting cushy National Guard assignments while the poor went off to 'Nam. Of course, Bush didn't really serve. He was AWOL for one year, but that is another story.

If we we are going to fight against the use of our young people as cannon fooder we need to fight American militarism. We need to keep our country from intervening military and we need to tell our young people that it isn't worth it to join up.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and the Boondocks

As every reader of this blog knows, the Freedom Rider is no fan of any Bush administration official. In one of my first posts, on September 14th, I spoke of the lies told on Dubya's behalf by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Suffice it to say that I don't like her, her boss, or her colleagues because of what they have wrought in the world. So it came as some surprise to me that I wound up defending her yesterday. Who was the instigator of this 180 degree turn? Of course it could only be Aaron McGruder, creater of the Boondocks comic strip. He had this to say about Rice.

The Freedom Rider is single, and like all single women has had to withstand the slings and arrows of both men and women who use female singleness to explain any and all negative character traits. I once had a female boss who I complained about quite a bit. Invariably I was asked, "Is she married? Does she have a man?" When I said she did not the inquisitor would usually say that living the solo life was the cause of her unpleasantness. As everyone knows women without men are hateful, bitter shrews. Mind you I have known married women who are hateful, bitter shrews, but no one uses marital status to explain their personalities.

So I fussed and fumed at Mr. McGruder on behalf of single women every where. However, I was forced to do another 180 when I read today's Boondocks. The Freedom Rider had to castigate herself. Had she missed obvious satire in the first Boondocks? I like to think I am very, very smart so I was and am deeply troubled by the Boondocks incident.

All of this brings me to another issue. As I said in an earlier post today, Greg Thielmann, a former aide to Colin Powell, has confirmed that Powell told a series of huge, wopping lies on February 5th in a United Nations speech used to justify an invasion of Iraq. Despite the fact that Powell has consistently lied in order to justify the war he is still admired by a majority of black Americans and by white liberals as well. I always hear that Powell is really "the spook who sat by the door," that he is going to resign, that he isn't really a Republican, that he restrains the conservatives, etc.

It is time to face the facts. Colin Powell has worked for the last three Republican presidents. He worked for Reagan as National Security Adviser, then as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs under Bush the elder, and now as Secretary of State for Shrub. May I ask why we should doubt that someone who has served as a top aide in three Republican administrations is in fact a Republican? Why does anyone think he is going to resign? He hasn't resigned because he likes what he does. He is a militarist who is comfortable with the foreign policy goals of this administration.

Most black people still speak highly of Powell, however. It really isn't hard to understand the reasons. At this late date in history most black people will defend those in the group who have done well. We keep voting for Democrats but even the beloved Bill Clinton never gave the most prominent White House jobs to blacks. Along comes Colin Powell in one of the highest level cabinet positions. The likelihood that black people will speak ill of him is slim.

But what of Condi? I never hear the same level of support expressed for her. Part of the explanation is sexism. Because she is a woman she doesn't get the pass from black people that Powell gets. I have also heard more than one person ask why she has never married. Is she a lesbian? What is really wrong with her?

Personality may play a role too. Powell seems to be a down to earth, congenial person. Rice quite frankly comes across as being prissy, which doesn't mesh well with comments like, "We don't want a mushroom cloud to be the smoking gun." Her hawkish remarks only make her look like the kid who always sucked up to the teacher. Powell manages to come across as being his own guy, one most people would like. His demeanor helps to insulate him from the liberal animus reserved for the rest of the Bush team. His skin color doesn't hurt either. Even in the age of Clarence Thomas and Armstrong Williams we don't want to think there are any black conservatives. Any black person who wants to be a conservative should be just that. But the vast majority of us who are anything but political conservatives must not be fooled when people who look like us don't hold the same views. If I had to choose between having Thomas or a white liberal on the bench, I would choose the white liberal.

I don't like Rice or Powell. Neither is more worthy of my respect than Rumsfeld or Cheney. I am afraid that Iraq is the harbinger of some terrible things to come for this country, so I leave racial identitfy aside when judging this administration.

I wish that more people were ready to judge other blacks, yes even prominent ones, by their actions. It makes no sense to dislike the President but love his Secretary of State. The President is the boss after all. The Secretary of State, like everyone else, follows the boss's orders or quits. If Powell quits I will reconsider. But it would still be hard to think of him and not remember the lies he told to get us into an unnecessary and dangerous war.

Yes, Limbaugh Is an Addict

Leave it to Bill Maher to cut to the chase. Regular readers of Freedom Rider notice that I quote Maher often. He is cynical but I think that is necessary in discussing American society. Sometimes he is mean and I find that infuriating, but he hits one out of the park (it is that time of year) in discussing Limbaugh.

Colin Powell is a Liar

I always knew that the Bush administration was filled with liars. Unlike most black people I don't make excuses for Colin Powell. He is as big a liar as Cheney, Rummy, Condi and the rest of the gang. When I have more time I will explore why Powell continues to have credibility with most black Americans while Condi does not. The Freedom Rider is a wage slave with a personal life as well. If I could just get rid of the wage slave part I would write to my hearts content.

Fortunately a former Powell aide has spoken out about the UN speech back in February that made the case for war. He confirms what those of us in the anti-war community have long known. The administration was determined to go to war and made up the "facts" as they went along.

I think these comments are pretty devastating. Let's see what the liberal media makes of them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Right Wing Radio

Last night the Newshour with Jim Lehrer broadcast a story about right wing dominance of talk radio. I felt the reporting was very biased in favor of conservatives. Sean Hannity states with a perfectly straight face that the network news has a liberal bias. Any rebuttal? Nope. Then there is the canard of the Cuomo and Hightower failures which we are told prove the unpopularity of liberal thought. Near the end they finally mention the Reagan era ending of the Fairness Doctrine. Oprah and Leno can shill for Arnold and not face any repurcussions.

In any case read the transcript and listen if you have a media player. You should also tell them what you think at

Monday, October 13, 2003

Thou Shalt Think for Thyself

The Freedom Rider is a Baptist who sits in a church pew nearly every Sunday morning. I obviously feel that religious belief plays a beneficial role in my life. When I think of the power of faith I think of people like Martin Luther King, Archbishop Oscar Romero and the Dalai Lama. This is but a small list of those whose search for the means of enlightened living have revolutionized our world. My image of the role that faith plays in our lives is one of furthering the cause of the human condition by challenging us to live lives of righteousness, addressing the needs of the poor and powerless, sharing ideas that are enobling and uplifting, and finding common ground for people of all faiths.

This past week has been a tough one as far as religious enlightenment is concerned. I knew that the Catholic Church, like most others, disapproves of sex unless it is between a man and a woman who are married to one another. It also forbids the use of any contraceptive devices, including condoms. So I am not surprised nor do I condemn the Vatican for speaking out against condom use. However, I was surprised to hear the Catholic Church telling people in countries with high rates of HIV that condoms increase the risk of infection. Needless to say, the World Health Organization and others were startled and angry that people at risk would be told not to use condoms. Vatican officials replied to the criticism by repeating the same statement. They insist, against all scientific evidence, that latex condoms are not impermeable to the AIDS virus. Strike one against organized religion. Lest I be accused of harboring anti-Catholic bias I will now move my lens to Protestants.

If the pastor of my church moved to another city I would wish him well, pray for his success and welcome the new pastor. I would also look askance at him if he asked anyone to move lock, stock and barrel to join him in a new city. Apparently there are those who disagree with me. Rev. Dana Carson, established a church in Austin, Texas and then moved on to Alvin, Texas, nearly 200 miles away. About 300 of 5,000 members of his congregation moved with him. The Rev. Carson had a good explanation for the willingness of people to quit jobs, sell homes, change their children's schools and move to another town.

"It's a cultural thing," Carson said. "African-Americans are more relationship-based. Whites are more analytical. When African-Americans have a relationship with a preacher, they stick with him."

I will bluntly say that this story scared the living daylights out of me. The commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" is apropos in situations such as Rev. Carson's. Are congregants worshipping God, or Dana Carson? I would also ask him to speak for himself. Whites are no more analytical than blacks, thank you very much. There are equally foolish white people who would relocate in order to stay with the same preacher.

Who's up next? The Episcopalians have not been doing too well lately. Ever since an openly gay man was confirmed as a bishop the Anglican Church has been at risk of dividing. It is not surprising that the confirmation of a gay bishop would be controversial, but would you believe that far right ring millionaires are funding the effort to split Anglicans? The same people who funded the effort to bring down the Clinton presidency are working to break up the Episcopal church. It isn't difficult to understand why Bishop Robinson's confirmation has generated so much debate, but I don't understand Christians aligning themselves with people who cynically use religion to fight political battles.

I always defend believers when I hear religion referred to as the opiate of the people. Well, there are a lot of drugged, sleepy Christians these days. I don't know how to reclaim the higher ideals of faith. Perhaps it is simple enough to say loudly that they need to be reclaimed.

I don't think that God would have given us powerful and complex brains if he didn't want us to think. So please think. Think a lot. Think long and hard. Ask questions. God is big enough to handle any questions or comments you may have.

Fight the good fight of faith.

St. George

Does the Associated Press think that the president is an angel?

Happy Columbus Day

Today in 1492 Christopher Columbus found himself in the Caribbean. He was looking for a new route to India. Men will just not ask for directions.

The arrival of the Europeans had horrific consequences for millions of people. The native populations of every nation in this hemisphere were devastated by disease and conquest. Every nation in this hemisphere participated in the evil enslavement of Africans. I sure hope that whole karma idea is bogus. If it isn't we are in very big trouble.

Viet, um Iraq

Take a look at this story. Having learned absolutely nothing from our experience in Vietnam, some genius in the U.S. military had the bright idea of punishing Iraqi farmers for not informing on guerrillas. Do you think the people whose livelihoods have been destroyed will be pro or anti-American? Just asking. Also, check the archives for my September 28th post.

Unfortunately, the information glut wrought by the internet is wasted on our president. You see he doesn't read the newspaper. Don't reread the previous sentence. There is nothing wrong with your eyes or my writing. The president does not read the paper. He said so himself. Check out this exchange with Brit Hume of Fox News.

HUME: How do you get your news?

BUSH: I get briefed by Andy Card and Condi in the morning. They come in and tell me. In all due respect, you've got a beautiful face and everything.

I glance at the headlines just to kind of a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves. But like Condoleezza, in her case, the national security adviser is getting her news directly from the participants on the world stage.

HUME: Has that been your practice since day one, or is that a practice that you've...

BUSH: Practice since day one.

HUME: Really?

BUSH: Yes. You know, look, I have great respect for the media. I mean, our society is a good, solid democracy because of a good, solid media. But I also understand that a lot of times there's opinions mixed in with news. And I...

HUME: I won't disagree with that, sir.

BUSH: I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news. And the best way to get the news is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world.

HUME: Mr. President, thank you very much.

BUSH: Thank you, sir.

Despite the fact that the president doesn't read the paper, he is worried about the media "filter" regarding Iraq. That means he needs a new PR offensive. We can now look forward to more strange statements from Condi Rice. Also see my September 14th post.

I only looked for the interview to get the newspaper quote, but the rest was equally revealing and scary. Check it out but be warned. It is not for the faint of heart. But sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

No Rush to judgment

It took Limbaugh's admission of drug addiction to get the New York Times to pay attention. Prior to his confession the story was not deemed worthy.

Limbaugh is a nationally known political commentator who is now part of a criminal investigation. I would have thought there was a story here for the "paper of record." Apparently if the story shows conservatives in a negative light it isn't fit to print.
Republican Shame

I am not sure if I should begin this post by criticizing the New York Times or Republican New York Governor George Pataki. Governor Pataki is embarking on one of the most shameful plans in American political history and the New York Times, having succumbed to right wing pressure not to seem even a little bit liberal, is complicit.

Larry Silverstein, the lease holder for the World Trade Center, is embroiled in a dispute with insurers to determine whether the 9/11 terror attacks are one or two separate incidents. What is the difference? The difference is worth $3.5 billion.

The Times headline for this story is Pataki Wants Insurance Settled So Trade Center Work Can Begin. It sounds pretty innocuous. But there is a sentence you would miss if you skimmed the article too quickly. "Mr. Pataki has said he wants the cornerstone for the first building at the trade center to be laid next August."

Why next August? Thanks to the shrewdness of the republicans their convention will take place in New York City in August of 2004. Republican Mayor Bloomberg was prepared to welcome the democrats as well, but thanks to that party's incompetence (that means you McAuliffe) only the republicans will have a convention in the media capital of the world two weeks before the 9/11 anniversary. It was reported earlier this year that the governor wanted the cornerstone laid during the convention, but the governor's office demanded and got corrections from the Times and other media.

How much longer can the republicans squeeze political benefit from the death of 3,000 people? Unless democrats and the media grow new spines they can get away with it through next year's presidential campaign. What will the press say if the governor succeeds in brokering a deal and the cornerstone is laid during the convention? Will they press the governor about the corrections and retractions they were forced to print?

I am not holding my breath.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Speak Up

The right wing succeed in large part because they complain constantly. Progressive views are ignored or distorted by the media, yet conservatives whine about media bias.

NBC thinks it is OK if Leno shills for Schwarzenegger. Tell them you disagree.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Pat Robertson

It is after 11 p.m. and I am tired. I was on my way to bed when I made the mistake of checking just one more website. It was a bad mistake.

In my October 5th post I mentioned that Pat Robertson joined the "let's question a black person's credentials" onslaught with a criticism of Morgan Freeman. Freeman had the unmitigated gall to portray the Almighty in a film. What nerve.

Robertson is at it again. He thinks we should "get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottomt" and blow it up. I know that conservatives don't like the State Department but this is getting to be ridiculous. First Ann Coulter wants to blow up the New York Times. Then Clarence Thomas wants to blow up his alma mater, Yale Law School. Now Robertson wants to blow up part of our own government. I have yet to hear of any liberals wanting to blow up anything. We just complain among ourselves and cry in our beer over the latest butt kicking by the people who want to blow things up.

Now I am going to bed.
More Freedom Rider

Check out my new column in Black Commentator. Black Commentator is published every Thursday.
The NYPD is Boss

For many years Bruce Springsteen has been seen as a spokesperson for the struggling working class in America. His album, yes album, Born in the USA, with its red, white and blue motif was used by democrats and republicans alike to establish their credentials with the common man. Springsteen refused requests to run for public office and steadfastly maintained his political independence. He was wise to do so. Those who identified with his music in the past have gotten a bit more selective lately.

In a series of concerts at Shea Stadium Bruce opined that Bush should be impeached because of the unnecessary war in Iraq. Not everyone was pleased with that statement. Conservative pundit Laura Ingraham has recently written a book entitled, Shut Up and Sing, which attacks liberal entertainers for expressing their political views. I wonder how she feels about republican Governor Adolf, sorry, Arnold Schwarzenegger? Should he shut up and act?

Springsteen wrote a song, American Skin, which tells the story of Amadou Diallo, an immigrant from the West African nation of Guinea killed in a hale of 41 police bullets in 1999. He was struck by a total of 19 shots when he was mistaken for a rape suspect under mysterious circumstances. Actually the circumstances were not so mysterious. The cops said he went for his wallet and they thought it was a gun. Diallo isn't here to talk so I don't know if he did anything at all. The trial was moved from the Bronx to Albany in upstate New York and the four policemen were acquitted of the most serious charges. Why does Simi Valley come to mind when I think of this case?

Apparently it is not good enough that their colleagues were acquitted. The NYPD feels that the case can never be mentioned again. When Springsteen sang American Skin at Shea the NYPD withdrew his courtesy escort. It was returned the following night when Bruce was a good boy and didn't sing the offending song.

This story sums up why I am no fan of the police. Yes, I would dial 911 in an emergency but I would do so with trepidation. As Al Sharpton says, black people fear both the cops and the robbers. The officers who killed Amadou Diallo were looking for a rape suspect, which is a good thing. But they were trigger happy when they saw a black face and that makes me afraid of them.

I don't need lectures about crime in black neighborhoods and the need for police protection. Of course we need police protection. But it is difficult to trust armed men who are petty enough to take their marbles and go home because they are in a snit.

Yesterday I referred to some of my co-religionists as "nitwits." It is indeed true that you shouldn't write when you are angry. Not only was I overly harsh but I was also a little redundant in my ranting. One of the problems with discourse today is that we use name calling instead of rigorous thought to win arguments. I don't want to be guilty of that so I will give it another try now that I have calmed down.

Too many people paint a faith based life in simplistic terms. However, the truth is exactly the opposite. It can be difficult to live in ways that are in keeping with the beliefs we profess.

Political issues are especially sticky when merged with religious belief. Christians and followers of other faiths want to be involved politically as much as anyone else, perhaps even more so because we feel so strongly about issues. But we make serious mistakes when we forget what the bible says about our relation to the state.

One of the Ten Commandments is "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Yet it was with great sadness that I observed devout Christians praying before a monument in an Alabama courtroom as though it were an idol. The display of this sacred text among the secular is disrespectful to Judeo-Christian tradition, not affirming.

The prayer given on also smacks of idol worship. God does not give us politicians. Anyone who reads Freedom Rider knows I am no fan of President Bush. But I never prayed for Bill Clinton or any democrat to win an election. As much as I want to see a democratic victory in 2004 I won't do it now. We shouldn't cheapen God by saying he favors one political party over another.

I suppose that I used the word "nitwit" because this all seems so obvious to me. I am frightened when I see people of faith allowing themselves to be used by the politically powerful. We should all speak out on the issues that concern us. That will sometimes mean working within the political system. But we should never succumb to making ourselves servants of the state.

Dr. King made his most courageous statement when he broke with the Johnson administration in denouncing the Vietnam war. King lost friends and supporters when he spoke against his former benefactors. I believe that this decision also cost him his life.

How many of us are willing to risk so much? Christians fall every where on the political spectrum and we shouldn't hesitate to be politically active. However, we should never be so closely allied with the secular that we compromise our spiritual beliefs.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Wild Animals are Just That

I have a friend who is a forensic pathologist. I once asked him what was the worst thing he had ever seen in an autopsy. He has of course seen victims of murder, car accidents, and fires. He told me about a man who was drunk, high, insane or all of the above when he climbed into a tiger cage at a zoo. That body was the worst he had seen.

Listen up people. Wild animals are called wild for a reason. They can and will kill you. Period. End of story.

This past weekend I turned on my television to learn that one Antoine Yates, resident of a Harlem housing project, was keeping a tiger in his apartment. Mr. Yates made the mistake of getting between the hungry tiger and a kitten. Of course he was bitten and had to go to the hospital. The friend he asked to feed the tiger had a modicum of common sense and reported the predator to authorities. I then heard that Roy Horn, of Siegfried and Roy, was attacked by a tiger during a performance of their show in Las Vegas. As if that were not enough, today I read that Timothy Treadwell, a self-taught expert on Alaskan grizzly bears, was killed by one of the animals he studied.

I wondered why someone would keep a tiger in an apartment. Anyone interested in studying wild animals can do so easily in New York City. We have five zoos, one for each borough. Those who are fascinated by animals should visit, volunteer, or take a class at one of these facilities.

My questions were better left unanswered. Mr. Yates described the tiger, Ming, as his only friend. It is beginning to make sense. Maladjusted people without social skills keep 400 hundred pound predators in their apartments. Now I get it.

As for Mr. Horn I suppose he thought that he new his tiger, Montacore. He reportedly pleaded in the hospital, "Don't kill the cat."

Mr. Treadwell had once experienced a drug overdose and then was nearly attacked by a bear and subsequently concluded that studying bears was his mission in life. He even described them as "party animals" on the David Letterman show. I think Betty Ford would have been a better idea for him. Even domesticated animals can maim and kill. Let's not make wild animals our means of self-discovery.

Yesterday I saw a television interview with a representative of New York's Animal Care and Control office. He reported that he and his colleagues rescue between 7,000 and 8,000 exotic animals every year. It seems that selfishnessness, disregard for animal needs, disregard for the safety of others and good old fashioned foolishness are rampant in our fair city. Apparently many people buy a crocodilian, Yates had one of those too, and then panic when it grows to 6, 7 or 8 feet in length.

A friend of mine says that there is an inate human and spiritual need to learn about nature, but the lack of spiritual grounding and intellectual stimulation in our society inspires people to keep wild animals in their homes instead of studying them in a proper setting. As usual the story is bigger than we think. It is easy to laugh at someone who says he misses the tiger that seriously injured him. It is not so easy to think about why there are 7,000 other people like him in the same city.

The Freedom Rider does not like to tell her age, but I will do so by recalling a commercial from the 70s with the punch line "It's not nice to fool mother nature." If mother nature gives a creature sharp teeth and claws to match it should be avoided by humans. If you want friends talk to people. If you find it hard to make friends tell your troubles to a therapist, preacher, or bartender. But whatever you do keep carnivores out of apartments.
The Morning After

Who should we blame? Gray Davis for not dropping out? Maria Shriver for being a dutiful Stepford Wife? The press for treating a political campaign like a press junket for a new movie? Let's not give Oprah a pass either (September 16th post).

On several occasions I met the late James Davis, the City Councilman who was shot and killed this summer. He ran for office with a campaign poster that looked more like an actor's 8x10 glossy. He told me why. "People will vote for a celebrity instead of a politician any time."

The worst result of this fiasco is the boost it gives Bush in next year's presidential election (October 2nd post). The august New York Times thinks otherwise but I'm not buying it. Republicans would not have gotten Davis out of office unless they thought it would help Bush win the state. They are long range planners. Unfortunately I am a member of the democratic party. The party run by defensive, reactive, clueless leadership.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Pray for Rush and Bush

In my October 2nd post I wrote about the Christian duty to be compassionate, even towards those we dislike. I was making a larger statement in the case of the Rush Limbaughs of the world who have no compassion but instead condemn, judge and spread hatred. I can pray for Limbaugh to seek treatment and make a commitment to the Twelve Steps of recovery. The result would be a new, improved, kinder, gentler, and saner Rush Limbaugh.

Well others are not so nuanced. Today I discovered This site exhorts us all to "pray for the doctor of democracy." I had no idea there was a doctor of democracy and I would never have thought Limbaugh was the man for the job. The site doesn't tell us why we should schedule time to pray and/or fast for Rush. Are we praying to get him out of a legal jam? Are we praying for him to stop using? Are we praying for him to return to ESPN? But a closer look reveals the answer. We are supposed to pray for Rush because he is a conservative. It turns out that the same person created

"We believe George W. Bush is a man after God's own heart. He is a man who lives in Christ, and obeys God. Like King David, he is not perfect, but he is repentant, humble, and full of the mighty courage that results from trusting the Lord. We believe George W. Bush is a merciful gift from the Lord to an undeserving people."

Was Bush obeying God when he invaded Iraq? Is Bush repentant? I haven't heard any repentance for the lies that led to the deaths of thousands in Iraq. I can agree with the undeserving part. I didn't deserve having this guy in the White House.

I don't object to prayers for Bush or anyone else. However, I do object to nitwit Christians who seek to make the church an arm of government. Jesus said in Matthew 22:21, "Then He said to them, Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." Jesus was referring to a lot more than Caesar's face on a coin. He was telling us not to make the church the arm of government. He definitely would have frowned on the Faith Based Initiative and Christians who claim that He favors one political group over another.

I wish bible thumpers would stop thumping and start reading. Nothing serious mind you. Just the highlights. They just might learn how to be Christians. It isn't easy. You have to think for yourself and be skeptical of those who claim to believe as you do, especially when they want to use you for political purposes.

Thanks to fellow blogger Scoobie Davis for the heads up.
More Iraq Lies

A couple of weeks ago Bush administration officials couldn't stop talking about favorable poll results in Iraq. Polls in the U.S. don't look good so they had to go pretty far afield for positive news. We were told that 60% of Baghdad residents thought that getting rid of Saddam was worth the hardships they have suffered and 67% thought that life would improve within five years.

I am not convinced that polling in America is accurate and I was suspicious from the beginning about these self-serving results. But it turns out that the Bushies are up to their usual tricks. The administration was a bit selective with the polling data it chose to reveal. They neglected to mention that the same poll shows 94% of Baghdad residents think their city is more dangerous now. The poll also showed that Iraqis have a more positive opinion of France and Jacques Chirac than they do of the U.S. and George Bush.

It is bad enough that members of congress embarrassed our nation to rename fried potatoes. Now we find out that Iraqis are still putting the word French with the fries, not to mention braids, manicures and toast.

On September 28 I wrote about our ignorance of Iraqi culture and how that ignorance has already made the situation worse. Well it turns out that most Iraqis, 51%, believe that "democracy is a Western way of doing things and it will not work here." I know they don't want torture chambers either, but we were fed a steady diet of "Saddam is an evil tyrant and that is all you need to know." It wasn't all we needed to know about Iraq and the current mess proves it.

If you want to read through the entire poll you can find it here.
Support the Los Angeles Times

Conservatives have mounted an orchestrated attack against the Los Angeles Times. What is their crime? They actually had the nerve to report the Arnold groping story.

Send a few words of support to the L.A. Times.

Monday, October 06, 2003


Relatives of British soldiers killed in Iraq have asked Prime Minister Tony Blair not to attend a memorial service honoring their loved ones. One called Blair a "war criminal."

"I think he's a war criminal, it's as simple as that. The man, without any consideration to the Labour parliamentary party, elected to go to war with this scabby little friend in Texas [President Bush], and killed 51 of our men unnecessarily," he said. "If I have a chance to meet him on Friday, I will tell him to his face.

That is definitely the money quote.

But Wait, There's More

I was premature in publishing my previous post. A Schwarzenegger win would be an indication of something worse than stupidity on the part of California voters. A vote for Arnold is a vote in favor of bigotry and sexism.

Many Americans yearn for the days when women who were groped against their will had to take it and shut up. There was a time when a racist remark on television wouldn't merit a pink slip. Ah, the good old days.

We should not let closet bigots off the hook and we should not be in denial about their existence. Life is hard for those who favor white, male supremacy. Schwarzenegger gives them hope and they can vote for him in secret. No one will know that they fantasize about getting away with grabbing a woman's breast or putting a hand up an unwilling skirt. What hapless, harried guy wouldn't want to be ". . .like Hitler in the Nuremberg stadium. And have all those people scream at you and just being total agreement whatever you say." It must also be pointed out who is defending Adolf, sorry, Arnold, among the press and punditry. So much for liberal bias in the media.

A Schwarzenegger win should be a wake up call for all Americans. But then again, 9/11 was supposed to be a wake up call. Forget what I just said. America is a nation of Rip Van Winkles. Too many of us are catching z's and not paying attention to anything important.

Start praying.
"Gary Coleman is no more of a joke than Schwarzenegger"
Bill Maher

I have been scratching my head wondering why Schwarzenegger was ever a factor in the recall election in the first place. This comic is as good an explanation as any other I have heard. If Schwarzenegger wins it will prove that Americans will elect a Hitler-loving groper as long as they have seen him in an action movie and he promises to get rid of a car tax. If Californians are desperate they should want republicans out. Remember the "rolling black outs" from a few years back? Republicans helped Enron cut off California's power and make millions. Unfortunately Enron didn't make enough to forestall going belly up and losing its employees' life savings.

I try not to be a snob when discussing opinions not in sync with my own. But I have to say it. America has way too many stupid people. The level of stupidity in our nation is grotesque and getting worse by the moment. Of course, our leaders encourage ignorance. How else can republicans undo an election and get their guy in power? If the electorate were interested and informed they couldn't get away with it.

As to Bill Maher's question, Gary Coleman isn't white, tall, a movie star, or married to a Kennedy. Oops. I have to correct myself. Arnie isn't even tall. I have seen him in the flesh and he is 5'11" at the most. Hurray for Hollywood.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Slavery in New York State

Where was Sojourner Truth enslaved?
(a) Virginia
(b) Georgia
(c) Alabama
(d) New York

The title of this post gives away the answer. Isabella Baumfree, known as Sojourner Truth, was born and spent most of her life enslaved in New York State. Slavery did not end in New York State until 1827, and then only under a system of "gradual emancipation" that left some enslaved until the 1840s.

Yesterday the remains of over 400 enslaved and free black New Yorkers were re-interred in lower Manhattan. The African Burial Ground was discovered in the early 1990s and a ten year long effort was made to study the site and the remains before returning the deceased to their resting place.

I am sorry that I was unable to attend the ceremony. But thanks to the miracle of cyber space I can share some of it with you. If you have a media player you can see the broadcast here if you click on "CBS 2 video."

Better to Be Thought a Fool

I have written several posts this past week about Rush Limbaugh. The first story dealt with his remarks about black quarterbacks and then like manna from heaven it was discovered that Rush is quite the pill popper.

When stories like these break, we can always rely on certain people to say something asinine. Enter Pat Robertson. At first I found his remarks incomprehensible, but I think I have figured it all out. Pat doesn't want a black actor to portray the Almighty. Before you get angry just consider the source. This is the same man who agreed with Jerry Falwell that liberals were to blame for the 9/11 terror attacks.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Huddled Masses and a Confession from the Freedom Rider

Today the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride culminated in a rally held in New York City. On September 20th more than 1,000 immigrant workers and their supporters boarded buses in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, Chicago and Boston and made their way to New York. Along the way they advocated for equal legal rights for immigrants, improvements in labor protection, the granting of legal status to immigrants already in the country, and streamlining immigration procedures to guarantee a swifter citizenship process.

I knew about the IWFR project but I confess that I had mixed feelings about it. Of course having named my blog Freedom Rider I felt a connection to the events of 1961 that helped lead to the end of segregation in American society. But I also have to confess an inexplicable yet unmistakable case of xenophobia when I first heard about this effort.

"Who told them to come here? If they don't like it they should go back to their own countries. Why are they using my history to name their event?" My narrow minded and less than enlightened thoughts went on in that vein. I was surprised by my reaction because I have always recognized the benefits of immigration. I revel in the energy and excitement that come from living in a city whose inhabitants are from every inhabited corner of the world. Often I sit on the subway and marvel at my fellow passengers reading newspapers in Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese and other languages I don't recognize.

There are also practical benefits to immigration for native born Americans. One-third of New York City residents were born outside of the United States. If it weren't for immigration and the resulting population growth New York state would lose more congressional seats and the electoral votes that go with them. All Americans benefit by having more workers support the social security system. But let's not the forget the most important issue. New York finally has good Mexican food.

I think that my reaction was based on feelings of nationalism and the lack of compassion that results from living in a country with no safety net. Black Americans have often felt that immigrants were competitors for jobs and government assistance. It also doesn't help that American racism spreads its hateful message around the world. Many immigrants arrive in the United States with preconceived negative attitudes towards black people. Some of these immigrants are elites in their societies and not "huddled masses yearning to breathe free." It is difficult not to be resentful when people who don't even speak English arrive here and prosper within a short period of time while the doors of opportunity remain shut to those of us whose ancestors began arriving on these shores in the 1600s.

Because American society does not help its citizens unless they fall into the worst depths of poverty we live in a state of fear of the unknown and resentment towards anyone we think is getting a break. We know that if we lose our jobs we lose our health insurance. We know that working and paying taxes all our lives isn't taken into account when we fall victim to some unexpected misfortune and require government help. This harshness can make us unsympathetic to the needs of others. It is true that we end up paying for the health care costs incurred by indigent immigrants. But we spend far more on health care for poor Americans who have no health insurance. The issue is a lack of health insurance coverage for all, not the cost of providing care to immigrants.

In thinking about my response I realize that there are fundamental issues of fairness involved. There are industries in the United States that are completely reliant on immigrant labor. Even the poorest Americans don't want to pick apples in Washington State. Politicians hypocritically tell voters they oppose immigration but then pass laws to insure a supply of immigrant labor for certain industries.

American foreign and economic policy is also responsible for immigration. We subsidize American farmers and in doing so make it difficult for foreign farmers to make a living. The result is poverty around the world which of course leads to more immigration. I had a neighbor from Jamaica who told me how lonely and unhappy she was when she first came to the United States. But she came because she felt forced to do so by the lack of opportunity in her homeland. Let us not forget that support of oppressive regimes around the globe leads to a desire by those oppressed people to make a better life for themselves. Our support of the Duvaliers in Haiti is but one example of American foreign policy encouraging immigration.

Of course, when speaking of American history bad karma will always rear its head. I find it amusing when Americans in the southwest complain about immigration. However, the United States started a war with Mexico in 1846 and ended up grabbing half of its territory. Present day California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Utah and portions of Wyoming were all ceded to the United States by Mexico when the war ended. The new immigrants aren't coming to a new country at all but are returning to their homeland.

I should also mention that Congressman John Lewis of Georgia was one of the original Freedom Riders who were attacked by a mob in Anniston, Alabama in 1961. The Congressman is a strong supporter of the goals of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride.

Short Take

"What this says to me is that too many whites are getting away with drug use. Too many whites are getting away with drug sales. Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we're not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too."

Who made this statement?
(a) Jesse Jackson
(b) Michael Moore
(c) Rush Limbaugh

The answer is (c). El Rushbo talked tough about sending white drug abusers to jail in an October 5, 1995 broadcast. I never thought I would hear myself say this, but I agree with Rush. White drug abusers should go to jail more often. I certainly hope he meant what he said.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Florida Man Makes Himself Deaf

It sounds like an Enquirer headline doesn't it? Well, in a way it is. The National Enquirer broke the story of Rush Limbaugh's addiction to prescription drugs. But it did not tell readers that one of those drugs may have caused Limbaugh's hearing loss.

Limbaugh is accused of abusing Lorcet, which is one of the brand names for prescription painkiller Vicodin. It turns out that Vicodin may cause deafness when misused.

What is a good Christian to do? I have to confess that my first reaction upon reading this story was to laugh out loud. It can't get any better. El Rushbo is a drug addict and his addiction caused him to go deaf. But of course Christians aren't supposed to take pleasure in the misfortune of others. In fact I am supposed to pray for Rush. No schadenfreude for us.

The problem with having any empathy for Limbaugh is that he has no empathy for anyone else. On December 16, 1994 he had this to say about addicts.

"So we're not going to get on--we don't fault these animals for a lack of discipline, but we get on human beings who are fat for lack of discipline and you know it and I know it. But here's the thing that struck me about this. We have alcoholics and drug addicts in our society, don't we? And what do we say about them? Well, they can't help it. Why, it's genetic. Why, they have a disease. Why, put one thimbleful of scotch in front of them and they can die.

We totally exempt them from any control over their lives, do we not? Some athlete will spend two years snorting lines of coke. He can't help it. You know, it's--it's just--it's not--it's--it's genetic. These people--they're predisposed to having this addictive syndrome. They--they can't help--yeah, like that line of cocaine just happened to march into the hotel, go up to the athlete's room and put itself right there in front of him on his blotter."

I think that addiction is a very complex issue. Greater minds than mine have studied and disagree over causes and treatments. Ordinarily I don't believe that anyone is obligated to publicly discuss their addiction problems, but Limbaugh has made a career out of being mean spirited and bigoted. I think he should be very public about explaining his drug use. Yes it is a private matter, but a public figure who is so unsympathetic that he calls the unemployed lazy has a different standard to meet.

As for me, the Christian life is not an easy one and Jesus didn't make compassion exceptions for hateful talk radio hosts. I guess I better start praying for Rush. I will pray that he has a more open mind and heart. I will pray that he understands how much he has hurt other people and apologizes. I guess I am praying that he learns and works at the Twelve Steps. He has his work cut out for him.

When you think about Limbaugh it really isn't surprising that he is a drug user. Conservatives are funny people. Look at Bill Bennett, Mr. Virtue, who turned out to have a serious gambling problem. They spend a lot of time wanting to control the rest of us. Could it be because they don't know how to control themselves? Both of these men were among those who used Bill Clinton's weaknesses to undermine his presidency and ignore the will of the voters. I guess Clinton is having a little schadenfreude of his own.

"You Can't Hide from Yourself"
Teddy Pendergrast song

Asked who his heroes are, he answered, "I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it."

He is quoted as saying he wished he could have an experience, "like Hitler in the Nuremberg stadium. And have all those people scream at you and just being total agreement whatever you say."

Thank God Arnold didn't think about running for office when he was young. He might have kept his fascism secret. We now know that he admired Hitler, praised apartheid and thinks that any breasts within reach are his personal property. But I am still nervous about the recall vote. I believe that Gray Davis or Cruz Bustamante should leave the race.

It seems that no one wants to admit how dangerous a Schwarzenegger victory would be. Let's look at it this way. California is the only state Gore won that has had an increase in the number of electoral votes. Republicans have not won the governorship or a presidential vote in that state in nearly ten years. If Schwarzenegger wins and the republicans get some traction then Bush might have a chance next year. A victory in California would give him an easy electoral victory in another close race.

I am sure that none of this was lost on the republicans when they conspired to get Davis out of office. They are always way ahead of the democrats in the strategy department. I just hope that Davis or Bustamante take a page from Arianna Huffington's book. She wasn't going to win but in a tight race she could have helped Schwarzenegger. It is time for someone to fall on their sword.

Do you remember Darrell Issa? He was the republican Congressman who bank rolled the recall effort and planned to run for governor himself. But Karl Rove told him to step aside for Schwarzenegger and he did just that. An admirer of Hitler should not be the governor of California, or any other state for that matter. Are you with me Oprah?

ESPN's American Cafe

I have always thought that Casablanca was a vastly over rated film, but it does have one great line. I don't include "Who is that boy over there?," which was asked of a black man who was well into middle age. Instead I refer to the scene where the French cop who is a regular at Rick's Cafe is ordered to close it down. He has to find some excuse and declares, "I am shocked, shocked to find gambling going on here." I though about it today when ESPN told their new commentator, Rush Limbaugh, that he had been insensitive in his remarks about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

On Sunday Limbaugh and the other panelists were discussing McNabb's poor start. He could have said that McNabb was over rated and left it at that. But ESPN wanted controversy from their star commentator and that is what they got. "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

ABC, ESPN's parent company, first considered hiring Limbaugh as the color commentator, no pun intended, on Monday Night Football in 2000. They didn't go with him at the time but someone was obviously insistent because like a bad penny he turned up again this year and became part of the broadcasting team on a NFL pre-game show.

When his hiring was announced back in July there was great concern expressed about having one of the most polarizing political figures in the country participate in a sphere that has traditionally been non-political. But Limbaugh is not just a partisan right winger. He has always been known for the meanness and cruelty of his remarks.

We are told that the mafia will "leave the family out of it" even when planning to kill their enemies. But it seems that Limbaugh has fewer scruples than la cosa nostra. In 1993 he felt compelled to make this remark about Chelsea Clinton. "Everyone knows the Clintons have a cat. Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is also a White House dog?" he added, holding up Chelsea's photo. ESPN wanted controversy and got it by choosing Limbaugh.

At times like these I would like to join Mary J. Blige and sing "No More Drama." Needless to say when we have controversy about a sports celebrity, Rush Limbaugh, and charges of racism there will be much drama indeed. At first ESPN backed Limbaugh, by the end of the day they said he was being insensitive. Presidential candidates Clark and Dean have said ESPN should fire Limbaugh. By tomorrow President Bush will be asked his opinion. (Please God, don't let him give it.) I don't believe that this incident should be ignored, but if it is going to be fodder for sports columns, talk radio and the campaign trail then we must be honest in our discussions.

First, why did ESPN hire Limbaugh? At the time they said he would "represent the fans." Why would ESPN conclude that the fan is represented by the right wing? President Bush lost the popular vote so we can't say that the electorate is conservative. Even if he hadn't, less than half of all Americans bothered to vote. We can't use elections to determine the ideology of the average person. Polls on a variety of issues show that American opinion shifts from liberal to conservative depending on the questions being asked.

For years the right wing have whined that the media are liberal and that conservative views were unrepresented. Having made the complaint loud enough and long enough and with insufficient response from liberals they won the argument. You can imagine my surprise on election night in November 2000 as I witnessed this exchange on NBC. Brian Williams was introducing someone he called a "brilliant commentator." I nearly fell off my sofa when he then said the name Rush Limbaugh.

Limbaugh is heard on over 600 radio stations across the country. He had a television show, he has written books and he has now succeeded in being seen by millions of football fans who don't even like him. Yet he and his ilk still complain that the media exclude conservatives. As we are about to see in California conservatives are far more shrewd than liberals and emerge as the winners. In part they do so because they are relentless in pushing their ideology and claiming support of the public.

The only solution is to have real parity in political commentary in America. Just as news outlets are required to interview both candidates in a political race (are you listening Oprah), there should be a commitment by the media to have all voices heard. If Limbaugh can get away with telling a black listener to "take the bone out of your nose" and equate the NAACP with rioters then the media should give voice to black people who say what they like about white people. A left winger should be on as many stations as Limbaugh.

But for God's sake, none of them should be on a sports show.

I awoke on Thursday morning to edit this post and I found out that Limbaugh was going to be in the news for a little while longer. First, he resigned from ESPN. But it was also announced that he is a drug addict on an Elvisian scale. His maid contacted police about his illegal use of oxycontin and other prescription drugs. He is now under investigation. Did he resign because of the McNabb controversy or because he is about to make a perp walk? I would love to have been a fly on that wall.